Thoughts on Writing

Again like the earlier blogs, I am wrapping up on the loss of a family member. He has been laid to rest, and most of the family members who were able to attend are now heading back home, and to their daily lives. For a short time all of the immediate family, and most of the extended family met, renewed our family ties, and brought each other up to date as to what has been happening in each other’s lives and attended the funeral. It is a sad statement that it takes something like this to bring the family together, yet it is a statement of our times.

When one writes, one is usually told that editing, editing, and editing is the way to a good story. Well if that is the case, then “The Woman in the Snow” should be a hit. As I have edited it completely, going through the book 8 times. I do hope that in the end, that this work has been worth it. A famous author stated (and sorry I cannot recall his name), that when you edit you must murder your characters. Simply stated, that if the character or situation that you have developed within your story does not advance the plot, then they should be eliminated. Also, as one edits, the story should become efficient, eliminating any fat or tangent that leads one away from the story line.

So. . . I thought that it would be fun to look at this from a minimalist point of view. So here goes: John was born into a poor family, and because of this had to work hard in his youth. He grew up and left home, married, had a family, grew old and died. As his parents were, so was he. The end.

Here, absolutely everything that could be taken out was, leaving us with the life of the main protagonist. It covered all points – his birth, him growing up, leaving home, finding someone, raising a family, and in the end dying. And it meets the criteria that everything that could take one from the story was eliminated. Of course, if one really wrote this way, and tried to make a living, then you would starve to death in a short time. When I edit I find that generally some portions are changed, made leaner, but mostly I find that I end of adding instead. Adding because there needs to be a better understanding of what is happening, or that the incident is cloudy and vague, and further explanation is needed, and by the time that I finish, there easily could be another 1000 to 5000 words added.

So editing must be applied to the need at the time. While what was stated above is true, it is important to remember that they are just guidelines, and as such are not true in every circumstance.  It is not like math where the rule once stated, never changes. With language there is always “an exception to the rule”.

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Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

H. E. H. What?

This week the blog is coming out a little earlier since once again there is a road trip in our future. We will be heading down to say good-bye to my father. His funeral will be next week. With the cost of airline tickets it was just cheaper to drive. I had planned on writing on this “H. E. H.” earlier, but as any who follows this blog knows, I received word of my father’s passing and that became the replacement theme for that week. I have briefly touched on these initials in a previous blog, and mostly what you will read here is observations, and thoughts I have and how it pertains to writing, and I guess life in general.

Heredity, Environment, Hormones. Absolutely all of us are influenced by these 3. And men out there if you do not think that hormones are something that has an effect on you, think again. When you were a child, girls had all sorts of things that boys wanted to avoid. Girls were different, and while they physically did not look different dressed, (Undressed there was just something weird about their pee-pees.), and other than the fact that they had long hair and at times wore dresses, there really wasn’t that much difference. Then came puberty, and then it all changed. Those raging hormones took over and now girls were what you wanted to be around. So while we deal less with the hormonal rollercoaster that women ride, they affect us too. So all of us whether male or female face these hormones. For women of course, it is much worse. If one looks at the statistics then it immediately becomes obvious that where a woman is in her cycle will determine how she will react to any given situation. If one looks at the statistics on violent crimes caused by women, the one point that becomes obvious is that this violence usually happens during that PMS, and period time in their monthly cycle. The average woman has 13 such cycles a year, running with the moon cycles, and why in some mythology women are tied to the moon. There are people out there that state the number 13 as a bad luck number is tied back to those 13 cycles a woman has.

Environment is obvious, and it must always be considered. For example with we were to look at women in the middle east, basically they are property or slaves. They have no rights, they must be completely subservient to the men, and yet you find many who revels and want this lifestyle. Marion Zimmer Bradley in her Darkover series recognized this and with her Dry Towners created women who wore chains and wanted it that way. A best example of this has to do with elephants that have been tamed. When they are young they are tied with a large heavy chain. No matter how hard they struggle they cannot break it or get away. So eventually they accept it. Once this point is reached then the heavy chain is replaced with something that they easily could break. Yet because they could not break it in the past they accept that they cannot now. In relationships where abuse is prevalent, the one abused eventually just accepts that it is this way, and then begins to live through their abuser. Any part of what was them has been internalized, and now the only way for acceptance is from the one who has abused them. While these are negative examples, there are just as many positive examples. The environment we grow up in, the culture we live in, and the influences that are around us become part of who we are.

Heredity is what we are. It comes from all of our ancestors. It forms the way we think, act, and react. It is our base personality, the way we physically look, the way we feel, and the way we see things. It determines our long-term health, not that we cannot influence that by bad choices, and it influences just about every aspect of our life. I guess the key word here would be influences. With conscious effort we can work hard and change some of the tendencies that our heredity has dictated. Yet these changes has to come about through conscious effort, otherwise they remain.

