Finding the Great OuterSelf

Outerself.ca – From Rooster’s Restaurant in Barrie, Ontario.

  1. A little known part of the human psyche that yearns for the outside world.
  2. A mind state unintentionally ignored by those who spend too much time indoors.

Although it’s an ad campaign for Moosehead beer, the idea is true enough. Could you write a character who spends all his or her time outdoors? Possibly a hermit in some mountain cabin, a street person living in a city, or someone sailing around the world on a small boat. What scenarios can you come up with for a total outdoors person and what kind of person would they be, or have become?

Thank You Nordicware

Nordicware is replacing a set of plates for my Mother. She bought them in Florida and one broke when it fell on the counter this week. They were microwavable plates and she is quite happy with them so it was a shame for one to break. She sent a note to Nordicware through their website customer service. They are replacing not just the one plate but sending her a whole new set. I thought that was really decent of them. They are being shipped from the US up here to Ontario.

In this age when businesses are paying people to artificially promote them online I am giving Nordicware some sincere thanks and sincere promotion for something that is real that they did well.  They have quite a lot of nice stuff on their site. I didn’t know much about them before.

Have you ever gone to a business/ company site just to window shop online? Saves a lot on gas and bus fares. Write about a window shopping experience you have had or one that you create for a character you have read or written about.

Good Deeds for Plants

If you believe in karma and the good and evil sort of philosophies… is it possible that someone who has done a lot of bad things and caused great harm can still redeem themselves by being a gardener and giving back to life and goodness by creating good things in green ways? If the whole thing of life and having an afterlife of some kind is based on checks and balances can someone who has not been good to other people still be considered a good prospect for the afterlife if they have done good things with the other living creatures in our world? Or, do we as people think we are so self important that good deeds to plants and animals do not out weight bad deeds done to human beings?

Once you take time to think about this, write a character who isn’t considered a good person and yet this same person has the most amazing garden which he/ she keeps themselves, working with their own hands to create it and keep it beautiful and growing.

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. – George Bernard Shaw

I found this quote after I wrote this post. Just thought I’d find something nice to add about working in the garden. But, this is far more interesting.

Many Acquaintances but Few Friends

A character description reads: “A deep interest in people, with many, many acquaintances but few friends.”

What do you do with this character? How does this character look and how do they change and develop in a story? Round out their personality/ character with more details. Overall, is this person someone who would be friendly, outgoing and could they be a lead character or would they shuffle off into the background, not someone who really steps forward into the limelight?

Guidelines for Dialogue

This isn’t an exact guide to writing dialogue, there are always going to be unique situations. But as a guide it is pretty good, I think.

  • Use words and language which your characters would actually use. Give a character his or her own favourite phrases. Their own unique self expression. Please don’t try to mimic a dialect like a Scottish accent in your written words. The words are spelled the same way whether or not they are spoken with an accent. Let your readers know the character is Scottish (or has an accent, speech impediment, etc.) another way.
  • Get rid of dialogue that doesn’t have a point or advance the story in some way. Reveal character, add to the action, set up foreshadowing, change the pace, something that makes the dialogue work for the story rather than just ramble on.
  • Most of the dialogue should be about the speaker’s thoughts, beliefs or problems. Two or more characters enter into dialogue to discuss something, a plan of action, an argument, a change of heart. Dialogue adds drama because it is more immediate and action based than a written description.
  • Write the dialogue as people actually speak. People interrupt each other, ignore each other or just don’t hear each other.
  • Stop the conversation at a good point, build drama and leave something to the reader’s imagination. An entire conversation isn’t necessary and would be kind of boring.
  • Use punctuation in your dialogue, this makes it easy to read and understand. Punctuation is always an important part of written communication. Indent for each new speaker and identify who is speaking. Even during a long conversation between just two people you need to refresh the reader with who is saying what so they don’t become lost in the dialogue.
  • If you use dialogue in an interview (non-fiction) you always identify and exactly quote the speaker (your original source). If you paraphrase you use proper punctuation (quotation marks) to show what is quoted and what is paraphrased or added.  Don’t misquote, you don’t want to put words in someone’s mouth when it’s a real person you may need to ask for information again.

Let Them be Real

I miss the old General Hospital, the soap opera that it was in the 1980’s. I miss when Robin Scorpio was still a little girl. Anna and Robert Scorpio were in and out in their lives as spies but Robin was never a kid brought in once a year at Christmas time as if she were a doll. I miss when Kelly’s Diner was a warm and comfortable place not just another anonymous set. It felt like Kelly really worked there, because she was there, physically present.

These days it seems everyone on that show is either a doctor or a lawyer or just wealthy and not working at all. It’s just not that interesting. Lulu and Maxie have jobs working at the magazine for Kate and yet they have endless time off to run around all over town. They only seem to be at work randomly, a few minutes a day.

In these days when soap operas have been seen to die off, why are they turning them into professional dramas and losing the charm of the regular people who have real jobs that don’t make a great pay. The women have buckets of cosmetics, a house full of clothes, always wearing something new. I never seem them cleaning anything and yet their homes are immaculate, with vases of fresh flowers even! Everyone has a car, even if they don’t seem to have a job. I’d like to see people the people they keep in the background, the nannies, accountants and all the other staff, clerks, agents, and drivers. I’d like to see real people, not fake real people.

I’d like to see a waitress working at Kelly’s who is a real part of the show, not just background. I’d like to see someone who works as a cashier in grocery store and someone else who works in sales and doesn’t have money for all the cosmetics and clothes.

Write a character you’d like to see starring in a soap opera. Sure they have to have nine lives and all of that soap opera oddness but lets see them be real.

The Sum of all Your Parts

“The home gardener is part scientist, part artist, part philosopher, part plowman.” – John R. Whiting

I like this quote because we are all so many parts of different things to make up the whole of who we are. When you write a character does he or she have a lot of parts? Can you name them all? If not, chances are the character is falling flat. Give them more, don’t keep them too simple or plain or focused on just one thing.

Try to describe a character who is a gardener, start there and see what comes into the description when you really think about who your gardener is.

Jellybeanology to Create a Character?

We did Jellybeanology as part of the True Colours Workshop with the Barrie Job Finding club at Northern Lights this month.

I picked the red jellybean.

Cheerful, skillful, intelligent. A born optimist, seldom down long. A joy to be with. Never have to worry about money, financially ample. Determined, passionate, sympathetic for less fortunate. Likes entertainment and prefers to be where the action is. Chooses career early in life.

I thought I’d find a whole site or at least part of a site about Jellybeanology online. But, all I found was the quiz I linked to on Quizilla. At least you can try it. What does your choice of jellybean say about you?

True Colours was also interesting. More involved than picking a jellybean. I turned out to be Green/Blue, exactly 50% of each.

It’s interesting to take personality quizzes. There are lots of them online. Have you ever based a character on the results from a personality quiz? Just give random answers and then create someone out of the results you are given. Like being a god of your own mini universe. Give it a try.