What Language Do Your Characters Use?

What’s the missing ingredient to the story in which every character sounds like the next? It’s the individual’s language of life and personality.

 

There is a magic in interpersonal communication sometimes ignored by writers. Characters from different backgrounds and life experiences express themselves in unique ways.

 

A naturopath reminded me the other day that experienced energy healers speak a language of their own. One that those unaccustomed to the art find confusing. The etheric body is as incomprehensible to the initiate as the idea of space travel was to the average man before Da Vinci built his spacecraft between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. His concept inspired the language of science fiction writers.

 

Doctors discussing the latest medical breakthrough use a vocabulary foreign to their patients. Patients break the news to loved ones in terms used within their familial group.

 

Musicians in each genre of music have a particular language for the way they coax magic from their instruments and voices.

 

Lovers speak of inspiration, dedication, and hope found in the presence of each other.

 

Teenagers use phrases and abbreviations that seem to change overnight in popularity. Parents answer in expressions derided or ignored by the adolescents they address.

 

Friends converse with the language of past experiences and never-forgotten embarrassing moments. Men use physical manifestations of friendship—the shoulder slap, the fist bump. Women are more apt to be huggers.

 

Couples often communicate without words, but rather in a ballet of movement, a tilt of the head, a tightening of the lips. A smoldering glance across a room is a language as old as time.

 

Watch the way people converse in a crowd. Identify patterns of verbal and body language that you can bring to different characters. Build on the verbal and nonverbal signals they bring to every relationship.

 

How do your characters express their relationships? Why and when did they create their language of shared thoughts and emotions? Are they able to establish a mutual understanding or does the natural language of each build new tension and conflict between them?

 

There’s no one method of communication that we all share. And our language patterns change as we communicate with different individuals or groups of people. Make your characters vivid and unforgettable with communication patterns uniquely their own.

Talent vs. Success

Even the most talented writer will never achieve success without sitting down and doing the work.  It’s easy to say we’re busy creating, but how much time do we waste each day on tasks that have nothing to do with writing?

Take an honest look at where you want to be with your writing by the first day of March.  Then be equally honest about the effort you’re making toward that goal.

Will you be a talented writer who never reaches publication?  Or will you be a success because you weren’t afraid of the hard work?

 

Own the Power of Your Words

Now, more than ever, each stroke of the pen makes a difference.  You say, “But I’m only writing fiction.”  Or you shrug off that short article about finding the best school for your children.  Never underestimate the impact every word you write makes on the reader.

So what do you choose to create with your words?

 

 

Have You Abandoned Your New Year’s Intentions Yet?

I read the other day that by January 21 of each year most people have abandoned or given up on the intentions they set on the first day of the year.

Wow!  Are we making our goals too hard?  Dreaming too big?  Reaching too high?

Or are we just not clear on what we desire?

Without clarity of purpose and plan, nothing gets done.  When that one vital piece of the equation, is missing there are no new inventions, symphonies, blockbuster books, movies, or movements.

In my last post, I gave you three words to focus on in 2017.  Now I want you to take another look at them.

 

Set Your Intentions

Are your intentions ambiguous and open-ended?

Maybe you’ve decided this is the year to get a book published.  Have you written any part of it?  Do you know what you want to say?  What do you want the book to inspire or incite in your reader?

 

If answering those questions make your head swim, it’s time to carve your intention into chewable pieces.

Those sub-intentions may look like this:

1)  Sit down for a week and decide on a theme/plot/reason for this book

2)  Write one chapter a week for the next fifteen (or whatever) weeks

3)  Devote two months to editing and rewriting the manuscript

4)  Spend the second quarter of the year researching publishing options, etc.

 

By creating clarity around your primary intention, you’ll have created a series of small steps that will lead you to your overall goal.

 

Sit Your Butt in a Chair and Write

If you’ve been having a tough time doing this, ask yourself what’s keeping you from getting started.

Maybe your chair is so uncomfortable you’d rather walk barefoot through a cactus farm than sit in it all day.  Get yourself a new chair.  If you can’t afford what you want, find a different place to work in your house.  Sit on the couch and write.  Curl up on your bed and create pages as fast as you can type.

