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Thursday, March 20, 2008

More ducklings and a new writing book

The cry went up yesterday morning -- Ducklings! Seven ducklings!
My heart sank. The same duck who had successfully reared the autumn ducklings managed to sit through the ice and the snow and emerge with seven ducklings. Sigh. They are very cute -- five brown ones and 2 yellow ones. And they were difficult to herd into the oldest duck house. Seven balls of fluff zooming everywhere.
Yesterday, I also had a package from Amazon. My TBR pile runneth over, but I now have the last two books in the Raintree trilogy and Anne McAllister's latest.
On the writing side, a book on character traits arrived -- The Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda Edelstien Phd. It is basically a book of lists. For example, she lists all the traits of amnesia. From a brief look, the type you find in a romance novel tends to be physiological amnesia either dissociative, fugue or psychogenic. She also lists ways in which memories can be falsely implanted. There are also lists of traits of certain jobs, including for some reason -- kept woman.
Anyway it looks to be a useful book.
The second writing book -- Creating Character How to Build Story People is by Dwight V Swain. As it was written in 1990, the language is far more palatable than the earlier Techniques of the Selling Writer. It is also a thoroughly useful book. For example, he gives the 7 most common reasons for readers failing to suspend disbelief. Fiction as Swain points out is founded on the reader suspending disbelief. If they stop/are pulled out of the story, the writer has a problem. The seven main reasons are: failure to hold viewpoint, failure to do enough research, telling instead of showing, gaps in the motivation/reaction sequence, failure to plant or foreshadow things, giving your characters things to do that the reader finds distasteful, and making the main characters less than likable.
The book starts with Swain explaining the one key element every major character must have -- the ability to care.
Anyway, I have a lot of time for Swain and this book looks to be excellent. A master class not on the traits that go into making a character but on the hows and why. What works and doesn't. In many ways, it is more thorough than Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation Conflict. Or perhaps I just like his style better.

2 comments:

Bob Younce said...

I love The Writer's Guide to Character Traits. This was a very interesting read. Now all I need is time to work on my novel...

Great post, and I'm glad I've found your blog! I've stumbled it, so you might see a rise in your traffic over the next day or so.

Have a good one!

Michelle Styles said...

Thanks for stopping by, Bob.
The five things required for finishing a novels are dedication, desire, discipline, determination and perservance. Those things will help see you through to publication.
Good luck.
PS Your blog looks interesting but I have to work on my wip