Mandy Eve-Barnett's Official Blog

Inspiration for Writers & Building A Community ©

A Wafer Thin Mint..?

September 30, 2013
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Satiety – definition: the state of being full or gratified to or beyond the point of satisfaction.

full

If you are familiar with Monty Python, you were probably reminded of the Mr. Creosote sketch when you read this word. A fictional character in Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life movie, he is a monstrously obese restaurant patron. During the sketch he consumes a vast amount of food while vomiting repeatedly. (Yes, its disgusting!) Once sated he asks for the bill but is persuaded by the maitre d’ to finished off his huge meal with a ‘wafer thin mint’.  After placing the mint in front of Mr. Creosote the waiter runs for cover. The reason becomes clear when Mr. Creosote explodes!

There is certainly mischief in the maitre d’ actions and Mr. Creosote’s pompous personality shows through. The character building in this short sketch is well done as you understand the restaurant staff have suffered with this particular patron for some time.

 When we are creating our characters we hope to develop them well enough that our readers ‘know’ them as true personalities within the beginning stages of the narrative. If the reader only discovers vital information about our protagonist in the middle of the story, it is probable we have lost that reader. There needs to be empathy with our character. We have to custom build our unique ‘world’ and ensure our characters ‘fit’ into that scenario.

We can begin with the physical characteristics, such as height, weight, build and hair and eye colour but these are only the start. To ensure we have a rounded being for our readers to envisage, we need to ‘know’ each character. What are their habits, quirks or eccentricities, beliefs, likes and dislikes, fears, temperament, hopes and dreams. In short what does their ‘life’ look like and consist of.

Developing character bio’s is not just a fun exercise but also a great writing tool. You have a firm base with which to develop your story and how each character reacts as they are true to their personality. However, remember to leave as much as possible to the reader’s imagination, the bio is for your use not theirs. Every reader wants to visualize the characters and doesn’t want a full blown description as if your character is looking in a mirror.

Do you have a character bio step by step?

Infinite Inspirational Sources for Characters…

September 29, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Nocturnal – definition: of, pertaining to, or active at night

lesser_bushbaby

There are numerous animals that roam in the night, adapted to life in the dark. One of my favorites is the bushbaby not just because it is the sweetest little bundle of fur but also because my parents nicknamed me, Bushbaby. I was a small child but had the largest blue eyes ever.  It is the bushbabies large orange eyes that are so special enabling perfect sight in the dark but none in daylight hours. The size of them restricts any movement so the creature is constantly turning its head as it travels in the treetops. If a human skull structure was similar our eyes would be the size of soccer balls.

When we create stories and characters things that interest us can be a great source of inspiration. Characteristics of a creature can be adapted for a fantasy personality. Take the bushbaby for instance. An alien that can see in the dark would be a great predator – this adaptation has been used in the movie Riddick.

It goes to show anything and everything can be inspirational if we keep an open mind.

Have you used a natural world adaptation in a character?

Amassing Stuff – A Collector or a Hoarder..?

September 28, 2013
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Amass – definition: to gather many things for oneself; to collect as one’s own

Hoarding

Many of us have watched the TV program called Hoarders, which follows the plight of people literally buried under amassed stuff in their homes. Many have lived in these conditions for many years and become desensitized to their surroundings. It is probably a good thing there is no such thing as aroma vision as I’m sure the smell would be absolutely overpowering. Damage to the property and vermin infestation are common place in these homes and we denounce the hoarder for getting into such a dreadful state. However, once their stories are revealed we can only feel pity. A vast number of these poor souls have experienced devastating loss in their lives and holding on to things is a way of coping.

The items piled up are a mixture of waste products and newly acquired objects, from a wide variety of places, such as thrift stores, garbage bins or garage sales. As we watch the experts try to alleviate the trauma of discarding items, we acknowledge that for the hoarder it is emotionally discarding a loved one, the pain is still very raw. Many have never received help for their grief or depression. It is a sad reflection of the type of dysfunctional family that has become common in Western society as extended families are the exception to the rule.

