Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People Who I Do NOT Like

Apr 30, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People Who I Do NOT Like

Today’s writing and self-discovery exercise is just the opposite of the one posted yesterday.

An essential part of a good story is being able to add information about the BAD qualities and flavor into the lives of your characters. You want to create empathy between them and your readers wight he good stuff, but for an antagonist, you also need to make them something of a bad-ass. So today’s exercise is specific: writing down characteristics of people you do NOT like.  It just makes for a better story.

And so today we continue on with our self-study exploration questions that hopefully will help make it much easier to come up with bad things about your characters based on this series of exercises.

The good thing about these exercises is that they also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves. Maybe if you can identify what you do not like in others, you can also examine to see if you do the same thing.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like.

To do today’s exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Characteristics of people who I have NOT liked–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about exposition you will do and even dialogue you will write where this will add an extra dimension to your characters.

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise.

EXERCISE

What are characteristics of people who I do NOT like? Was it physical things? Was it things that said? Things they did?  After doing this examination, did you decide you didn’t really have much of a reason to not like those you thought about?  Did anyone change their mind?

 

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Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People I Like

Apr 29, 2014 by

Writing A Novel – Characteristics of People I Like

An essential part of a good story is being able to add good qualities and flavor into the lives of your characters. You want to create empathy between them and your readers.  Even your antagonist needs to have a soft spot so your readers/viewers can relate to him/her in some way.  It just makes for a better story.

And so today we continue on with our self-study exploration questions that hopefully will help make it much easier to come up with good things about your characters based on this series of exercises.

The good thing about these exercises is that they also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like. Yesterday’s was things you do NOT like.

Today we’re going to analyze that a little deeper.

To do the exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Characteristics of people who I have liked–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about exposition you will do and even dialogue you will write where this will add an extra dimension to your characters.

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise.

EXERCISE

What are characteristics of people I do like? Is it just superficial as in the way they dress, or look or can you probe deeper and really see somethings. Are they like how you want to be seen?  Are they how you are seen?  What do they do you do not?  What do they do that’s similar?  Keep probing, there’s a lot of good that can come from this.

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Text Not Appearing In iBooks Author? This May Be Why….

Apr 28, 2014 by

Text Not Appearing In iBooks Author? This May Be Why….

Got a great looking layout going in a book for iPad using iBooks Author only to find out once you get it over to the iPad that a portion of the text is missing and you have no idea why?

The answer may be simpler than you’d expect. In all likelihood, your iPad memory is fine. There’s nothing wrong with the .iBooks or .iba file.  The answer we have found is that the text layering in iBooks Author matters when it is surrounded by lots of graphics and even other possibly overlapping text boxes.

The answer?  Simple.  Go back into the file, go to the page where the text is “missing” on the iPad, highlight the text box, and then right click. When the dialogue box appears, pull down to MOVE TO FRONT.  Then go thru the Preview process of moving your book over to your iPad and we suspect, 95 percent of the time, this is going to solve your very perplexing and possibly embarrassing issue.

Below are two photos of a real project where this was happening to us.  As you can see, on the iPad, the two sentences “Emergency Responders will practice ‘HELP.’ We’ll talk more about this in a minute,” have been mangled.  When we did the steps above and moved the text box “To The Front” the problem disappeared.
IBA text1
IBA text2

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Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike?

Apr 28, 2014 by

Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike? 

An essential part of a good story is being able to add conflict into the lives of your characters. I’m finding that’s much easier to come up with based on this series of exercises about ME.

Now as I have been saying, these exercises could be helpful to people writing books and all, but as importantly, they might also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like.

To do the exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Things I Dislike–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about situations they might need to get in where they have to face these aspects. If you’re writing about something you don’t like, chances are your characters won’t either, but more importantly, chances are your READERS won’t like them either, and then you have the opportunity to either have your character address the issue or run from it, both good story lines….

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise. Later in the day there’ll be a post about Netflix’ House of Cards and the characters in that series….

EXERCISE

What do I dislike?

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the cl...

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the clustering shown here—can be used for development of ideas. Colored tabs of paper—attached to the large page—are used in a collaborative voting exercise to gain consensus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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April 27, 2011 in Alabama – One Of The Worst Tornado Outbreaks Ever

Apr 27, 2014 by

April 27, 2011 in Alabama – One Of The Worst Tornado Outbreaks Ever

I was in Huntsville, AL for April 27, 2011, one of the worst tornado outbreaks ever recorded in the state with 247 killed in 62 storms. I never will forget that day as long as I live, for I thought at one point, it was going to be my last.

Smithville Tornado April 27th 2011 095

Smithville Tornado April 27th 2011 095 (Photo credit: Tales from the South)

During the mid 1990s, I worked in the Governor’s Office of Gov. Fob James. His lead bodyguard, State Trooper Tom Taylor, became a life-long friend of mine. It was during the spring of 2011 that I was working with a client in Huntsville, where Tom, wife Karen and the rest of the Taylors returned to after leaving the administration in January 1999. I was staying with them north of Rocket City in a little community called New Market.

