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Category: Blogs

Home > Writing > Blogs

Creating the Bond of Friendship in Your Novel by Connie Vines

November 13, 2016 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , ,

Nearly every book I’ve read has a protagonist. And all of those protagonists were surrounded by several, if not a great many, friends. Within my own stories, my protagonists have quite a few friends. Among those friends, there are usually one or two, maybe three, friends that the protagonist is especially close to. One of my all time favorite series, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, follows best friends Lissa and Rose, who act like sisters most of the time. While reading, it’s clear that the two have known each other for a long while, see each other as their closest allies, and see their lives as them against the world. It’s obvious that they’re very close. The question is how does Mead accomplish this? How does any author establish these types of close friendships between characters without blatantly telling the reader?

If you think of your own close friendships, or your best friends, you’ll probably recognize five or more of the following in your relationship with these particular friends –

Understand without speaking.

When you’ve known someone a really long time, or have spent so much time together, you get to know the person so well that you pick up on their habits and quirks and body language. When they bite their lip, you know it’s not that they’re confused, but that the water works are about to begin and it’s time to get them out of there.  You understand each other so well that no one needs to say anything.v You might not be able to read each others’ minds, but you understand each other well enough that neither of you needs to say anything. You just do.

Tease each other.

There’s artificial teasing, there’s bully teasing, there’s flirting teasing. But among friends, it’s the way we gently point out each others’ issues and faults without being cruel, it’s how we remind each other of good times, it’s how we connect and communicate. Between best friends, teasing is just another way we talk to each other. There’s no malice, jealousy, anger, or bitterness behind it. It’s often light, fun, laughable, and in good humor. It’s a way to make your friend laugh when they’re on the verge of tears. It’s the way we build each other up when our plans fall through. Teasing is always there, but it never, ever becomes a way of putting each other down.

Rely on each other.

Through good times and bad, friends can always be relied upon to be there and help each other. There are no excuses, there is no distance, there are no events that could prevent two best buds from helping each other out in times of emotional and physical need, and friends rely on each other for that. But friends also rely on each other for comfort, for support, for encouragement, and for all the things it seems the world wants to take away from us. 

Seek each other’s advice.

Perhaps more than our parents, teachers, advisors, and mentors, we seek advice from our friends first. This might be a perfectly faulty action, but because friends understand each other and rely on each other, it’s natural that we seek advice from those we know, and who know us, best. 

Feel comfortable around one another.

As with all of the above, friends are comfortable with each other enough to seek that advice, tease each other, and rely on one another. Even more than that, friends are comfortable with and around each other that they don’t care if they do something stupid, or say something idiotic. Because they’re comfortable with each other, these things happen and no one cares, because these silly things hardly define us. It’s the same with crying, or showing how truly angry we are, or how hopeless we feel. Friends know each other so well that they be vulnerable and sensitive, and the friend won’t misuse them.

Miss each other when gone.

Probably the greatest understatement of all these, but best friends will miss each other. They might be separated for only a day, maybe one has moved away. But miss each other they will, just the same. The effect this has on each other is anyone’s guess, as everyone reacts differently to separation. Some might become depressed, others might lash out, and some might just have that aching sense of loneliness in their gut that seems like it can’t ever be filled. There is most definitely a reaction, and missing each other is just the surface.

Have similar interests/hobbies/goals/pasts.

Whether they grew up together, or met at summer camp, or took the same art class, friends have similar interests. There’s something that initially drew them together, and in writing a book you can’t just put that aside. It will always be their foundation, and while the foundation can grow, there’s that one point, however small and insignificant in the present, that brought them together.

Grow together as individuals and as friends.

If any relationship is to last and get stronger, growth is a must. Trials, tragedy, celebration, joy; all these add to and change a person, their actions, and how they consider new situations, and this happens in a friendship as well. While going through similar occurrences, if friends cannot grow together, change. Make sure to show the friends, and their friendship, grow through the story.

Don’t judge.

It’s simple. Close friends, who understand, rely, advise, and help each other, just don’t judge. Regardless of what one does, or what the other thinks about a topic, they don’t judge. They accept that they’re individuals with different views and opinions on some things. 

Don’t try to change each other.

As I said, friends accept each other. They don’t try to change one another, or mould each other into what their ideal would be, because that would be the farthest thing from acceptance. Friends understand, they don’t judge, and they don’t try to change their friends’ personalities, opinions, views, likes or dislikes, or their hopes and dreams. They accept everything about each other, and celebrate their differences.

