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Posts tagged ‘fan fiction’

First Monday Mentoring for September – write characters who live for your readers

Welcome to the first Monday in September when I answer any questions you have about writing, and invite you to share your experiences as a published or emerging writer.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual conference of Romance Writers of Australia in Melbourne, among a record 400 attendees, about 100 being first timers. The enthusiasm level soared. Reunions were loud with much hugging, and we were blessed with outstanding keynote speakers including Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect), New York Times bestselling author of historical and contemporary romances, Mary Jo Putney, Dr. Anita Heiss (novelist and social commentator), American romance writer, Patricia McLinn and many, many more.

At the awards dinner I announced the winner of this year’s Valerie Parv Award – incidentally named by RWA, not by me, I suspect as a good way to make sure I keep turning up. Congratulations to all the winners and place getters. The winner couldn’t make the conference but we had a long phone chat later to welcome Canberra writer, Carly Main, to the ranks of the minions – as past winners dubbed themselves long before the movies.

Carly’s winning book is a Roman-set women’s novel with romantic elements. I’ll mentor her while she holds the award, and we plan on exploring the world of ancient Rome together. Coincidentally, one of my current projects has a similar background.

A key conference theme was that writers are also readers, or should be. And we need to put ourselves in the reader’s place just as we put ourselves into the POV (viewpoint) of key characters including the villains. These “book boyfriends” and “book girlfriends” as they’re called on Facebook can become as important to readers as their real life partners. No greater compliment can be paid a writer than to take our characters so much to heart.

A case in point is Graeme Simsion’s character of Don Tillman, the socially inept hero of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect.

With Graeme Simsion at the RWA Awards Dinner recently

With Graeme Simsion at the RWA Awards Dinner recently

To enable this process, we need to provide vivid character descriptions , not only in terms of eye colour, hair, height and build, but who they are as people. The old ‘show, don’t tell.’ By showing us their thoughts and interactions with other characters, you draw us as deeply into their world. The success of Graeme’s book – soon to be a major film – speaks for itself. I’ve just finished The Rosie Effect, and am awed by of how vividly he brings Don and Rosie to life.

As Graeme does, we need to take readers on a journey with our characters – soaring with them, sobbing along with them – living with them through the story so that if the character dies, we mourn their loss. These are tall orders but they are what draws readers in to our fiction again and again.

I remember as a young reader being heartbroken at the end of the Narnia stories, not wanting to leave that magical world. Likewise when I reached the end of H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain series, the final book supposedly “written” by another character following Quatermain’s death.

When Leonard Nimoy – Star Trek’s unemotional Mr. Spock – died in February this year, millions around the world mourned, marking the passing of a beloved character who will live long in fiction and film.
My dream – and it should be every fiction writer’s dream – is to create a character as enduring as any of these. To blur the line between fiction and reality in readers’ minds.

Actor, Leonard Nimoy, as the iconic character, Mr. Spock

Actor, Leonard Nimoy, as the iconic character, Mr. Spock

That means you’ve gone beyond characters to tell stories about people who live on outside your virtual play, even inspiring readers to write their own fanfic (fan fiction) about them.

IMO there’s no greater goal for a writer, and no greater achievement when you pull it off.
Share your thoughts in the comment box below. It’s moderated to avoid spam, but you can have your post appear right away by clicking on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.

Happy writing,

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com
on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook
Check out Valerie’s online course, Free the Writer In You
At http://www.valerieparv.com/course.html

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5 ways that writers are different, and why it’s OK

In my writing life spanning more than 70 published books, I’ve tried to act as though writing were a career like any other. In countless media interviews I’ve  made my work sound like your average 9 to 5 job. Until now. Today I’m coming out of the closet so to speak, and declaring what all writers secretly know – we are different. And that it’s OK.

Here are some of the ways writers are different.

1. We’re scary to our families

Not because we’re eccentric, talk to ourselves and sometimes answer, poke and pry into other lives, although we do all this. But because we pull the bandaids off old wounds, drag skeletons out of closets, and expose family secrets. They’re disguised, of course, and often our families don’t recognise themselves. But we know. And they suspect.

2. Fleeting images brand us

No, I won’t watch the latest horror flick with you. The millisecond image on the promo is already seared on my brain forever. Yes, I know it’s a comedy. My mind treats it differently and the images haunt me. The autopsy scenes from NCIS, Mr Bean bursting his airline sick bag, the face of a friend as she lay dying. These images and countless others like them will haunt me forever. I need to protect myself from some images getting in because they never get out.

Oh yes, we also have multiple personalities

Oh yes, we also have multiple personalities

3. I should write but I can’t

The stories are mapped out, the research is done, the deadline looms. And still I can’t write. Imagine I forced you to stand on the crumbling edge of the Grand Canyon. You’d feel what a writer feels when faced with a blank screen. It’s not laziness stopping us from writing. Mostly it’s fear. Of the words not measuring up to those in our minds. Of disappointing readers. Of disappointing us.

4. We exist in our own timeline

We’re not in jammies at 4pm because we’re slobs, although we may be. We’re gestating a story, poem or book. We may have been awake till 2am making notes. Society and our families would rather we were 9-5 people, but the words have their own agenda and they come when they’re ready.

5. We move the world

We record the tiny details of a sunset, a cat’s fur, a child’s laugh, a moment of such agony that we make you cry along with us. We make you love people who never lived, and hate us when we kill them off. We make our pretend worlds so real that you want to live there, and talk about them with your friends on and offline. Sometimes you live in them with us through fan fiction, costume play and conventions. All of that is OK and a great compliment.

Taking you into our worlds is what we live for. We are writers, we’re different and it’s OK.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

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on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews of Birthright at http://www.valerieparv.com/birthright.html

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