The Fears That Bind Us (aka You’re Gonna Die)

A wise friend of mine once observed: Every action we take or don’t take is driven by one of two things: Fear or Love. I’ve been sifting through this idea for a few years now, wondering if this were actually true (being the “inward bound” workshop/personal development/human potential geek-junkie that I am – and yes, I am the kind of person satirized on shows like Portlandia). But I’ve discovered that whenever I break my actions or inactions down to the basic essence, my wise friend is right. I just have to be brave enough to tell the truth about it once in a while, especially when it comes to the fear end of things. I’m quite good at justifying my fears. I also think that there are levels of fear, and I can always tell when I get to the fear behind the...

Weekly Workout: Out of One’s Era

I like technology. I’m no techno whiz, but I can get a pretty good geek on. Sometimes, though, the pace of technological advancement astonishes me. It’s overwhelming. I keep joking that one of these days I’m just going to put my foot down and say, That’s it, no more, I’m staying here. Others have. I know people who refuse to text. I know people who won’t shop online. I know people who will never, ever, ever get rid of their stereos or watch TV online. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I mean, I plan on being the writer on the panel at some future convention who goes, “[insert new technology]? No, I don’t do that kind of thing.” Who cares if I write speculative fiction? I’ve met plenty of science...

Weekend Workout: Facing Fear (Character – Action Part 5 of 6)

Querying can inspire (or despire, haha) feelings of anxiety and depression, even in the most Polyanna-ish writers. I have been through a few agents over the years (all amicable separations) and the approach is an emotional challenge every time. When feelings of “what-if-no-one-likes-my-story” hit, I like to step back and view the process as a game. I think of the situation as one of those story problems my math teacher gave me. Okay, that’s probably a bad example for many of you because everyone I know hated those problems. I didn’t. Those were my favourite kind of math problems. They were little riddles to be solved and they involved storytelling (yeah, okay, I’m a geek). Or today I emailed one of my query buddies and said...

Weekend Workout: The Antagonist (Character – Action part 4 of 6)

Most of my weekend writing workouts have been around the Protagonist. That’s mainly because if your reader doesn’t sympathize with your protagonist, you’ve pretty much lost a reader. But as Jack Remick reminded us in his fabulous guest post a few weeks ago:  Make every character strong enough to be the protagonist of your next novel. To tell you the truth, I’ve come across a few fictional antagonists that I’ve appreciated more than the protagonists of the stories. And I’ve heard some writers say that sometimes they’ve got antagonists they prefer to write about, which I think is saying something. When we were in high school, we were often told that the “antagonist” is equivalent to the “villain.” This is not always the case. In fact, in contemporary literature, I...

Weekend Workout: Guest Post by Jack Remick (Character – Action Part 3 of 6)

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce your Weekend Workout guest Jack Remick, author and writing mentor / teacher extraordinaire. He was a great influence and inspiration when I took a dramatic writing class from him and co-teacher Robert Ray many years ago. His exercises have stuck with me to this day. If you’re in the Vancouver area, he often teaches at the Surrey Writer’s Festival. If you enjoy this post, check out Jack and Bob’s Writing Blog for more valuable writing advice and guidance. ~     ~     ~ Character and Action—The Deep Relationship Vulnerability is the key to the sympathetic character. The wound, coupled with a secret coupled with character flaw, gives you a human character. The more obvious the wound, the more deeply buried...

Weekend Workout: The Wound (Character – Action Part 2 of 6)

Haha, fooled you. I’m not home. But I have scheduled several posts to go live while I’m away. There will be a guest from the Magic Appreciation Tour, a special weekend workout from Jack Remick, and possibly a few more. ~     ~     ~ Last Friday I talked about characters being a sum of their actions, and those actions motivated by our complex human emotions. So much influences what we do and say and don’t do and don’t say. Next Friday, Jack will show you how those emotions drive our characters. Our “uncomfortable” emotions stem from our wounds. We are all walking wounded. One of the reasons I love John Green’s stories is because he creates such great wounded characters. Right now I’m reading WILL GRAYSON, WILL...