Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Little Rain Must Fall... and Gratitude

Friends, it's finally raining! Huzzah!
(I can almost hear the thirsty trees guzzle and gulp then sigh in relief...wipe their chins.) 

...has never written in the rain

Rainy days = lovely writing weather! 

Since it's supposed to rain through Friday, I'm going to hunker down, drink coffee and retreat back into my writing cave for the next several days. (MUST FINISH REVISIONS.)

But, before I hole up and disappear for a while into my rainy place, I have a few delightful 'things' to share with you...

source: http://fhrankee.deviantart.com/art/exploded-feelings-98953748

First up, these kind and wonderful writer friends have recently gifted me with blog awards:

Ann @ Inkpots and Quills
Kenda Turner 
Deniz Bevan @ The Girdle of Melian
Kittie Howard

I am grateful and honored. THANK YOU.
I hope you will visit all of them... say hello. 

And because I am inspired by music (I 'almost always'* write to music) and to pay homage to the rain finally falling and relieving our drought... 

This song drives me to my knees. One of my favorite songs of ALL TIME. (he wrote it when he first met his wife. dude, can you imagine?) Gives me goosebumps. Every single time. 

Here's another favorite...

And for good measure, here are more rainy day songs:

"Make It Rain," Tom Waits
"It's Been Raining," Kimya Dawson
"Buckets of Rain," Neko Case (covering Bob Dylan)
"Another Rainy Day," Corinne Bailey Rae 
"Raining in Darling," Bonnie Prince Billy
"I Wish It Would Rain," the Temptations
"None But the Rain," Townes Van Zandt
"It's Raining," Irma Thomas
"Purple Rain" Prince

And of course:

Do YOU like rainy-day-writing? Do YOU write to music? 
(will you forgive me if I disappear for a while to finish these damn revisions?)

*genius writing to be found here. sarcasm.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters

Elana Johnson, Jen @unedited and Alex are having a Writing Compelling Characters Blogging Experiment today. Here's my little entry. 

No matter what genre a reader prefers to read--some want fast-paced action, others want a slower paced voyage, perhaps even a love story--but EVERY reader wants to care about the main character(s).

Compelling characters, I believe, are THE most important part of any story. Without rich, intriguing, believable characters, it doesn't matter what stunning plot or adventure the book may have in store for us. We won't be reading it.

I'm a very character driven writer (and reader) and as such I work hard to bring my characters to life. I want my readers to believe my characters are so real they could smell them, reach out and touch them. I want them to think about them and care about them long after the last page.

So how do I (try to) do this?

 I know this may be unusual, (or not?) but  my main characters usually come to me out of nowhere, fully formed. It is then up to me to get to know them and understand their journey and motivations. (A lot of my first draft is spent doing exactly that.)

Here is my basic process before starting a novel:

*First, I won't bother starting any process until a character has bugged/niggled/begged me to listen. If I find I can't get him/her/them out of my head and I'm genuinely interested in knowing more...then I know it's time to hang out with them.

*I sit with my notepad (yellow legal pad or spiral notebook) and we chat. I take notes. I ask them about their past and their favorite foods and movies. I ask them about their fears and regrets, their hopes and dreams. But, usually, they tell me to shut up and urge me to get to the story...they have a lot more important things to tell me and show me. Usually they grab me by the arm and say "hurry up, slowpoke, let's roll!". 

*This is when I KNOW I'll have to learn the basics about them and their character flaws and favorite movies etc., during the journey. Because now my laptop is open, a new document is open and I'm typing furiously, trying to keep up with their story.

This goes on until I come to the end and have completed a first draft: a beginning, middle and end. 
During this rough draft I have come to know my characters quite well and have the basics of what their story is about. I know how they dress and why. I know what they like to eat, and where they live and if they're tidy or a slob or somewhere in between. I know their friends. I know if they have any pets. I know their jobs, economic status and spending habits. In fact, I know most of their habits, good and bad, by the end of my first draft.

Then comes the HARD part... *sigh*...

