Tag Archives: START AGAIN

Can You Imagine the Character You Read About?

Woman, Butterflies, Fashion, People, Minimalism, Art

Can you imagine the character you read about?

More importantly, is the character relatable?

How do we take abstract ideas and develop them into three-dimensional characters who love, laugh, hurt? Who live a life we can understand.

Here is what I’ve found through reading, writing, studying:

  • Give them a background. Why is the character a horrible person? Was he in an abusive household?
  • Create nervous tics or habits. Everyone has habits they don’t realize they’re doing — play with their hair (nervousness or self-centered), roll their eyes (lack of patience).
  • No character is absolutely perfect. Is a perfect person relatable or lovable? No, because we know that’s a front. They’re keeping something from us. We want to see what that is.
  • Character need realistic reasons for doing what they’re doing. If a character is evil, there should be a reason or it’s hard to follow, to believe.
  • Characters with unique features are interesting. They stand out if they have, say, buck teeth or big glasses that cover half their face, or two different color eyes, or a buzz cut so short the hair seems penciled to their head.
  • No stereotypes. Are all women maternal and spend their time in the kitchen cooking? Heck no. Are all men against asking for directions? No. I’ve seen it happen. It’s formulaic, and as such less interesting.

A good character not only carries a story, but can become the story.

I watched Homeland for one reason — the main character. Good show, but not all episodes carried their weight. Carrie, however, was worth every moment I took away from my own life to watch hers. It’s hard to encounter such a dynamic, vulnerable yet strong character in television. Same with the book series Bosch. Harry carried the story.

When reading, do you imagine the character in detail? Do you get attached to their story?

I do. Same when writing.

Paige, from my short-story collection Start Again (Survivor), is a woman who is only happy when she’s unhappy. Morose, distant, yet a tender soul who works long hours, donates to charity, and eschews anything social, Paige finds herself with one friend when life strikes. Loosely based on a real life person, Paige took on a life and look of her own as I wrote her. Her features developed in my mind’s eye little by little until a full-fledged person emerged.

Here is sort of how I see her — picture below. She is a mixture of morose, curious, vibrating with energy, distant yet helper. An enigma to many. An open book to few. You’d want Paige as a friend, but only after being around her a while.

Girl, Woman, Head, Face, Portrait

How do you imagine the characters you read about? Do you form a clear picture based on description, actions, both?

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START AGAIN, short stories. Plus my Gift to You

START AGAIN, my short-story collection, is now live, Amazon tells me.

Why, thank you very much.

It was a joy writing the five stories in this collection, each previously published by online magazines.

START AGAIN is about five different women who go through the unpredictable moments that make life extraordinary. 

To celebrate, I am gifting ebook copies between now and September 4th.

Please let me know below where to email the notification for the ebook, if you’d like a copy.

Of course, reviews – if you have the time in this busy world of ours – would be much appreciated.

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The Value of Good Memories

This memory of mine appeared at The Scheherazad Chronicles years back – a literary blog I highly recommend. I’d like to share it here, as I am preparing to release START AGAIN.

Bloggers need bloggers and writers need writers.

If you’d like to reach a different audience, and want to share your tales, I’d be happy to publish them here and share with my audience. Blog-length stories, no longer than 600 words.

GOOD MEMORIES

Tonight, I sit for long spells in wakeful silence while sudden memories encroach upon my world. Lines stretch across the pages of my journal. Sleep abandons me. My eyes are open but not to the present, to a time and place from long ago. I ride my breath in and out as if it were the swells of a sea. Although my body grows calm from sitting still, I rock slightly with the pulse of my heart.

