Posts Tagged ‘authors’

Other authors, you know how it is. You love your characters–all of them. To you, they are not fictional. They are the cast of a movie you direct, your coworkers and co-laborers. They have good days; they have bad days. Regardless, you never want to remove their salary and send them packing. They are your friends and allies, your creative partners. They belong. Or do they?

Some, necessarily, don’t.

Today I sit at my desk (back up in the attic I almost always glean creativity from), Google-ing, white-boarding, typing, and thinking out my novel. I deliberate on whether a character adds confusion or depth to the story. I have no idea what I will do if I have to delete him and rewrite the back-stories on three of my main characters. Then again, every time this character’s part of the story comes up, I just can’t seem to make it come out right.

Sadly, cutting characters–even characters we love–is a necessary part of the journey of a writer. Being willing to do it is what allows you to actually finish a novel. Do not be afraid, my fellow writers. Sometimes it is when we make those cuts that our creativity shifts into overdrive and we discover something infinitely better!

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Looking at the portrait of ‘The Sun King’, Louis XIV, I had to laugh at his red, high-heeled shoes. Until, that is, I read the reason for his heels. He was trying to add height to his small frame. Kings–especially–I knew had vanity, but perhaps we can look at the insecurity witness here instead of the pride. We all–even kings–are nervous about ourselves.

I purchased a laptop today, my first major purchase that came directly from my earnings ever. My last computer was a graduation present; my car was a barter with my parents for educational accomplishments. This laptop was entirely my own purchase. It terrified me. Since when was I old enough to buy something so expensive? And how was it intelligent to make a big purchase when I am about to begin the life of a possibly poverty-stricken author? I was nervous about my own abilities to make such a big decision. It might sound small to you, but it took a little less than half of all I have managed to hold onto through the years to make that purchase and my employment status is about to get tricky.

Yet buying it was absolutely the right decision. I had saved the money; I cannot write, publish, or work without a computer; I was getting a deal; my current laptop is near death; and I had benefited from my techno-wiz brother’s aid in picking it out. The time for me to buy had come. So maybe the insecurity was not so much about the laptop as it was about my future. Big surprise there, right? With every passing day I grow more certain that I am on the right course.

But if even kings can be nervous about seemingly small things like height and shoes, perhaps it was not so foolish for me to have a healthy degree of recognition of the difficulties that come with adulthood. Not all fear has to be crippling. Maybe some fear is meant to teach us to rely fully on God. Pressing on; conquering trepidation; following God where He leads… Well, Sun King and Art Class, I guess you have things to teach me after all.

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Let’s talk writers. It is high time I added a little to my ‘Writing Central’.

As much as we do not want to admit it: the difference between a published author and unpublished author is how many times they have been rejected. Published = rejected dozens of time. Unpublished = too afraid to get rejected.

It may not be a perfect rule. Some people are lucky or blessed enough not to have to suffer much rejection. Some people are crazy like me and self-publish. Yet even crazy people like me should submit our work to those who have paved the way in order to receive true feedback. There is much to learn from these wise and wizened people who have suffered and triumphed in the realm of publishing. So how do we access their knowledge?

1. Read blogs, articles, and books. You will find a lot of helpful information when you read the ramblings of professionals on how they earned success. Just be aware that you do not have to mimic everything they did. I am truly saddened by how many young writers are discouraged out of writing because they cannot write in the exact format that their heroes did. Read them; learn from them; mimic them; but find your own style.

2. Email authors. Write a one to two paragraph email with no spelling errors and a professional format. Say who you are briefly and what genre you write. Tell the author you respect them; then ask for any  tips they might be able to pass on. Do NOT submit your novel (or even ask to) in this first email. You will scare the author away.

3. Find a mentorship program or go to a writing conference. There are plenty of writers’ conferences and some really good programs out there. Access these, if only for networking. (Look who is talking. I’ve never been to a writing conference. But I still take every opportunity I can to talk with other authors).

4. Don’t get discouraged if you are ignored. There are people out there who will talk to you. Just keep writing your short, nice emails (to other people who may not ignore you).

5. Wait. If you email a professional in publishing, wait at least three weeks before you send a follow-up. Publishers have 4-6 weeks (or more) to get back to you before you have even surfaced to the top of their to-do lists. Push too hard and you’ll brand yourself poorly in the industry. These marks are permanent.

5. Submit completed work only. When an author or publisher is willing to look at your short story or manuscript do not waste your opportunity (you may only get one) on an unfinished work that you might never finish. Make sure it is completed before you send it off.

Good luck!

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At Writer’s Guild tonight we talked about the authors and people who had inspired us and our early days as writers. As we sat outside at Paddy Murphy’s it was interesting to hear the diverse reasonings behind our stories and our intentions for our futures. Our pasts are vastly different.  Some of us were inspired by distinct events or authors; others simply fell into writing. As for our futures, most of us don’t anticipate solely being authors. We figure we will keep writing, but it may not be our main job. Whether this is because we understand the financial difficulties of budding authors or because we long to do more than just write novels is indistinguishable.

After guild and a rather lengthy and comprehensive conversation with my mother, I played guitar for a while until well after my wrist grew tired of hitting the ‘F’ chord. Then I read chapters 20 and 21 of Revelations. My Bible has been around since I was very young. It is interesting to see what I underlined then compared to what I would underline now.

