“People don’t really act like that…”

Should I be disturbed by this criticism?

It’s the most common thing people say when I submit first drafts. It plagues my rewrites through the process. Only after much editing can I seem to fully address the problem of:

Unrealistic characters.

Characters who are too forgiving. Who react in childish ways. Who talk in cliches. Who, basically, act too differently from living people.

Should I be concerned? How concerned?

It’s an odd criticism to deal with. Bad narrative I could understand. Poorly thought-out stories I could deal with more easily. But unreal characters? It’s damn hard for me to grasp how and why my characters come out so odd at first.

This criticism hits hard because it seems to say something about me. Do I not know people? Have I not been close to enough people? Am I basing my characters solely off TV, movies, and books?

Whatever the reason, it’s a clear reminder of why I need a Writing Club that meets in person. Not only so that the other members can let me know how badly I misunderstand my own characters, but so that I actually do meet real breathing people, aside from my wife and kids, on a regular basis.

It also reminds me that I do need to work against the stereotype of the shut-in writer who barely talks to people. I need to interact with people regularly and listen to others interact regularly so that I can give better voices to my characters.

I wonder if many writers struggle with this kind of thing. Do many writers have characters who seem totally unreal in the early drafts? I wouldn’t be too surprised if there answer were yes – it is hard to know real people, harder to create people who act like real people.

It’s a wake-up call, I suppose. Get outside, writers! Step away from the keyboard every now and then and meet people. Talk and listen – a lot!

#IWSG – One Year Running

Click here to sign up for the IWSG!

It’s hard to believe I’ve been running this site for over a year now. I have to admit – I don’t have a lot of posts to show for it!

What a fine balancing act – getting enough writing done, getting and giving feedback, and posting on a blog. All while I teach full time and then some!

From what I’ve read, most writers have the same issue – most author pages I see around the web do not have that many blog posts. I’m pretty sure most of those who do blog regularly must have already crossed the line I can’t reach yet – the point where writing has become most or all of their income.

I don’t have a lot to show, but I have certainly done a lot this year.

I’ve got what I think is a superior submission to Sixfold (take a moment to visit, they do good work). I’ve got work in progress that has passed through my writing club and that has come out better than anything I produced before. I’ve judged a writing contest, and I’m now helping out Holly Lisle with her new site, Readers Meet Writers (again, take a moment to visit and read what it’s all about).

How about you?

What have you done this past year? Do you feel you have posted often enough to your own blog?

TCC Edwards Author in the Spotlight for Twisted Tales 2014

Originally posted on Annie On Writing:

TCC edwards

TCC Edwards was one of Raging Aardvarks hardworking judges on this years Twisted Tales Flash Fiction Competition.

He teaches at a university in Busan, Korea. He writes science fiction, fantasy, and literary works, and has been published on EveryDayFiction.com and Ether Books. When he is not teaching or sipping coffee with his writing group, he takes his lovely wife and two sons for walks and drives across Korea. He loves travelling across the Korean countryside as he searches for new wonders to write about. He hopes you’ll visit him at writeorelse.com.

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The Busan Writing Group is back – with a new challenge!

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Hello, all! I’m delighted to report that my local writing group is back at it!

We met tonight, amidst the start of a frantic new semester of classes. We’re all busy teachers, and we made ourselves even busier tonight! We laid out our plan to publish a short anthology of the writing group’s work. We are planning to get this work out on Kindle and other outlets. We set a due date for first drafts, and we hope to have final drafts by late November.

Now here’s why I’m tagging this as my monthly IWSG post – I hope that you and your local writer’s group will consider such a plan of action. Our group decided on a theme, and said that each member would contribute around 10 pages of writing (fiction or poetry). We will edit these into a short anthology, and self-publish as a group. We hope it will establish our ‘legitimacy’ as a writing group to have polished work published and available.

We are all expats in Korea, and so our stories’ themes should reflect this. This will be a new challenge for me, as my writing rarely speaks directly about my life as an expat. I lean heavily toward the fantastic and fanciful – perhaps I will blend in my love of fantasy somehow…

My questions for IWSG members and other visitors:

Have you ever been part of something like this? What was it like?

If your writer’s group hasn’t tried this yet, could you? What problems do you anticipate?

Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Reblog – WAYNE GRAVEL & HIS MAGIC CEMENT MIXER – mikesteeden.wordpress.com

TCC Edwards:

Honestly, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t wish for the girl first…

A nice little piece from http://mikesteeden.wordpress.com, showing just how quirky and fresh one can get with an old idea. I’m glad I’m following this blog – I really like what I’ve read of it so far.

Originally posted on mikesteeden:

cement mixer

“Excuse me squire but I take it that this is the builder’s merchants what sells cement mixers for our old one is knackered beyond repair?”

“Certainly is mate. What kind do you want?”

“Fucked if I know if the truth be told – the boss just said go and get a new one and have them put it on the account.”

“Well when purchasing a device that homogeneously combines cement, aggregate such as sand or gravel, and water to form concrete it is always advisable to make sure you end up with the one that is right for you. I mean in these days of short mixing times of ready-mix concrete one cannot be too careful.”

“What do you recommend then?”

