Learning From Male Writers

I think we women writers can learn a lot from male writers out there.  The reason I say that is right now I am reading a romance book, Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich, a serious fluff book, and by fluff, I mean sex, because hey, we all enjoy a bit of that.  I’m not ashamed, I’ll admit it.  That is why women read romance novels……..  Moving on.  The other reason I say ‘fluff’ book is because of the style of writing.  Ever little detail is thrown in.  From how a character looks, to how they act.  There is actually a point at which I’m thinking there is too much information.

TMI! TMI!  Welcome to how women write.  We put it all in.  Every little detail.  We are insane.  Okay, I’ll fully admit that I am one of those insane writers.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I like it.  I like the extra details, but at times even I think it’s too much.

Guys on the other hand, well, have a lack of certain information in their writing.  And it is less cluttered.  Devoid of all the unnecessary things that can clutter up writing.

Usually I don’t think about clutter-free writing, but occasionally I think, yeah, there was too much there that I’m actually worn out reading it.  The more clutter and added information makes me want to skip through the pages and get to the good stuff.  I don’t want to know every thought going through the heads of people.  Sure, some thoughts are good, but not every little thing.  It just wears me out.  I sometimes think that’s why I scan through most romance novels now.  They have to be really good, and I mean, really good, to get my attention.

Male writers are becoming more and more popular again, I think, when it comes to young adult novels, and other things geared more towards women.  It used to be there were only men writers, but now  there is a nice mix, and while I naturally turn to women writers, I am finding I like the guys out there as well.  Depending of course.

I’m starting to really not want cluttered writing.  And that is pretty much what I am getting at.  It’s just something for me to think about.  Clearing out the descriptions and every little thought.  Oh, and shorter sentences.  I live for long sentences…  not always the easiest thing to read.  And most guys write shorter sentences.

Writing on

~K.L.B.

And The Lightbulb Came On And My Characters Need Jobs And A Life!

Light bulb moment

I’m not sure why it was just last night, but it finally dawned on me that one of my characters, Rena Bliss, actually needs a life, not just a love story.  She needs to be working at her life while I plot out her love story.  For those of you who don’t know who Rena is, you can check out a couple of flash fictions I’ve talked about her in.

Those are the three I could find, but it gives you some idea of who Rena Bliss is.

I have been writing her story for 13 years.  Thirteen years!  And through all that time, her life has changed some from what it was originally, but she still doesn’t have a life.  I’ve only been plotting her love life.  Debating all this time on whether she should end up with guy 1 or guy 2.  Not giving her an actual life.

What kind of writer am I to do that to a character I love?  I’m cruel.  What girl sits around pining for a love life?  Okay, I should probably say that differently because I do pine a bit for a love life.  But that is beside the point.  Most people, even me, go on living their day to day life, working, having hobbies, down time, friend time, family time.  They have a LIFE!

Rena has no life.  Zip.  And it’s quite depressing.  She’s actually quite one dimensional and boring.  I’ve got to give her some spunk and get her out of the funk I’ve put her in.  Yes, I meant to rhyme there.

She’s got to have a fascinating life because, honestly, only fascinating women get guys that are fascinated with them.  If you are boring, what guy is really going to be that interested in you?

So, this post is relatively random in the scope of things and not horribly thought out.  More of a minor rant to myself.  But I’m posting on it.

Writing on

~K.L.B.

The Changing of Characters

Lately, in my free time (please people, start laughing) I’ve been reworking old novels I started years ago. Not so much as the plot, because, hey, you have to actually have one to work on it. (Repeat laughing)  Anyways, I have been reworking characters.  Specifically my heroines.

Best Friends [via weheartit]

I have three novels I’ve started in the past 12 years.  All of them have one thing in common. Their heroine is blonde, blue-eyed, and insecure, like me. They really have everything the exact same except jobs, though you could relate all of those as well.

Regina Black – romance writer

Rena Bliss – works on her family’s farm and writes on the side

Mia Brooks – owns a bookstore

And just writing that out, clearly I have a penchant for last names that start with a ‘B’.  Le sigh, as Mrs. Austen puts it. (By the way, J, I have incorporated that into my every day thought pattern. I love it.)  All three heroines come from the same town, are best friends, and they all work with books at some point. Yep, sounds like me.

But how do you make a character completely different than yourself? I can’t write like a democrat since I am a stanch republican.  I can’t write like a brunette since, um, clearly I am blonde.  Heck, I can’t even write from a more tomboy girl since I am pretty highly girly.

So, how does a writer delve into really different characters if they are nothing like that? Does anyone know?

I’ve finally printed off ‘The Ultimate Character Sheet’ by Fire Eyes in the Dark and I am going to attempt to fill it in for a couple of my gals.  But seriously, I feel like I’m just making a better version of myself. I’m taking out some of my flaws and putting in things I wish I was like.  Or keeping some of the same flaws and making them better…. If you can call being cluttered better.  I’m lost.

On a side note, I have another post I’m going to work on that deals with the lost feeling. I’m on a roll and want to tap out some posts before the week gets totally swamped.