In the past I had underlined Revelation 22:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” This is a truly exciting verse, but I had not marked the more important and more exciting verse before it: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Wow. God will be with us!

As a kid in pain I get why verse four excited me. As a young adult verse four still excites me. But how could I miss that God would be with us? How could that seem not important enough to underline? Isn’t that day when God dwells with us what I’m pressing on towards? So I underlined verse three tonight and I am so excited for that day!

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So I accidentally lied about two things: that I would be getting back to blogging and that I was healthy. Little did I know that I only looked better and I fell back into sickness yesterday and am still fighting it today. So I am making up for yesterday’s missing post by blogging today:

In most fantasy books you will find a cast of heroes and a pet animal who bonds especially to one of them. In some novels the animal will be a tiger or a bird or something made up. Why? When Adam was in the Garden of Eden, God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not food for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” He brought all the animals to Adam and Adam named them. Still, a helper was not found so God made Eve. But think about it. Back then, humans were not eating animals. So why where they there? Because they were beautiful. Because they could help Adam. Because God wanted them to be  created. In a garden without sickness,without death, without fear of being stung by a bee–picture how you would have marveled at a mighty grizzly bear, a tiger or a gorilla.

Authors have picked up on this joy of uncorrupted animals. Fantasy writers, especially. When we imagine a world we have to go to the basics and decide what stays and what goes and what comes. As we look at the world around us and the world forming in our head, we imagine a world much closer to what God wanted the earth to be (still, I am sure I do not come close to what He had envisioned). So when we fantasy authors see animals, we do not see food or pets–we see brilliant and incredible creatures, made to work for humans and to make them smile.

This is really cool part of fantasy writing–to leave behind the world we know and imagine a new one. It could be one without sickness, one without animals, one without humans. It could be one with talking clothing, one with dragons, one with sentient tornados… We start to see beauty develope and the hearts of the characters. We see the world before the chaos comes in. But the sad part about any writing is that the story is no good without sin involved. Without that, there is no challenge. And without challenge, there is no interesting story. So then authors get a bitter first hand view of the destruction of the world they imagined. And we feel 1/1000000 of the pain God feels every day looking down on a creation that chose sin and is being destroyed by it. And as God provided Jesus to save us (or Moses or Esther to save the Israelites) so we authors provide our heroes to save our worlds. And thus a story is born.

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Ever noticed how the more loveable heros tend to take a sibling or a cousin along on the adventure with them? Not always, but typically the characters who are not proud and the ‘i don’t need any help; i can do it myself’ type sweep a family member along. Or perhaps they spend the entire book thinking about a parent–what would their father think? or how to avenge their mother’s death (I covered that in another post). What is the logic behind this?

Well, to make an exciting story, authors strip the hero away from their homes, lives and the people they love. And very few characters (the proud type usually) can do an impossible feat like the one authors give them without someone to support them. Heroes will meet many helpful characters along the way, but there will be that one person who stands beside them through it all–taking none of the credit and giving all they have to give. And the typical author makes this a cousin or a sibling or a friend that is like a sibling. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” People need other people and so the supporting cast is born.

Why is it usually a family member who bears the hero’s burden? Because family is the God-given support system. In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam his wife Eve. Later He gave them children. And the Bible has entire sections devoted to how parents should treat their children, children their parents, and spouses their spouses. When these relationships malfunction it can have dire consequences (think of how many times the story is about betrayal. Brother turns against brother and the fight between good and evil goes on between them). When Issac and his wife Rebekah chose favorites with their children, it led to Jacob tricking Issac  into giving him Esau’s birthright. Esau was planning on killing Jacob after Issac died, so Jacob fled the land and never saw his father again. He had lots of trouble with his uncle and the whole situation was messed up. When the family had issues, their lives had bigger issues. (Sidenote: if you have taken my previous challenge to trust God and do something ‘great’ right ‘now’ with your life, then remember to keep your family in order first. If you are a child, respect your parents in all things. If you are a husband or wife, take care of your spouse first. God gave us the family as our trust first and foremost. We must take care of them or everything else will fall apart.)

Look at a story that played out much differentially than the one above. You probably know this one a little better–that of Mary and Joseph during Jesus’ early years.  When Mary became pregnant with Jesus through the Holy Spirit, she was shamed before the entire community.  Joseph was not planning to stand beside her, but when an angel spoke to him, he did. He was Mary’s friend that supported her during her historic struggle. Her cousin Elizabeth was also a great comfort. And after the child was born, King Herod tried to have Him killed. God spoke multiple times to Joseph about how to protect his family. So we see that without the family, Mary and Jesus would have been in a lot more trouble. God would still have worked it out, but He used the family to save their lives and give the strength to go on.

That is why the family is so important to our heroes–because God gave them to us. When the rest of our security is stripped away, God (in His great mercy!) leaves us someone to help us through. Authors will forever mimic the way God runs the world. No matter how much writers change the environment–even creating entire new worlds with what they think to be entire new concepts–all creation bears witness to God. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “…there is nothing new under the sun” and writing is no exception. If you are a fellow writer, look for the principles that are basic in life and incorporate them into your story (it is okay, even good, to mix them up a little, too. People want to read about struggles different from their own that can correlate to their own.). This will make it believable and touching to the reader. Keep the family as important (in writing and in your own life), because, really, it is.

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