*The second draft (the first round of revisions) is where my work really begins. This is where I hack at the cliches, the plot holes and, most importantly, fine tune the character's emotional arc.
Before I start on the second draft, I interview ALL the characters, get to know them better, deeper. I get invasive in the extreme. And I don't let them talk me out of it.

I go back to that notebook and do a thorough bio on EVERY character in the book. (which I can also use to make sure my story is consistent in future drafts) I want to know everything that makes them tick...their mommy/daddy-issues, what their childhood was like, do they have nightmares, did they ever wet their bed...everything. Deep stuff. Stuff that pisses them off. Stuff that they often try and lie to me about or at least underplay it. But, this too tells me a lot. Most of this won't make it into the book, but it helps me know how a characters would react in a given situation, what choices they would make. This Deep Bio helps me know why and how they came to be the person I have spent time with, their deep, dirty secrets. (which I may get to exploit later! He he!)

* Regarding names: I find this to be one of the most important components to my character. I cannot write the first word until I know, am sure of, my MCs names. There's a lot at stake with a name. We can tell a lot about a person by their name and any nicknames they go by. I work hard to get names right.

*Just because you now know every detail about a character and her surrounding, doesn't mean you have to bore your reader with every little detail. Less is more. The point of you taking the time to learn every detail about your character is to know their motivations, what makes them tick. 

*I love unique (but believable) characters with quirks and depth. These are the characters that I remember for years to come. 
(Who doesn't remember the neurotic, guilt-ridden, quirky reluctant hitman, Martin?)

*Flat, cliched characters stop me from reading no matter the promise of a fantastical plot. The hard-boiled, heavy drinking detective? Really? *yawn* The clumsy, shy, smart, high school student? *yawn* 

*When writing your character's emotions, make sure you SHOW us, not tell us. As readers, we want to feel them with your characters.

These are some of the ways I work to make my characters believable and memorable. (I didn't get into antagonists, but to be sure, the process is the same) 

Want to read everyone else's take on writing Compelling Characters? (YES!) Link here

What do YOU do to make your characters compelling, believable?


Edited to add: I'm sorry for all the typos! I wrote this post quick and hit 'publish', because I'd forgotten about the 'experiment'/non-blogfest. *blushes* *sigh* *hangs head in shame*

Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Love and Friendship

Hello Friends,

I'm STILL working on revisions of my current WiP. 
I STILL have no title for this one. A title has to be perfect. I have faith that when the time is right the perfect title will hit me.

 I'm SLOW at revisions. I rip out huge chunks and move things all around, adding layers and depth, and then have to deal with the ripple effect. 
And so it goes. 
Word by word. 
Slow and grueling and lovely and evil and beautiful and frustrating.

I'm still in my grassy thoughtful spot, think, think, thinking. I am, after all, a bear of very little brain. 

While I've been unplugged and working and think, think, thinking I've been missing you.

And I've been wondering how you're doing, how your writing is going. 

I wonder if you know how much I care about you and the books we write...and all the books that have ever been written and shall ever be... 

Because I know it's hard to reach down deep inside ourselves and find the story in us that is about something, that's worth telling.

And I know how difficult it is to find the perfect words and string them together in the perfect way to honor the story worth telling. 

And I know how vulnerable and terrifying it is to put these hard/heart-earned words out into the world...to be judged. 

I know some of you are dealing with rejection letters and some of you are hitting best seller status this week. 
Perhaps some of you have just started your first chapter of your first draft of your first book.

Some of us are angry and upset about ignorant people trying to get books banned from our schools, from the children who NEED to read BOOKS that ARE ABOUT SOMETHING.
(Sept. 25th- October 2nd is Banned Book Week American Library Association- ALA)

So, yeah. It's hard. And meaningful, important, heartbreakingly lovely.
It's a major journey.

I'm so happy to be on this journey with YOU. My friends. 

What have you been up to lately? How is your writing going?  Have you had any breakthroughs, successes? 


