Sunday, January 13, 2019
What's the Fuss about Strong Women?
2:22 pm cst
There's been much talk lately about strong female characters, in the wake of controversial changes to Star Trek,
Star Wars, and Doctor Who. I am a little nervous about stepping into these waters, but I will do so. Here
are a few thoughts on the topic of strong female characters.
Nothing is wrong with female characters in and of themselves.
In fact, strong female characters are good for fiction. This is why there have been many strong women in fiction, going back
years. Frankly, if the main character in your story is a woman, she should be a strong character.
What is the definition
of a strong female character? I think it is simply a woman who takes responsibility for her own life, without needing to rely
on anyone else. For example: A strong female character who has been kidnapped by the bad guys doesn't passively wait to be
rescued, she gets herself free and either escapes, clobbers her abductors, or clobbers her abductors and escapes.
would make her an interesting heroine, a flawed but enjoyable character you want to read about and root for.
character isn't strong because they tear others down. They may build up the characters around them, much as Wonder Woman
did in the recent movie, but they aren't strong at the expense of another character
They definitely aren't Mary Sues
(yes, I'm looking at you, Rae from Star Wars.)
And making a character strong doesn't mean you can forget about
telling a good story. That is the real problem, I think, with the controversy over the recent changes to Star Wars,
Star Trek, and Doctor Who. The so-called "Social Justice Warriors" have got hold of these franchises
and have inserted their messages at the expense of good storytelliing, in the process ruining storied franchise that have
brought joy to millions, but now bring anguish.
So, my advice for anyone who wants to create a strong female character
for his or her story is this: decide what makes your character strong. Remember that she isn't strong because she is tearing
someone else down. She can still have flaws, otherwise she will be a Mary Sue. And, finally, as the saying goes, leave the
message to Western Union.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
9:29 pm cdt
I think it's happened. For the first time in my writing career, I think I can say I am suffering from writer's block.
mostly the result of stress and uncertainty. My main symptom is a total lack of interest in actually writing anything. I have
some short stories that need more work -- I want to do at least one more draft of each -- but I don't seem to want to work
Partly because I think there may be something missing in them. A feeling of insecurity may have contributed
to my inability to write much.
I'm not writing for fun, or online, or just to see where a scene might go. When I sit
down to write, I put down a sentence or two, then fiddle around on Youtube or Google, then maybe write a few more words. Sometimes,
if I really push myself, I might get 50 words down.
Then, a week later, I do it all over again.
I doing about it?
I am trying something new. This means fantasy and fan fiction at the moment, and possibly other
ideas if I can come up with something.
Maye I'll work on some old ideas.
And I'm going to get active in a writing
group I joined on Meetup. Their next meeting is tomorrow, and I will be there.
I'm also thinking about finding someone,
perhaps in this writing group, or on Facebook or Wattpad, to beta-read my stories and tell me if anything is missing.
there are other ideas I can try if none of those work.
If all goes well, perhaps I can make something happen soon. It's
very worrisome when you can't sesm to write anything.
Saturday, June 30, 2018
He saw, he heard, he felt, he thought
12:38 pm cdt
Over the years, my approach to writing has changed in some ways. For example, I frequently go back to things I wrote years
ago, and I find ways to cut out excess words.
One of the ways I cut out words lately is to eliminate as many uses of
the words saw, heard, felt and thought as possible. I think leaving out those words is a great way to make
your writing more direct, leaner, and more concise. You can leave these words out because the reader will provide them for
you. He will assume that your character is seeing, feeling, hearing and thinking what goes on in the story.
you could write, he heard a car engine start nearby. Or you could simply say, a car engine started nearby
a similar vein, you could write, He felt a cold breeze cut through his clothes. Or you can write, A cold breeze
cut through his clothes.
My favorite example is, thought. Don't write, it's a trap, he thought. Instead
write, it's a trap. You do not need to risk taking the reader out of your story by reporting that your character
thought something. Instead, record his thoughts and assume your reader will know what you are doing.
In each example,
the second approach is more direct and doesn't break up the flow of the story. You want to do anything that will keep your
reader in your story. Keeping things flowing as much as possible by eliminating unnecessary words such as saw, heard, felt,
and thought will help.
12:20 pm cdt
I now have a presence on Wattpad, the free fiction site. I am still trying to boost my audience, even more so now that
I am becoming convinced that writing and publishing more is my best option in life, and I think I can do so by publishing
some things on Wattpad.
Many will be complete offerings, others will be partial. I can also use it as a place to post
some things I don't feel right publishing for money, such as my story Those Who Have Not Swords, which I started
several years ago, and made some progress on before coming to a stop. I have since used part of it as backstory in one of
my Charlie Rowe novels, False Witness. THis being the case, I don't feel that I can ask money for it, but I will
offer it for free, in installments, as a sample of my work
Check Wattpad regularly, as I intend to post frequently.
other news, I now own a condo. I closed last week, and I am now planning and preparing to move in during the month of July.
It may taike a while to completely, especially when it comes to the contents of my storage locker, but I am finally going
to be able to live on my own again.
In some ways, the prospect is terrifying, in some ways, it is exciting.
Monday, December 11, 2017
The Value of Research
4:36 pm cst
One of the true wonders of the modern age, for a writer, is a computer with a working internet connection and the ability
to access Google.com.
Researching any topic is so easy these days that I have to wonder how writers managed it before
the internet and, especially, Google.
As an example, over the weekend I wrote a scene in The Pursuit of Kelly Clark,
where my barefoot heroine, Kelly, needs to find a pair of shoes in Minneapolis at 3:00 in the morning. No shoe stores are
open, there aren't that many people about, and it would seem that no one would leave a pair of shoes where Kelly can find
Howver, research showed me how to make this scene work. A quick Google search led me to the wikipedia article
on abandoned shoes, and this article mentioned shoe trees, which are trees that people throw their shoes into for whatever
A refinement of my search revealed that one of these shoe trees exists on the grounds of the University of Minnesota's
West Bank Campus, near the Washington Avenue Bridge. People have been throwing their shoes on the tree for years. Sometimes
they miss and their shoes land on the ground. Google maps even gave me a street-level view of the shoe tree in question.
solved. Kelly, a former U. of M. student, although briefly, would know of this shoe tree and would know that she can find
shoes there in the middle of the night.
That's just a quick description of the value of online research, which any writer
can do on the fly as he writes.