So as a writer one must look at these 3 aspects of their actors. It helps a writer to develop real characters. Ones that has strengths and weaknesses, blind sides, and tendencies that can influence the outcome of whatever quest that you have set up for them. It makes them full and real, someone who the reader can root for, and have empathy with. Making the reader care for our fictitious characters, and care enough that they want to see your story through just to make sure that your characters have been successful. Yes, there are many other aspects to story building that is critical. But if your characters are 2 dimensional, then no matter how good your story is, nobody will care.

Published in: on November 17, 2011 at 8:37 am  Leave a Comment  

A Father’s Legacy

Again this week I had planned on writing on a different subject. But life does have a tendency to get in the way. If one has been around for a few decades then they would know that this is a true statement. This week my father, a man of 84 years and 7 months, married to my mother for one month short of 64 years passed away. It was not unexpected, but even so when his time did arrive it was a devastating loss. We come from a family that believes strongly in family and the strengths, and yes weaknesses, that such ties can have.  Yet, if we truly look at this man, we know that the one we knew for most of our lives had been missing for many years. He had survived 3 heart attacks, and had other health issues. This eventually led to dementia with him only living in the present except for one  childhood memory, that was etched firmly into his mind.    This childhood memory, that he was locked into, was a story that he would tell over and over again.

Yet if one would look back over his life they would find a man who was dedicated to his wife, and to his family. For many years he worked 2 jobs – 16 hours a day, just to make ends meet.  After all wages were not the best back then. Before he and my mother married he had been a corpsmen in the Navy, and had served at the end of WWII. After I  came along he had been recalled for Korea, leaving my mother alone with 1 child to take care of – a common thing that we still see today with another war going on. Both were tough parents expecting their children to follow the rules that were laid down, and if one did not, we faced their wrath. He worked hard for all of his life and retired a Captain in the Naval fire department. The Fire Department was civilian, civil service to be exact. It was his first heart attack that brought on that retirement.

The legacy of this man comes from what his children became after becoming contributing adults. Of the 5 children 2 were contractors, 1 a postmaster and a writer, and the other 2 working in supporting their families. While he will never be famous, or known beyond his family and friends, it is people like he that are responsible for the continuing of a great nation. Without their work ethic, belief in God (He was a church Deacon for while.), and the willingness to raise their children to be responsible members of their society, this nation would have failed a long time ago. He believed in responsiblity, and helped those in need with no thought of reward. Many a Thanksgiving he would gather food, paid for most of the time, from his own pocket, for those in need, place it at their doorsteps, ring the bell, and leave. To know that someone would have that food was enough of a reward.

We went through our own hard times. Times when we were the receivers of that food that is donated at schools at Christmas time for those in need. Yet, to us as children it was a surprise, humbling yes, but a surprise.  We never felt lacking, and the love and understanding that was in the house showed us the importance of family. He and his generation, even though they were children themselves at the time, survived the depression. So he understood what it meant to be poor. He was a teacher, and there was very few things he could not do. And if he did not know how to do something, he would get a book, and then figure it out. It left us with that same drive – never afraid to tackle something just because we had never done it before.  So what better legacy could a father leave? A legacy that shows that his offspring are continuing as honest, God-fearing, hardworking people.

Published in: on November 12, 2011 at 9:49 am  Leave a Comment  

A Busy Week

As the title suggests, it has been a busy week. Not to suggest that most are not, but I have been working on the final edit and pre-release of The Woman in the Snow.  Followed by the establishment of a Facebook page, and in the near future a web site.  It is hoped that I will be able to submit the manuscript for e-book conversion within the next 2 weeks. I still am in need of putting together my cover, and many other small details. And no this is not a book deal, but a self published book. So all of the details that go into putting a book out there is left in my hands, whether capable or not. When there is a release date I will post it, of course.

You would think that after editing a book at least 4 times that you would be finished with it. Yet since that 4th edit, I have now been through it 2 more times with this last one hopefully the final. One thing I have noticed is that the grammar checker within a word processor can give you some funny results, and other times leaving one questioning what is being suggested. So each suggestion must be evaluated against what one is trying to relate. My wife, many years ago sent me a great little page called “An Owed to the Spell Checker”,  written by Jerrold H Zar, showing us the faults of such useful things and not to rely on them too heavily. So enjoy this tribute to technology, and its failures, and next week I promise to continue as I have in the past.

AN OWED TO THE SPELL CHECKER

I have a spelling checker – it came with my PC

It plane lee marks four my revue Miss Steaks aye can knot sea

Eye ran this poem threw it, Your sure reel glad two no.

Its vary polished in it’s weigh – My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing.  It freeze yew
lodes of thyme.

It helps me awl stiles two reed, And aides me when aye rime.

To rite with care is quite a feet Of witch won should be proud.

And wee mussed dew the best wee can, Sew flaws are knot aloud.

And now bee cause my spelling is checked with such grate flare,

Their are know faults with in my cite;  Of non eye am a wear.

Each frays come posed up on my screen Eye trussed to be a joule.

The checker poured o’er every word To cheque sum spelling rule.

That’s why aye brake in two averse By righting wants too pleas.

Sow now ewe sea why aye dew prays Such soft wear for pea seas!

Published in: on November 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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