Things I’m Doing That Aren’t Writing

If you want to break a habit, the most commonly suggested first step is to get a baseline of just how often,and during what circumstances,you’re actually engaging in that habitual behavior. The purpose is to get a better idea of … Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Disney

   In the event that anyone reading this somehow feels the need to take this entirely seriously, let me add a disclaimer: I am very likely one of the most sappy, romantically-minded, “happily-ever-after” loving chicks you’ll ever come across. I mean, I write … Continue reading

My Circus, My Monkeys

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Recently I’ve been focusing a lot on developing characters for a new story-and yes, I said NEW story. As in not the unfinished one I’ve been working on for the last few years…as in the voices in my head that have been nagging me to tell this other(totally unrelated) story,won. They won, I lost. Well, technically I guess I won and I lost. Internal battles are like that.

I’ve noticed that there are usually two main types of writers: the ones who think of characters and develop the plot around them, and the ones who think of plots/storylines and plug the characters into those. I’ve realized that I tend to be more like the latter. I have pages and pages of scribbled story ideas that come to me at random times (like I mentioned in an earlier post), and I might have  general character ideas to go along with the story, but I usually only flesh those out as I’m outlining the plot.

I tend to start by visualizing what each character looks like, and try to find a photo of someone who resembles them as reference. I’m definitely  visually oriented, which is why I normally see stories play out in my mind like movies. Also, considering my profession involves meeting new people and hearing their various backgrounds everyday, one would assume that creating characters would come easy to me. One would be wrong. I think that fact actually works against me, because I tend to be so detail and back story focused I get stuck. Just another example of how over-thinking can be a writers curse, I suppose.

There seems to be a recurring question that comes up among writers about what the “right” amount of back story for a character is. Too much backstory can work against you by drowning your story in unnecessary information. Too little backstory  can leave readers confused and/or not invested in the character. Admittedly, I don’t know the widely accepted “correct” answer to that one yet. What I do know, is that if I feel like knowing a certain part of a characters personality is important to the story or would improve the story were it included, then I’m putting it in. I of course could be very wrong about it…but then again, that’s what editors are for, no?

This new work in progress I have is one that is very near and dear to my heart. It’s an idea I’ve had for quite some time,but I kept putting on the back burner because it seemed too heavy and I was afraid I wouldn’t do it justice. Well, those voices I mentioned earlier just increasingly bugged me to the point where I felt like I had no choice but to at least attempt to flesh it all out. I’ve decided to use some of the characters as an homage of sorts to some of the ‘real’ people that were involved in what the story is about. I’m also nervous about that aspect, since although i’m not using any real names, it means a lot that the key pieces of their personalities are depicted authentically. You know, no pressure, just trying to honor people’s memories.

I once saw a few signs that I just loved because they ring so true. One said: “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” The other said: “If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.” Everyone we’ve come across that has been any part of our lives, any place we’ve been, any experience we’ve had…although some of the memories fade, they all leave a little bit of themselves embedded within us. Sometimes that little bit left behind is a gift; something that awakened a new part of you, or a wonderful memory that you’ll keep forever. Sometimes what’s left behind is a deep seeded fear of commitment and a nervous tic.

When it comes to being a writer and creating characters, you have to use all of it. Just like heroes and heroines, villains too originate in the mind of the writer who created them, and they all are born from something. For instance,  the motivation for Lord Voldemort? J.K. Rowling’s first ex-husband, Morty. Ok that’s a lie, I made that up. But if you know a writer, don’t be an ass hole. Because in a world of circuses-real or imagined- sometimes you’re the ringmaster, and sometimes you’re the monkey. 

 

 

 

Book Review: Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre

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I recognize that it’s been a little while since my last book review, but rest assured that it isn’t because I haven’t been reading! I have been trying to focus more on writing my writing/life related posts, and you know, MY actual novel, when I can get the time and motivation to co-occur. However, I decided to make the time to post this review because I thoroughly enjoyed this story!

