Saturday, September 24, 2011

Evolution WIP ~ Lissa Kasey ~ Saturday Snark

Little bit of snark from my work in progress Evolution. Rockstar wannabe accidentally hits vampire Kerstrande Petterson with his car. Kerstrande's response:

“You weren’t going fast enough to squash a bug. What the hell kind of idiot drives on the sidewalk? Were you trying to kill someone? Would you like to get back in your car and back over me a few times?”

Friday, September 9, 2011

A little OCD and Anxiety Never Hurt a Character

So if you've never experienced OCD you've probably seen it on TV. It's not always as simple as washing your hands 20 times an hour or turning off light switches. It's an internal paranoia that something needs to be done. For me it's that the oven is off. The funny thing is that I rarely cook, so I check the dials all the time, even though I never had it on to begin with.

For those who know me pretty well, they are aware of my anxiety issues. We call them issues because it puts them in a pretty box that people can put on a shelf and say "not mine problem." I think a lot of people look down as me as being weak because I have issues. I'll admit I have panic attacks in the middle of a grocery store. Not a pleasant experience by the way. I usually need someone to talk me out of it, even though there is no reason for the attack, my head believes otherwise.

The other part of having an OCD and Anxiety disorder is paranoia. Now I wish I could say it was a paranormal issue I had to deal with everyday. That would be kind of fun. The paranonoia not so much. In public places I always think people are looking at me, judging me, whispering about me. And while I'm sure there is a little of that, it's probably not near the level my subconsciousness claims it is.

Of course having these issues means it's hard to be in public, because that's all the more condemning eyes. As I've gotten older it's gotten harder to control, and yes I'm on medication for it. I can go to the grocery store most days and not have any issues. Sometimes it just builds up though.

That's the worst.

You'll get through a couple of really great weeks, things are good, and then the weekend comes. I don't want to go anywhere be around anyone. I need that time to recharge my strength. Because I know come Monday I'm stuck in a room with a bunch of people I barely know, making calls to people I'll never meet.

I think these things translate to how we write as well. I know some very out going people who write very outgoing characters, where the problems are few and often external. I also know some very internal people who write about characters with more emotional troubles. This is also the direction that I go, simply because it's a "write what I know" deal.

Recently, I finished writing about a book about one of my side characters, Kelly. I found him terribly hard perspective-wise to write from, as he is a very outgoing guy. The book also features Jamie, Kelly's love interest, but Jamie is more reserved and more internal. So who do I relate to better you think?

The idea of course of writing what you know is really about writing what you can discover, rather than what you were born to know. Just cause you're a white female in her thirties doesn't mean you can't write about an Asian-American male in his twenties. Seiran, from Inheritance and Reclamation, and I relate well. Would we get along? Probably not. He's too needy for me. And i'm too dominate for him.

That is the fun of discovering the ins and outs of the character. He has anxiety and OCD, and though different from mine, I think it comes out well in his character. I can be outspoken at times and dominate, and that's where Kelly comes from. So what do you use to bring the internal to your writing?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Ins and Outs of Drama

When most people think of drama, they think of shows like Jerry Springer and Jersey Shore. But what is drama really? According to it means: any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results.

So when we think of drama in writing we all know it's important. The question remains is how to create it and make it believable. My first indicator is to look at reality TV. This stuff is made up of endless hours of video taping, which is then edited to create a story. Anything that can create a change in emotion is drama. A fight of course, a battle with a super demon, or a break up with a lover. But little things are drama too. Someone losses their keys, or can't decide what to wear.

There are two types of drama:

1. Internal
2. External

These things are drama because they cause emotion for someone, maybe not everyone, but someone out there will feel something. So how do you know what the good ones are to use to move your story forward?

Ask your characters.

Just like people, characters have personalities. They have likes, dislikes, interests and annoyances. What creates drama in a story about them, should be what makes them feel emotion.

For example in the book Inheritance, which is released Sept 14, my main character Seiran has a lot of little quirks that cause him emotional trouble. He has to have a clean kitchen, no crumbs or stains on the counter or dishes left in the sink. He has to have clean sheets even if they haven't been slept in. While these things may not bother most of us, the are such an intense part of his character that his lover knows he has comply. His drama is internal and that affects how external drama can change his story.

Some characters can be really laid back, and not care so much about little things. Those characters have drama come at them mostly from external, or outside sources. We see a lot of police fiction with external drama. The guys are cops so yeah there's rules, however, there's a criminal to fight, or a case to solve. Those are external dramas.

Now that's not to say that characters can't have them both. In fact, the most well written characters have both internal and external drama. It's their reaction to these things that makes them original and builds a story to a realistic ending. We learn about the character in the beginning, maybe see a glimpse of a bigger external drama, but throughout the book we see their little internal issues coming to live and building to easier or harder for them to reach a conclusion with the external drama.

Why is internal drama so important? Think of reality TV and our real lives in general. When we are conflicted about something, it's usually something in our personal lives. A argument with a family member, or a missing bit of money in our checkbook. When something big happens like a car crash that kills a friend, that's important too, but how you react is carved out by the little things you do, how well you knew the friend and how involved you may or may not have been in the crash.

So think of this as an exercise of thought for the day. The next time you feel joy, sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, irritation, ask yourself is it internal or external? Why does this feel so real and important to me? Then maybe you can use that little trouble for your next character. After all, a little drama never hurt anyone.