Confide everything.

Friends naturally want to talk with each other and discuss the things that happen in their lives, but best friends, as I’m sure you know, will talk about everything. They confide everything in each other without fear of being rejected or judged. 

Fights sometimes happen, but making amends occurs quickly.

No friendship is perfect, and because there are two people involved, disagreements are bound to occur. But when fights begin, whatever the topic, close friends will try to move past the argument and come to a conclusion, generally in the form of an agreement or better understanding of one another. They won’t linger on their differing opinions, and will try to make amends as soon as they can. This leads to stronger friendships, and is a way that the friendship can grow and develop.

Can’t imagine life without each other.

Perhaps more than anything else, best friends simply can’t imagine what life would be like if they weren’t together. It’s something they don’t want to think about, and is the last thing they’ll focus on when confronted with the real possibility of lifelong separation. They’ll come up with excuses, plans, arguments, anything that might be able to change the impending separation. They literally can’t picture their life being apart, because their personalities and dreams and emotional selves are so connected.

These are just a basic few things that can comprise a close friendship. Use some, use none, but make sure you really look at the characters you have and focus on showing that closeness where it’s supposed to exist. It offers greater development of both characters, adds to the realism of the plot, and helps with the overall story.

Good luck and good writing!


Connie

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What Eccentric Writing Habits Have I Never Mentioned? By Connie Vines

October 13, 2016 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , ,

Most authors, of course, have personal eccentric writing practices. Fueled, no doubt by his or her personal muse.  Agatha Christie munched on apples in the bathtub while pondering murder plots, Flannery O’Connor crunched vanilla wafers, and Vladimir Nabokov fueled his “prefatory glow” with molasses.

Then there was the color-coding of the muses:  Alexandre Dumas, for decades, he penned all of his fiction on a particular shade of blue paper, his poetry on yellow, and his articles on pink; on one occasion, while traveling in Europe, he ran out of his precious blue paper and was forced to write on a cream-colored pad, which he was convinced made his fiction suffer. Charles Dickens was partial to blue ink, but not for superstitious reasons — because it dried faster than other colors, it allowed him to pen his fiction and letters without the drudgery of blotting. Virginia Woolf used different-colored inks in her pens — greens, blues, and purples. Purple was her favorite, reserved for letters (including her love letters to Vita Sackville-West, diary entries, and manuscript drafts. Lewis Carroll also preferred purple ink, but for much more pragmatic reasons: During his years teaching mathematics at Oxford, teachers were expected to use purple ink to correct students’ work — a habit that carried over to Carroll’s fiction.

So how do my little eccentric (or never before mentioned) writing practices measure up?  Is my personal muse quirky, dull, or out of control?

Since my quirks are normal for me, I had to think about this for a bit.

• I always drink coffee that is part of my current ‘setting’.  When my setting is New Orleans I mail order my coffee from my favorite spot.

Café du Monde.  I have my cup and saucer, and a portable mug when I writing outdoors.   I have a blue coffee pot and matching tin cup when I writing westerns (yes, the coffee is VERY strong and black).  And of course, a Starbucks cup or a Disneyland mug when my novels take place in So.Cal.

• My music and my menu planning also is linked to my settings.  All within the range of normal.  Though I have more than my fair share of coffee mugs and cups.

• I listen to diction videos on YouTube so that I am not relying on my memory for the sound of a Cajun accent, Texan’s drawl, etc.

• I visit areas on Google Earth and Zillow.  Even if I have lived or vacationed there, I may have forgotten an interesting ‘something’ I can insert into dialogue, or find a way to describe a scene.

• I talk to myself.  Or not simple little sentences.  I’m talking about a two- way conversation: “Do you think that might work?”  â€œNo.  No one is that stupid!”  â€œHow about. . .”  This is the time my husband walks by to find out who’s on the phone, or if I’m asking him a question.  The dog even pokes her head in to see what’s going on.  I’m thinking this is a bit outside of the ‘normal’ range.

• When I write I have to make certain my work space in in perfect order.  I have colored folders/pens/notebooks that match and are exclusive to the story I’m working on at the moment.

• I never enroll in an online class when I’m writing—it’s guaranteed writers’ block.  I never talk about my WIP because I mentally clock that as writing time and lose interest in the story before it’s completed.

• Whatever story I’m am working on is my favorite.