That morning, I’d gone into the city to work with friend and colleague, John Hornbuckle. Around 9 a.m. that morning we heard of a tornado warning just northwest of the offices and gave chase, but it was moving too fast to catch up to. We went back to the office. But what I didn’t know was how bad the storm had been when it went over the Taylor’s house. They had downed trees. It was something of a mess.

Now having been in Texas for a decade and away from Montgomery, Alabama where I’d spent almost 20 years of life and 10 of them working in or around the Governor’s Office, I’d grown unfamiliar with Alabama weather. While in office with former Gov. Guy Hunt and Gov. James I remembered the Airport Road deaths from tornadoes at rush hour in the late 1980s and then I still have photos somewhere of me, Gov. James and Trooper Taylor walking through the damages of the F5 tornado that hit west of Birmingham in April 1998, but I had no idea how the rest of the day was going to go.

Here in North Texas, our weather people are good at hyping the weather, they’re just not very good at accuracy. And like most talk in Texas about things being bigger – the rivalry between Texas and OU, the severity of storms, etc. I’d grown accustomed to not getting too serious about dire weather predictions after a decade of blown North Texas forecasts. Usually, like even this morning in DFW, a line of storms comes thru and the event is over.

April 27, 2011

But that didn’t happen in Alabama on April 27. I left John at the office about 11 a.m. to go to the Taylor’s because they had downed trees and I was going to go help. Well, by the time I got there, Tom had already returned, Karen was there, the kids were out of school, (It was a week day) and word was around 12:30 p.m. that we were all headed from there to a shelter close by.

RadarScope App

It was at this time that Tom told me about and shared with me the best app for iPhone I’ve come to use yet–RADARSCOPE. It gives amazingly accurate and up-to-date radar images. Previously I’d been using the WeatherUnderground.com site. In the past few weeks, they have made changes to the site that to me make navigating it a complexity and in times of a storm, I just want to see what the radar looks like, the color in the formations, how fast it’s moving and I don’t need it down to the street level.

To their credit, on Twitter, WeatherUnderground asked me for feedback, but I have to say, I’m not getting anything near with them what I’m getting on my iOS devices in RadarScope.

The Afternoon of April 27, 2011 in Huntsville, AL

We got to Tom’s brother’s house. It had a storm shelter in the basement and a ramp around back where one could seek shelter. Being north of Huntsville in New Market, I had no idea that we had moved further into the path of the storms that would knock out areas to the northeast of Decatur and south of my Dad’s birthplace, Athens.

As I recall that day, we endured SEVEN tornado warnings. One nearly right after the other. It was harrowing.

Around 5 p.m. Karen, Tom and I thought things were going to die down enough for us to get out and go get something to eat. There’s a great Mexican place just across the Tennessee border we’d talked about going to. But before going north, we went back to their house. And then …

The Drive Back To The Bunker

When we realized another ferocious storm was coming, we left Tom and Karen’s house headed the two or three miles back to the bunker we’d been in. But by then the storm was upon us. There were torrential rains. The road ahead at one point headed due west was overflowing with rushing water. We were in a Jeep with a plastic-type lid. It began to hail and every stone that hit the car sounded like a rock in that blinding rain. We made a right turn to go north. More rain. More wind. And when there’s hail, there’s usually something spinning at high speeds, a tornado, around it.

As we drove thru this, I began to pray harder than ever before. Now I’d ridden thru hurricanes coming ashore and that kind of thing with the governor and Tom before, but this was different. We were being tossed and banged. We could barely see and the last thing we needed to do was stop because we surely would have met tragedy.

I could see off to the right of the road from the front passenger seat. Trees were falling to our sides. Trees were falling on the roads.  I just knew we were about to be off to the right of the road in a ditch.

The storm didn’t let up the entire ride over to Tom’s brother’s house. But by the grace of God, we made it.

The Rest of Alabama

That day, 62 tornadoes dropped to the ground in Alabama and 247 people met death’s door, a fate I thought at several points we were certain to join them in.

Because of the storms, the power in Huntsville and most of North Alabama was out for nearly a week. By early morning, Karen, Tom and I had ventured out to see Highway 231 a log jam in both directions. Traffic lights were out. People were seeking food, gas and ice. Miraculously, I found an open gas station about a mile from the Taylor’s house and once topped off, headed to see my Mom in Montgomery until things were restored.

All across the state, people were mourning the loss of family and friends.

I was lucky to have survived that day. I know it was by God’s will that I didn’t die because he had some other mission for me to fulfill. It’s days like today I reflect on whether or not I’m meeting him and his purpose. Today’s sermon in church was about stopping things we shouldn’t be doing and getting focused on God; letting Him take over and putting the things holding us all back onto the Lord and dealing with them, no longer ignoring them.

