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Archive for April, 2010

Changing Perceptions

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Changing Perceptions

Like so many authors, I find that when I am writing I pull from the events of my life. I have also found that the events of my life tend to change who I am as a person and who I am as an author. I include the events, my perceptions of the events and how those perceptions changed my outlook on life.

Every event has the potential to change who you are as a person and therefore change who you are as an author. The most efficient way to handle these events is to keep a diary or journal of these events. I have a few things on my computer, some in a notebook that all deal with my feelings regarding particular events in my life.

As I develop my characters, and there is always one character in my stories who is a lot like me, I tend to put events from my life into this character’s life. Part of that character’s personality is my own. Sometimes my character deals with the events the way I would if I could go back and do it all differently and sometimes my character deals with the events in the same way, either with the same outcome or a slightly different one. The other characters in the story tend be less equipped to deal with these events than the character or there maybe characters there that can handle a situation too well and they tend to get in the way and be too much of a help to the other characters.

In a story I am working on right now, I have a young teenager who struggling to deal with the sudden deaths of her twin sister and her paternal grandparents. Another character in the story has dealt with a similar event in the distant past, but refuses to talk to this character about it. Instead she encourages the girl to deal with her own life events and not to go digging around trying to figure out what happened. This other character refuses to acknowledge that she also has a problem and that she was never fully allowed to grieve. In the end both of them are able to pull through the grief and move on with their lives.

So the problem I have stumbled upon is that I know where the story goes, but I have not figured out how to get there. I have spent the last few weeks trying to figure out how to get there and I think what I need to do is bring in another character who more like myself and help the girl deal with her own grief before trying to help the other character. This will allow for some introspection and may change the story as a whole.

Changing the story into something else is okay, too. Several authors start out with one thing in mind and before the story is over, they have changed the story line completely. I think that is part of growing as an author. After all writing should help change you as a person as well. It gives you room to grow as an author, which is exactly what some people need.

Now Hiring….Potatoes?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

While driving the other day, I saw one of those signs that made me look twice.

Not because it was a clever advertisement, but because it was so strangely worded.

Here’s the first sign I saw:

Now Hiring...Potatoes?

Now Hiring...Potatoes?

If that wasn’t enough, the other side showed an even more disastrous (and funny)  message:

Now Hiring...Pansies?

Now Hiring...Pansies?

Okay, so it’s easy to laugh at these types of problems.  But how do we avoid making the same mistakes?

If you think about it for just a moment, the original intent of the message is clear.  The person who created the message wanted to communicate that the business was hiring, and that they were selling potatoes or pansies (after all, it is the right time to plant them in our area).

A simple message, gone awry. Why is it so easy to misunderstand the message?

A big part of the problem is the fact that the words are all in the same font, and that they are too close together. A better approach would have been to hang a banner advertising they were hiring, and using the main sign for what they were selling.  Anything that separated the two would have been better.

Another part (especially in the second sign), is the alternative meaning of the phrase, “Now hiring pansies.”  To many people, this would also mean “Now hiring cowards.”

Probably not the intended message.

This also serves as a warning to all writers:  after you write something, take a step back and look at the big picture.  When you look at your work as a whole, are you sending the wrong message?

Back to the signs above, it’s certainly possible that the owners did this on purpose.  After all, it did capture my attention, which is the point of any advertisement.

However, this is often caused by simply being focused on the little messages instead of looking at the big picture.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Always have someone else read over your work before you submit it for the world to see.  You never know what else you might be saying.

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