I drift away on a memory.

~~~

A thirteen-year-old girl is sitting cross-legged in a tent no larger than a closet, reading. The tent is on a beach along the Black Sea coast; a place so quiet she could hear the pulse of the earth, the moaning of the sea. It’s not her ideal getaway, but Mom insisted this was what the family needed. A long vacation to the sea, in a tent, camping. All summer long, Mom said, so bring lots of books. Sure, the young girl loves reading, but why travel three hours by train, another hour by car, then forever by foot, and spend a whole summer in a tent on a secluded beach with her books? She can do that comfortably, at home.

Nature is fuel for the soul, Mom said. We’re separated from it by walls of concrete and steel, too busy for the wonders of life. This vacation will make up for that.

Now, here they are in Navodari Beach, an untouched plot of coastline off the beaten path. A stretch of Romanian seashore devoid of much human intervention, accessible via a narrow, partially unpaved road. One of the quietest places on earth, no doubt. Navodari is the campers’ beach, several hours north of a famous seaside resort, Mamaia, where four-star hotels line the boardwalk.

At Navodari, they don’t leave the campgrounds, and depend on what they brought along and the bare necessities available within the camp. There is daily walking on the beach, swimming, fishing. There is storytelling by the campfire. When not playing, or helping with chores, the kids read.

Camping all summer takes adjusting, but the sea has ways of calming the mind and working things out. The endless stretch of fine sand that sparkles under the sun adds to a sense of increased vitality. The very presence of the blue immensity of water under the sky helps ward off feelings of seclusion and boredom. Nature calms the mind. The sea becomes the story.

At night, with the help of her flashlight, the young girl reads about the sea as an intersection of culture, the dramatic role it played in world history, all the way back to the Great Flood. The Black Sea, a wonderful creation of nature still in the process of change.

Since the Black Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, and the Mediterranean, the young girl feels connected to the whole world. A comforting thought, this world-wide bond. It explains the human tendency to travel to the water’s edge, our obsession with water — listening to waves lap against the shore, swimming or fishing. It explains our love for writing, and creating memories along the water’s edge.

More kids arrive in Navodari with their parents and their tents. Some traveled from landlocked countries like Switzerland. They study each other in the manner kids from different countries do; realizing they’re not that different. Soon, the shyness melts away. The kids strike up tentative friendships.

The young girl teaches her new friends Romanian words, and learns how to say sea and wind — among other things — in their language. When all else fails, they alternate between improvised sign language and broken English.

What starts as sensory and stimulation withdrawal turns into a heightened awareness of the elements. They listen to sounds picked up by the wind from afar — broken sounds, but easily heard. They listen to the lapping of the waves, the sea whispering its own language or that of creatures inhabiting its depths. They listen to the seagulls chirp and flap their way down to the water. Sitting on the beach for hours, they try to decide if the whistling sounds come from dolphins or some other fish. They laugh so much.

Before falling asleep, the young girl tucks away memories in safe corners of her mind. One day in the future, they’ll flash before her eyes like wonderful, old movies.

~~~

Drifting back, I close my journal and lie awake in the still night, holding on to the mental images a little longer. Soon, the day’s toil prevails. My ears fill with the pulse of crickets and cicadas proclaiming their desires. Breath and the clouds ride the same wind. Sleep lulls me away, but not before I see a young girl, in a tent, on a far-away beach, listening to the waves of the sea as she falls asleep in her tent.

Photo credit: Unsplash, Sebastian Staines

I send out stories and interesting links from time to time. Tidbits about my publication journey. It’s free. No spam. You can unsubscribe whenever you want.

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START AGAIN – Cover and More

If you, like me, have been struggling to make it through some of your more ambitious reading material, here is a book you might enjoy.

Five short stories of mine, previously published in online magazines, come together in a collection titled START AGAIN. The target publication date is end of July, 2021.

A book that can be read without placing demands on your time.

START AGAIN

Five short stories about five different women who go through the unpredictable moments that make life extraordinary. Here they are, among them a flash:

1. AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART, published @ Fiction365

Tess, a young wife, is thrown a curveball when her well-constructed plan goes awry. As she unravels a host of secrets, a new and different life opens up before her.

2. SURVIVOR, published @ Pure Slush

Paige, a young professional who is only happy when she is unhappy, discovers a few important things about friendship when she needs it the most.   

3. IOANA, published @ Red Fez

Ioana, and indirectly Wayde, learn to deal with different heartaches while on a beach in a foreign country for Wayde and home for Ioana.

4. THE FRIEND, published @ Red Fez

Eve, had put her trust in the wrong ‘friend’ and must do everything in the power to save her family.

5. GAMES, published @ Red Fez

Mia, fights back an abusive partner in the game of her life.

~~

Please stay tuned for more about each character and their stories, images of what they might look like, and more.

START AGAIN, to be released at the end of July 2021.

Sign up below for a chance to receive a free book, and more about my writing and publication process.

Thank you & see you soon!

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