Sunday, May 29, 2011

Embarrass Your Protagonist

I don't like watching shows where embarrassing things happen to characters. I get uncomfortable. I realized, when I was looking over the last few chapters in my young adult novel, that I avoid embarrassing my protagonist. Through this realization, I know exactly what I must do to my character-- embarrass the crap out of her.

I've had embarrassing moments in my life that I've never forgotten. Some I did to myself, other instances it was the people I was connected to doing the embarrassing things. No one likes to appear stupid, and most people avoid it at all cost. Therefore it is only fair to make my character squirm a bit so she learns it's human to make mistakes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Read then Write, Look then Paint

This past week I've discovered something about myself-- I don't like details. I want to get to the good stuff. When I paint I don't care about the leaves, I just want to paint the animal standing on the leaves. In writing, I don't care about how the character brushes their teeth, I just want them to have white, shining, perfect teeth.

I can use the excuse that it's the fast food pace I've grown up with, but I miss important things because of this mentality. So, like any other in the self-help generation, without much training in anything, I've figured out how to enjoy digging for details.

Was that a cliff-hanger last sentence? I consider myself a slow learner with a lot experience with epiphanies, that wouldn't be epiphanies if I'd learned the first time around. So, what I'm writing here might very well be a 'duh,' to some people.

In writing, I've been reading some great writers. I actually start off writing my novel and when I feel strained or like I'm rushing my character to the good part, I stop. I pick up a good writer's book, this time it was "A Hat Full of Sky," by Terry Prachett, and read for an hour. I get lost in the author's ability to take a mundane detail and make me care about it. He is a brilliant writer. Refreshed and inspired, then I return to my own writing.

I've been especially challenged to include details in my paintings . I've been working on a New Mexico Ridgenose Rattlesnake painting for my next book, and the composition requires a point of view from ground level, close up. This means my foreground, made up of leaves, needs to have a lot of detail. The two animals, the snake and a mouse (his prey,) are the main elements I paint using my dot style. Dot painting is my favorite part, so I rush through the background to get to that part.

Needless to say, I've had a hard time on the leaves. I keep adding more and more because layering them distracts the eyes, so having less detail is not as noticeable. I know leaves are beautiful and have unique, amazing patterns but I can't stand taking the time to add them. I've stopped many times on this painting and referred to my own backyard and other artist's works for inspiration.My husband told me a couple of days ago to just move on "the leaves are fine," but they weren't to me, they felt wrong. Finally, today, after probably 10 hours over five days, I feel I've reached an almost happy place and plan on moving to the dots -- whew.

It's the details that make the writing and painting that much greater. In the end, it's worth all the struggle and stretch outside my comfort zone, if something beautiful is created.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Can't find that adjective?

I find myself using the same adjectives over and over again, despite the thesaurus. I stumbled upon a site (I enjoy stumbling online) while I was doing some research on lists of adjectives. The one I liked best has the adjectives listed and categorized -- I LOVE LISTS. goes beyond just lists of adjectives, there are several types of word lists. Most of my writer friends have been writing a long time. I feel like I'm a rookie among them. I have never been able to memorize things like adverbs, nouns, pronouns, unless I'm doing Mad Libs. This site is great in the simplicity of explanations and how things are organized. Great resource!