“Um…..I mean you could have a twin-shaft or maybe a vertical axis although being as you are in the construction game I’m thinking a drum mixer probably fits the…

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Writing Exercise – The Time Has Come

Time for another writing exercise from Fiction Writer’s Workshop. Chapter 2 of this book focuses on setting, and the different ways setting is used in fiction. I absolutely love the example given from Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, where a very stingy hoarder is described through how he keeps his living area. An exercise follows from this example – Exercise 12 on page 43:

Make a character visible through her surroundings. If she loves plants and cats and hates people, her house might assume certain traits. Sketch the house, listing the sights, smells, sounds.

Well, I won’t win any points for originality for my reaction to this prompt, but I just had to try this with an established character rather than one I made up. Here’s what I came up with:


card_tower

The Time Has Come

The mirror dominates the room. The frame may have once been an elaborate bronze, but its flowery pattern is now a hideous green from years of neglect. By contrast, the glass is pristine, reflecting myself and the room in perfect clarity. A house of cards sits in front, three tiers high. Faded, tattered cards lay about its base and at the foot of the plain wooden dresser upon which it stood. I nearly bang my shin on a low table, set with a delicate china tea set. Each of the table’s four sides hosts a tea cup on a saucer, with tiny silver spoons sitting nearby. The cup nearest me has long ago lost any distinguishing pattern on its bone white surface, and two stumps jut from it where its tiny handle should be.

I step over the carpet, my feet deftly avoiding several chess pieces. Stooping down, I pick up a queen. It is white, with flecks of red paint clinging to its surface. In my other hand, I take another white queen, this one noticeably shorter and a bit wider than the other.

I set the pieces before the mirror as I step to the rocking chair with its back to me. It rocks slowly, as though swayed by the evening breeze from the open window. Light snoring announces the presence of the lady I seek. I hesitate.

My eyes find another tea table next to the chair. This table looks even older than the previous, its varnish chipped away to show wounds of rotting wood. It is also decorated with ancient china – a plate, with a cake the size of my fist atop. The cake, to my pleasant surprise, was fresh, immaculately painted with chocolate frosting, and bearing the words “Eat Me” delicately spelled out in white icing. Next to it was a fine glass flask half-filled with a sparkling liquid. A square of paper was tied about its delicate neck by a tiny length of red ribbon. Predictably, I suppose, the blue ink on its surface read “Drink Me”. Unlike the table and the other dishes, this glass is spotless – I might think it freshly blown if I had seen it anywhere else.

I resolve to waken the lady. My business has to be done, no matter how regrettable I find it. I reach to the arm of her chair. My hand finds a glint of gold draped over its arm, and I am again distracted from my goal. I take up the gold, finding it to be chain for a fine pocket watch. I pop it open, revealing the hands working their way across a circle of Roman numerals. I nearly laughed, calming my breath as I see the drawing on paper placed carefully where a family portrait might be on other watches. The sketch was a detailed rendering of a rabbit, standing on its hind legs, dressed in overalls, and panicking as it stared down at a pocket watch.

“I’m late.”

My eyes snapped to the speaker of the soft words.

“I’ve gone and overslept, haven’t I, dear? You’re here to take me away.”

Snapping the watch closed, I nodded solemnly at the elderly lady.

“It is for the best, Ms. Liddell. Your family is worried, and I assure you, our home is like no other. You will be treated with respect and dignity.”

“Is there croquet? Oh, but not the kind with flamingos and hedgehogs.”

“There is croquet, of course. As well as many other pastimes – draughts and bingo, for instance. I’m certain I’ve never seen flamingos, and we do keep out any sort of pests.”

She stood up slowly, her wrinkled dress now revealed as it fell loosely over her bony frame. It might have been a bright blue, some ages ago, but the color had long worn away. She reached down, taking up the plate with the cake and offering it.

“Won’t you have some? You’ll get a little surprise, I think.”

“Perhaps another time. Our driver should be quite anxious by now.”

“The time has come, the walrus said.”

I shake my head, deciding not to answer her odd comment. I hold her bony hand gently, guiding the frail lady over the safe patches of the cluttered carpet. As we reach the door frame, she takes one last look at her strange room. She then gestures to the watch, and I realize that I still hold it. I give it to her, and she pops it open again before me. She points to the panicking rabbit.

“Have you seen him? Always late, always in a rush.”

“Can’t say that I have, Ms. Liddell. Come now; follow me to a far better world than this lonely life here.”

Her wrinkled face radiates a wide smile as she finds something amusing in my words. As she allows me to take her hand and lead down the staircase, she chuckles softly.

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

Reblog: How to Write a Killer Character by Ditrie Sanchez

TCC Edwards:

Another reblog for my Wednesday content – but hey, it’s a good reblog. This one gives some great tips about character creation. I’ll try to use this with my students in the writing course I’m teaching in September.

This post was originally written by Ditrie Sanchez and appeared on Morgen Bailey’s Wrting Blog:

Originally posted on MorgEn Bailey's Writing Blog:

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today by Ditrie Sanchez:

‘How to write a killer character’ No, I’m not referring to psychopathic serial killers running on rampages through the jungle with machetes and baseball bats. I’m talking about the real deal: living, breathing characters.  For some reason, ‘How to Write a Breather Character’ didn’t have the same ring to it.

1.) Know how the brain works.  Read psychology books. Research articles online. Understanding how brains collect and disseminate information gives you a greater understanding of what it takes to build a realistic human being.

2.) You are not your character. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of creating autobiographical sketches. It can be thrilling to live vicariously through your characters. Resist the urge. Not only will it prevent your characters from all sounding the same, but it will also avoid that awkward moment when your…

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