The story itself is centered around the two main chracters, the first of which is Summer Jenkins, a good ‘ol sassy southern girl from the super small town of Quincy, Georgia. You get a very clear picture of her life there, with hints of a past drama that has essentially turned her into the town ‘black sheep’ (that gets explained, and is unfortunate in a hilarious kind of way). What I found really interesting though was that the town almost felt like a character in itself. There is an interesting backstory about Quincy, as it was the home of the few original investors in Coca Cola. Consequently, the town of only 7,000 people houses at least 50 millionaires and billionaires who never left. Heck, I’d read a story just about that probably, but I digress.

Summer is very relatable and likable in a ‘stands up for herself and is quite possibly crazy but you’re not sure yet’ kind of way. She’s very close with her mother, whom she lives with, and they sit on their front porch drinking sweet tea that they bought from the small grocery store where everyone knows everyone else after eating big home-cooked meals. It sort of makes you want to live in a small southern town…minus the gossipy, ever-judging townspeople.

Then there is Cole Masten, the very famous heart-throb actor from Hollywood. He is married to another Hollywood actress-one that, from the feeling I got, rode her way up the fame ladder by hanging on his back. You also get the idea that as a couple, they have amassed a large amount of attention like popular celebrity couples tend to do, uni-nickname and all. To be honest I didn’t really care for him at first, but I suspect that was part of the authors plan, she’s great at character development!

Cole is funding a new movie about the initial investors of Coca Cola that is going to be shot in, you guessed it, Quincy. The pre-production scout, Ben (Bennington- great name), heads down there and ends up meeting Summer who he quickly befriends. These two are fun, you want to be friends with them so you can sit in baby pools drinking beer together. He enlists her expertise of the town to help find perfect shoot locations, and she is more than willing because she needs the money to save up for her “grand exit from Quincy” plan. 

Fast forward to Cole, ever so dramatically, walking in on his wife sleeping with another man. (somehow not shocked) Then, enter his lawyer, Brad Deluca. Brad is a tall, handsome, commanding Alpha-type who takes no shit and pretty much has Cole by the reins, as you suspect he probably has everyone else he comes into contact with on as well. Brad is awesome. You’ll want more of Brad. (Fortuitously, Brad has his own series: The Innocence Series, read those after this one) Brad banishes Cole down to Quincy to get him out of the PR nightmare he creates by sleeping with any willing woman in Hollywood in an attempt to get over the end of his marriage. He’s given strict rules not to get involved/sleep with any women while he’s there…spoiler (but not really because it’s clear the book is about their relationship) he doesn’t so much follow that one. 

Cole meets Summer through Ben (the location scout) and is immediately struck by her confident, stand-offish, unimpressed with him demeanor. He thinks she’ll be perfect for the leading role in the movie opposite himself. Yep, he offers her-someone with no acting experience-a starring role in a blockbuster movie. She’s no dummy, she negotiates herself a sweet compensation deal and accepts. Let the drama -literally and figuratively-ensue!

The story proceeds to follow them through their interactions in preparing for the filming, the actual filming, and after. Their relationship really is love/hate-mostly the latter in the beginning- and their very opposite and equally as hard-headed personalities clash at every turn.She also, at one point, gets him a pet rooster. He decides to name it “Cocky”, and he keeps it in the house and attempts to treat it like a dog. It’s ridiculously hilarious. 

You really feel the push and pull between them, and there are definitely a few situations that you’re not quite sure they’ll overcome, but that’s part of what makes it a good read! 

As I normally do with books, I saw this story in my head as a movie while I read it, which is very meta in this case because the story is about a movie being made-and coincidentally they are now making the story into an ACTUAL movie. It’s like ‘Inception’ and the buildings of my mind are folding in on each other. Well,that’s a bit dramatic….but thats okay, because show business!

 

*If you want more info about the movie check out the official Hollywood Dirt Movie Facebook Page