Friday, November 23, 2007

The Wit & Wisdom of a Wonderful Character

By Keith Fisher

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you remembered to give thanks to God for all his tender mercies. Myself, I got some writing and editing done. For which, I am truly grateful.

Have you noticed, when writing a book, an opinionated author must try to keep his/her opinions to themselves? If not, the author could be guilty of the cardinal sin of losing point of view and we all know what can happen if we do that.

But have you also noticed, if we put those opinions in the mouth of a sympathetic character, it can be said, and sometimes accepted? This can, however, be a two-edge sword that could hurt us on the back swing. But, you say, it was the character that said it not the author right?

I realized the implications when I read something that Dumbledore said in book two of Harry Potter and I wanted to write it down. Do I give Albus Dumbledore credit or do I give credit to JK Rowling? The character isn’t real, right? Or is he?

Without getting into the whole Stranger than Fiction mania, Keep in mind that in the end, it was JK Rowling who said it. Therefore, if what was said was something embarrasing . . . ah, there’s the rub as Hamlet said in his/Shakespeare’s soliloquy.

What was the quote? Dumbledore/Rowling said, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Also, I discovered a section of self-dialog that I wanted to show you. In the book, Seven Days for Ruby by the Yorgason Brothers Ruby is worried about her friend. She prays for him and makes a discovery,
"Dear God in heaven," she prayed in desperation, "I’ve got troubles, real troubles, and I don’t know where to turn. Johnny is innocent, I feel he is, I know he . . .
"Lord, is Johnny innocent?"

I absolutely love this passage. Not only does it show the way we sometimes go about our lives but it’s well written. Now there are flaws in the story, of course there are. None of us are perfect and neither is what we write, but we can try, submitting our best work and maybe someday one of our characters will be quoted, but be careful. Keep a muzzle on your character’s opinions. Like children, they could have a tendency to embarrass.

Good luck with your writing, keep trying—believe you can be published—you can touch lives.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Deck the Halls, Not the Shoppers

By Keith Fisher

I think it gets worse every year. This year, I noticed two radio stations started playing Christmas music on November first. Not that I hate Christmas music, but it gets a little old by December Twenty-fifth, especially if the radio station plays the same twelve songs day-in and day-out.

I know the holidays haven’t really started yet, but I got irritated at the store the other day. The source of my displeasure, although mild, will only get worse by the time New Years rolls around.
It’s always a surprise when the season that should promote goodwill turns normally kind people into ruthless, ungrateful, and selfish children. The long faces and angry looks are enough to turn anyone’s heart away from the spirit of giving.

While shopping, I noticed no matter how hard I tried to be courteous, I was met by people who acted like they were somehow entitled, perhaps by theological decree, to be first in line and they somehow deserved the right-of-away more than I did.

I was taught to say pardon me when I cross someone’s path, and to recognize the kindness of others who let me pass first. On another occasion, I was in Deseret Book trying to see the bottom shelf without bending over and a man stepped in front of me to look at the racks I was searching. I didn’t count minutes, but he stood there for a long time. If you know me, you can imagine some of the things that crossed my mind.

Maybe I’m just oversensitive, but judging by last Christmas, I know it can only get worse.

Perhaps this year, we could all pray for strength to look past the rudeness and try to see what God sees in the man who steals our parking place, or the harried woman that butts in line at the grocery store. I know God loves them as much as me and I can use all the help I can get to remember that.

Now for a note about writing—awhile ago, C.L. beck challenged Darvell and me to provide a list of top ten kissable women characters. I’ve thought about it and I think I'll pass. Keep in mind that married men, if they know what’s good for them, will avoid thinking about other women.

Because I want to remain married, I decided to not take the challenge, but I want to point out how real some characters seem to be. An author who came to know them on an intimate basis has painstakingly developed those characters we remember best.

My advice to all of us would be to take the time to develop your characters. If you can put your character into a completely different type of story and the character is still real, you know you have succeeded.

Good luck with your writing, and good luck with your shopping. I hope to see you sane on January second.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ouch, The Pain of Writing

By Keith Fisher

For those of us who look forward to weekends, Friday is the day of days, the light at the end of the tunnel. This week, however, it sneaked up on me before I knew it was coming and I was blogless.

To make matters worse, I inflamed my Sciatic Nerve (not sure of the spelling), and had to spend the day lying on my back reading. It’s painful to sit at my desk to write.

This is my longwinded way of apologizing for the condition of my (ouch) writing. And the (ouch) tardiness.

I want to share a condensed quote with you, however, it’s by David G. Woolley, and it hangs on the wall in front of my desk,

"Writing fiction is storytelling, but we must be more than storytellers. Ours is an art of communicating emotions, creating suspense. Describing the grit and grime and smell of a place. If we do it well, we transport the reader to a place just beyond eternity without leaving the Lazy-Boy. It sure ain’t easy—but it is doable."

Good luck with your writing.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It’s Not Fiction That’s Strange

By Keith Fisher

I was attending a writer’s conference once when I heard someone make an observation. In essence, she said that it was good to be around people who understood a statement about trying to get her characters to behave.

We writers are a weird lot—we spend our days, and late nights, listening to our creations. Then we sentence them to death, or worse, without any regret. We tell ourselves it’s all for the good of the book.

I know, I know, you’ve all seen it before, but recently, I finished watching Stranger Than Fiction. I hated the build up, but I loved the ending. Like most of you, I knew what the story was about before it started. Overall, the parts about the writer were very gratifying, but I have some questions for you:

Did you cry when the author couldn’t bring herself to kill Harold? How many of you could identify with her, to the point of feeling anxiety? Wasn’t it nice to know there are others like you?

I don’t want to spoil the movie, but when you see it, ask yourself, how real are the characters you create? If you saw them in a crowded airport, would you know them? If a character walked into your writing place, would you need to be introduced to them?

If you answer these questions the way I did, then you’re a writer. If you sometimes need to stop the car and get out because you recognize a scene from your story, then you are a writer. If you schedule vacations around research, then you are a writer. If you watch the spectators instead of the football game, then you are a writer. If you stand at the edge of a high place, trying to imagine what it would be like to fall off, then you are a writer.

There are many examples of this kind of behavior—perhaps you could name many more, but now that we established that you are a writer, start working on it. Be warned, however, people will think you’re odd when you try to explain the concept of a character who won’t behave or leave you alone. Then you will know that it’s not the fiction that’s strange—it’s the authors, but take heart, you’re not alone.