A to Z Challenge 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Drought Is Over!

It's safe to say I've been struggling with writing for some time now.  The words dried up and no matter how much I might have wanted to put something on the page, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Today however, I finally bit the bullet and managed just over 1K words.

Okay, it's not a stellar achievement and the words weren't exactly flowing like a rushing river, but it's a start.  I also wouldn't say I've hit my stride with this story I'm working on, but I am going to keep trudging through the rough start and hopefully find my pace again.

All I can say is that I'm proud of myself for shaking off the shackles of anxiety and fear that have kept me from making any progress whatsoever.  I should know by now that a writer has to keep writing, even when he doesn't really feel like he's creating anything useful.  It's easy enough to say but sometimes it's really hard to find words you can be proud of.  And I don't know for sure if I can say the words written today are noteworthy, but at least they're out of my head and on the page.   That's enough for me to keep going.

Anyone else make progress lately when you thought you couldn't?

Friday, April 19, 2013


One thing that makes a character memorable is a great personality.  In the dating scene, that might mean you attract others.  In writing however, a great personality has to do with how easily the reader can see our character and match that up with the words they use, the actions they take, and who they are.  Being an evil person doesn't necessarily mean the character doesn't have personality; they just have a particular type of personality that hopefully is in line with who they are supposed to be.

As I work on improving my own writing, one tool that has really helped me get a better idea about my characters are biographies.  I have only recently started doing this type of thing, but I've found it so much easier to choose the words a given character might use in conversation or describe the clothes they wear.  I can more easily see the mannerisms my main character has that makes his love interest laugh.  For example, the way his clothes always look like an unmade bed even though his hair has to be combed just so.  These little imperfections help describe the personality that makes these people unique.

One other factor is how personality might change over the life of the story.  Writers talk about character growth, and changes in personality are an example of this.  Where there was once a completely insecure young man might later be a more confident hero everyone is cheering for.  That shy personality just won't work later in the story because everyone expects this change.  And the hero hopefully comes to an understanding about themselves, figuring out that this improvement isn't a bad thing.

How do you capture the personality of your characters on the written page?

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Okay, so odors may be an odd word choice when discussing writing, but it actually is something we need to think about.  I'm not trying to say that we need to describe how stinky the antagonist is;  rather I am saying that writing descriptive passages full of sensory imagery is a great way to fully immerse the reader in our worlds.

The sense of smell is often ignored, which is tragic.  Even if you don't have a strong sense of smell (I don't), there are certain universal smells that can be conveyed with just a few choice phrases.  Consider a passage describing the smell of burning popcorn.  There are very few people who don't know just how bad that smells.  And telling someone about it in detail creates an instantaneous reaction.  While this particular smell is usually something people would prefer to avoid, there is no doubt they could imagine standing there with that aroma and feeling repulsed.

How about a huge flowerbed full of roses?  A passage describing the aroma as a slight breeze flies across these fragrant stems is sure to evoke any number of emotions for the reader.  Whether they like the smell of roses or not, they'll see these flowers as realistically as if they were actually standing among them.  And then they're captivated by our world, eager to see what else unfolds.

When was the last time you described the smells in your world?