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LP: Cardboard Characters

Tethered by Letters
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:30:33 GMT

texasgrampy Author Hello all, I am a first timer here...just joined today. I want to introduce myself and see if I can get some constructive criticism from all you fellow writers out there. I got the writing bug way back in 1996. At the tender age of about 39, I suddenly was overcome with the itch and I went ballistic. I had an old truck-bed camper out in my yard which became my sanctuary. I wrote feverishly for about a year - almost non-stop. I started dozens of stories. I couldn't sleep at night. I would wake up with an idea and flick on the light and grab the notepad next to my bed and put down my ideas before I forgot them. I wrote poetry, short stories, sermons, ideas for new stories, character sketches, you name it... Then, life happened. I got married (again), left town for a different job, got involved in other extracurricular things, and put my stories in folders and shelved them for about 20 years. Then, about five years ago, I got the itch again and here I am writing and re-writing some of those old stories again. I love the art of writing and I love to read stuff by some of my favorite authors; Hemingway, Steinbeck, Jack London, etc. But, here's my big problem: I'm really not a very creative-minded guy. My stories are written with a lot of passion, but my characters seem to be stiff and lifeless (at least, in my opinion). I have several of these stories available on Amazon and Kindle under my pen name, and I've made a grand total of about $10.00 on sales, but that's accounting for the ones I bought for myself and the ones my kids bought to help me feel good about my writing. I've never cared about selling them or making a living at it; I just have these ideas that I consider inspirational and I think folks would get a lot out of reading them if I could get them out there. I'm really excited to be able to finally have someone look at them with an editor's eye for a change and I'm hoping to be able to refine my work in any way that will help the stories to be more readable. Watch for my submissions and tell me what you think. Thanks, Dan

Tethered by Letters
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:31:10 GMT

rstemple Author Hi, Fair warning. This post is part advice, part inquiry, part SNAP, part ramble. First the advice, which I think you're looking for in your original post... If you feel like your characters are "stiff and lifeless" maybe think a little about your audience. In reference and deference to some of our other posts and posters, I'll quote Salvador Dali who was able to write a novel while he was busy hanging clocks from trees and such. "Without an audience, without the presence of spectators, these jewels would not fulfill the function for which they came into being. The viewer, then, is the ultimate artist." - Dali In short, you have to allow the audience a large role in the writing because they are the ones that fulfill the function of the writing. Also, check out the TBL blog which as some advice for making characters that the reader will be able to relate to. As for how. Ask for a volunteer from the audience. Talk to someone and ask what they would like from a story and then rewrite it for them, or ask them for their take on the story. Now the Inquiry with an integrated SNAP: Texasgrampy is a great screen name and probably deserves and automatic SNAP (read other posts for the definition of SNAPping and to read other SNAPs). I'm assuming that with the moniker of grampy that there are grand children somewhere. Back to the advice - ask them what they think and rewrite one of your stories for them. It's a challenge to write from the perspective of another generation, but one that I'm sure you up to. If there are only children and no grandchildren and grampy is just a way to say that you like to yell at youngsters to get off your lawn and frequently use the word whippersnapper in your writing (holy crap, spell checker didn't balk at that) then find someone in your life who has a different perspective from you and ask them. I think we can all agree that the ramble already happened and I don't need to write more. I'll end with welcome to the forum, submit some of those stories so we can all read them and above all keep writing. Ruben

Tethered by Letters
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:31:30 GMT

texasgrampy Author Thanks for taking the time to answer me, Ruben. Your tip was very helpful.. And, by the way, I am a real-life grandfather to 9 grand-kiddlets (although I'm only 56 :whistle: ). Unfortunately, I figured your comment about SNAPping was probably important--probably the one thing that would have helped me the most--, but I was not able to ascertain the meaning from other posts. Could you give me a clue? I think I'm patiently waiting for that proverbial "author" staus before I post any of my work to the TBL site. I asked, in another post, how we can know when we've actually arrived at Author but haven't received an answer yet. Can you tell me that?

Tethered by Letters
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:31:51 GMT

Robin Author Welcome Texasgrampy! I'd say you have the bug! I look forward to reading your story, and will get to it as soon as I can. Warm regards, Birdie

Tethered by Letters
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:32:27 GMT

avandamme Author Hello! Welcome to TBL!!! Have you submitted you work to TBL yet? We absolutely love new things. I am not so sure as to the fresh boarder/ Author thing. But I know that I have submitted my work to TBL with out much thought to my posting status. I think you should to, I am really excited to read your stuff. As far as character building goes, I think that sometimes I make characters to much like idea's and not enough like people. I think "hero" and then I go over board with a character with no flaws. Readers love a good and flawed hero. Make them relatable. Make them some one you can talk to, or actually see functioning in reality/ fantasy. My favourite characters are not perfect, they are not plain, they are not evil; they are people. More importantly, they are people because we make them that way. We give them thoughts and feelings, and flaws, and good will. To paraphrase Tom Waits, stop thinking of characters as Characters. No pronoun necessary. Hope that helped! Cheers, Alex

Tethered by Letters
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:32:52 GMT

texasgrampy Author :cheer: Thanks for the suggestion, Alex. Maybe I'm worried more about the characters than the actual storyline. I haven't had anyone actually tell me that my actors are paper-ish, I am just paranoid that they are coming out that way. About the "boarder" thing, I think I've figured it out...anyone who posts up to twenty posts gets Junior status, forty posts gets senior, and eighty gets expert. I couldn't find anyone with a higher rating than that, even though there are still two more bullets to be filled in. The most posts I could find was 112, which is still expert, so, I think they move to some Illuminati status after that with a membership to a secret society which gives them exclusive rights to access mysterious sites that can only be viewed by use of the secret decoder ring that comes in the mail with no return address showing on the package. :evil:

Tethered by Letters
Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:33:14 GMT

rstemple Author Hi, Actually Texasgrampy, SNAPping is probably the thing that will help you the least in your desire to become author on this site. It's my own way of compensating for my lack of original screen name by asking others if they have put any thought into their own. I have also made myself the self-appointed arbiter of whether or not a screen name is any good by giving a "Screen NAme APproval" to any names that I decide are worthy. Of course, you'll quickly understand that I have no real power at TBL to approve anything. Although I have been allowed to continue my rant through various screen names unabated and even occasionally blessed by the powers that be, my continued discussions on the topic are really intended for diversion rather than anything that means anything at all. To quote from one of my favorite authors of all times "Me, no I don't mean anything." - Douglas Adams It's all about context, my friend and that line seems little by itself, but spoken by a character who has simultaneously realized that He, himself, doesn't actually mean anything... we ll it's pretty good. Anyhoo, I have now wasted at least two minutes of your time which is what I usually do with a typical SNAP post... I feel like I needed to do so because you kinda got snapped right away without all of the usual pomp and circumstance so I wouldn't want you to feel left out. And if you're now wondering if you'll ever get those two minutes back... sadly no, but think of how my wife must feel. Signing off from Canada. Ruben