I am gonna just let the video speak for itself.
As you may have noticed, it has been a long time since my last post. While I can’t promise my posts are going to start to become frequent, I can say that I plan on making an honest effort to post at LEAST once a month – to start. The end goal is a post a week, but we shall see!
Quick Update: My twins are now 1.5 years old, and still as time consuming as they were before… just in a different way. Right now, however, I am in the middle of move (from CA to UT), and while I started a new job in and moved right away, the family is still in California. I miss them dearly, but it has allowed me a few extra minutes to write – hence this post!
On to the goods!
First, let me say that there are many good books, posts, and articles about character development. My good friend, R. Garrett Wilson, has several posts on the subject, so I am only going to focus on how character development affects transparent narrative.
To reiterate for the newbies, transparent narrative, is in essence, a concept where the words, paragraphs, chapters, and pages become transparent, rendering a clear and unobstructed path from the story teller to the story receiver. This is the the most important goal of every writer.
An essential piece of creating that transparency is to sell the reader on the plausibility of what you are sharing. During your character’s development, it is very important to maintain believability. For example, let me introduce a character here while you pay attention to your doesn’t-feel-authentic-o-meter (DFAM for short).
Kyle, a short, overweight man, had always wanted to be a police officer. Always cautious to pay his debts and follow the local laws, Kyle was determined to have a spot-free record for his background checks – once he lost enough weight to pass his physical-exam, that is.
Early one Saturday in early summer, Kyle had decided that diet alone would not make him succeed. No, Kyle would need to do more than that. So, instead of watching the news that morning, he decided to go out jogging.
The day had already began to warm up as Kyle trotted away from his porch. He smiled despite the fact that had ran out of breath, only 15 seconds into his run. Breathing heavy, Kyle slowed to a walk and put his hands on his hips.
He continued to gasp for breath, finding he was much more out of shape than he had deluded himself to be. Lifting his arms above his head – a trick his mother had taught him to get more oxygen into his lungs – Kyle crossed the street.
A blaring honk and a screech made his heart race even more. He jerked to his left just in time to see the taxi cab slide to a stop, not two feet away.
Kyle raised his middle finger at the driver and swore. He stood there, waiting to see if the driver was going to get out to start something. Kyle was always ready for a good fight.
What struck you as out of character? Did your DFAM go off when Kyle flipped off the driver? Did that pull you out of the story? Now, what if the story went like this instead:
…A blaring honk and a screech made his heart race even more. He jerked to his left just in time to see the taxi cab slide to a stop, not two feet away.
Kyle stood in shock as the taxi driver swore at him. He put his hands up and said, “I’m so sorry! So sorry!” as he continued across the street. His heart raced fast as he realized just how close a call that had been.
He would have to pay closer attention, light-headed or not. You can’t join the police force if you’re dead, he thought.
Does that seem a little more in character? Sure it does, which makes for smooth reading. Keeping your character true to themselves is important. To do that, you need to know your character.
So if making your character contradict his own personality takes your reader out of the story, you should never do that, right? Wrong. Actually, contrary to what I had written, there are times that making your character act out of character, is actually in character. What do I mean? Well, Nathan Bransford, author and blogger-to-the-stars, has an excellent post on using contradictions to develop characters.
The takeaway from this post is that you want your characters to be well developed. If the reader doesn’t connect with your character, or if they do not believe your character is authentic, they will be removed from the story – hence, no transparency for you!
Watch for more on transparent narrative soon…ish.
Check out this awesome contest! Time is critical, so go now!
I found a lovely little surprise in my inbox today. It turns out our anthology, I Dreamed a Crooked Dream, was recently reviewed on Read All Day, and it was well received! Go check it out, and look at the other books Nina has reviewed.
There’s just something about seeing my name in print that makes me absolutely giddy. My writer’s group, the Fresno Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers Group, recently published (albeit self-published) an anthology of short stories.
I was one of the writers who made it through the selection process (yes, we had to meet criteria in order to make it into the book), and am quite proud to be in league with some of the wonderful writers in this book.
Life, with its many curve balls, has kept me away from the blog. I don’t see that changing for the next few months, but I wanted to post about our Anthology (like 2 months late, of course), and I wanted to share this picture with you:
My everlasting child-hood best friend took the antho with him on his honeymoon. Perhaps I should be jealous that he is sitting on this beach, but I am too elated with seeing my name, in print, being read there.
There’s just something about seeing my name in print…
So I had written another chapter to my current WIP, The Faraday Cage, about 3 weeks ago, and let me tell you, it felt GREAT to write! It had been so long, and like riding a bike, it came back to me (minus the falling and knee scraping).
Unfortunately, it didn’t gain any traction… my writing habit, that is. I hadn’t followed up that win by writing again… until last night.
Okay, so I didn’t “write,” but I DID write. I wrote an outline for the rest of my Manuscript. I didn’t realize it before, but having no direction REALLY hindered me, which is totally weird, because the first half of the manuscript was very… un-outlined. I knew I had a starting point and a concept, and I knew the characters. I had a rough idea of the direction, but that’s it.
