Tag Archives: writing

Doctor Who and The Black Moment

Thanks to Jennifer Crusie and Who Sundays on her Argh Ink blog, I’ve started watching Doctor Who (the new series with the ninth, tenth, and eleventh doctors). I watched the first episode, “Rose” and thought, “This is pretty good. The killing mannequins are a little hokey, but I like the characters and the show.” So then I watched the next episode and then the next, and in two weeks I’ve watched 4 seasons plus all the specials.

Someone could have warned me that Doctor Who was TV crack!

I can’t get enough. I love this show. The characters are fun, the writing is brilliant, and the situations always go from bad to worse. As I watch and wonder what clever way the doctor will get everyone out of this mess…bam!…the situation goes from worse to absolute disaster.

What? There’s no way they can get out of this! Someone’s going to die. Will it be a companion? Will it be the Doctor?

Talk about action packed fiction! Wow.

My family thinks I’m crazy watching this show…(well, perhaps it’s not the show so much as my obsessive viewing). What they don’t realize is that I’m not merely watching, I’m working. Doctor Who has actually improved my writing.

Last week, I’d been contemplating a black moment, the part of the story where all seems lost. It wasn’t working. It didn’t have the impact it should…probably because the moment was more gray than black. Watching the depth of trouble the Doctor and his gang get into, and the clever ways they get out of them helped me push further and think up a darker, better, more meaningful black moment. It worked. I’m very excited about what I came up with.

So the next time the family interrupts me with a “You’re watching this again?” I can reply, “Shh. I’m working.” 😉

Are you a Doctor Who fan? Who is your favorite Doctor? If you’re a writer, what TV shows or movies helped improve your writing? Please leave a comment, but no spoilers. Today I’ll be watching David Tennant’s last episode, The End of Time, Part Two.

~ K.M Fawcett

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Character Arc ala Michael Hauge

A while back I wrote a blog post about Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure, which I’ve found to be an incredibly powerful tool for plotting my characters’ inner and outer journeys, as well as the story’s turning points and black moment.

Today, I want to talk more about character arc.

A character needs to grow and change. He starts with one viewpoint at the beginning, but the events in the story serve to change that character’s viewpoint by the end. Michael Hauge says, “The character arc is the transformation from living in fear to living courageously. A character will arc when he moves from his identity to his essence.”

Identity = emotional armor (facade) worn to protect himself from some wound.

Essence = who the character is when the emotional armor is stripped. True self.

At the beginning of the story, a character will have an emotional need that he may or may not be aware of. The emotional need will probably manifest itself as a physical goal (the outer goal). But the physical goal is primarily a symbol representing the emotional need (the true inner goal).

For example, the hero’s outer goal might be to win the big promotion at work. But what does the hero truly desire? What is his emotional need? Perhaps the promotion will give him the approval he’s been seeking. Or perhaps a sense of accomplishment.

Why does this character have this emotional need?

An emotional need grows from an emotional wound. This wound creates the character’s beliefs. The character will make choices and decisions in his life based on these beliefs.

If our example character desires approval, it could be because his girlfriend’s parents dislike/disapprove of him. Or perhaps he desires a sense of accomplishment because he has failed too many times in the past.

The character’s wound will create a fear. In order to never experience that fear again, the character creates an emotional armor, his facade (his identity). If our example character fears disapproval, he may become a doormat, letting people walk all over him or take advantage of him at work. If he fears failure, he may cheat or lie in order to get the promotion

Though the outer motivation is the same–winning the promotion–each unique wound and fear gives rise to different inner motivations resulting in different story conflicts.

The essence is who the person really is or really wants to be. By the end of the story the character discovers their true essence. In a romance (which I write), the hero will chose to live in his or her essence, giving the reader their happy ending.

To sum it all up…

From a character’s wound grows a fear, which gives way to his identity (emotional armor). The only way he can obtain his emotional need is to step out of his identity and into his essence (true self).

“The character arc is the transformation from living in fear to living courageously.” – Michael Hauge

For more information, check out Michael Hauge’s website.

~KM Fawcett

Stumped for Story Ideas?

newspapers

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

This by far the most common question I’m asked by readers and other writers.  I’m going to share my little secret. Some of my plot ideas come from news headlines. Here’s my trick:  I don’t click through to the article. Instead, I let my imagination fill in all the details.

