Archive for March, 2012

Relationships and Characterization

Intimacy and Relationships

This may seem obvious to most, but as a new writer exploring romantic fiction, it became glaringly apparent last week how important the subject of relationships is when coming up with convincing romantic characters. I mean, let’s face it. Romantic fiction is about the relationship, right? We love to see how the hero and heroine get together; fall in love, and make things work despite overwhelming difficulties and differences. It’s the development of their relationship that makes us want to read to the end of the story.

Personally, I’ve had few if any romantic relationships in my lifetime. Not that I haven’t wanted any; things just never seemed to work out to that end. I think like most I have dreams and ideas of the kind of man I’d want as a mate. Maybe someday I’ll meet “Mr. Right.” But for now, I have my imagination and my romance novels. Don’t feel sad for me. It’s not so bad. I am a very independent woman who enjoys her solitude…at times. So for me, the right man would not be intimidated by my independence and be intelligent and strong enough to stand on his own while allowing me to do the same. Of course, he’d have to be a real hunk too. LOL. But enough about my dream man, let’s get back to our subject.

As a writer I think it’s important to gain all the tools you need to write the best fiction/non-fiction you are able. Tools, like in any profession, are necessary to do your job right. Understanding relationships is just another tool, especially if you are writing any type of romantic fiction.

To sharpen this tool and add it to my arsenal, I’ve taken to exploring this subject and plan to make it a weekly if not a daily practice. Last week was spring break for me, but it didn’t slow me down because the fact is I need to write and keep pushing for my goals no matter what. So I took the time every day during spring break to research relationships.

Here are just a few of the articles, blogs, and websites I found. I’ll try to remember to include a few more in my weekly blog. They have already given me some great ideas for characters and their development.

AskMen.com has some really great content about men and what they are thinking, especially about women.

KD Neumann has her own website but also writes for DatingDivaDaily.com, a blog on dating.

Everyone knows about match.com. They have an archive of articles on the subject of dating and relationships.

Whenever I see a news article on yahoo.com that involves something I think might be related to or an example of dating and relationships, I read it. Here are a few articles I came across.

What men and women notice on dates

The truth about the lies men tell

5 Bad traits that make him a good partner

I hope you enjoyed my blog on relationships. Please, share your comments or other resources you’ve found helpful whether on this subject or something else entirely.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Show, Don’t Tell

Epiphany

There is no right or wrong way when it comes to writing. But as my teachers at UCO have told me, you need to learn the rules so you know how to break them.

One of the things I’ve been trying to comprehend and work on in my own writing this week is ”show, don’t tell.” This is a rule that is a basic skill taught in writing classes. For some reason I’ve been having trouble with this concept. So I’ve paid special attention to it this week and this is what I’ve discovered.

When you are writing about a character, it is critical to keep in mind that you are not necessarily describing what is happening to the character from a narration perspective. That often lends itself to telling. You need to get into a mindset where you are inside the character’s head and describing things from their perspective. This is showing.

Once I saw storytelling from this perspective, “Show, don’t tell,” finally made sense to me. Here is how I came this is conclusion.

This is the one criticism I got from my instructor after reading my first chapter in class that really stuck with me. I had struggled with this concept last semester as well. So I went back to my books from last semester’s “creative writing” and “writing the short story” classes and reread the material on this subject. I understood the material, but something was missing that I just couldn’t get a handle on.

Not finding any new answers there, I paid attention to the novels I was reading and noticed something interesting. The authors were showing, not telling. If there was any telling it was from the character’s perspective and was cast in the light of being something the character was thinking of, like sharing ones thoughts.

Making this observation, it still didn’t really click until I discussed my findings with my teacher in class this week. That is when the epiphany struck.

I’m not sure I still totally understand showing, but I’m getting there. I now have a better understanding of how to write my novel with showing and not telling. I just need to get inside my character’s head and write it from their perspective. Showing and not telling will take care of itself if I keep this in mind.

Of course this is only one aspect of showing. If you are storytelling from a third person perspective, that can be a little tricky, but doable. My teacher suggested I read Kurt Vonnegut Jr. for an example of showing using this perspective.

I really value my creative writing classes at UCO. If you ever need a group to critique what you are working on, I highly recommend taking one of these classes. Any of the CSDY 4910 classes will provide some critiquing. I’m thinking of continuing to take these classes even after I graduate just for this reason.

I’m working on my next chapter to read in my critique class after spring break. I’ll let you know how it goes.

5 Comments

Welcome!

Welcome to my journey of discovery as I learn about the process of writing. I am a creative writing student at the University of Central Oklahoma.

My purpose in creating this blog is two-fold. First, I am in a class called “Blogs: New Independent Media” that requires I create a blog. Two, I wish to not only share my journey to becoming a published author with other writers, but hopefully learn something from my readers in the process.

Currently, I am working on my first fiction novel, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance. Actually, I don’t know which category it will fit into right now, but that just about covers where I’m at right now with it. I finished my first eighteen pages of the beginning and had it critiqued in class a few weeks ago. I soon found out that I have a lot to learn about writing. I knew that going in, but it became glaringly apparent from the feedback I received from writers who have been at it a while.

So I’ve been reading all I can on the process of building a fiction novel ever since. For my writing class I need to come up with at least another twenty pages in the next eight weeks. Bring it on!

But I want to show some improvement in my writing, so I’ve turned to several books. If you haven’t heard of them before, you are really missing out. The reading is fascinating, but is rather overwhelming too. There is much more involved in writing a great novel than I ever realized, and while intimidating it hasn’t put me off from continuing to write. It just brought home how much I have to learn. Since I just started last semester I knew this wouldn’t be easy or quick. I’m in it for the long-haul.

If you are interested, the books I’m reading right now on the craft are Writing the Breakout Novelby Donald Maass and The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writersby Christopher Vogler.

Also, there are tons of articles online about writing as well. One of my favorite with a plethora of educational articles is Writer’s Digest. Visit their website at writersdigest.com. If you are interested in writing a Harlequin romance, check out their publication guidelines.

Three really great books covering the basics of writing are On Writing Wellby William Zinsser, Bird by Birdby Anne Lamott, and The Making of a Storyby Alice LaPlante. I studied these books in my writing classes last semester.

These books and websites hold some really great advice. I look forward to sharing some of the insights I gain with everyone. I hope you will do the same and please, share where you are in your writing journey. I’d love to hear from you.

Write On!

6 Comments