Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Swimming In Dangerous Waters

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The day I had feared had finally arrived.  The day had come when Danny, my SO, asked to read a few chapters of my novel.  Why did that request make my knees shake, my hands tremble and my stomach drop to the floor?

Because, my friends, when I started writing an outline for the novel, my characters were chosen based on people in my life.  I knew that I would be swimming in some very dangerous waters. Danny is all over the first chapters of the novel and he reappears in future chapters.  Although I changed the name to protect the not-so-innocent man in my life, no-one who knows Danny will have a problem recognizing him.

I knew the risk of using people around me as characters in my book.  They might not be able to take a joke, or appreciate the fact that I took their individual quirks and put them into print.  Some of my characters are a mix of different people.  I’ve taken a little creative license with their personalities and made them into the type of characters I needed to make my novel work.

But, how else does a writer find the characters necessary to make their novel interesting?  We can put all the events into place, but if the reader doesn’t like the characters, you’ve got nothing.  Readers need someone they want to cheer on or sympathize with.  The characters make the book; the events are their playground to strut their stuff.  And the best source of finding these characters is right in your own backyard.

So, yes, writing characters that use or resemble the people around you might have you swimming in dangerous waters.  But, it’s worth the risk because you know these people and can use them to your advantage.  Just be sure to change the names!

Danny read the first two chapters, chuckled in a few places and handed the pages back to me.  “Did you like it?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I’m not grouchy,” he replied, smiling.  Yeah, right!  Whatever!

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Popping With The Prompts

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There have been those days, oh yes my friends, when I stare at the “New Post” screen and go totally blank.  I’m empty..I’m clueless..I’m lost.

I have to write, it’s like breathing to me now, and a day with no inspiration is pure torture.  I am working very hard on my novel, but have found that some days I’m flying with new material and others I avoid the table with the manuscript on it like the plague.  Because, on those days, I’ve got nothing!

Just when I thought I had bottomed out and all the fresh, sharp ideas had been done…I checked out what these “Daily Prompts” were all about.

I have found that they are the wind beneath my wings (oh gag..but true!) for those times when I couldn’t think of one damn thing that interested me enough to post about.

They challenged me to stretch out of my comfort zone and try different genres and you know what?  I’M HAVING A BALL!  Sometimes, just one sentence suggesting an opening or theme for a story is all it took to light a fire under my butt.

One of the prompts led me to write in a genre I had never tried before and I loved the result.  I loved the piece so much that I finally did what I’ve been trying to get up the gumption to do since I began pursuing my dream of being a published author.  I submitted the piece to an on-line publishing site.  Can you see where I’m going with this?

Oh yeah, my friends, I received an acceptance letter and a contract today!  I am in shock and am absolutely flying high.  I can die happy now, (not rich because I get paid based on how many readers download the story).  But, I am officially a published author.  Shut The Front Door!

And, who do I thank for this?  Well, my blogging buddies for one, who gave me the confidence to finally submit my work to a publisher.  Without you, I would never found the chutzpah to ever try to get published.  Your positive feedback has been my driving force, and I owe you all..big time!

I also have to thank those wonderful sites such as “Daily Post – Daily Prompt” and “Scribblers Ink Blog” for providing those prompts and firing up my creative juices.  There are other sites that have Daily Prompts, if you look around,  and all of these sites offer inspiration and motivation.

So, if you find yourself with a muse that is MIA or you spend hours staring at a blank screen, try one of those Daily Prompts.  In no time, you’ll find yourself Popping With The Prompts!

Love,

Cranky

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The Attack Of The Killer Cliches

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Calm down..clichés can’t kill you.  If they could, then everyone down here in the Deep South would be six feet under.  But, evidently, clichés are frowned upon in the publishing establishment.  At least that is what my some of the critiques have told me. So, what’s this southerner to do?

My novel takes place in the here and now, in the south, and my characters use clichés.  Why?  Because that’s how we talk down here…at least the people I’ve encountered.  Since my main character is using my voice (or I’m using hers…I can never get that straight) I naturally write dialogue with the dialect and clichés we use here.

So, I’m stuck…I can’t move forward and I can’t go back until I resolve this dilemma. What to do…what to do!

Do I change the setting of my novel to a place where clichés never pass anyone’s lips? Do I give up my attempts to be natural and honest in my dialogue?  Or, do I knuckle under and try to find another way to portray my characters?  Shoot, I feel like I’m damned if I do, and I’m damned if I don’t.

Now, not all the characters are southerners and they won’t be using phrases such as “stick it where the sun don’t shine.”  Future chapters will bring us characters from New Orleans, New York and as yet unknown locations (although I ‘ve heard rumors that some bloke from Australia might join the group..but he comes with his own set of clichés.)

But, my main character loves down south cliches…it’s her heritage, it’s her voice.  It’s who she is.  It’s me.

So, come on everyone, help a writer out.  I feel like I’m running through hell in a pair of gasoline shorts.  Give me your experience and your advice.

If you are one of the people who critiqued my first chapters and noted the use of clichés…know that I heard you and I love you for being honest.  If clichés are a stumbling block in the path of this novel, I needed to know.  I just need a little help in deciding if I go whole hog and keep my cliches or run for the hills and find another voice.

Help an old lady out..will ya?

Author’s note:  If it helps anyone to know this, the novel I’m writing is supposed to be funny!  I don’t know if that makes a difference or not!

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