Wasting Time

Like many people, I’m not independently wealthy. That means I have to work for a living. Therefore, my writing time is reduced by approximately eight hours five days a week. Unfortunately I often don’t use my remaining time wisely. There are lots of things I can do that don’t include writing or thinking about writing.

There is a category of non-writing activity which is essential. This is the time needed to stay alive in a human fashion. You spend time with loved ones. I keep my mind alive by reading or going to an art gallery. There is also a legitimate need for simple recreation.

The trap lies in the legitimacy. When I extend the time needed for these things unnecessarily, I rob myself of writing time. This is time I will never get back. Read what Terry Rossio, the prolific screenwriter, has to say in his post called Never Wait.

Then there is the damage caused by self inflicted injuries. How much writing have I failed to create because I was busy causing health issues by overdrinking or overeating? Those are novels and screenplays that I will never write. How much better a writer could I be if I had spent prior years more productively?

Even if it’s only a few hundred words on a blog, write something. Today. Now. Go.

It’s a great day to be alive!


Character Conflict

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

I’m not nearly arrogant enough to think I can improve on Card. It worked for Ender. It can work for you and me.

Apparently, George, R. R. Martin has also said “Nobody is a villain in their own story.”

So there it is; the challenge. If I don’t know my antagonist well enough to love him, how can I know enough about him to crush him convincingly? Isn’t that what the readers want from the storyteller?

The novel I’m currently rewriting suffers from a problem. The hero goes through his world, conquering as he goes, barely breaking a sweat. YAWN. I think I have misunderstood both protagonist and antagonist.

My rewrite is starting with me rethinking the protagonist’s weaknesses and the antagonist’s strengths. What can my villain do that threatens the hero so thoroughly that destruction is possible? If that threat isn’t credible, why should a reader part with his money to read it?

Also, why does the villain think he’s heroic? Unless he’s a comic book villain who delights in evil, the story villain is a hero to himself. I need to know my villain so well, I can find time to show his humanity. Who does he love? If no one, why not? Does he pick up the stray cat or kick it? If my villain is patient with those who disagree with him, his opposition to my hero becomes more complex, less reflexive.

Keep writing!

It’s a great day to be alive!

Learning to write!

Welcome to my new blog. It’s about learning to write because that’s what I’m doing. I’m not published yet but I write. I have a point of view, therefore I write. We’ve all heard the someone say, “If you want to learn something, teach it.” I’m not sure how true it is but we’ll all find out.

Here’s my first insight for my first blog. Sometimes I have a hard time figuring my characters out. Part of my difficulty is that the process is too academic. They aren’t real people. In order to give them flesh and blood, take them out for coffee.

Yeah, that’s it. A lot of us write in coffee shops anyway. And many of us have met a friend with a problem in a coffee shop. It is my belief that more therapy goes on in coffee shops than anywhere else in the world. We can all solve the problems of the world over a cup of coffee.

So create a conversation with a character. It’s not part of the story exactly, but you’re trying to get inside their head, like you would with a friend.

“So what’s going on?”

“It’s my wife, man. She’s driving me crazy.”

“Crazy how?”

And on it goes. Let the character tell you what’s happening. Hear their voice. Hear how their vocabulary is different from another character.

Then listen to your answers. We always try to find the easiest way for our friends to fix their situation. That would be the first thing your character should try. It won’t work because you won’t let it. Then they try the second idea and the third until you finally decide they have learned whatever life lesson it is they need to learn.

Have a great one.

It’s a great day to be alive!