It’s been a while, I know, fortunately Jude remembered this blog existed and emailed a contribution. Sorry for the lateness, Jude.
Her entire email is below (copy and pasted because I’m lazy – although I’ll take credit for the italics). Please note Ray Bradbury didn’t die today it’s just been a long time since I checked the email.
As you know, Ray Bradbury died today. Not that I really know his work but there was an interesting quote from him on the People.com website today. I thought it might work for the blog because it explains, very simply, the difference between science fiction and fantasy, something I’ve often wondered about.
A true iconoclast, Bradbury refused to be pigeonholed. “First of all, I don’t write science fiction,” he said. “I’ve only done one science-fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time – because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”
Meetings start up again in September – don’t forget!
Last month Sarah gave a presentation on creating, and maintaining, sexual tension between your characters. She was awesome and posted a summary for those of us who couldn’t make it to that meeting. Click on the link below to check out her blog.
I hope everyone’s ready to celebrate because the 25th anniversary is only three weeks away!
That’s all I really wanted to say about it except that I hope to see you there. I’ll be the one drinking in the corner at 10AM and being generally unapproachable.
I’ve only had one blog post submitted since I sent out the call 3 months ago. I don’t go to many meetings anymore so I need someone to keep this blog in the loop.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out Jude’s post on the importance of research.
Dust your Crayons Off:
Don’t forget to sketch up some logo ideas for our contest. Make sure they’re in before midnight on May 11th. Grace just sent out an email with all the deets so you can send your submissions to her. I don’t want to post the email here because I don’t want her getting a bunch of unsolicited photos of wangs.
I recently read a novel by a very, very big name writer in which her character makes reference to a member of her family tree who was burned at the stake during the Salem witch trials.
I don’t think so. In doing my Elizabethan research for a time travel novel, I inadvertently read about these trials. I’ve checked this information again since reading the above mentioned novel, and am convinced that there were no burnings in Salem. The “witches” were hung although I think one gentleman was pressed to death. Burnings were generally held in Britain and Europe, sometimes after the victim had been strangled.
Now, this may seem like a small thing but I was disappointed that this bit of research had been overlooked. I guess we could say that it was the character’s relative alone who was burned at the stake and that it was never documented. If so, this should have been something the character explained in the book. After all, do you want to rely on a bunch of savvy readers who know their stuff to give you the benefit of the doubt? Trust me, readers love to catch you when you stumble.
Years ago I wrote a book set in Alaska, somewhere I’d never been (under the ‘write what you know’ rule). Because I pride myself on being as accurate as possible, I actually phoned someone at the chamber of commerce and asked him what he saw when he looked out his west-facing window. Did he think I was crazy? Probably, but he didn’t hang up on me and I got to know if he was looking at the ocean or at mountaintops It mattered to me, and it most likely mattered to the people living in that city in Alaska.
Research is vital! Editors look for it and quite rightfully expect the facts in your story to be accurate. Do yourself a favour and make sure there are no holes in your manuscript. Editors will love you for it, and you will make the very best name for yourself.
If you struggle with creating believable characters or wrestle with authorial plot manipulation than you should have been at the last meeting. If not, well congrats – you’re awesome, but for the rest of us it was chock full o’ handy info on developing believable, realistic characters who will drive your plot.
Jude Wilner not only let us peek through the window of her character development process but she also shared her character chart with us. Hers goes beyond the basic information (name, eye colour, height, weight) and delves into all the dirty stuff that makes her (your character, not Jude) who she is. I’m not going to reproduce it here because you can find examples of character charts all over the internet and you’re probably better off creating your own anyway.
The first step is to identify the character’s attributes. That’s the easy part. The second step is to justify them. It’s all well and good to have a list of quirks for each of your characters but you have to know why they behave in that certain way. Does she bite her nails? Does she ride a motorcycle? Does she hate cats? Awesome, but why? Despite everything my dad would have me believe ‘because I said so’ just isn’t going to cut it.
Your experiences have shaped you and it should be the same for your character. Me? I have a paralyzing fear of stairs with open risers. Why? I suspect it’s because when I was two I fell down a flight and cut my face open. Those of you who have met me may have seen the scar. I don’t notice it anymore but it’s there and it has a story and if you ever see me clinging for dear life to a filthy banister while I take painfully cautious steps up a flight of open-riser stairs, you’ll know why. Interestingly, my fear of open-riser stairs overrides my fear of pathogens on banisters. My fear of zombies would probably override my fear of open-riser stairs but I’d like to not ever have to find out for sure.
Anyway, the take home message is that real people are complex, even the boring ones, and your characters should be too. If you create strong, believable characters they’ll practically write their own story.
A more detailed summary of Thursday’s presentation will be included in the next Connections newsletter. If you ask Jude nicely she might make a copy of her character chart available on the website or via email.
In other news, there are tumbleweeds blowing through the blog submission inbox. This is going to be a pretty frickin’ boring place if no one else contributes. If I don’t get some volunteers here I’m going to have to start pestering people and that will involve a whole bunch of swears and prolonged moments of awkward, accusatory eye contact.
Here’s a picture of Bon Jovi giving you the stink eye for not participating in this whole blogging thing yet.