Faced with such a huge amount of items must be really difficult to cope with for family and friends, many of whom have never seen the inside of the home for a long time, even years. Reactions are usually what we expect as we watch the program unfold but others are much more telling as to why the problem started in the first place. As human beings we need to be loved and love. If this is ripped away from us the natural instinct is to fill the void. The hoarders televised have taken their need to a whole other level, one we have a problem understanding but try to see its not the stuff amassed but the need for comfort, no matter how that is gained.

Have you collected objects to excess? 

I collected Japanese and Chinese crockery and ornaments for some time but became bored and sent them to auction, only keeping a couple of favorite pieces. My main collection is postcards, brochures and tickets of places and events I have visited or attended since I was 5 years old. They are stuck in numerous scrap books, which one day I will renew.

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Lurid Tales & Violence…

September 27, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Lurid – definition: 1. gruesome; horrible; 2. glaringly vivid or sensational

Macabre Base instincts are difficult to confront at the best of times. Unfortunately, we are bombarded with gruesome scenes on the daily news ranging from senseless bombings to murders and violent acts between people. Have we really evolved from caveman mentality? On a global scale, countries are grabbing resources from each other and stock piling weapons – usually in secret or so they think! On a lower level violence has become lessened in its impact with a multitude of games and movies favoring violent acts as the main theme.

How can we teach future generations that there are consequences to such acts when they only see a player resurrected and literally get away with murder? Can we ‘unlearn’ this ‘need’ for violence? Is it possible to show real consequences and ensure our youngsters understand it is make believe unless, sadly the images are on news programs?

Have you written lurid scenes for a novel or story? Care to share? How did you balance the good and evil? Did you become uneasy with the character?

William, a character in my novel, The Twesome Loop, has bizarre sexual practices and I had to think outside my comfort zone for his motivations and desires. Sinking into such a mindset is disturbing to say the least but William had to be true to his personality. His accomplice shares his desires (or claims to!) and supplies William with victims thereby releasing herself from being subjected to his debauchery. Once I had structured William’s base instincts, I was asked what his redeeming quality was. Honestly, I had not thought it mattered if he had one or not, but no-one is all bad. So I had to create a feasible reason for his adult actions. I will not spoil the story by revealing what it was but my fellow writing group members thought it clever and believable.

We all want to be Acknowledged…

September 26, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Acknowledgement – definition: 1. recognition of the existence or truth of something; 2. an expression of appreciation

best seller

It is human nature to want to be acknowledged whether for our day to day activities or, as we are writers, for our narratives. We can toil for days, weeks and years in our solitude, scribbling the next great novel. It is only when we share this work are we acknowledged by our peers and hopefully a wider audience. And that is the scary part! We nurture, refine and revise time and again to make our story ‘perfect’. The life lesson here is another person’s point of view will give us a new perspective, which may or may not be what we were expecting. In truth it is mainly, not. Being so close to the story, its settings and characters is a good thing when we are in creation mode  but we need to step back and let it ‘rest’ a while before editing. Fresh eyes and a certain detachment allow us to really ‘see’ the narrative without our mesmerized involvement in the project.

To cushion the blow, read excerpts to your writing group or trusted friends, who you know will be honest with you but not harsh in their review. Bear in mind the genre when you share your work as not everyone will enjoy fantasy, romance or sci-fi. That way you can receive a true reflection of your novel from people who regularly read that particular genre. In many ways you are benefiting from their ‘expertise’. Beta readers are also a good way to receive great feedback.

Acknowledgement may not come as a best seller but understand, if one or two readers read your narrative and enjoy it enough to contact you to say how much they loved it then you have recognition and appreciation. Your words are out in the world for future generations to delight in. That is priceless.

 

A similar blog post I found this morning – http://glynisrankin.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/wednesday-writer-wisdom-the-beta-reader/

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