PS- Speaking of friendship...I love you, Teenie. (she's been my best friend IRL for over 20 years.) HAPPY belated BIRTHDAY! 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Writing, Bonsai and Other Disasters

Revisions, Editing, Polishing, Drafts, Rewrites...

Whatever you choose to call it, I'm knee deep in the muck.

When I'm sitting quietly with my thoughts, I imagine revisions not unlike pruning bonsai. 

Any growth that does not belong gets eliminated. Every word must be justified; every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter edited to its most honest, authentic shape. 

Art and function must coexist and move the story forward.

Marcus Aurelius said, “Nowhere, either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble, do we retreat than into our own souls,” into what Melville thought of as “that quiet, grass-growing place” where a writer ought to work. 

I need the time, the spaciousness, to find that grass-growing place so that I can complete this WiP (the sexy working title: 'WiP 3'-- I know you're jealous). 

I will be going unplugged the next couple weeks, posting and commenting only sporadically (maybe an hour/week). 

I will try to zip through my reader, keep tabs on everyone from a distance. I'll check my email once/day and return any pressing emails. 
And, of course I will read your comments. I'll need them to get me through.

But I need to retreat into my writing self for a little while

I hope you understand.

Lastly, I'd like to welcome all my new friends. I look forward to getting to know you. 

In the meantime, feel free to look through my old posts...
and please visit my friends in my blog roll, and my friends in my comments. They're lovely. 

Please tell me, how is YOUR writing going?

Will YOU be joining me doing NaNo in November? 
(Buddy me there at: the-sharp-pen


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fantastical Writing Places and an Oath

"If you don’t think there is magic in writing, you probably won’t write anything magical." ~~ Terry Brooks

I love to fantasize about writing in magical places...

perhaps my own Imagination Island...

lovely, yes? What a perfect place to write!

I'd love to have you with me here...

Oh, before we move on, let me fetch my magical fairy dust...ya know, for transport...

I know it's in here somewhere...

A ha....

here we go...

just for you and me...

oh, we might need the magical fireflies to light our way...

off we go...to find our magical writing place...

follow the path...

just a little further... well, we could stop to write under the  tree...
next to the enchanted pond...

I think I could write some interesting things inside this house...

I know I would love writing here...

also, wouldn't it be fun to have any one of these charming little yummies in our backyards ... our own little writing cottage....birds singing...

source: Better Homes and Gardens

also from BHG

But, no matter where we write, the real Magic is ...


On that note...

Sweet  10 year old (almost 11!) Lenny from Lenny's World has a writing pledge.. I've taken the Writer's Oath.  Will you?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Welcome to the Party!

KarenG, author and sweetheart over at Coming Down The Mountain, had a fabulous idea to host a BBQ blog hop party! Since I'm a huge fan of BBQ's (nomnom) and I love to meet new people, I thought I'd join in on the fun. So come on in!

Here's how it works:

  • Head on over to Karen's blog and give her a follow.
  • Make a comment and share what food you're going to bring
  • Visit three blogs from the comment list and follow if you like
The more you comment and follow, the more activity you'll see on your blog and the more people you'll meet. #winwin

As for my usual weekend frolicking, there will be very little of said frolicking, but lots of writerly doings. Mostly I'll be catching up on critiquing for my CPs (sorry I'm so behind!), working on my revisions and helping my daughter work on her essay (on JD Salinger) for her AP lit class.

What are YOUR weekend frolicking plans?

Have a safe and delightful holiday weekend!

May your pen be mighty

May your pen be mighty

About Me

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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Create the MAGIC

Create the MAGIC

"Our imagination flies — we are its shadow on the earth."

~Vladimir Nabokov

Pure Imagination

Pure Imagination

not all who wander are lost

not all who wander are lost

drink the wild air!

drink the wild air!



coffee & doodle art love

coffee & doodle art love

Real Beauty

Real Beauty

Badass Ms. Parker

Badass Ms. Parker

my zen

my zen

I write therefore I am

I write therefore I am



Nano '12 Winner

Nano '12 Winner

music inspires me

music inspires me

Depeche Mode Inspires

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