Obviously, not all headlines are created equal. Take the following:

First of all, we skim right through celebrity news.

  • “Surprise Proposals Shock Bachelorette”
  • “Octomom Dons Tacky Wedding Gown”
  • “Jennifer Hudson’s White-Hot Ensemble”

 Sorry, even I can’t do anything with these. Moving on to politics:

  • Senate Narrowly Passes First Budget in Four Years
  • Health Insurers Warn that Premiums could Spike

 Yawn. I got nothing.

 Next up:

  • Crude Joke Costs Two People their Jobs”
  • “Fighter Apparently Tried to Fake Own Death”
  • “Shootout in Texas may be Linked to Colo. Deaths”
  • “Manhunt Begins in Coney Island Shootings”
  • “Congolese Warlord Arrives at War Crimes Court Jail”

Jackpot! This is what I’m talking about. Reading any one of these headlines gets my imagination rolling. My brain is already making connections and naming characters.

In fact, there are many occasions when I have a plot hole and I need an event and I go perusing headlines to find just the right one.  Using headlines and actual events to spur my fiction gives my story lines realism. The only caveat: sometimes real events are truly stranger than fiction and critics will call your “real” event “unbelievable.”

Thank You from the Conference Chair

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Thank you flowers from LSF Writers. Aren’t they lovely?

Yes, I am tooting my own horn, but IMHO this weekend’s Create Something Magical Conference went wonderfully. There was so much energy, excitement and enthusiasm in the air from start to finish.  I have to give a huge thank you t o my conference committee. They are an amazing collection of individuals and I certainly couldn’t have pulled it off without them. Because I did have such a great committee I was able to set the conference chair on the shelf for a few minutes and pitch my manuscript.  I received multiple requests for my work SQUEE! Go Me.  But in all seriousness, the conference ran as smooth as it did up to and through the actual day of the conference because of my fabulous committee.

I also have to offer a HUGE thank you to Jonathan Maberry. He was an incredible and inspiring keynote speaker plus he’s been a great support of the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference from the beginning.  There are not words enough to thank him.

Much gratitude goes out to all of the speakers who offered their time and expertise.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about every workshop.

To all of the editors and agents that attended we so appreciate you give up your Saturday to join us. Thank you for listening to pitches and for speaking on panels and offering your insights on the industry.

Thank you to all of the attendees, readers and writers alike. The conference certainly wouldn’t happen without you and all of the excitement and energy you bring with you. To all of your who pitched I wish you much luck on your submissions. For those who didn’t next year will be your year.

Finally, I’d like to send a mega shout out to Kim Rocha and all of the Book Obsessed Chicks. You throw one heck of a party, ladies. I was thrilled to have you there.  Next year, I’ll have to make a point to get in on at least one line dance. 😉

It really was a magical weekend. I hope to see everyone back next year! For now, the conference chair is going to take a nap.

~Best
Rayna

Setting the Mood with Music

1374422_headphones_1The other night I was chatting with author Carolyn Gray on twitter. She was mostly satisfying my idle curiosity about the legal plausibility about some things I’d seen happen on a television show, but then I had to have a fan girl moment. If you know anything about my reading preferences, you’ll know I’m a real sucker for two things: rock stars and secret babies. Carolyn is the author of a very angsty, m/m romance  entitled  A Red Tainted Silence which features rock stars (but no secret babies unfortunately). Suffice to say I loved the book.

During our brief discussion, the subject of mood music came up. She mentioned to me that while righting Red she’d been listening to Savage Garden. Me personally, I have a hard time writing while listening to music. I spend more time singing then writing,  plus quiet helps me focus. It lets me hear my characters so to speak.  But I can understand setting the tone by listening to music before you actually sit down to write. So, what’s you’re stance on mood music for writing? Are you the type to plug in your headset and blast the tunes or do you have other ways of getting just the right atmosphere for the scenes you want to get down on paper? If you’re a music person what’s on your writing soundtrack?  Or, do you have other means then music to help you get in the right head space?

 

Revisions and the Value of a Fresh Perspective

Woman reading bookI’ve learned an important lesson recently:  I am not always the best judge of my own work.

