DON’T LISTEN TO LAZY WRITERS!

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Unfortunately there are some authors who are lazy and really don’t care anymore. They will say things like: “I never describe my characters. I leave that for the imagination of my reader.” OR “I never describe my environment because I want the reader to picture the story anywhere in the world.”

The above is what I like to call a big unhealthy load of lazy writing. Don’t listen to these people. They are obviously dead inside. You can call them out on it and say, you don’t describe these things because you can’t picture it.

The market of Independent authors is full of people who just don’t even want to try, which makes it harder for the rest of us. I urge you to imagine your characters and locations.

I don’t know what your method is when you write but My story unfolds in my mind like a movie. I see very vivid scenes and people who are alive and struggling in the world. You should feel like these characters are important to you. These places have to mean something to these people you are breathing life into. They live in that world, give them somewhere to exist.

These lazy writers will tell you to only use “he said, she said,” as dialog tags. That is incredibly boring. I don’t care for those kind of books. That tells me that the author couldn’t be bothered to imagine their characters actually speaking or what their mannerisms would be. What a snore-fest.

They will tag all these stupid rules onto your art with no purpose other than to draw a line in the sand. Your words are a warhead, blow up their sand into oblivion, having the whole beach rain down over their lazy heads in white hot sandy grains and jagged shards of fire forged glass.

When I am creating a character, I will often type in a description and download a picture of a stranger from the internet. I will look at their face and decide what kind of person they are. Then, I will look at cities, pictures of towns, bus stations, busy streets, and create their environment. You need the steam rising from the manholes. The grey sky smothered in gathering clouds. You need the faceless strangers, heads down, pushing through the traffic, just trying to get to work. It’s our world, don’t let lazy writers take it away from you.

Fatigue & Writer’s Remorse

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One of the worst things to fight during story building is fatigue. If you’re too tired when you’re creating your master piece, you run the risk of ‘writer’s remorse.’ You will create tons of pages, maybe some will be good and you can bet that some will not. You will find yourself writing ‘double paragraphs.’ Two paragraphs, usually one after the other, saying exactly the same thing but in different ways. You want to avoid this.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that you won’t be able to use any of your work that you create during your foggy minded typing. What I am saying is that you won’t be able to tell if it truly is good or if it belongs in the bin, as Gordon Ramsey might say. It’s underdone, put it back in the oven.

Writer’s remorse is YOU plugging away at that amazing story and ending up with choppy scenes, unwanted characters, bad plot, flat people, no environment, maybe no reaction. REACTION drives your characters. Without it, you have flat characters. I once read a short story where a guy was stabbed and he didn’t even grunt, no cursing, no “AHHHH! You stabbed me!” Nothing. What the hell, some guy stabs you, you’re gonna make a fuss. Right?

Maybe you completely forget to mention your environment. What? Your world has no weather? No people in it except the talking heads? No obstacles? Why would you ever want to read a story like that?

Eventually, you get some rest. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, you sit at your overlord, COMPUTER and open your story, start reading what ever it was you wrote the night before to find all of the above. You’re left sitting there, staring at this mess that’s got a goofy grin staring back, mocking you, maybe the story flips you off and says, “Deal with it.”

What do you do? You suffer from writer’s remorse. Now you spend the next month, cutting, editing, rewriting, adding tons of time onto your goal. Before you know it a year slipped by and your friends and allies wont talk to you because you’ve ignored them all this time to right this horrible wrong. You could never let that story see the light of day or you would loose all face as a serious author.

To avoid all of this, get a note book. Write your whole story in it, planning it in scenes before you even type a single word. When the time comes, you write the whole thing in a couple months and call it a book. That’s life, a world you create, without writer’s remorse.

Good luck, and put you’re tray in the upright position, we’re landing here people.

Death of Good Villains

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Ever notice how they build up this amazing villain who you love to hate, only to kill them off? What’s the point of that? Some of the best stories ever told are with villains who ‘get away to live and fight another day.’

When you do it right, your reader will not only want your villain to survive, they will begin to sympathize with them. Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes is a great example of this. He is the anti-Sherlock, yet, they have a lot in common. He’s brilliant and oddly polite. Except for the fact that he’s driven to destroy, he’s just peachy. In another life, he and Sherlock may have been close friends. They kind of are, playing their little game, that’s what friends do, they play together. If you read him right, you want to feel for the guy. He reminds you of that song: ‘Behind blue eyes’ by the who. ‘No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes.’

How about Dracula? Did anyone else get this is a love story? Put yourself in his shoes. He goes to war for his faith. Word comes back to his wife that he’s dead. He bathes in the blood of the enemies of the church and returns to find she has committed suicide. He drinks the ancient blood of the black cross and becomes Dracula. Much time passes. He meets a woman who is the reincarnation of his beautiful love. The whole world is trying to keep them apart and even trying to kill him. You can’t get more romantic than that. Yet, through all this, they are the ones keeping them from finally finding peace in their embrace, two wanting souls who hunger for each other. They call him the monster, they prey on his children and murder him. In this tale, you can learn to identify with the villain.