Finding Your Purpose

Have you found your purpose? Do you know why God has led you to where you are now? More on that to come, but I encourage you today to remember those who perished this day just three years ago. Bless you and bless them.  Radar right now is showing a mass of storms in Mississippi and they’re marching toward Alabama like General Sherman on Atlanta. Let us pray that things go okay today. History doesn’t need a repeat.

 

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It’s Saturday – Time For A Mental Break

Apr 26, 2014 by

It’s Saturday – Time For A Mental Break

My three girls, Reagan, 14, Chandler, 17, and Haley, 14. Yes, that makes R&H twins....

My three girls, Reagan, 14, Chandler, 17, and Haley, 14. Yes, that makes R&H twins….

Since Monday, I’ve made a daily post on the aspects I’ve been using to begin writing a novel. Today is Saturday and I’m going to take a mental break–at least here on the blog.  If you’ve been doing the exercises, you probably should take one, too. (If you’re too tied to it, the next exercise is the opposite of the one from yesterday–things you don’t like….)

Following these exercises has put me on a rewarding and interesting road to self-discovery.  This week I’ve heard from friends on Facebook who have said they’ve enjoyed the exercises and have even gone out and bought 3 x 5 blank notecards to follow in stride. That’s satisfying and invigorating. It gets back to my ClaxtonCreative.com mantra of “telling stories with purpose.”  I’m fulfilling my purpose that I feel God put me here to do.

When God Redefines The Possible

To find inspiration, breakfast and the comfort of chaos, I tend to float around a coffee shops, etc. to feel connected and more importantly, to get my butt out of this chair. It gets quite uncomfy after a while. Yesterday morning, I had another pleasant turn that only God could have engineered. Fate is much less cunning to be able to match this feat.

I met a waitress who is on fire for God in a way one seldom meets in this life. When she was introduced to me through my “regular,” Jessica, and she found out what I was doing, she, too, said she was working on her own novel and was about a year ahead of me. She’s writing a Christian novel and from the fire in her heart, one can only know good things will come from her words. There can be no other possibility. Like I have done so many times before, I shared with her about Dr. John Ed Mathison’s book, When God Redefines The Possible.

Good things have always happened in my life when I’ve been associated with that piece of work, so I’m hoping this young lady, clearly half my age, will find some power and inspiration in John Ed’s work to be able to help her in her own walk and in her own write. It is amazing how God bumps us into the right people at the right time.

I said Monday in my first post about writing that I was on an adventure journey. And like the best of them, you run into people you did not anticipate and learn things you did not know before. Aspects that make life and adventures all that much more rewarding. She said she’s veered off of using an outline to write with and though she didn’t use the term, is being a “pantser.”  (We’ll get into what all this means in coming posts.)

Okay, had a late night. My eldest went to her prom and my twins came over to help get her ready and pose for pics.  This picture sums up what my life is all about–telling stories with purpose, God’s purpose, for the benefit of Him, and the benefit of these three angels–(L to R: Reagan, Chandler and Haley.)

A post about Netflix’s series, House of Cards, is slated for Monday as well as new exercises.  Thanks for reading. It’s time for a mental break.

God bless.

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Writing A Novel: What I Like….

Apr 25, 2014 by

Writing A Novel : What I Like….

This is a series offered by DaddyClaxton.com and ClaxtonCreative.com about the process of preparing and writing a novel.

Just a few examples of things I like, written out weeks ago in planning for my novel work and self-discovery.

Just a few examples of things I like, written out weeks ago in planning for my novel work and self-discovery.

Presently, we are engaged in initial and exhaustive exercises designed first as a self-study following the logic that if one is going to invent characters to go inside a work of literature, one probably needs to do some self-study about oneself beforehand.

That’s what’s being done and proposed in today’s exercise. The task is simple. I suggest getting out a fresh stack of notecards and creating a long list. Atop of each card, write the name of the exercise subject, as in today’s — What Do I Like? — and then put a number 1 at the top right corner. When you fill up the first card, you can make one, two or three columns, start a new card and at the top of the second write WDIL and a 2 on it, and so on as you build a list. (I always put the date somewhere on these 4.25.14. Someday, that might have extra meaning–legally or personally.)

The premise for doing these cards is simple: when you want to bring a character to life and you’re looking for unique or fun things about them, or even bad things from other cards, it should prove helpful to be able to go back to today’s exercise and find a gem or many to apply.

This exercise, and the other ones being posted, also are designed to help a person dive deep inside their heart and find do some self discovery. If one can identify things they do like and then begin to ponder why it’s been a month, six months or two decades since the last time it was done or enjoyed, well, maybe that might move you to change something in your life or, maybe even discard it because you like it too much.  And you know, that might really turn out to be a life-changing event whether you’re writing a novel or not….

EXERCISE – 5

Take out your notecards and begin to make a list of answers to today’s topic. We suggest you use 3 x 5 cards and label each card with the nature of the question and number them. You are encouraged to do more than one card, but if you can encompass the whole realm one one card, then that’s all you can do….. Enjoy.

What do I like?

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