Friday, December 25, 2009

Characters--many dimensions

Writers know we must make our characters multi-dimensional with good, bad, and unusual traits. We must make them jump off the page and keep readers turning the page. Usually, though, characters bring to immediate mind humans. Sometimes animals.

I often use horses and dogs in my writings. They are characters just as real as their human counterparts.

This past Christmas week my son and his family have been visiting from Virginia. On the way here they were stuck/trapped in a blizzard for almost 24 hours. I worried. I paced. I cried. And, I kept the phone line alive. They made it safely home.

Last night I lay beside my beautiful two year old granddaughter and watched her sleep. Snow blew outside the window. My dream of a white Christmas was granted, but it was accompanied by worry as she would be leaving the next morning. Back in the snow. Not a blizzard this time, just snow requiring careful driving by her daddy.

Weather can be a viable character for writers. We make lightning flash, thunder roll, humidity melt, heat swelter, flood waters rise and recede, snow cause white-outs, and wind howl. Other weather related actions move our characters in and out of harm's way or into new regions. Weather is active or causes action. We mustn't negate its importance in our work.

My current work in progress takes place along the Oregon Trail in 1845. The emigrants faced challenges of many sorts along the way, but weather and nature became their greatest foes.

I first became actively aware of the importance of weather as a character attending my first meeting of the Red River Romance Writer's Group in Wichita Falls, Texas. Sharon Sala, multi-published romance author, served as the guest speaker that day. She taught much, but I particulary recall her mention of using weather as character.

That day led to Ms. Sala becoming one of my favorite authors. She uses weather, setting extremes and other natural gifts to enhance her novels.

So, writer family, don't forget weather in your writing. Use it for more than to establish setting. It is a powerful tool.

Happy writing to all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm back and writing

It's easy to see that my last post was in July. Since that time things in my life have been turned upside down. In a nutshell, my writing has taken a definite backseat to helping care for my cousin who is terminally ill, his mother who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, spending time with an out-of-town friend who had major surgery, and spending six weeks in Virginia when my second grandbaby was born on September 17.

For quite some time I felt as if my brain cells had lost all creative juices. I did do some dabbling and my mind did some wandering. I have written snippets, thoughts, lists, and other ideas here and there. Mostly in a journal. I found one thought that came to me in sleep on the back of a catalog. I don't recall writing it.

However, I did find time to submit a memoir to Patchwork Path: Wedding Bouquet in August. I received notification on December 14 that the memoir had been accepted for the anthology. Amazing, that simple e-mail infused me with energy, the desire to write, and a self-commitment to make the time to write.

I have been taking my laptop and scribblings to my cousin's house. Perhaps, for now, I should concentrate on short stories, memoirs, and short articles rather than my novel. I will finish my last assignment for Long Ridge Writer's Group this week. I had to take a leave from that course.

Bottom line--I am back. I am energized. I am writing each day.