Monday, November 13, 2017

Candid


My husband and I love to joke how in the 80s people didn’t care near as much what they looked like as they do today. Just watch 80s TV. Hair was often messy. Junk was stuffed into bookshelves. People didn’t clean and tidy before being captured on film. This is why I love, love, love candid shots. Of others. Of myself. They aren’t posey or some image people want others to have of them. They’re how life actually played out. Or a sliver of it at least.

My latest book, The After Glimpse zooms in on a few significant photographs. These photographs become larger than life to my main characters—and in some ways take on a life of their own. I ached to explore the whole concept of pictures and how we react to them.

Amy Tan, in her memoir, Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, fleshes out more thoughts on the topic. “I used to think photographs were more accurate than bare memory because they capture moments as they were, making them indisputable. They are like hard facts, whereas aging memory is impressionistic and selective in details, much like fiction is. But now, having gone through the archives, I realize that photos also disorder what is really being captured. To get the best shot, the messiness is shoved to the side, the weedy yard is out of the shot. The images are also missing context . . . what happened before and after, who likes and dislikes whom, if anyone is unhappy to be there. When they heard ‘cheese,’ they uniformly stared at the camera’s mechanical eye, and put on the happy mask . . . I keep in mind the caveat that I should question what I see and what is not seen.

There’s a twist in my book. There are life-changing events that took place while photographs were taken. Not all is depicted. Then again, more is going on in photographs that could ever logically occur as well. I appreciated toying with this idea of how there’s always more to the story than what’s right in front of us.

Long live candid shots!

*Less than two days to Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for The After Glimpse!


Monday, November 6, 2017

What is Chlot?


I live in a house with teenage girls. This means I’m constantly updated on the latest regarding Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. One daughter is in favor of their rumored recent reunion. One not so much. The youngest is too young to care. I’m likely too old to care. No matter what you think of the recoupling of Justin and Selena, you probably cringe a little like I do whenever you hear their “couple” name. Jelena.

That’s exactly why I’ve decided to throw a new writing term at you. The next time you hear someone on the radio going on and on about Jelena, I want your writer brain to replace it with this word . . .
Chlot.

Every book needs it. It’s the essential coupling that must take place for a book to work. James Scott Bell and Jeff Gerke have written about it. I’ve heard numerous conference speakers address it. It’s a tried and true basic recipe for potent novel construction. Guess what it is yet?

The marriage of character & plot. Chlot.

Ten years and fifteen novels ago, I spewed out a book. It was an emotional journey. But when it came to plot it was sorely lacking. Call me a slow learner, but fifteen novels later I get how important it is to hurt my characters—to bring them to their breaking point. I understand that a novel that doesn’t include the cohabitation of character and plot is a novel with gaping holes.

Chlot. Character + Plot.

10 Questions to Help Build Stronger Characters

  1. What does my character want more than anything in life and how can I keep her from getting it?
  2. Who does my character feel closest to and how could I threaten that relationship?
  3. What does my main character fear most? How could I incite that fear in some way to the book
  4. Where does my main character place most of her trust? And how can that trust be damaged?
  5.  How could my character’s deepest secret come back to haunt her?
  6. Is there a way to force my character to relive a horrible experience, tapping into a psychological, torturous replay?
  7. What has the power to push my character to the breaking point and how can I introduce that something at a vulnerable moment in my character’s life?
  8. How will my reading audience best connect with this character? How will they relate?
  9.  Does my main character learn something powerful about herself that will impact the rest of her life?
  10. Am I being too nice to my character because sometimes she reminds me of a loved one or even me?
10 Questions to Help Develop a Compelling Plot
  1. What can happen in this scene that will cause readers to worry?
  2. Who can I kill, maim, or severely mentally injure?
  3. How can I force my character into a setting that terrifies her?
  4. What opponent can my character face that has a good chance of crushing her?
  5. What kind of danger can I throw at my main character?
  6. How can I set it up so my character is betrayed?
  7. How can I take what my character wants most and make it feel increasingly impossible to achieve?
  8. What is mentally or physically immobilizing my character so they are unable to act against their greatest threat?
  9. What perceived or real enemy can suddenly gain an advantage, causing my main character to doubt their strength/intelligence/ability to flee harm (whether perceived or real)?
  10.  How can time play a role in my character’s stress? Deadlines? Urgency? Life or death matters?

Candid

My husband and I love to joke how in the 80s people didn’t care near as much what they looked like as they do today. Just watch 80s TV. H...