If your environment is preventing you from writing, change it.

 

If time is your enemy, get up earlier, stay up later, or get a timer so you can work in bursts.  Once the timer goes off, you know you’re done for the day or for that writing episode.

Knowing you have a specific amount of time in which to write generates more creative energy. 

 

Success is the Compound Result of the Above Actions

You can have the best and clearest intention, but if you never sit down and write, you won’t be successful.

Or you can sit and write for hours every day, but without clarity around your purpose, you never attain your goal.

You’ve still got time to turn the new energy of 2017 into a tool to achieve your writing dreams.  Decide on your goal and purpose.  Get clear about them.  Claim them.  Then sit down and make them happen.  At the end of this year, you’ll be marking “Done” on your scoresheet while celebrating your accomplishment.

 

If you’d like to work with me in 2017, I’m currently setting my schedule for the next four months.  Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you attain your writing dreams.

Choose Your 2017 Door of Opportunity

Did you hear that thundering boom as we stepped into 2017?  It was probably the remaining reverberation of the first fireworks in my neighborhood—set off before 7:00 am on New Year’s Eve.  It shook the house so hard, I thought a neighbor’s propane tank had exploded.

 

happy-2017

 

No matter when or where your fireworks took place, they heralded the appearance of new, limitless opportunities for your coming year.

Think of it as if you’re turning a sharp corner and discovering an endless hallway lined with doors.  Some are open, the light within shining in invitation.  Others are barely ajar, allowing only a glimpse of light around the barrier.  A few are tightly closed.  You feel like you’ve shown up to a smorgasbord with no idea of what’s on the menu.  It’s up to you to find out what awaits behind each door and determine if it’s to your taste or not.

 

Open Doors

“At its heart, our work is the opening up, the bringing forth of a new domain of possibility for people.” ~~ Werner Erhard

Approaching the open doors takes less bravery than you would expect.  You can see the opportunity that waits within.  It’s easy to access.  All you have to do is decide whether the reward for accepting this opportunity enhances your goals.  (You do have your short- and long-term goals defined, don’t you?  If not, stop reading, set your intentions, and then come back and finish this post.)

 

Doors Ajar

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” ~~ John Sculley

These are the chances you approach with more caution.  It’s harder to see what this opportunity might deliver to you or require of you.  You may have to do some digging to get to the meat of this feast.  There may be some delay in gratification for you.  If you’re up to the challenge, this opportunity may help you grow as a writer and deliver you to another door to explore. 

 

Closed Doors

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this — you haven’t.” ~~ Thomas Edison, attributed, Quote This!: A Collection of Illustrated Quotes for Educators

These are the doors to which you have to apply some muscle to excavate the treasure you can’t even see at this point.  Making your own opportunities takes a lot more work than finding the ones beyond the open, beckoning doors.  Sometimes, it turns out to be solely a learning experience with no discernible return on your investment.  But more often you’ll find some advantage that brings you a fuller, richer reward than if you’d settled for the prize beyond each open door.

 

Which Door Do You Choose?

All that remains, this first day of 2017, is for you to decide if you’re going to take the easy path in your writing or dig deep for lasting success.  Where will you be standing this time next year?  Beyond the door where room service dropped everything you wanted in your lap, but you didn’t grow as a writer?  Or in the beautiful chamber you hand-crafted from the studs out after kicking the door down with your combat boots? 

 

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!” ~~ Soren Kierkegaard

 

If you’d like to work with me in 2017, I’m currently setting my schedule for the next four months.  Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you attain your writing dreams.

Analyzing NaNoWriMo Lessons Learned

As I type this, NaNoWriMo 2016 moves into its final hours.  Some of you who participated have completed your word count and downloaded your winner’s certificate.  Others are manically pounding the keyboard, determined to beat the midnight deadline.  And many are nowhere near 50,000 words and have given up hope of flaunting a winner’s T-shirt.

