Making Characters Different – Common Words

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But How Do I Make Characters Sound Different?

How Many Common Words Are We Using?

How should we differentiate characters?

That’s a pretty important job for a fiction writer. Readers don’t want everything sounding similar. That’s an invitation to put stories down never to return…and Kindle hides wasted shelf space.

This question arose on Scrib, discussing whether to eliminate contractions from character dialog. Since I wrote my last MC using that approach, I listened intently. Many judged characters speaking without contractions boring and stuffy. Chills ran down my spine. Had I written Deheya that way?  Too late now.

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Neighborhood Goes To The Dogs

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The Neighborhood Goes To The Dogs

Bench Pressing Strong Verbs

Read about a lunch treat.

Ever had that dream of becoming a prolific writer…and not with stables of ghost writers doing the hard work?

Easy…write more.

How about stronger writing?

Not as easy…use stronger verbs, and, for fun, make a game of it. And, so we shall, using unused words drawn randomly from our list of 179: distinguish, perpetuate, impress, embody, organize, extrapolate, serve, assess, delineate, and respond.

Janet twirled long black hair while standing behind the front window curtain, determined to remain invisible. Months after that oaf of a contractor demolished poor Mrs. Puffmyer’s cute little cottage, replacing lovely memories of afternoon teas with a hideous MacMansion, rumbles had awoken Janet at the horrible hour of noon.

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The Sweetest Of Them All

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The Sweetest Of Them All

A Leekah Story

Read about Leekah’s late night snack.

Breath to kill flocks of fairies.

Leekah gagged, then slowly rose level with Percival’s enormous brown eye. No need to trigger his reflexes…not that he could touch her. But, once in beast mode they took forever to relax.

“Please?”

Buffeted by gale-force winds, she grabbed a flying moccasin and righted herself. When Nihun had read off crew duties, lion teeth cleaning sounded interesting…until the pilot fish – shark thingie.

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Grimn’s Tales – Bridge At Chelson Gorge – First Draft Thoughts(2)

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Bridge At Chelson Gorge First Draft Thoughts (2)

Finishing The First Draft

Read about starting the first draft.

And…

…drum-roll…

…I’m done…with the first draft.

Is that cool, or what?

But, time for honesty. I’d planned a 12,000 word novelette which ran closer to 15,000 words. The temptation to rush into editing gripped me, but I resisted, limiting myself to running ProWritingAid’s grammar and spell checker, fixing the worst errors. For my next trick I will print everything out in 10-point type, then hand all 41 pages to my Trusted Reader with instructions to focus on story structure. Hopefully, she isn’t expecting characterization, flowing phrases, or necessarily sentences which make complete sense.

But, the bigger question remains. How long to wait before restarting? With my last WIP, I waited ten weeks, then read all 168,000 words. Hopefully I won’t have to wait that long. Maybe a one week wait will offer enough detachment.

But I desperately need detachment.  This is a new story-form for me, because I’m accustomed to either much shorter  or much longer works. So I want clear eyes with no expectations to see what I strongly suspect — terrible characterization, botched scene types, uneven and ineffective scene layers, and horrible story pace. I have the skills to repair such flaws…if I recognize the words on paper and not those in my mind.

What to do while memories fade?  Maybe come up with a cover…or a blurb?

What did I find on reading the first draft?

But I Don’t Know Where My Scene Is Going

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But I Don’t Know Where My Scene Is Going

What Do I Do?

I…have…no…idea…what…this…scene…means.

Ever thought that? At least it’s not so tragic as wondering why I’m writing this story.

Still…the scene seems pointless and…just…won’t…end. Stumble through to the end…or delete it?

Plotters have at least one advantage over plotters (they often call themselves discovery writers). If nothing else, I’d already beat my head against a wall figuring out a story flow. At least I’d had a vision, once, long ago, before putting any words to paper.

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Grimn’s Tales – Bridge At Chelson Gorge – First Draft Thoughts(1)

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Bridge At Chelson Gorge First Draft Thoughts (1)

Writing The First Draft (1)

Read about thoughts on a series.

I stared at a writer’s nightmare…

…a blank page.

My stomach fluttered and my breath caught.
What if no words came? What if I conjured up nothing?

No matter that I’d conjured up a series arc, and that, after endless dithering, a novelette sized story idea emerged…hopefully 12,000 words. On splitting my Scrivener screen, with scene notes on the right…that left screen, so pristine, pure, free of words gave me pause.

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Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

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Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

What If No One Noticed?

 

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King shares the mind-boggling number of rejections he earned for Carrie before someone took a chance on him. He makes it sound like enough rejections came in to insulate his attic room.

And…in some tiny, laughable way…I share his hurt.

I’ve labored over my WIP for years. I might go look but I don’t want to…but I think it’s four. I’ve let eight people read all of it. And I’ve carried it as far as possible without submitting to scene by scene critiquing, but courage fails me.

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