Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Talk to your characters...

OK, just have to get this off my chest.

I admit it.

I talk to my SciFi series characters, Jake and Arlo.

The cool part is that they talk back. ;-)

No, I can't hear them, folks, I'm not that far gone. (Yet).

It didn't start out they way, and it doesn't always work, but most of time I set them in motion and watch the fun.

I talk to them while I'm writing a scene and then just let my imagination guide my fingers. I type out a scene in simple bullets. Then I go back and fill in the bullets with dialogue and 'color'. I keep adding bullets and filling in the gaps with character movements, dialogue and adding environment and action.

There's also a lot of 'nah, that's stupid' and rewriting but that's OK.

But it really is a cooperative effort. As Arlo and Jake 'grew up' in book one, it became easier and easier to just let them work things out on their own. I'm on book four and it's a more fun than I can describe to you.

Jake has a lot of me in his persona. I intended that way. I spent 9 years in the nuclear Navy, mostly on fast attack subs and shipyards, though I spent time in Idaho as an instructor. Yes. Idaho. I trained students to operate nuclear/steam power plants on the submarine prototype for the Nautilus, the first nuc sub. Weird, right?! Then I've spent the next forty years as a software developer.

Jake's back story has a lot of me in it. You're supposed to write about things you know or have experienced. Honestly, that part has been a lot of fun. I've taken lots of experiences I had in the Navy and in the software biz and molded them into situations in the 'Arlo and Jake' series.

And that's helped my characters 'talk' to me. I can play the scene in my head and on paper and then think back on times in the service or in the code mines that are similar.

We said and did some really outrageous things back when I first entered the Navy. We were young and stupid, that's the gist of it. Invulnerable and incredibly cocky. Stupid. But every 19 year old is stupid. You don't know squat at 19. The world is new and clean and just waiting for you to discover everything. What could possibly go wrong? Ah, that'll never happen, let's go for it!


I use those feelings to get Jake and Arlo to be stupid and brave. Fearless and instinctive. Awestruck at the new Universe they've been plopped into. It flows really well if I just get out of the way when I'm writing.

Arlo is the easiest to write. I can sum up Arlo in one word. 'Snarky'. I LOVE that word. A bit of know it all. A bit of swagger (for a chameleon ;-) and sauce. Arlo's got your back and he's going to never let you forget it. He's the first one with a plan and the first one with a gnarly, smart ass comeback.

The other characters talk to me in the same way. I set them up, wind them up and stand back to watch the chaos ensue.

How about you?

How do you deal with reticent characters?

I hope you have as much fun with it that I do.

Be Cool.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The hardest part about being an indie/novice writer is all the promoting. Yeah, that's right. The promoting is tons harder than outlining, researching, 'tinking about plot arcs and dialogue, writing, rewriting, throwing away and starting over, rewriting, cover art, formatting, rewriting, obsessing over a sentence or even a word until you want to rip the words out of your skull! Sheeew.

But promoting stinks.

It's embarrassing to have to shout 'Hey, buy my books, they're really, really good' through the Cyberverse on Twitter, Facebook and of course writing blogs.

But unless you have an instant hit (no I have not) or an agent, what else can you do?

So here are a couple of things I've learned. I hope they help you.

First: Relax. Don't stress out every minute of the day worrying about your next sale. I've done that and it doesn't help at all. Checking your Amazon or Barnes and Noble account every hour will not make sales magically appear.

Instead give yourself a schedule. Say once a day, maybe before you start working on your next story or after dinner. And stick to it. Don't sneak a peek just this once. It will spiral into checking it every chance you get. Discipline, grasshopper. Control yourself. Make it a habit. Once a day.

Second: Keep writing. The best way to get a readership is to give them more of your stories. The more you give, the more you'll get. Simple rule, but it's very true. Keep writing and publishing. You'll get more reader and you'll get better at writing.

Third: Let yourself enjoy the thrill of writing for it's own sake. You love it, or you shouldn't be doing it. It gives you joy. Let it. Nothing else I've ever done is as rewarding as writing a book. Following my characters as they jump and jive to my imaginary music is damn exciting and FUN!

Fourth: Tweet about your book, sure. But Tweet to other indie writers and check on their progress. Let them know you're interested in their stories. Tell them when you're stuck and help them out when they are. Twitter is for dialogue and friendship. I overdid (probably still overdo) it using Twitter as a sales platform. Promote your indie writer's books. Discuss good books you've read. Discuss terrible books you're read. Discuss why. Get involved and be friendly.

Fifth: Make Facebook page for you writing. Promote it. Keep it up to date. I think this is the best avenue for self-promoting your work. You can put so much more into a blog post or a Facebook post than a tweet. Show off your covers, invite discussions.

Sixth: Go find other sharing medias to explore.

But most of all, have fun. Explore and conquer my friends!

Be Happy

Be Cool

Just Be!