So, does anyone else have ideas for making your main characters completely different than yourself? I’d love some input.

Writing on

~K.L.B.

What’s In A Name

For a long while I’ve wondered how to keep my children’s books separate from my romance fiction that I write.  I want to be able to have two genres, but keep them totally separate from each other so that I’m not confused.  For some reason I had no clue how to do that, until the other day it dawned on me.  Have a pen name or a pseudonym.  Yes, I know they are the same thing.

I’ve known about pen names for years.  Writers Jayne Ann Krentz, Sabrina Jeffries (which is actually the pen name for Deborah Gonzales), Sandra Brown, and many other romance writers have used pen names for years, some to specifically separate their work.  Jayne Ann Krentz being the one that comes to mind with her Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle pseudonyms. (and for those who are interested, I love the stories under her Amanda Quick name)

The pen names are a great way to be separate completely from your different works.  If I write children’s books, but don’t want to be known just for that, I can use a different name for romance. Supposing I actually ever finish something in the romance genre, which at this moment is a lost cause.

But now the trouble is, what should I make my pen name?  I would most likely use a pen name for my romance work, but I have no clue what it should be.  So that is something I’m going to have to think about.  Not hard thinking as it’s more of an out there kind of thing.

I’m kind of inspired by C.B. Wentworth who created her name by using her first and middle name initials, then combining it with a last name she picked out of a baby name book which just so happened to coincide with one of her favorite characters from a Jane Austen, Captain Wentworth. You can read the post HERE.

Creative, and something I might try.  Just too bad that one of my favorite names…. is….. drumroll…… Darcy.  I think there are already a few ‘Darcys’ out there.

Oh well, I shall have to seriously consider it.  For a while, and this was a while ago as well, I had considered using the name Julia Jane Swenson, since that was my made up name as a child.  Yes, I was a bit precocious and I hated my real name at the time. I used to think Julia was way more elegant sounding.  Ah, childhood.

Well, at least I have a plan, sort of, to have a pseudonym at some point.

Writing on

~K.L.B.

Clothing Can Be Emotional

They always say that dressing your characters is important.  And I would completely agree with that.  I love deciding what my characters will wear.  Because most of the gals I write about are modeled after me, they tend to dress how I would, with a bit of flair thrown in, since well, I don’t have the world’s best looking legs.  My ex boyfriend would disagree with that since he was always taking pictures of them, but I digress.  So, I get to style how I wish I looked. It’s a great way to have some fun.

Note the turtleneck

I’m also quite fond of dressing my male characters in outfits I love.  Like Isabella Louise Anderson mentioned on Wednesday, there is something incredibly sexy about a man in a suit, with a white shirt unbuttoned at the neck.  I think I had forgotten how much I like that look till she had mentioned it.  I’m also quite fond of men in turtleneck shirts  a la Keanu Reeves in The Lake House.

However, dressing your characters isn’t all that is important in dressing them.  You can read about what someone is dressed in, or what they look like, but that isn’t what get’s you really picturing it.  What makes you ‘get’ what the character look like is how that character is viewed by others in the book.  What would you rather read?

“She was dressed in a pencil skirt, crisp white shirt, and lined stockings.”

Or-

“He ran his eyes up her body, following the line of her stockings up her slim calves to the hem of her black pencil skirt.  From there, he noted the slim waist accentuated by a wide leather belt, before continuing up to her crisp white shirt that made her look like a secretary.  He liked secretaries.  Some of his finest romances had been with secretaries.”

Those were just two I threw out there to make a point.  Personally, I would rather read the second one, but that’s me.  There might be people out there that don’t want the man to be thinking in these terms.  Me, I like that heart flutter you get when you read that someone liked someone else’s outfit, and it made an impact on them.

{ 241/365 }
{ 241/365 } (Photo credit: (lola vegas))

Now, granted, this is from a woman’s point of view.  Men view things like this completely differently.  Take for instance, the Nikki Heat books by “Richard Castle”.  (Air quotes there because really, we all know Richard isn’t writing these.)  You know these books are written by a man because of the lack , I’m talking serious lack, of descriptions about how anyone looks.  Even to what they wear.  We really have no idea.  Nikki Heat could be wearing granny panties for all we know.  Okay, sure, a suit jacket here, a long sleeved tee there, but for the most part, nada.

It irks me.  I really like to know what someone looks like.  Even a hint, thank you very much.

Blue eyes to wax poetic about.

And this also includes actual physical features of the characters.  I like knowing, or reading, when a hero loves how a girls eyes are the deepest shade of blue that he could fall into.  Yes, I know, it’s not really reality, which is why it’s called FICTION.  I’ve done it myself; gone on and on about what character’s eyes look like, and I’ve also been corrected by an editor about sounding too Romance Fiction- y.  I changed what I was writing at the time, but I still love to wax poetic about what someone’s eyes look like.  It’s really quite ridiculous since of the two guys I was involved in, there eyes were not the first thing I noticed, nor even the second.

