I love shopping. No, that's not true. I love finding bargains.
About six years ago I bought College Boy a new shirt for Easter. My mother-in-law had given me the money and insisted I get him "something nice from Dillard's." So I did. His response?
"I can't wear a shirt that cost $40! I'll have to spend all my time telling my friends, 'Don't touch The Shirt.'"
It's not as if he had never worn a shirt that cost $40 before. He had. He'd just never seen the price tag. Needless to say, I trudged him to the mall. While we were returning his too-expensive-for-him-to-wear shirt, I noticed Dillard's was having an Take an additional 50% off anything already 70% off already. How had I missed that sign earlier in the day? I hadn't planned on buying a new outfit for Easter for me, but who can resist a sale? In the end, I bought an $89 skirt for $11.75 and a $68 sweater for $5.00.
Sometimes we're too focused on one thing in our writing that we don't keep one part of our brain on the lookout for a new insight into a major, or minor, character.
While working on Unsold Manuscript, I realized my heroine's aunt was a flat character. The only external detail about her was she wore a gray dress. (Her dialogue, though, does show her personality and emotion.) Why wear gray? Oh, she's a widow. Well, duh. But let's take it a step further, why is it so important to her to wear grey?
Her answer? To bring out the gray in her chestnut hair. Now that's an odd reason. What woman in her right mind would intentionally want to draw attention to the few strands of gray in her hair? At 40, she, conceiveably, marry again and have a child or two. So I decided to chase the rabbit a bit.
What if she had an admirer. What if he weekly sent her a letter expressing his love and proposing marriage. How would Aunt respond? Read the letter then discard it. Now if she hadn't felt at least something for the man, she wouldn't read the letters. Yet, she did read them and never responded. Still the man continued to pursue.
As you add layers of characterization and introspection to a story, look for hidden treasures. It always pays to keep an eye out for something different, new, fresh, and . . . well, cheap.
What obscure fact have you ever written (or read) and it added a surprising oomph to a character?
I paid a visit to the plastic surgeon. Out of necessity.
College Boy burned his calf. He was in 8th grade at the time. Two days before his birthday, he decided to ride a motor bike . . . and conveniently forgot to ask how to make it stop going forward. He improvised by using a fence. Thus to Minor Care. Thus thus (after a referral) to the plastic surgeon. The whole time the doc was explaining care and possible worst-case-scenarios of the wound, I couldn't stop wondering if he was evaluating my potential to be his next patient. It's a rather creepy feeling. Plus he looked like an older, shorter Tony Romo, and then I couldn't stop wondering if he'd had plastic surgery done. Good news: College Boy did not have to have a skin graft. Bad news: He hadn't been cleaning the burn well enough each time he replaced the bandages, so I had to check the wound. Blech. If I'd wanted to be a nurse, I'd have gone to nursing school.
Sometimes we have to deal with unpleasantness.
Good news: Kids grow up.
Bad news: Every year somewhere in the United States a tornado destroys homes and kills people, and causes all sorts of unpleasantness. And if it's not a tornado, it's flood. Or a hurricane. Or a fire. Or a man-caused disaster. Or Black Friday. No matter the unpleasantness . . .
In my stack of library books was a couple newer fiction releases, one from a best-selling, award-winning romance author. The novel was book five in a series.
In the novel (maybe 45K words), the author used the points of view (POVs) of the heroines in the four previous books in the series. The first chapter was completely written in omniscient POV because all four previous heroines are in the scene. Did the author not want to settle on a POV in the scene so the readers wouldn't assume the main character was one of them?
Next chapter/next scene was in the heroine's POV. Next chapter/scene was the hero's. As the story progressed, between the two lead characters' POV, the author interjected the POV of one of the four previous novel heroines. Since I hadn't read the other books in that series, I didn't care about these women and their woes. My guess is the reader who has enjoyed another glimpse into the live of the heroine she came to love.
If that wasn't distracting enough, far too many times the author stopped the present-moment action of the scene to explain something to the reader. Examples include what happened in previous novels, information about the lead character's past, or what the character was going to do the next day. Poor quality of writing. Yet it was published . . . and it sold.
Do your standards as a consumer lower after a "product" becomes your favorite?
I bet you are like me and have said something like:
"Yes, this isn't the best _____ that _______ has written/produced/made/built/released/sold, but _______ is still my favorite ______."