Happy Birthday To My Fictional Characters

Apr 7, 2015 by

Happy Birthday To My Fictional Characters

This morning my sister sent me a text–“I wonder if you know the day Kip was born on.”  I promptly sent her a copy of my Aeon Timeline, a timeline development software program compatible with Scrivener, the novel writing software, showing his pre-book life history and that of most every other character I’ve invented. But she wrote back, “No, the day he got into your head.” It was April 2, 2014 when the domain name was registered.

Let me explain.

I had the idea to finally begin writing a major work in March of 2013. Since then, it’s been a high priority among work projects and being a dad. I’ve now written more than 54,000 words in what Scrivener project’s is going to be a 94,700-word manuscript when Draft One is completed. In the process, I’ve gone through at least 1,000 4″x6″ notecards, which are all in various stages and stacks around the house. I’ve used Scrivener, which is a pretty powerful organizing tool, I’ve read dozens of books on “how to, how not to” and then I’ve really settled on some key guides–Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, Eric Edson’s The Story Solution, and Robert McKee’s StoryBooks for Privacy2

There have been other works along the way that deserve mention–Brian McDonald’s Invisible Ink, Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate, Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal and Carol Pearson’s Awakening The Heroes Within. This weekend I devoured Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering and did some serious thinking about Concept and Theme enhancements that I’d not as deliberately developed using Vogler. (My Kindle is loaded with other books about writing, but none of them compare to this core group or the other titles pictured to the right. You might also notice, I didn’t skim these books–there are color tabs hanging out of many of them for quick reference.)

Character Name Generation 

But it was a year ago, April 2, that I used Scrivener’s Name Generator to search for the right names to suit the characters I’d determined I needed for the story I want to tell. When I found a name I liked, I purposely went to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, LinkedIn, WhoIs.net and Google to see what came up for that name. If I could not register the character’s domain name, get them an account on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the name was tossed. If something came up in Google or in Amazon it was discarded. That was the last test. When a name had cleared those six hurdles, they were allowed to become real–at least in my mind and my writings for now.

My book may not ever get published. I am not planning for that contingent, but moving forward positively. When it is published, my character’s names are already commercially protected. I own them and I’ve established use of them by locking down accounts for them in Social Media, which will be critical for commercial marketing when the time comes.

My Characters

So, sadly, I missed April 2, 2015 as the day they came into existence. But in the year and five days that have passed, they’ve taken on lives of their own. I have a two-inch thick binder of Myers-Briggs profiles on all of them (Read David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me II). I’ve done the Color Quiz. I’ve created a chart where I’ve taken the Hero’s Journey and applied Pamela Jane Smith’ eight Inner Drives chakras to each character and where I think they’re going to be during each of the 12 phases of the book. And like I said, over the past weekend, I took Larry Brooks’ “What If” exercise to new levels for my characters, really pushing to get to the drama that needs to be included to make my work as intriguing as I know how to make it.

They are nothing but names to you, for now. For me, they’re crowding my head with work, family and wonder. During the day, whether I’m sitting at my desk or a lonely table in Jason’s Deli–I do wonders sitting in a public cafe with all the noise and chaos around me, not there to eat, but just to be in an active atmosphere–I write about ups, downs, challenges, inner demons, ways to cause havoc in the world by hacking into places that are impenetrable and blowing things up, ways to fall in love, and ways to save the world.

My characters hurt, they find joy, mystery, and anguish. They sometimes are very sacral chakras centered and only care about sex, money and power, and others, even the same ones, at other times, are in the heart center, focused on the good for all mankind. And while they float the range of chakras, apparently, I do, too.

So I say Happy Birthday to Kip Rippin–Kip, a name I found by accident, means a “unit of force.” I’m writing a thriller. He’s going to need some units of force to survive and save us all. Maycee Vincent is into honey potting–she is from Menlo Park, CA, and works in a quasi-governmental Internet monitoring operation between Stanford and the NSA. (And yes, Maycee is also the name of my 11-month old Great Pyrenees.)

Colin Mistry is my villain, working for President Oliver B. Carr, and my Mr. Big Bad Guy, corporate America businessman, Josh Chi Dormin. (Spell Dormin’s name backwards and think of what he might want to do–this time with a computer.) (“Chi” coincidentally, is an “Birthday 1energy force.”) Purely by accident, I pitted a “unit of force” against an “energy force.”

It was one of those forces of wonder that comes from creativity. It’s perfect. It spells one thing–CONFLICT. My other secondary characters include Zach Woodhall and Gwinn Bolynn–her parents were “Yoopers” in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Gwinn is a small town near Marquette where I lived several times thanks to the USAF.

It’s been a fun year with my characters. “A year?” you fellow writers might say, “That’s a long time.”

I thought that, too, this time last year. I thought I’d be finished with all of this. Chasing publishers and agents. But to make a book as close to right as possible, this is not something one goes and does on a weekend and comes back from the mount with it all on a tablet.

Amazon is filling up with those kinds of self-published half-baked, unedited books, full of typos and plot holes a semi-trailer truck would get stuck in.

For me, patience and discipline is so important now. I’m not saying it’s easy. Like an aging wine. It has to ferment, the tastes blend and become something more than it was when it was first poured into a bottle. It’s like preparing for life. You’re not ready for a massive journey into a special world any more than you can decide one day you’re going to go walk the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail on Friday and be back in six months.

Happy Birthday, again, to my characters.

If you’re on a similar journey, I hope you can take the time to let your characters grow as mine have. You’ll find they have much more to them as characters if you do.

