Monday, January 28, 2013

Assimilating Into Your Character's Head

After focusing on a few short stories, I have recently returned to working on my historical fiction novel based on Judy Garland. The reason I had stopped for a while is because she is so completely exhausting. What a fascinating and frightening head to get into. Between the issues over her weight, her abortion and nervous breakdowns, I sometimes find it hard to get back and really dive into her again. My brain sometimes doesn't want to because it is so sad.

Last week I began to push on when I discovered the new stuff to be removed and superficial. It was too much telling and not enough showing. This was when I turned back to research and simply reading through some of the draft to find her again. I also watched a couple of movies of hers to remind myself about why I'm writing this. She was amazing. She was tragic.

Do you find it hard to get back into a character's head after being out for a while? Are there characters' heads that you're afraid to get into?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sharing Your Writing

A couple weeks ago my first short story, Wishful Thinking, was published. When I first got the confirmation, I could not stop jumping up and down. My mom was the first person I called. I not only wanted to share it with her; I wanted to share it with the world. All of my friends and family.  I was proud. I wanted them to see what I had done.

It is a first person story and the character does admittedly have many traits similar to my own. I never thought of the character as me. It's fiction. It's not me.  After my mother-in-law read it and told me that it made her sad because of the way it ends, it struck me. Those close to me may think of the character as me. She did bring up an interesting point of how she read it differently because she knows the author. I found myself struggling to explain how to not think of the character as me. There's magic in her world and just because she does something, doesn't mean that I would.

This also got me thinking about the novel I'm working on which is historical fiction based on Judy Garland. Sometimes, I do notice that she sounds like me. I think it's impossible to keep all of your personality out of your characters. It is their connection to you that makes them real. You do sort of become them while you write them, right? You form their thoughts and their actions. They are at the same time separate and a part of you.

Have you ever had someone read your fiction story and they connect you directly to your character? Do you worry that they will?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Making Zombies Scary

 Writing a zombie story is no easy task. The creatures have been done and redone. This barely allows for original ideas anymore, let alone trying to make them scary. I have challenged myself to do this. When one of my friends did something to inspire this story, I couldn't resist it. Writers know you can't resist inspiration because who knows when it will strike again? Ideas are sought and chased and forced so when they come on their own, I'm grateful and don't question it.

 The struggle I've found with my zombie story is making it and the zombies themselves scary enough. People have become so desensitized to horror. How does one tap into their inner Edgar Allan Poe? He's difficult to find and sometimes I'm not sure if I want to. He was too great not to try.

 To scare up my zombies, I began with their descriptions. Blood stains, vacant eyes, torn up clothes. I discovered that it added an extra element to have the main character recognize one of them. Something was still missing. Her thoughts and frame of mind helped add fear to the story even more than the zombie descriptions. Knowing more about her makes the reader fear for her more and hope she will live.

What other techniques make your stories scarier?