I LOVED writing the first half that way. The second half, however, I felt blind — and I didn’t even realize it. Now that I have a solid outline (and summary) of what is to come, the fire withing is burning again!
On a slightly related, yet unrelated, note, I threw together a concept cover. Yes, I know… cover art is a time waster, and should I ever get published (fingers AND toes are crossed), they will most likely do whatever THEY want anyway, but there is a reason!
See, my Grandpa Davis is one of people in my life that has inspired me to write. In his old age, however, reading has become harder for him. I have really wanted his feedback on what I have so far, but without reading it, I get nada. Recently, however, he bought some sort of magnifying machine to help him read. Don’t know what it is, just know he can read fine with it, and is excited to read what I have!!!!
So here is where the cover comes in. For like $6, I can have my Manuscript, thus far, printed and bound, with cover art, and shipped to him. Much cooler than having a notebook with standard printer paper bound inside it.
Anyway, I got halfway through getting it sent off, then I realized: all of these stock covers suck. I want MY cover on this thing (even if him and I are the only ones to see it).
So, I made up something quick… wanna see it? I guess you, him and are now the only ones to see it
So, what do ya think?
Day 46 of life with twin babies. The water is getting scarce and I am starting to hallucinate. My final brain cell will pop any day, leaving me a lifeless vegetable.
That being said, I have been forcing myself to return to a state of normalcy, one action at a time. Don’t get me wrong, my babies are AWESOME; I am just uber tired, and resuming regular activities (writing, exercise… breathing…) has been slow coming. Mostly because I only sleep about 3-4 hours a night (30 mins here, 30 mins there) and these two tiny dictators have a relentless supply of demands.
So, although I have been procrastinating my “writing life,” one of my readers, Melihah (from Desi Blonde), recently commented on my POV post, and had forced me to return. Thank you Melihah, your comment was MUCH needed!
So, on to the meat and potatoes! Quoted from my previous post:
Transparent Narrative is what happens when your reader stops reading and starts seeing. They no longer read word by word, sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph. Rather, they mindlessly flip pages, absorbing the story into their heads, unaware of the outside world and are completely immersed in the movie that is playing in their minds eye. This one thing, above all else, should be the goal of every writer. I know that I made comments about how POV affects transparency, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. Every thing else… I mean everything (character, plot, motivation, word craft, voice, pacing and rhythm, etc etc etc) will determine how transparent your story is. Once again, watch for a post about transparent narrative coming up.
I realize that I made a promise there at the end and never followed through. This is the start of a series of posts about transparent narrative, and hopefully, I won’t be as sporadic with my blogging.
So, as I said/wrote above, transparent narrative is the goal, the most important goal, for every writer.
Wait, what? The MOST IMPORTANT goal, you ask?
Yes. THE MOST IMPORTANT goal.
How can I make such an audacious statement? Well, it’s simple. All of the “rules” you’ve been taught/forced to eat/hide from and pretend they don’t exist, are there because they are a “best practice” to attain transparent narrative.
Why should you start with action (not necessarily grenade-to-the-face action, but tension-inducing action)? Because it immediately draws the reader in. A quick trick to start the movie playing in their head, and thus, begin transparency.
Why should you have a main character that is flawed? Too make them more real. Why make them more real? Because when what you are reading raises a flag as “possibly fake” in your readers head, it temporarily pulls them out of the narrative. To attain transparency, the reader cannot be pulled out even for a moment (then they might realize that they haven’t eaten or showered for days!)
Everything you will be taught; every cool trick or tip from a pro; all of the books on writing; they all point (whether directly or indirectly) to transparency.
So, HOW do you do that, exactly? Great question.
I will answer with a question: how do you write good prose? Obviously the answer is long, variable, and subjective, but for now, know that I will be presenting MY viewpoints in upcoming posts about how to attain transparency through the use of:
- Character development
- Character motivation
- Word craft
- Pacing and rhythm
- Point of view (HAHA! I already did this one here)
- World construction / setting the scene
- Reader leading (like a magician, making them look over here instead of your right hand)
- Making (and keeping) promises to your readers
- Showing vs telling
These are all I can think of for now, but I will surely add to the list as time goes on. For now, keep reading, and if you have anything to add to this, please do! I LOVE to hear how other writers attain transparency!
I rarely write poetry (mostly because I stink at it), but here is a recent attempt:
The dark pushes inward
Breathing becomes labored
Reason and logic claw at reality
Begging for an answer, or relief
The dark pushes inward
Self worth slips into apathy
Apathy adds fuel to the fire
Desperation takes it’s hold
The dark pushes inward
Suffocation is imminent
The heart beats slower and slower
Time is the both the answer and the problem
The dark pushes inward
Synthetic loneliness comes in waves
Fight or flight, although neither work
The lungs cease to function
The dark pushes inward