• I survive on 3 hours sleep when I am deep in a story.  I know I drink coffee, but seem to run the story in my mind when I sleep too.

• I also pick up the quirks of my heroines.  I have several friends who are in theater and said it’s a bit like ‘method acting’. Fortunately, I’m back to my state of normal a couple of weeks after typing THE END.

I think all of this part of a writer’s voice.  It is what we, as readers, look for in a story.  Hopefully, it is what my readers, enjoy about the novels, short-stories and novellas that I write too.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Connie

Visit My Author Page @ Amazon.com 

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Oh Mercury Retrograde, Are You Here Again? by Connie Vines

September 13, 2016 by in category Blogs tagged as , , , , ,
Oh, Mercury retrograde. You are here, AGAIN. You have arrived on our collective doorsteps in all your messy glory. 

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here we go. The planets are swinging around at all times, and their movements affect us all in different ways. All planets go retrograde, but Mercury’s journey seems to impact people much more than any other. (Even people who “don’t believe in astrology” often “believe” in the crazy aftershocks of Mercury retrograde!)
Why is that? It’s because Mercury rules communication, clear thinking, truth and travel, so when the planet goes retrograde — which means that it looks like it’s going backwards in the sky — all those things go backwards. They start to get ugly and tangle up. Mercury isn’t really going backwards, it’s just hanging out by the sun, but from Earth, that makes it look like it’s in reverse. It typically runs for a couple of weeks, a few times a year.
Check out these dates below and put them in your calendar!
In 2016, Mercury is retrograde from…
January 5th to January 25th
April 28th to May 22nd
August 30th to September 22nd
December 19th to January 28th (2017)
Note: We sometimes start to feel the effects of Mercury retrograde a few days early. It’s nice to give yourself a bit of leeway on either side of the prescribed dates!
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MERCURY GOES RETROGRADE?
All sorts of things! It’s like everyone you know has suddenly gone mad! You might find yourself getting into bizarre arguments about nothing at all, being unable to finish sentences or barely even able to form a coherent thought. Your computer and other electronic equipment is more likely to go on the fritz. You could experience travel delays, too. Double-check your flights and take a book with you to keep you occupied while you wait for the train! We don’t tend to get all the information we need at this time, so it can be hard to make big decisions and it’s not always the best time to sign a contract, either.
Expect to hear super-loud complaining from your friends who are Gemini (me!) or Virgo, since both are ruled by Mercury! Mercury also rules a lot of industries like publishing, writing, editing, advertising, sales, public relations and anything to do with transport, like airlines, the post office and cabs! This means it can be particularly rough for Gemini train conductors and Virgo magazine editors, so be kind to any you know!
I often find that Mercury retrograde makes me want to go into hermit mode. I feel like half my brain is missing so I’m really not that interested in interacting with anyone, plus every conversation seems to go in an unusual, confusing direction. I feel much more irritable and frustrated and things just don’t seem to go how I want them to.
So that’s the bad news. Mercury retrograde can be a total kick in the teeth for those of us who normally pride ourselves on having our karmic shit together! The GOOD news is that Mercury retrograde provides us with lots of beautiful opportunities if we can just tilt our head and squint.
Mercury retrograde wants us to move back spiritually. It is providing us with a chance to re-examine various areas of our life which may need a little more work, so that we can move forward to a bright new dawn. Now, more than ever, the time is right to look at things with clear eyes. 
It’s also a terrific period in which to tie up loose ends. So many of us have unfinished projects… Maybe that door just needs another lick of paint, or you’ll decide to put away your ex-boyfriend’s love letters once and for all. 
One of the best ways to cope with it — as with anything, really — is to just “go with the flow”. When you fight Mercury retrograde, that’s when life gets really ugly. Just take some time, go slowly, be careful, don’t freak yourself out by expecting to be uber-productive-perfect right now. Be good to yourself and the people around you, now more than ever!
A QUICK GUIDE TO
SURVIVING MERCURY RETROGRADE!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Be sure not to take things too personally. People will often say offensive things they didn’t mean around this time, because their thinking is clouded and their communication skills are on pause! If your best friend suddenly became the most insensitive person in the world, give her the benefit of the doubt.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Back up your data!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Don’t purchase any big ticket items, because they will often have flaws or issues that you weren’t aware of! Of course, life doesn’t stop just because of wacky planetary movement, so if you absolutely have to get that car, computer or iPhone, TRIPLE-check all the paperwork, and make sure you have a warranty!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Take things with a grain of salt. Everyone is a bit confused, and people are much more inclined to change their mind once Mercury goes direct. Mercury can be a bit of a trickster — could it be that the next few weeks are a big karmic joke?
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Read the small print on any contracts. Ask lots of questions. Again, you can’t put your life on hold just because of some silly planet, but adapt your lifestyle a bit so that things run more smoothly. Communication can be a mess right now, but do your best to get as much information as you can.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Finish things you started a while ago. Home improvement projects? Wardrobe re-organization? Short stories? Love affairs?! This is an excellent time to tie up loose ends and file things away forever.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Get together with old friends, reminisce and laugh!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Double-check any information you’re given, especially as relates to travel arrangements! During one particularly formidable Mercury retrograde, I actually caught a cab to the wrong airport! Check times, delays, baggage allowances, reservations… everything!
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Allow Mercury to nudge you in unusual directions. If you seem to find yourself “back to the future”, don’t just try to wriggle out of it — look at what the universe is trying to show you. What can you learn from this situation? This is a fantastic time to re-examine, accept and move on.
http://galadarling.com/gala/images/ui-images/heart.gif Use the things you’ve discovered in the past to create a dazzling new vision so that you’re ready to blast ahead when Mercury goes direct!