 

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Guy Kawaskai’s Enchantment A Road Map For Success

Mar 7, 2011 by

Guy Kawasaki, American venture capitalist and ...

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We’ve read several of the former Apple evangelist and business guru Guy Kawasaki’s books through the years.  Usually, they require the addition of an ink pen in order to mark up the brilliant insights and ideas that come from reading them.

This month he has released a tenth book entitled, Enchantment–The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

At 189 pages, it’s a good read, a good mix of photos, abbreviated notes and bullet points, and and anecdotal references to be, well, enchanting.

Why and What is Enchantment?

We will not play spoiler here on Kawasaki’s perspectives, (that’s what the book is for) but the essence of his writings fall back on some of the most ancient and proven means of doing business or living since the beginning of time–the inclusion of an enchanting story to move others into your corner, to as Kawasaki says, “transform(s) situations and relationships.  It converts hostility into civility.  It reshapes civility into affinity.  It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

There are a host of books that play on the themes expressed by Kawasaki: Story, by Robert McKee, The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, The New Rules of Marketing & Pr by David Meerman Scott, All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin, and the 1999 book, Rules for Revolutionaries, by Mr. Kawasaki himself, but Enchantment takes a reader through the entire process, identifies how to launch it, how to overcome resistance to change, and quite beneficially, “How to use push technology,” like email and Twitter, (Please give us a follow) and “How to use pull technology,” like Websites, blogs, Facebook, (Please like our FB page while you’re here) LinkedIn, (Connect with us here) YouTube (Subscribe to us while you’re here) and cleverly, how to “Think Japanese.” (This goes beyond the Vipers’ song.)

Enchanting Stories We Can Tell

Terry Abbott

Terry Abbott, now the president of Drive West Communications in Houston, is doing quite well on his own in the school public relations business nationwide.  He’s constantly on the road meeting with superintendents and communications departments suggesting ways to stay in the good fight with the local press each day to tell positive and enchanting stories about their respective districts.

We’ve worked with Abbott since June of 1988.  In those days, the Governor’s Press Office in Alabama had just purchased a fax machine.  It was a thermal paper machine and one had to pick up the headset to dial the number and then ask the person on the other line to “Switch me to their fax machine.”  In those days, Abbott, who formerly had been a UPI reporter, understood the need to get news releases, (Not press releases) out to the news media as fast as possible. He called the fax machine, “Our own little wire service.”  And that’s how it was used.  And when an announcement was coming down that say the former U.S. Senator Howell Heflin likely was trying to announce at the same time, we really got into wire service mode because we wanted our release on reporters’ desks first before the senator could get his there.

A few years later after reading in the Birmingham Post-Herald about how the rap singer Ice T had released his album Body Count with the horrid song  “Cop Killer,” our owner made a recommendation to Abbott saying, “We should ask every record store in the state to stop selling this.” The next day, Gov. Guy Hunt made national news for taking a stand and by the end of the day, the big record store chains in Alabama were removing it from their shelves. (We did this two weeks before Vice President Dan Quayle and President George W. Bush jumped in.) By the end of a month’s time, the record company was taking it off the record/disc.  At the end of that day, we were quite pleased at the success of our effort to do the right thing.  Abbott said, “It’s nice to so something good for a change.” That month, Gov. Hunt was on the front page of Billboard magazine.  But that wasn’t why we did it.  We believed then and still do, that selling a record that enchants others to think about killing police officers has no place in our world.

Veronica Galaviz

One of our most enchanting clients to date is Veronica Galaviz.  Her Website and budding charity is called Living To Share.

The venture is appropriately named.  After going through the proper legal channels beginning in Nov. 2009 and on into April of 2010, Galaviz was trying to divorce her husband.  She was in an abusive relationship and had even filed court documents that restrained his presence around her.  He violated the court’s orders multiple times and Galaviz reported the matters to her local police department.  But each time they said they didn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.  Even with surveillance video from in front of her house showing him slash the rear right tires of a car in her driveway, the Rowlett, Texas Police Department failed to act.

On the night of April 21, 2010 about about 1:30 a.m., her husband broke into her home, tried to shoot her with a shotgun, and after she had escaped the house, he set it on fire and then shot himself.

She’s now on a mission to help others dealing with abusive relationships and trying to bring about changes in the laws of Texas.  The rest of America is next.

Galaviz is operating on one single enchanting premise: She’s Living To Share because she firmly believes God kept her alive to carry out her mission of raising awareness about the problems of enforcement of protective orders and domestic violence.

Enchantment

It’s these types of stories that make a difference, not only in marketing terms, but in real, practical ways of life.

This is why our company is different from any other PR firm here in Dallas and in many other cities across America.  At age 21, our owner was still in college and through a still unnamed police officer, was given a list of 17 people living in Montgomery, AL in Sept 1987 who were said to be “Known AIDS Victims.” No other news outlet in media market 112 ever was able to obtain the same information and it became a national news story.  The point then was that everyone should be treated alike, and two, the list allegedly maintained by the Montgomery Police Department, wasn’t as well secured as they thought it was.

We understand the importance of not just putting out a press release and sending it out on PR Newswire and letting our clients bask in the glow of a 8-pound clip book at year’s end and use that as a measure of our success.  That’s neither enchanting nor accurate.

Summary

Kawasaki’s book Enchantment now is on sale.  We strongly recommend you buy a copy and read it cover to cover.  Mark it up as you go along.  Then re-read it.  Write notes in the margins, write notes to yourself in your daily journal of the things you want to come back to.  That’s what we’ve done.  We seek to be enchanting as well.  Otherwise we’d just be like the other PR Firms in Dallas and there are enough of those already.

 

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