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Monday, April 29, 2013

Pick the right Wing-Man (Secondary character)

You need a good wing-man...

Sticking to the theory that writing is like dating, I'm thinking about having a kick-ass "wing-man".  What's a wing-man?  Traditionally, a single guy/girl goes in search of potential dates...but never alone.  That would be boring!(and dangerous)

A solid wing-man(wing-woman?) pumps you up and helps you maintain an even balance throughout the night.  They offer up levity, when necessary.  They offer advice (good or bad - depends) when advice is needed.  If they are a good wing-man, they will redirect you if you steer off course.  Ultimately, they assist in reaching the night's goal. (Whatever that might be)

This is true for secondary characters in your novel.  Take Mela's best friend and "wing-man", Wyatt.  Yes, her best friend is male and that says a lot about her.  However, he is gay, so there are no romantic entanglements to worry about. The fact that he is gay serves a purpose for both the story and for Mela.  1.) The aforementioned romantic complications are not there.  He can advise her and be there for her without the reader blurring the relationship in their mind. 2.) He is objective and can identify with her, personally, but is a strong man in his own right.

 Wyatt lays out the truth for Mela - because let's face it - Mela is flawed. Like, really flawed.  She has her reasons, and they're good ones. However, Wyatt can see where she has allowed her flaws to become a crippling weakness. A weakness that the protagonist could exploit.

In another novel, Wyatt could stand on his own.  He is not there just to drop information or for comedic relief.  He is, at the beginning of the series, more together than Mela is! Emotionally that is.  He has a rich past and opinions/hangups of his own.  Yes, he's hilarious at times.  But he's an anchor too. He is essential!  He is the perfect wing-man for Mela.

A sloppy wing-man can get you into trouble.  When choosing your wing-man (secondary character) really, really consider what he/she has to offer.  Is it just to be silly and get laughs?  The goofy wing-man attracts more attention, yes, but everyone is looking at him and not you.

A boring wing-man can have the same, if not worse, effect. If he/she just lurks in the background - totally useless - Why bring them out with you?  Your energy will be brought down by the boring wing-man and then all you'll attract are the drunk and desperate. (Bleh)

Having you and your wing-man in sync is essential. (Your main character and the secondary character(s))  What's the night's plan?  Does he have your back?  Do you have his? Are you a team? Asking myself this about Wyatt, I was forced to answer the question-  Is there a purpose for him in the story other than laughs/info dumps/eye candy?

Yes.  As I said, he can stand on his own in another story. But the relationship between he and Mela is also essential. A win all the way around.  He is smart, funny and caring.  He props her up where she lacks - she needs him. Wyatt aids her in her foray into the world of witchcraft and danger. Sometimes he gives information, sometimes he gives a supportive hug, sometimes he calls her out on her B.S. Sometimes, he is the one that needs the hug. I am able to show her vulnerable side through him as well as her strengths.

Could I tell the story without him?  Maybe.  But it wouldn't be as much fun for me, or for Mela.  They are a great team. He is her wing-man through all five books. Their relationship gets tested at times and he needs saving occasionally, but overall...he was the BEST choice for her.  Not the only one, but the best one.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Writing is a lot like dating

In order to keep myself grounded as an aspiring writer I had to remove the thoughts of million dollar book deals, movie openings and crowded book signings from my mind.  The truth is, that will likely never happen. 

Much in the same way one approaches the uncertain world of  dating,  it is time to remove the rose colored glasses.  Are happily ever afters real? No.  Love takes work and should be approached with both heart and mind. It may take some of the magic and surprise out of the process but, honestly, it's a way more pragmatic way to go about it.

First off I needed to erase the image in my mind of what my "ideal" mate should look like.  The truth is we often find love in the most random of places, with the most random people.  He/she might not look the part but in the end - that person was the best addition to our lives.  Removing the expectations of an "ideal" book deal has allowed me to be more open to all of the possibilities that are out there.  Traditional publishing might work for me. (Like the classic love story of two people falling in love at first sight.)  Or perhaps, I could find an Indie publishing company that really understood my book series and helped me a bit to get noticed. (That dark and mysterious biker dude who is also sensitive and loves puppies.)  Or maybe...just maybe I should self publish online and let the universe control who stumbles across my masterpiece. (The guy who was "just a friend" and then one day you see him totally different and start getting all lusty after him.) Any of those men could fulfill my needs. Just as any of the publishing opportunities could fulfill my book needs.