My deadline for SHE CAN SCREAM was tight. This was my doing. I wanted to push myself and my career, but the compressed time frame didn’t for much “thinking” time, those days when I stare at my plot board and let my imagination go. Writing the first draft in 10 weeks was a huge challenge for me. Yes, I know plenty of people who can crank out a draft in half that time, but not me. I am not a fast writer.

Anyway, I finished the draft and 2 rounds of revisions. Even after my agent read and approved the manuscript, I still had concerns. (I always doubt my own writing) But the deadline had arrived. So, holding my breath, I pressed SEND.

After a glorious 10 days of not having to work on this book, my developmental editor returned it. Yay! Only one of my concerns turned out to be valid, and fairly easy to correct once she pointed it out in the document. But in reading through her comments, there were a number of remarks that surprised me, places in the book where she felt my heroine sounded cold or mean. I reread the text over and over and couldn’t see it.  As a writer, my first instinct is to reject criticism that doesn’t seem logical. But the emotional impact of words isn’t something that can be predicted with an algorithm.  If my editor was put off by these sections, some readers will surely have the exact same reaction to the text that she did.

Different people can read the same words and have completely different reactions to them. 

When people open a book, they don’t do it alone. They bring their own history and personality with them, and their reactions can be as different as the lives they’ve led.

So, I’m off to rewrite these sections of text to make sure the emotions I intended to convey are clear to as many readers as possible. And I’m thankful that this book still has two more layers of editing, with two more entirely fresh perspectives, before it goes to print.

I Feel Like A Duck

ducksOkay, I admit to not knowing what to write for today’s blog. I was going to put up our black belt demo from two weeks ago just for fun–because we all can use some fun right about now–but we did it to the song Gangnam Style and I didn’t want to violate any copy write laws, so I nixed that idea.

I’m not feeling particularly inspiring today, (don’t know if I ever really inspired anyone, but I did get a few likes on past posts, so I must have done something right). Besides how can I inspire anyone when I’m struggling to keep it all together myself? I just turned in the second round of revisions for book 1 and am polishing up book 2 to hand in. It’s *ahem* late. My editor probably hates me. 😦

I feel like a duck: trying to keep afloat by paddling like hell.

I still have presents to wrap. Actually I still have presents to buy. Yes, I am behind on Christmas. In fact, the only reason Christmas cards have been sent, the house is decorated, and presents have been bought and wrapped is because I have an amazing husband. I was ready to skip the yearly Christmas cookie bake-a-thon tradition this year, but my twelve year old was so disappointed that I caved. We called grandma and she was able to come down the next day. Though we didn’t bake as much as we normally do, we baked a lot. And it was fun! I’m so glad we spent the time together, because that is what life is all about, right? 🙂

Back to the blog…I need your help. I need some ideas to write about. What are some topics you enjoy reading about? What would you like to see more of at Attacking The Page? Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like a duck?

You know I love hearing from you so please leave your comments below.

Since I’m not scheduled to blog again until January, let me wish you all a happy, healthy holiday season and an incredible new year!

~K.M Fawcett

_____ is Like Boiling Water

IMG_0003Learning through practice is like pushing a cart up a hill: if you slack off, it will slip backwards. – a Japanese proverb.

Back in June, I wrote a post (The Difference Between Men and Animals) on the first principle of Gichin Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate. Today, I wanted to discuss the eleventh principle, which pertains to everyone, not just martial artists.

Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state.

The book explains that continuous study, concentration and diligence is the hallmark of success. Random practice is not sufficient.

This is true of any life pursuit. Go ahead and fill the blank in for yourself.  _______ is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state.

banner300x300In the event you filled in the blank with the word WRITING, then perhaps you’d like to know of another opportunity for you to continue your writing training: the Liberty States Fiction Writer’s Conference in Woodbridge, NJ on Saturday March 16, 2013. This conference is for writers AND readers. Not only did I find my agent through this conference, but I also received a publishing offer (I ultimately signed with a different house, but still…magical things do happen in NJ!) There are plenty of workshops to continue craft and a book signing too.

No matter what you filled in the blank with, make sure you keep practicing it. Since this is the time of year to reflect on 2012 and prepare for 2013, this is a good time to think about how you will continue your practice.