Happy Writing,
Connie

Click HERE all my books are  on FREE on the Kindle Count Down!!

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Structuring a Story by Connie Vines

August 14, 2016 by in category Blogs tagged as , ,
Please excuse my late post–blame it on first week school overload!
As many of the readers know, I write in multiple genres of fiction as well as nonfiction.  Therefore, it only goes to reason I have attended workshops, conferences, enrolled in extensions classes, and networked with other authors to discuss the topic of story structure.
So many ideas, so many strong opinions, but no fail-proof map to success.  What I have discovered is that many authors (Note: my personal findings only), agree that there are thirteen basic plots.
The following are common plot motivations that have appeared in written literature for centuries.  Of course, more than one of these plot motivators may exist side-by-side, affecting the story.  Take your story idea, add one or more of these motivators to it, and, so I’ve been assured, you’ll have a plot and a storyline.
Catastrophe                     Vengeance
Love and Hate                 Persecution              
The Chase                      The Quest
Grief and Loss                Rivalry
 Rebellion                       Betrayal
 Survival                         Ambition
   
So, is this true in my own novels and fiction stories?  I have three books published at Books We Love, Ltd., as well as an anthology featuring five stories to be released this fall.  Let’s see if this is programmed into a writer’s psyche, or if it is a learned skill.
With my Rodeo Romance, Book 1, “Lynx”.  I have added Grief and Loss into my basic storyline for my heroine.  While my hero deals with Ambition, and one other (I don’t wish to give away too much of the story).
In Rodeo Romance, Book 2, “Brede”, Survival, Vengeance, are added to my romantic suspense novel.
“Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”, obviously, deals with Catastrophe and Survival (with a light-touch).
Not the result I was expecting. Why?  Because, if you’ve been following my blog posts, you are aware that I follow Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero’s Journey” when plotting my stories.   Joseph Campbell based his teachings/writing on the power of the ancient myth.
Of course, there is more to a story than just a great plot!  So, using the accepted rule of thirteen, let us progress to adding another layer or two to our storyline.
 These added layers to the story do not appear to be genre specific, though some are more commonly used in romance than, say, mainstream fiction. 
                                                                                               
 Authority                                      Conspiracy
Criminal Action/Murder                Deception
                                                                                            
 Honor/Dishonor Making Amends
                                                                                               
 Poverty/Wealth                               Rescue
                                                                                               
 Mistaken Identity                          Searching
                                                                                                
Suspicion                                        Suicide
                                                                                               
 Misplaced Affection (or unnatural if it is a human and supernatural being)
I believe, for a story to be an excellent story, which of course, is every author’s goal. These plot motivators with the added layers to drive the characters in the story, result in the depth (landscape) and richness (emotion) we all crave in a good story.
Readers, do you agree that all the stories you’ve read and loved these plot lines and motivators?
I admit was able to spot many of these plotlines and layers in the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and may of the Classic Greek Myths.
What do you think?  Are there certain plotlines that appeal to you more than others?
Thank you for stopping by today.
I hope to see you here next month.
Connie Vines




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