  However, like dating, writers often face a lot of decisions and rejection. It's hard to find our way through the process with stars in our eyes!

Oh, the heartbreak of really, really digging the handsome man who picked up the book I dropped, but then seeing his adorable wife right beside him.  There truly was a spark there, I was sure of it!  But alas, it will never be.  Sometimes "love at first sight" just isn't in the cards.  What to do?  I could lay on the floor in the fetal position crying myself to sleep or I could watch him walk away (Admiring the view) and pat myself on the back for not making an ass of myself.  Meh...maybe he's a whiner. (I can't stand whiners)  Maybe he likes kinky stuff that i'm not into. (Whips and chains - no thanks)  Whatever the reasons are for the lack of sparks, they were simply not there.

Then there is that dark and mysterious man sitting astride his motorcycle, quietly undressing me with his eyes.  (Fans self)  Oh the fun we could have together!  Anything goes with this kind of man.  A lover and a fighter, he seems to encompass the whole package.  There is a certain freedom that comes from such a drifter.  However, there is the possibility that my heart will get toyed with for a moment - then left in the dust cloud from his bike when he moved on.  I could cry and pine away for the love that was almost mine.  Love was just within my reach but somewhere either I, or he, did something wrong.  As he leaves I would be faced with the reality that there would be no closure to our tryst.  That's a risky move.

Maybe for safety or maybe even from a revelation I could change the nature of my relationship with my man-friend.  Hell, we already know everything about each other. (He held back my hair when I puked, saw me with no makeup on and all of our faults have been exposed already.)  He is safe.  I am comfortable with him.  There may not be sparks or a smoldering passion but there is a quiet acceptance.  Everything that was between us will continue to be there only with a bit more kissing and some exciting moments in the dark.  If I do this, am I risking a good friend just to fill a void?

Accepting these scenarios as true (there are more I just picked three of my favorites) means it is time to date. (Time to shop your manuscript)  Which kind of man is right for me? (Which publishing route do I choose?)  It's time to put on the pretty underwear and lip gloss because it's happy hour.

 Don't look at dating from a desperate position.  Men can smell your desperation quickly and it stinks more than their own farts. Enjoy the process and learn what you can from each one. Test out the spark you think might be there with the cutie pie from the grocery store.  Flirt alittle with the hunk of man on his motorcycle.  Get to know him before jumping on and going for a ride.  Daydream about your man-friend and see if it would really go anywhere if you crossed that line.

In other words - I plan on playing the field.  I won't commit right away to any of the options out there.  My preconceived idea of "Mr. Right" is now thrown to the wind.  I am open to any possibilities and I will only be able to be happy if I take the time to consider all of my options.   Regardless of which path I choose I will do it with knowledge, self acceptance and with good humor.  Hey, men love a woman who can laugh at herself!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why our past really does matter...

In an effort to continue the world of blogging I am faced now with the above thought.  The past really does matter.  Too many times I have heard the glass-is-half-full people say that the past doesn't matter. 

But it does!

That's not to say you should hang onto poisonous feelings from the past but you should carry the past with you always.  Why?  The past teaches you about people, about yourself and about what you truly want.

Important lessons were taught to me from my past.  Mistakes I made taught me to be strong.  They taught me what I don't want.  Mean and hurtful people from my past taught me about life and how unfair it can be.  Their words and actions fitted me with armor for the future.

In the first book of the Earth's Magick series, Mela learns a lot of history. Events that happened before a time we can remember rippled through history until the wave of reality hit her square in the face.  Everything that happens, be it good or bad, can be a tool if we shape it the right way.  We can pick it up and throw it far away from us wanting nothing more from it.  Or, we can take out our blades and sharpen it to a point.  Keeping it as our weapon for the future.

Accept what is in the moment.  You are given a choice in all things and the events of the past are not immune to that.  You can choose to learn the lesson you were meant to learn and be better prepared for what is to come.  Or not. However, staying up all night worrying and draining your energy is fruitless I have learned.

Like Mela does, gather the story, ask questions and learn to realize when you need to fight or when you simply need to rest. Either way you will continue on into battle eventually - you might as well have a good armor and lots of sleep when you do.