Thursday, September 16, 2010

Perspectives...

Sorry for the delay between postings.  College has been a little crazy and I'm still letting the dust settle.  Might have taken too many units this time around, so I'm cutting back a bit.  There are only so many hours in the day and so many days in a week.  I can only do so much at a time as I'm coming to realize.  And I have 2 more semesters where I can easily fulfill all the class requirements I need to complete.

I've also been fighting a bug, there's a flu going around at the campus.  He's easy to recognize kinda gross looking, bad attitude.  He's watching everyone go by and if you make eye contact he points at you to as if to say, "You're next."  Which is unfortunate because I was checking out a hot babe walking behind him.  Said babe, being my wife.  Ah, the price one pays for love.

Anyhow... this weeks subject Perspectives.  When I was in my early teens I became involved in magic thanks to a friend who was already a fine magician.  I started learning from him and then he introduced me to a local magic shop where I learned even more.  But there was a price to pay.  Once I knew most of the things to watch for, I could never view magic illusions performed by other magicians the same way.  I would watch for their presentation, their misdirection, and of course how the illusion could be reproduced.  My perspective had changed completely and all I could do was try to emulate and become a better magician myself and entertain others.  I found a lot of pleasure doing shows for others.  One of my best performances involved my wife as the "Assistant from Hell".  Not literally mind you, just that she wasn't the sparkly sweet kind of assistant most magicians used.  I may one day resurrect that act just for fun.  We both had a blast.

But what does all this have to do with writing?  Simple.  The more I've gotten inside the heads of my characters and how they react to the situations I've created, I've developed a new perspective on everyday life.  When presented with a problem or obstacle, I find myself mentally attacking it from several different angles at the same time.  Of course I'll only use one or two of the solutions, depending on how successful they were.  More than four and I'm ready to call in the expert.  My wife.

But this has become second nature for me.  I even wind up with story ideas from some of the various perspectives that I came up with.  You'll find this is true the more you write.  So remember to jot some of your more interesting perspectives and approaches.  You never know when they might prove useful.

And now, I will bid you all good night.  Sleep well and dream up more story ideas.  Any you don't like feel free to send to me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A 9/11 Message To All...

I don't normally do this, but I think it's overdue.  I'll get back to my usual blogging in a day or so.  So here goes...

I want to say thank you to those at Ground Zero 9 years ago.  To the police and fire crews who saw, suffered and lost especially.

But I also want to salute the ordinary people.  The ones who did not run away but towards the towers when the first plane hit.  The chefs, the mailman, the secretary, the construction workers... everyone who raced towards the place where people needed help.  You who pulled open your shirts, blouses, to reveal a huge "S" on your chest or maybe it was golden eagle, a lightning bolt or some other inspiring symbol.  You might not have even known it was there until that moment, and you acted.  You did all that you could assist your fellow human beings in trouble.  You didn't care about their race, religion, sexual orientation, or whatever.  You simply reacted to a tragedy of epic proportions and reached out.

Thank you and God Bless.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Drawing from Life...

Greetings one and all.  I survived my first week of College, got all the classes I wanted and a nasty case of Heat Exhaustion.  Doing better now, but it has been quite an experience.  Which brings me to today's topic...

A lot of people wonder where can they find inspiration, settings, characters to write about.  My answer is, look back on your life.  You may not think you've led a very interesting life or maybe you've been all over the place and have had numerous adventures and wouldn't know where to start.  In either case, you have a wealth of material to draw upon.

For example, in my novel I chose upstate Connecticut.  My grandmother lived there for many years and the place always fascinated me.  She was caretaker for a famous architect who owned a mansion there, that dated back to the 1600's.  Beyond the mansion was a 100 foot hill with a little cottage at the top.  While near the house my grandmother lived in was a large kennel, that housed the architect's numerous cats and dogs.  All of this was surrounded by rambling woods, a stream and some farmland. 

The town my Grandmother's place belonged to, was just a few miles down the road.  It had seen the Revolutionary War and many structures from that time are still standing.  So here was place with a long and colorful history, most of which I still do not know.  But, I can always go back and research it on-line to get more ideas.

I reinvented the town as well as my grandmother's home for my story.  My town is situated some 2 1/2 hours from NYC, and was about 10-15 minutes from either the state of  Massachusetts or New York.  I removed the mansion and the cottage on the hill, so I can use them in another story down the road.  I kept the kennel in the story and had my protagonist convert it into an art studio and workout room.  Then I added a large structure to the grounds, which holds a private ballroom for dancing.  So now I had the setting for my novel.  Not that hard really.

To help make my main character seem more real, I drew upon places other places from my childhood.  I did not change the names because I wanted to have actual locations that readers could recognized if they had ever been to them.  So Wantagh Park with its cement maze, large rockets made of piping (great to climb inside of), and Jones Beach with its brick tower appear in the story. These places were important to me, and I gave my feelings and impressions to my protagonist.

And that's what we want to do.  Make our settings and our characters be as real as possible to our readers.  We want them to feel like they've met these people or someone like them before, for good or for bad.  Remember, you've got other characters in your work who are not going to be likable. Just don't make those characters too easily recognizable because you could be slandering someone and get called on it. 


So be willing to draw upon your own life experiences.  Good or bad.  Even the ones that seemed not very interesting or outright boring.  You can always have something amazing happen during one of those "boring" moments, that suddenly launches your hero/heroine into an amazing or terrifying adventure. 

That's all for now.  Keep writing and take care everyone.