Life Observations

It is our right to complain and I exercise that right freely. I also realize for everything wrong in my life there is someone who has it so much worse. But my little rant yesterday about the snow in Maine seems so petty in light of the tornadoes that ripped through the south and tore homes and lives apart in a matter of minutes.

I just couldn’t let this day go by without letting people know my heart and prayers go out to the families affected by the horrible winter tornadoes.

Okay, I can’t post today without first making note of what a tragic ending Heath Ledger had to his life. The man was only 28 with a young child. News reports state that he is best known for his role in “Broke Back Mountain”, but I fell in love with him in “10 Things I Hate About You” and “A Knight’s Tale”. Both are wonderful, fun, family movies. Though I’m not a star-watcher, I do find it sad and a little disconcerting that young people in Hollywood seem to be imploding at an alarming rate. How and Why he died will be the fodder for entertainment programs for years to come. Somehow I think they’ll miss the fact that this man grew up with a family in Australia and there are parents and siblings mourning his passing. It’s just such a tragedy. I’m just saying…

Okay, shake that off.

So, I’m working on Meghan’s story and delving into new territory that has me scratching my head. I dont mind this. It means a little diversion from writing to plunge into research. Yay!

Did I mention I was a geek in school? I love learning. (I have a head full of useless information that isn’t quite broad enough for Jeopardy! but certainly can raise eyebrows at a dinner party.) So doing research is right up my alley. I’m not very efficient at maneuvering the internet so I often take wrong turns and end up spending time reading material meant for doctoral thesis research… no seriously. I’ve done that before.

My CP and I argue… I mean have lively debates… on whether research for crimes or historical facts is more time consuming. But a reader can get pulled from your story just as quickly whether you’ve put your heroine in the wrong undergarments in medival times or your cop hero does something at a crime scene that just wouldn’t happen. 

Now history was never a subject that tripped my trigger, but I loooove reading historicals. I take for granted that the information the author is feeding me is accurate.

But throw me into a science fiction story where the science is wrong and I’m like… unh unh… don’t even go there with me dear author. I’ll give them one pass, but if it persists, the book goes back to the library unread. (I refuse to watch “Little Nemo” because it is filled with inaccurate information… and I’m not talking about fantasy stuff… I love Disney’s talking animals… actual stuff that just doesn’t happen in nature. But I digress…)

Which then made me wonder. How many times are you willing to suspend belief of fact in a book, before you throw in the towel? (And I’m not talking about two strangers falling in love in 20 pages… I write romance people… allow me to keep that fantasy.) I just wondered how important is it that the author has done her research? or is it something you simply take for granted?

Are the holidays really over? The drooping branches and growing pile of pine needles beneath my poor Christmas tree claim that its glory has come and gone. Of course the lights, still on a timer, happily twinkle on beginning at 3:37 pm and click off promptly at 10:12 pm. 

The stockings that hung with care are now strewn hap-hazardly about the couch, their contents half in and half out. *sigh* So today I will be pulling out the whip and megaphone and putting those slaves children of mine to work. Despite their vehement protestations and complaints we will pack up those ceramic angels and stuffed Santas, beg them not to multiply over the dull months ahead (as they always seem to do) and tuck them neatly back into the dark corner of my basement. Be gone you harbingers of time-sucking activities!

You see, the holiday season ate chunks of my writing time, nibbling away bit by bit until my productivity dipped lower than the Maine temps. But no more. I’m putting my foot down!

As 2008 rears its head and proclaims that another blank page of a year lies before me, available to fill as I choose, I have decided it’s time to take back my house–from the forlorn Christmas ornaments and the bored college students still on holiday. I will boldly forge ahead and stake my claim on the family room which is also my writing sanctuary and declare that it is once again off-limits during writing hours!

Yes, today I will pack up Christmas, dust off the keyboard and jump back into my writing schedule that has been tilted off its axis.

Oh, that feels better already! I am so happy the holidays are over and I can get back on track. I am ready to reclaim my home and my writing time… right after I put another load of laundry in the washer, do up the sink full of dishes, cheer at a swim meet, join dear hubby on a snowmobile ride, restock teenager devasted cupboards, and…

I had the privilege of teleconferencing with a group of writers with disabilities the other night. They have recently published their first book Behind Our Eyes available through Amazon. It’s an anthology of short stories, essays and poems, many of them based on their own experiences of living with disabilities. (Yep, that was indeed a shameless plug.)

It was a wonderful conversation and we spoke about several aspects of writing. But the one thing that we spent a lot of time on was point of view (POV). This sometimes can be a difficult concept to master as a writer.

POV is the person experiencing your scene. The one who holds the video camera showing the reader what is happening. The question arose as to how a blind character would “see” the world. The fact is… they probably wouldn’t.

This character wouldn’t be describing someone’s clothes or how the puffy clouds floated across the cerulean sky as they sat in the outdoor cafe. A blind character would hear and smell, perhaps touch and experience the world around them from those senses. A writer needs to be mindful of whose head they are in.

An engineer isn’t going to notice his girlfriend’s house is filled with various species of potted plants. However, he would notice that her computer is old and needs to be updated. But a landscaper would surely notice how she hadn’t taken care of her flowerbeds and that they’d gone to seed.

Another thing you can’t do is jump out of your POV person and tell the reader something another person is thinking. This is called head-hopping. How would your character know what someone else was thinking? They can however “see” that the person they’re talking to is pissed. How? Show your reader how the person is crossing their arms, or how their brow is furrowed. Your POV character can interpret body language. You do it all the time.

I like to think of writing as an actor would think of portraying a role. I crawl into the head of my character and experience and react to everything through their eyes. 

  

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