Don’t kill off your villains, and if you feel that it is absolutely necessary then for the love of everything that is sacred to you, introduce a bigger baddy that your once big bad villain was actually working for. Another great way to tackle this situation is to make someone pick up the torch to get revenge on your hero.

Every person is capable of good and evil. Some teeter to one side or the other. What if a villain became good? What the hell is the hero going to do then? Their whole life they’ve been fighting and now it just ends? No, we make someone even worst then the previous villain.

Killing off your villains without cause or just for a simple shock effect is lame. You have to do better than that. Too many writers forget to put villains in their stories. If there is no struggle, there is no story. A great writer once said: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” ― William Faulkner

I don’t take this to mean: ‘Kill all the characters you love.’ Maim them a little. Remember, scars build character. Make things hard for them. They need to struggle to get to where they need to be so they can grow to be great. If your heros never become great then your reader doesn’t become great. Get it? Creating great villains are an easy way to get them there.

You gotta reach, go bigger than your original idea. Always strive to be and do greater than you intended. Make us care about your villains, better yet, YOU gotta care about them. Don’t half-ass it and make some generic prick who is kind of snarky and greedy and expect me to like it. You better bring your ‘A’ game when you write your villains because you know I will. I pour my heart and soul into every character, good and bad. If I can’t feel something for each one, then what’s the point?

Ivan Desabrais

Character Realization & Story Creation

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First off, let’s start by saying you can’t have one without the other, character/story. The two go hand in hand. Your character should tell a story just by looking at them. What does your character say to you? Most people will tell you to write down crazy things like what’s their favorite kind of birthday cake. Don’t do it. If you realize your character, they will tell you when the time is right.

Building a character is a lot like getting into a relationship. There will be things you like about them, things you don’t. You won’t know them very well in the beginning. They may have some secrets you don’t know. Annoying habits that bother you may pop up. Just go with it. Breathe life into them and let them live.

We are living in a time when our stories have a serious problem, UNLIKEABLE CHARACTERS. How often have you read a book or watched something you invested your time into and the writer(’s) go and make the main character completely unlikable. It happens. You gotta wonder, what the hell are they thinking?

During character creation or realization, its your time to shine. So do it, burn bright. Make those ‘mains’ bigger than life. I know what you’re doing right now. You’re rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, well thanks Ivan, HOW do I make my characters bigger than life? At that point I kiss my teeth at you and let out a hot breath. “Easy,” I say, “Come with me.”

We are getting in a hummer limo and cruising down the streets of a big city. The long sleek machine is beaming the streetlights off the diamond black paint job that makes the boxy body sparkle like a dark jewel. I signal the driver, Who just happens to be me in a disguise. Yes I can be in two places at once. Focus here.

I turn and ask you:

“Ever meet someone who had an interesting habit? or maybe they say an interesting  phrase a lot? Perhaps they had an intriguing look that you filed away in the back of your brain. No? Look over there.”

You see a strong confident woman. You can tell she’s strong by the way she carries herself, head up, shoulders back. She doesn’t walk, she strides. Her calves are showing, see that hard muscle there? Yogalates (Yoga-Pilates) body. Her gold mane flowing in the winter breeze. Her breath of war, streaming out in a ghostly white from the crisp air. Her long black boots crunching the snow beneath her feet like a viking denizen. Look, she’s getting into a dark and mysterious car. You don’t know what kind? She’s passing us, look at the emblem. Hmm, foreign to this place. Maybe a Maybach, not a bad way to spend a couple mil.

Who is this person? What does she do? Notice how we can change her attire just a little bit? Maybe her ankle length jacket swayed open and on her hip was a gun. Of course that gun was something cinematic like a desert eagle, all chromed out. That’s some serious bullet candy for someone into Yogalates.

Maybe she doesn’t even live around here. What if that’s not even her car? What if the real owner is in the trunk and she just emptied their bank accounts?

Boom! We have a story. All great stories start with a great character. See how we can flesh her out more. This story is writing itself. Very little was put into it. You have to pay attention to everything going on around you. You’re missing pieces of your work every day.

At this point we are flying over the city. I know, you’re freaking out. “Ivan, I didn’t know you could fly.” Stop stating the obvious, of course I could fly. It’s my page, here I can do anything. Here I say the word orange, and the sky is orange. Here I say rain, and it rains. That’s how this game works, so why bother thinking so small and making flat unlikable characters?

I look at a story as a series of questions and answers and now so do you.

Ivan Desabrais

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