No matter which category you fall into, there are lessons you’ve learned while working on your manuscript.  Yes, even while you focused entirely on creating a 30-day masterpiece, your writer’s mind absorbed information you can use forever.

It’s Always Who, What, When, Where, How, Why

You’re scratching your head, wondering why I’m taking you back to basic writing.  Because you can define everything you take away from your efforts in one of these boxes.

 

Who Are You as a Writer?

What gets your creative juices flowing?  Are you all about the adventure of writing?  Pitting yourself against a target (50K words in 30 days)?  Or do you revel in the comfort of knowing exactly what you’ll be doing each day?  Are you slow and steady or rush through in as few sittings as possible?

Now ask yourself: How did that energy level feel for you?  Did you get a headache every time you thought of the number of words you still needed?  Or did you feel confident and excited as you progressed each day?  What changes in your writing routine might be inspired by this NaNo challenge?

 

What Got You to the Keyboard Each Day?

Once you signed up and the NaNo challenge began, did you find it hard to remain motivated?  What inspired you to return to your manuscript even when you fell days behind?

Did you promise yourself a daily or weekly reward?  Did you imagine one fantastic gift to yourself that you couldn’t open until you reached 50,000 words?  Or did you armor yourself with dreams of fame and fans awaiting the product of your effort?  Did you create a progression chart and triumphantly mark off each day’s word count?

Now ask yourself:  How will you use this motivation to maintain your writing habit through the entire coming year?

 

When Did You Know You Were Acing This Challenge?

Were you so confident at the stroke of midnight, on November 1, that you knew you would blaze through your word count with no problems?  Or was it only as you watched the last few words fall from your fingers onto the page that you breathed a sigh of accomplishment?

Now ask yourself: How much confidence have you gained over the past thirty days that you can meet deadlines?  How will you use that confidence to build on your writing career?

 

Where Will Your Victory Over This Challenge Take You?

You say, “But I didn’t even finish the challenge.”  I disagree.  You showed up and made an effort.  Life gets in the way, contest, editor’s deadline, or publishing launch.  We never get it perfect.  But we show up and do the best we can.

Wrap that in a bow and gift yourself with the knowledge that you are working toward your goal.  Even when you’re flat on your back, downing antibiotics while your mother-in-law assumes command of your kitchen for Thanksgiving dinner.  While you’re lying on the couch, wondering if you’ll ever find anything in your cabinets again, allow yourself to discover the story in what’s going on.  See, I told you you’re working on your writing.

Now ask yourself: What plans can you put in place while writing is flowing that will help you keep writing when life throws a tsunami at you?

 

How Do You Feel Now That It’s Over?

Are you eager to show up first thing the morning of December 1 and whip out ten more pages?  Or do you feel the need for some time disconnected from your manuscript?  Time to absorb what you’ve accomplished?

Now ask yourself: Have you been paying attention to what your body wants you to know?  Does it want you to get outside, to exercise, to enjoy family time?  Listen carefully, and do what feels best for you.  That’s the way you keep your physical strength up so you can keep writing.

 

Why Do You Feel Let Down When It’s Over?

Because it’s such a rush to participate in a worldwide effort.  It’s an adventure of discovering your ability to concentrate on a goal and crush it.  And though you don’t have to measure yourself against other writers, you know you pay attention to how they’re getting on.  And you become motivated to reach new heights when you see someone blazing a trail ahead of you.

Once the challenge is over, you know the real world will intrude again. Kids still need to be carpooled somewhere every day.  The boss wants you to work late for the next month.  And your spouse is more than ready for you to come out of your locked writing retreat and take the dog to the vet, shovel the snow, and get back to your ordinary life.

Now ask yourself: If you don’t have the excuse of NaNoWriMo to hole up and write, are you doomed never to reach your writing goals?  Not a bit!

Go back over the answers you gave for each of the above questions.  Observe the ways you’ve found to acknowledge your commitment and tenacity.  Celebrate what you’ve learned in this NaNoWriMo challenge.  And enjoy every new word you put on the page.  You’ve got this.

 

If you’d like to work with me this year, I have one spot open through the end of the year.  Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you attain your writing dreams.