Sunday, September 21, 2008

He Said What?? (A Characterization Exercise)

Here in NC I've just come home from the weekend-long SCBWI NC/SC Annual Fall Conference. It was a great time of learning, networking, and practicing (pitches and first pages, among other things)!
Many people from this region will be sharing news and insights gained at the conference on their blogs over the next few weeks. Hooray!
I will too. But not today.
Today I'm posting an exercise to help us keep the momentum and enthusiasm that we gained at the conference, by doing something hands-on to move our stories forward at home.

Here's how it works.
I received a "meme" from my friend and fellow blogger Chrisy Evers last week. It was a list of questions that I was supposed to answer about myself. I was to post the answers on my blog. It was a fun idea. (Thanks Christy!) But I decided to do it a bit differently than asked. I let one of my characters answer the questions in my place. This allowed me to see how well I really knew him, and let me get a better feel for his thoughts, his voice, and the way that he might feel about internet quizes such as this. : )
I typed the questions, then filled them out from my character's mindset. It was great fun -- and I recommend it to all of you as a characterization exercise to try! Don't think too hard while doing it. Just let the answers flow. BE your character.
And you'll be reminded of the answers to many questions...
What words does your character use to form his/her responses (speech style/writing patterns/vocab); Which of these questions does he appreciate, and which ones, if any, does he think are stupid? Does she fill this out grudgingly and sparsely, or does she go on and on until someone has to tell her to shut up? What is her favorite fruit, anyway? And if it's cherries, doesn't it make you wonder why?

It's a fun exercise. And I'd love to hear if you learned anything about your character by doing it!

What would that girl do if she found $100.00, anyway? Do tell!

Meanwhile, without further adoo, here is the `meme' quiz as filled out by my teen protagonist, Nate. (Questions are in bold and answers not bolded.)
WHO ARE YOU? (A Character Meme -- By Nate)
1.) What are your nicknames?Wings Jr;” “Einstein;” “Sherlock;” Whatever Rufus decides to call me today…
2.) What game show and/or reality show would you like to be on? None. My life is crazy enough, thanks. The last thing I need is more press.
3.) What was the first movie you bought on VHS or DVD? DVD…? Do they even make those anymore?
4.) What is your favorite scent? Jet oil and metal. Ok, yeah -- it reminds me of Dad.
5.) If you had a million dollars that you could only spend on yourself, what would you do with it? Let me get through this current crisis first, and then I’ll get back to you.
6.) What one place have you visited that you can’t forget, and want to go back to? Well I haven’t been there yet -- and I’m not sure that I want to go anymore, honestly -- but I always believed we’d have a summer home on the moon.
(The school psychologist isn't getting a copy of this, is he?)
7.) Do you trust easily? I used to.
8.) Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think? I always think before I act. The only time I didn’t do that, I ended up sleeping in a graveyard.
9.) Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days? Seriously? Do you have to ask that question?
10.) Do you have a good body image? Uh…?
11.) What is your favorite fruit? Well, some days I like apples and some days I don’t. It depends how my girlfriend is acting.
12.) What websites do you visit daily? The only one I care about right now is restricted – so, none, really. Unless you count the FAA.
13.) What have you been seriously addicted to lately? Trissa.
14.) What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is? Well, I don’t really know her. (She’s Janelle’s friend, and we’ve never met.) But Janelle says she’s brilliant, and very funny, and she’s blonde. Rufus would want to go out with her.
15.) What’s the last song that got stuck in your head? Dust in the wind. Yeah, I know it’s ancient. But do I really have to explain this?
16.) What’s your favorite item of clothing? My last-year’s sweatshirt.
17.) Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy? Unless they're served in the school cafeteria.
18.) What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground? These days I’d think it was a trap laid down by Anderson to try to arrest me… but if it wasn’t, I guess I’m pretty pathetic, so I’d probably just turn it in to the school.
19.) What items could you not go without during the day? Plato. Plus access to my robotics supplies.
20.) What should you be doing right now? Stalking Reilly. But have you seen him? Yeah, crap… Neither have I.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Preparedness (for Writers)

We are now at the peak of hurricane season, as evidenced by Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike...

I appreciated the 4 or 5 inches of rain that Hanna sent Raleigh's way a few weeks ago. But, we all know that with the bigger storms, manuscripts that are lying around the house can be damaged. Water and paper are not exactly friends. Therefore, we writer's must be prepared! And so, I suggest this Hurricane Preparedness List:

Prior to any hurricane -- once the children, spouse, pets, and family photos have been wisely ferried to appropriate, steel-lined, cement buildings (preferably somewhere in Central Canada...or perhaps Kansas), gather these supplies:

Preparedness Packet for Writers:

1.) Large Inner Tube (with something in the middle to cover up the hole. I leave this to your own creativity).

2.) Large plastic trash bag (super hefty -- all the following items will go inside of it...)

3.) The key (to your bank lock-box in Kansas, or Central Canada, where you have already wisely stowed both digital and printed copies of all of your manuscripts in their most current possible state.) Note* If you have not done this and a hurricane is on your doorstep, email the manuscripts to the most responsible person you know who lives in Kansas or Central Canada, my friend, and hope that they recieve them and can save them to disk for you before a tornado comes through and knocks out their power. Yes, silly, DO IT RIGHT NOW!

4.) Your laptop (batteries fully charged, so that you will have at least 2.5 hours worth of writing that you can get done while you are waiting for the power to come back on at your inlaw's house -- or worst case scenario -- at the nearest shelter.)

5.) Six of the YA or children's books you've been most wanting to read. (Yes, go to the library to get these the day before the hurricane arrives. Libraries tend to close during hurricanes and you don't want to be without them!) You'll be a hero at the shelter, reading to all of those kids! And you'll be able to count the hours as "work time" when you file your taxes, because a writer MUST read other samples in their genre, afterall!

6.) A print- out of the most recent copy of your current work, in a 3-ring binder, triple-wrapped in plastic, with a pack of pens and a highlighter tightly attached. This will be invaluable for getting some revising done during all of the down-time you might experience if the governor announces: "We know you are anxious to get back to your homes, but PLEASE wait until we get the drinking water cleaned up, and the power back on -- we expect that this will take about a week..."

7.) Lantern-style Flashlight with extra batteries. You want to be able to SEE your manuscript, no matter where you are. So it's important to think of these details.

8.) Cell phone. Fully charged. If that editor from New York (where there is no hurricane, most likely,) calls to ask you to write a personal memoir on this current (actual) life crisis, do you want to miss that call? I THINK NOT!

9.) Rope. To attach all of this stuff to the inner tube, of course, silly! Make sure that everything's well encased in the plastic bag and secured to the tube before you head out of your front door with it. But also make sure that the bag has no air pockets causing it to stick UP in places. You don't want to increase the aerodynamic-potential of the tube, for God's sake! It will be windy out there, and this is a tricky endeaver.

10.) Second to last, but not least. Drug of Choice - chocolate, caffeinated beverage, herbal tea -- whatever most brings your muse to life. I recommend at least 3 days' worth. But remember, this has all got to fit on your inner tube, (looking, I suspect something like Yertle on top of his precarious stack of turtles.) So pack wisely. Twelve 40-oz cokes may be a bad idea in this case. They are heavy. Then again, those might keep the inner tube from lifting off, so, hmmm...

11.) Sense of humor. Without that, we'd all be lost. Best of luck to those drying their pens after Ike and Gustav.

May our writing continue -- whatever the weather.