What did you fill in the blank with?  What are you planning to do to continue practicing it? I love hearing from you! Please leave a comment below.

~K.M. Fawcett

Listening to Our Muses

Four MusesA short while ago, I got together with a group of friends, most of whom were readers not writers.  It’s always fun  to get together with people who are strictly readers because they are always so fascinated by the creative process.  The things that are mundane to a writer, because that’s just how we operate, hold endless wonder for readers. I think that’s so awesome. When reader/writer gatherings occur, without fail, the question Where do your ideas come from? always gets asked. All artists have muses. They provide us with fodder for the next project constantly. Inspiration for stories is all around us everyday. Any little thing that sparks our interest can be the spring board for an entire novel, be it a news article, the scenery around you, an off hand comment from a friend/family/colleague.

What I find more interesting as both a reader and writer is how those ideas are in turn communicated to us.  I have writers friends that talk  about having characters pop into their heads and start talking, telling their story.  While I sometimes wish it would, it does not work that way for me at all.  I get movie clips in my head of these terrific scenes. It’s then up to me to translate them from an image into words. I have to figure out how bring the scene to life  so that a reader can generate their own version of that scene.  I probably function this way as a byproduct of being plot driven more so then a character driven writer. However, once I have the scene, then the trick becomes figuring out what characters are right for that scene and the story as a whole.
So I pose this question to all the writers out there, as I find is infinitely fascinating,  how do you get your story ideas? Do you see movie clips? Do you have characters wondering around in your head in search of the right plot? Please share.

~Rayna

 

 

Going For The Groin

Erik and me on Tsuken Island (Okinawa – 2011) Click the picture to fully appreciate Erik’s expression. 🙂

A while ago, I had received an entry back from a writing contest. The judged submission included a scene where my hero and heroine were caged together to breed gladiators for the Survival Race–a blood sport where the last man alive wins. My hero was eager to mate. My heroine…not so much. In fact, Addy fended off Max’s advances with a knee to the groin.

Addy’s knee-jerk reaction (sorry bad pun) was quick and effective. I liked it. The judge didn’t. Her comment was that my heroine “wouldn’t have been able to knee the hero in the groin because men protect that area all too well.”

What! Was this judge serious?

Was she really suggesting that a woman shouldn’t target the groin? Ever? Apparently she has:

  • Never taken a self-defense class. I don’t know of a self-defense instructor who doesn’t teach how to strike the groin. It’s a great target for a woman to strike because it doesn’t require strength to cause debilitating pain thanks to sensitive nerve endings.
  • Never practiced a martial art. Not only do martial artists learn how to protect their groins, they learn countless ways in which to strike them too. Seriously, it’s almost an art in and of itself. You can strike it with your heel, the ball of your foot, a knee, a shin, a hip, a punch, an uppercut, a back fist, an elbow, a ridge hand, and a slap just to name a few. We haven’t even talked about weapons yet. Oh, and don’t forget the grab and squeeze! A Chinese woman actually killed a man earlier this year by squeezing his testicles.
  • Never heard of the no hitting below the belt rule in sports. Even in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), a fighting sport that lets you get away with a lot, doesn’t stand for that. I found 31 fouls in the rulebook on the UFC website. Number seven is no groin strikes of any kind.
  • Never heard of a protective cup. Again on the UFC website, the first piece of protective equipment required is a groin protector for the men. Not to mention companies insuring martial arts schools require them too.

If men “protect that area all too well” then why is it necessary to make safety rules, and hard plastic or steel shields? Hello! The reason is because you only need a small amount of pressure to create a lot of hurt. A finger flick can make a member sore.

Granted that the groin may not be the opportune target every time. Men can and do protect that area. But not always well enough, and not when they least expect it (the latter was the case in my scene). If they protected themselves 100% of the time, there wouldn’t be hours of footage on YouTube and America’s Funniest Home Videos with surprise hits to that most tender area.

Needless to say, I didn’t change that scene. It’s a good thing too, because my editor’s comment upon reading it was, “Good Girl. Ha!”

So what do you think? Do you agree with the judge or the editor? I love hearing from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

By the way, if you’re interested you can read this scene in my debut novel, CAPTIVE, available now for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Captive releases electronically April 1st and in print April 2nd.

~K.M. Fawcett