Well, basically, to conclude this thought, how characters perceive each other is almost more important than how you describe what they wear.  If a girl looks in a mirror and thinks that a dress makes her look fat, it’s really more honest then just describing the color and shape of a dress. It clues you in to what the girl is feeling, or how she thinks about herself.  Same as if she sees the hero in dark brown corduroy pants and a cream turtleneck pullover and her heart thuds.  You feel the emotion in those words.

To me, the emotion is more important than the actual act of dressing your characters.

Writing on
~K.L.B.

The Downside To Two Editors

Yes, that’s right, two editors. I happen to have two right at the moment.  Of course George is my first and foremost go to guy.  He is the one I shall be asking to edit most of my non-children’s books writing.  However, back this summer I started really working on writing a short story/novella thingy that I’m posting elsewhere.  Someday I might share it, but for now, never mind.  Anyways, I ‘queried’ two volunteer editors and both replied.  George, and the other one I’ll call Mr. T.  He only signs his name as ‘T’ so I have no clue what his real name is. 

Well, of course I rave about George, but Mr. T. has been incredible as well.  He’s got this smart alec complex that really gets me thinking.  He hasn’t allowed me to continue being all romancey writer on myself, trying to get me out of the classic romance novel style.  For instance, my character’s eyes were quite descriptive.  I had fun.  Mr. T. tore it to pieces and told me to cut it out.  It was too romance book style.

I was annoyed.  I was pissed.  But he was right.  Rarely do you notice someone elses eyes.  I mean, I still can’t tell you right off the bat what color one of my boyfriend’s was.  And we were close.  Some sort of blue, but I never paid much attention.  So, eye descriptions went out.

Then, Mr. T. got me to working on describing things a bit more creatively.  I had this scene where this couple was having dinner and they discussed everything, only I didn’t say what they discussed.  Mr. T.’s comment was something along the lines of “Turkish torture chambers, the Jersey Shore, kung fu fighting….”  Okay, he phrased it much more humorously, but you catch my drift.  So suddenly I was open to writing something else.

It’s been really great having two different points of view.

Downside? 

I have to edit and send to one.  Then once I get those edits back, I have to correct and send it to the next one.  And I have to wait.  George is really great about replying quickly, and I love him for that.  (I haven’t been so good at replying with edits for him…. Hey, I’m a writer, I didn’t sign up to edit anyone elses work except my own.)  But Mr. T., well, once it took three weeks to hear back from him.  Hey, I know he’s busy, but well, the waiting.  I hate, underscore, HATE waiting.  So, that is the downside to two editors.

In the future, most of my editing requirements will be sent to George.  I think we have this groove thing going on.  However, there are a few things I’ve done that I might send off to Mr. T. just because I want that sarcastic, get me to think, edits.  We shall see.

How about anyone else?  Have you had more than one person edit your work?

Writing on

~K.L.B.

Keeping the Imagination Flowing

Tom's Diner
Image via Wikipedia

This has been a busy week, but not so much in the writing department.  Not for lack of wanting, but lack of time.  Despite that, I have been trying to keep my thoughts going and not stagnating.  I think one reason writers get writer’s block is because ideas get stale after time and you need something new to give you a jolt.  Something to wake up the senses and mind to something exciting and new.

For me, music is one of the best ways to keep the imagination flowing.  There are songs that tell a story, ‘Tom’s Diner’ by Suzanne Vega.  Then there are songs that inspire a feeling, ‘Sway’ by Michael Bublé, makes me think of romance and sex and hot summer nights.  Something sweet?  ‘As I Lay Me Down’ by Sophie B. Hawkins does the trick.  At least these all do it for me.

Music always keeps my mind thinking.  Granted, all music works for is my fiction writing.  Not children’s books.  But as romance fiction is my escape, I don’t mind so much.

Another thing that gets me thinking is being out in nature.  Walking in the sun, smelling the good autumn scent of burning fires and falling leaves.  Having those crisp clear days.  Sitting at a kitchen table with a good cup of tea while staring out the window.  Hanging laundry.  Now that always has me thinking.  Maybe it’s because hanging laundry isn’t the most exciting thing, but I spend most of my time working out plots.

The other day Walter told me I should wear my headsets while working on stripping elderberries off their stems.  Later I told Mrs. Day that I don’t need headsets most of the time to distract me.  I have so much to think about and work out that I’m rarely bored.  I wear the headsets when I’m doing something super boring, like picking raspberries in the summer heat, or walking to town when I want to drown out cars.  But most of the time, I could get by without even needing them then.  Just being, sometimes helps you work things out.

Now, all that being said, I did finish a story, had it edited, worked on the edits, which were minor, and got a reply story to mine.  So all in all a good week.  My mind is active.  I have this great idea for a short story titled Give Into Me, all because of the song with the same name, from the film Country Strong.  I am in love with the song, sung by Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester.  So, I may start something for that.  Who knows.

What about all of you?  What keeps your imagination flowing and the ideas from stalling, even if you are not writing?

Writing on

~K.L.B.