Monthly Archives: March 2013

Not 20 Questions

Animal,

This week my family became pet sitters. Fortunately, my parents’ animals, whom we were caring for, consisted of a single dog and cat. The dog came to our house, the cat stayed at theirs.  Our current menagerie of animals has become used to the extra dog’s intrusion. That’s a good thing because this particular dog is elderly and suffers from depression when her papa (my father) is gone. She has to be coaxed to eat and no manner of treats will convince her to take her medicine. I have to force her to swallow the pills and even then, I’m successful only half the time.

The cat, on the other hand, is a breeze to care for. She, too, is elderly, more so than the dog, but she has no medication. We only have to feed her several times a day and cuddle. Being old, she is naturally thin and eats tiny amounts of food – thus the multiple feedings.

I’m thankful both animals survived the vacation. There’s not much worse for pet owners than being told your beloved fur baby died while you were out having fun.

Mineral,

My Inkwell writing group elected to extend our writing challenge deadline from last Sunday to this weekend. Initially I was thankful for the reprieve. However, I am still working on the piece. Evidently having an additional week did nothing but make me push the deadline more. We’ll just say “procrastination” is my new middle name.

This challenge is fairly easy – a straight description of a random location our character(s) wake up in. Not to bad, right? If I was using a normal writing style, sure. Sadly for me, my story includes hand written notes (clues) from a main character. I have to figure out how to work in the description so it’s found by a second main character. True, that bit’s not actually part of the challenge, but it’s what is keeping me from finishing the assignment. Silly me, making things more difficult than they need be.

or Vegetable.

Did you know the tea bags you buy in the grocery stores are what’s left on the drying racks after all the premium full leaf tea and then the mostly-full leaf tea is sold off? Yep. The grocery tea bags are full of the small, broken bits of tea leaves known in the business as “dust”.  To be sure, it is tea that you are drinking when you use them, just not the best.

I learned this bit of info from the many tea parties I’ve been to this month. A friend of mine sells full leaf, loose tea through a locally based company – Heavenly Special Teas. I’ve learned how to make green tea properly so it’s not bitter (and it’s still not my favorite); that the temperature of your water when brewing makes a huge difference (hotter for black, cooler for white), and that your preference for teas is often determined by your current body chemistry. Also, their scone pan makes excellent cookies!  Who knew?

Other:

I received my 5th Year ML Thank you Pen! It’s engraved goodness makes me smile every time I see it.

Also, Dr. Who premiers this Sunday.  Double bonus for our house – Dr. Who & Easter ham!

Lastly, Camp NaNo on Monday – get your hot dog & marshmallow sticks sharpened while you can!

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Who is that Character Really?

woman question markTravis Hicks asks in a comment: “How much does your character’s role depend on his or her gender? And could your character be any other gender? How would that impact your story?”

Daniel Swenson, on his blog Surly Muse, wrote a post about why he changed the gender of his MC.

Joss Whedon is often asked, “So, why do you write these strong female characters?” His answer, “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

Part of this week’s assignment for my writing group is to take a character (preferably the one we described in Week 1) and flip the gender.  The second half is to write 500 words on the newly gendered character’s reaction to an event (chosen randomly by our fearless leader).  It’s a good assignment, forcing us to use all our preconceived notions about the character and make them better.

Last week I wrote Chloe’s description  from the viewpoint of a private eye.  I’d rather not use her since I’m still working on the world building, which she features prominently in;  although Chloe having a street name would make it easier to switch ‘her’ to a ‘him’.

My random event involves abduction, so what I can do instead is have the gender switched character be 5 questionseither the private investigator, J.G. Cooper, or the detective, Smith. I almost prefer to choose the PI, because then I could have Chloe abduct the PI.  But it works just as well if the abductee is Detective Smith while the PI searches for him/her.  Neither one have a specifically defined gender at the moment. Who would you choose?

Whedon’s quote doesn’t quite fit this topic, however it does point to the fact that there are a lot of poorly written books where women are the scenery. The next time you write a story ask yourself, could this be better if he was a she (or vice verse)?


A Sucker is Born Every Day…

…today looks like mine.

The #500wordsaday group is still going strong; myself and the story, not so much.  To give myself the kick-in-the-butt it appears I need, I’ve joined another writing group. This one has weekly assignments, is small enough to keep up with, and is quirky enough to make me laugh.

This week’s assignment is to write a character description. We’re not told what to do with the character, just to describe him/her.  We are promised mayhem and challenges in future assignments using said character.

Because of this uncertainty I didn’t want to use any of my current characters, even though it would be fairly easy to describe them. I was stymied until I came up with a name – Ghost.  Now, it is easy to jump to conclusions and assume that Ghost is male, some kind of street thug or killer for hire and has some tragic back story.  I’ll admit I was struggling with Ghost as a male.  It wasn’t until I was sitting at my favorite cafe in town that I figured it out.  He was a she and while a street kid, most definitely not a thug and she had no back story.  And her name was Chloe.

Here’s what I wrote:

Case #113 J.G. Cooper, PI

Subject:               Female of unknown origin/race
Age:                        Appears  19 yrs
Name/Street:  Chloe (no last name)/Ghost
Description:     Worn jeans, lanky thin, dark hair, long-sleeved t-shirt, old leather bomber jacket, blue eyes. See report below.

 December 21, 2019

The following is taken from Detective Smith’s personal records.

“If you see her you think she’s a street kid – too old for an urchin, too young for a person. She has that look; not beaten down by life, but wary. Long thin limbs, dark worn clothes, she’s pretty ordinary for someone who keeps to the shadows. Her prize possession is a family heirloom, a 1940’s bomber jacket worn constantly. But she won’t tell you that; she doesn’t talk.  She can, or so I’ve heard; she just doesn’t.

Dark hair gleams with hints of cinnamon and just brushes the tops of her shoulders. You won’t ever see that cinnamon unless you catch her dancing along the shoreline at sunrise. They also say it’s the only time you hear her sing – happy, quiet bursts of melody offered to the morning.

When she smiles, her pale blue eyes light up her face and for that moment everything seems cleaner. The smell of warm, fresh rain follows in her wake.

If you need her, wait by the noisiest babble of the stream, the center of the largest treed park, or the porch of your favorite tea house. She’ll appear, like magic, only it’s not – just your inattention. Give her a small stone from your yard or house and your request. If she takes it, you’ll get your wish.  If she doesn’t, you’ll never see her again.

All of this is rumor – whispers on the street. No one will answer your questions. I’ve yet to meet her myself.”


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