Saturday Writers

Tag Archives: Characters

Interview With A Fey

Inspired by Virginia’s wonderful author interviews, I thought it would be fun to see one from the other end of the spectrum.  This month I handed my turn over to Iowa Star reporter Grace Emerson for a character interview (or would that be character on character interview?).  Grace was lucky enough to catch Keely Fey, owner of Fey Creations Salon, between cuts and she agreed to answer a few questions.

So Keely, when were you born?

A lady never divulges her age.

I was actually asking about your birth on paper, when did you first come into existence?

Oh, that’s a little more complicated but I’ll give it a whirl.  I’ve been knocking around in Her head for ages.

Her?

You know, the one that thinks She made me up.  Anyway, I started out in an epic fantasy.

I take it that did not work out.

You’re telling me.  Epic fantasy was definitely not Her bag.  She may like to read them, but writing one?  That would be a big ol’ no.  Forcing an 80’s girl like me into a quasi-medieval world was a no go.

What made ‘Her’ change ‘Her’ mind and place you in a salon in present day Iowa?

Me of course.  I just kept telling Her how wrong the whole thing felt.  I was born in Iowa so it was logical that’s where I belonged.  I’m also cosmetologist not one of those sword and sorcery chicks She’s so fond of.  The biggest blade I hold is pair of six and a half inch shears and as for sorcery, my talents rest in making others look good.  Once She got that through Her head it was smooth sailing.

Smooth sailing?  From what I have seen, your life is far from smooth.

Okay, maybe not smooth, but I’m more comfortable, or I would be if it weren’t for the obstacles She tosses at me.

Having witnessed yours firsthand, maybe you could clarify for our readers just what you mean by talents.

I’m not sure how to explain it, in simple terms I guess it’s what Uns would call magic.  Before you ask, Uns are those without innate magic, unlike Ens who have magic hardwired into our DNA.

I see you looking at your watch, am I keeping you?

I have a set under the dryer and a cut in about 15 minutes so my time is pretty limited.

Do you have time for one more question?

Sure, as long as you don’t ask me to reveal any deep dark secrets.

What do you see in your future?

I plan to do what I do best, wielding my mighty shears and irons.  Beyond that…well, it’s a little shadowy.  Now I’ve got to get Lucille from under the dryer before her ears burn with more than gossip.

A big thanks to both Grace for taking over this month and Keely for agreeing to participate, she’s not always the easiest person to work with.

It’s all about me! (or you? or them?)

Yesterday at our monthly Saturday Writers meeting we got into a really interesting conversation about point of view, as in “writer’s point of view.” Jean (you know her; she was one of our bloggers until recently when life got in the way – Hi Jean!”) decided she’s going to write in a new point of view, which is what prompted the discussion. And in the process, we learned a couple of things, including the fact that I can’t say the word “Omniscient.” (You try it. Not that easy!) There are three primary Points of View (and a few twists on each of them, as well):

 

First Person – “I” point of view. Seen strictly from inside the protagonist’s head.

Third Person – “He/she” point of view. Seen from one or more characters, one at a time, and experience only what that character experiences.

Omniscient or Narrative– A narrator, who can be external or a character in the story, presents the tale to the reader. They can show us anyone’s thoughts or actions. It’s the most difficult POV to master.

 

Personally, as a reader and a writer, I’m a big fan of third person omniscient. I like being able to tell my story through the eyes of a number of characters (with appropriate scene changes and indicators to keep the reader following along nicely). I think this form has a number of benefits; it gives the narrator (me!) reliability because it’s clear I know everything. It lets the writer layer experiences and views, creating a rich landscape. And it covers more ground, because the writer doesn’t have to wait til the one-and-only viewpoint character comes across something to share the information. And make the POV universal omniscient instead of third-person – and things become tricky: I the writer can share with the reader things my characters don’t know.

 

There’s been a POV trend for the last decade of so – first person narrative. The story is told exclusively through the protagonist’s eyes. What he/she doesn’t see, neither does the reader see. What he/she doesn’t know, neither does the reader know. In some ways it’s more person… we’re living with and through the character, so we’re as closely “along for the ride” as we can be. But it’s also very limiting, in my opinion. It prevents a story from having all the layers it might have with the addition of other characters viewpoints. Often I won’t purchase a book that’s written in first POV because for me they tend to drag a bit. But I’m trying to broaden my horizons, and I just finished Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris, and I admit, I liked it. I’m also reading Lois Greiman’s Unzipped, another 1st person POV, and I’m enjoying it, too. So maybe as with all things, it’s the writer’s ability to handle the technique well.

 

So, I’m going to give in and test it for myself. Sometime this week I plan to rewrite Gemma’s opening scene in first person, and see if it improves, or doesn’t change at all, the strength of the piece. It should be an easy scene to experiment on, since it’s relatively short, somewhat active, and full of emotion.

 

I’ll let you know what I come up with.

 

In the meantime, what POV do you find yourself most easily immersed in? 1st person? 3rd? Omniscient?

 

 

 

Can Software Lead to Writing Happiness?

In my ongoing efforts to be a more organized writer, which in my fantasies means I’ll be a more effective writer, I’m test-driving various programs touted to help me structure my story, envision my plot, tackle my characters and organize my research. These programs hint that by using them, I’ll steer clear of the middle-of-the-book sag, the curse of the lifeless character and the gaping plot holes big enough to jump a herd of sharks through.

In my quest for organization, I’ve tested three programs, all in the $45-$80 range. I did not try Dramatica. As Amy, another Saturday Writer, so eloquently put it, “for the price you’d think it’d write the book for you.”

First up is Black Obelisks’sLiquid Story Binder XE. We try to pretend we don’t care about looks, but let’s make like John Edwards and tell the truth: we do. This is not a visually appealing program. In fact, whenever I open it, I feel a sense of dread because the page is so stark and demanding and cold it’s worse than starting a new file in Word. I don’t know how to explain it, but it makes me feel stupid and unworthy, that screen. Desperate to make it do something, anything, so I don’t feel so bad, I click on one of the pull-down menu options (Library, Files, Create, Open, Planners, Associations, Listings, Playlists, Workspaces, Shortcuts, Tools, Display, Preferences, About, aaaaaaahhhhhhggggggggggg! It’s just too much!). Under each menu option, there are at least a dozen more options. For example, under “Create” I can create a New Chapter, New Note, New Outline, New Checklist, New Builder, New Timeline, New Sequence, New Dossier, New Storyboard, New Image, New Song, New Gallery, New Playlist, New Recording or New Shortcut. Honestly, after muddling through all that I’m too tired to write. I want help, not a nervous breakdown. And what’s the difference between a Sequence, a Storyboard and a Timeline, I ask you? Even at the bargain price of $45.95, this isn’t the one for me.

Next up is Write Way. I like this program. It’s okay to look at… a bit on the Plain Jane side visually (and lord knows there needs to be a place for us Plain Janes of the world), but it’s well organized and not brain-scrambling in its complexity. It has many of the features I found helpful in the third program, with the added benefit of being able to write directly in it (you’d think that would be a core function of any of these programs but alas, it is not). This is a program for organizing your actual text more than designing a complete novel. One of the most helpful features is that you can store your book by scene, within chapters, within acts. This is great because if you decide to move a whole chunk around, you don’t have to retype, or cut and paste. You just drag it where you want it and et voila, it’s done. There are some cool printing features, too; you can choose Draft, Galley or Manuscript. The character charts are nice, again a bit plain to look at but plain has its place in the world. There’s a storyboard function but I haven’t quite figured out – so far it won’t play the way I like to play but I have hope. There’s a research area where you can store images, URLs, text, etc. Handy. Now, the good news is, this is the least expensive of the programs at $39 for the basic version. The bad news is that to get Outline, Storyboard, Synopsis, Research Folders, Future Book Idea Folders, the Galley print option and the ability to import your work from a word processor, you have to bump up to the Pro version which is the most expensive of all at $79.

Lastly we have Anthemion’s Writers’ Café, an attractive little program that can be had for under $50. Writers’ Café is attractive to look at. You wouldn’t think that was a big deal, really, but after working in Liquid Story Binder, you realize like size, it matters. At the main screen of the program, you have a number of tabs to pick from: Scraps (notes, photos, whatever); Storylines (visual and verbal storyboards that you can drag around, organize by plot line, color by character or scene type); Journal (doh); Notebook (a place you can type, but not like a word processor, unfortunately); Cookies (which are cute little quotes about writing and creativity – there’s a lot of cute going on in Writers’ Café); and Bookshelf, which is “help” plus the basics of writing, 101. There are templates for tracking character information. You can see your Storyboard in outline form. You can print it in manuscript form – but only the bits that appear in the Storyboard. Writers’ Café’s biggest flaw is a huge one, in my opinion: There’s nowhere to store your manuscript. It’s strictly a plotting and organizational tool. If it had but that one piece, I’d consider it as close to perfect as this sort of software can come.

Now if I can find software that’ll keep my butt in my chair and temporarily lock me out of any other program connecting me to the outside world (DSW is having a sale? I’ll just take a quick peek! I have got to unsubscribe from Harvey’s Horse Hut before I get one more hay sale email…)

Sara Ennis