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Saturday, July 31, 2010

When Describing a Character it’s Best to Leave a lot to the Reader’s Imagination

Relationship experts are always stating how men find it more attractive when a woman does not show everything.  That they find it more appealing when women wear something like a low cut blouse paired with a long skirt.  It peaks their interest because it leaves them something to fantasize about.  Instead of them seeing the legs as they really are the guys instead get to drum up an ideal image of those hidden limbs.  Okay, so what is my point?  That the same idea applies when describing a fictional character.  No matter how detailed a description you give the image among readers will vary and none of them will come close to that picture you have in your head. 
Take for instance this photo of JaeLynn and I:
The wall was pink.  A brown and pink, art deco like flower print hung on the wall behind the African- American mother and daughter.  Beside the art on the wall there was a rack with seven shelves that contained numerous bottles of nail polish in shades of blue, green, pink, purple, yellow, orange and white.  Are you ready to skip to the end of this description yet?  The three-year-old black girl sat at a white table in a blue chair.  On the table sat a large bottle with a green label.  The girl's hair was done up in a ponytail that hung over to one side.  She was wearing a multicolored striped, orange jumper.  Her nails were painted pink.  Okay, enough already.  Now the correct way.
The coffee colored skin of the mother and daughter glowed against a backdrop of pink.  I focused my gaze on their smiles which seemed to be genuine.  A normal looking family doing ordinary things, like visiting a nail salon.  I absently ran my fingers through my dark, long hair.  Hair that looked very much like the young mother's.  I described the characters while being mindful of the whole story.

Now you go give it a try.  Use the picture above or seek out one that better fits the type of character(s) you wish to create.  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

NYC Pitch and Shop Conference

I will be attending the NYC Pitch and Shop conference that will be taking place September 23rd-26th.  I am very excited and a bit nervous.  I have never been to New York and although I should be focusing on the writing, I can't stop thinking about what I should wear:-)  I know it's terrible.  But while conducting the final read of my manuscript I can not keep my mind from wandering.  Visions of me strolling down the New York streets all Sex and the City like just keeps popping up.  Anyway, I will chronicle every detail right here on this Tanya Yvonne blog of mine.  Wish me luck!             

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Be Choosy When Choosing a Point of View

Before you initially begin your story you must first choose a point of view.  Meaning, who would make the best storyteller?   If you only want the reader to get the perspective of a single character than first person point of view should be used.  Readers will have to rely on accounts given by a single character.  Explanations and descriptions that might be marred by the character’s  motivation.  For instance, let’s imagine that a story about a robbery is being told from the first person point of view.  The narrator is the robber.  Throughout the course of the story  the reader would have to question whether or not the robber is being impartial.  A type of question that could never be answered because the reader does not have any other character’s point of view to compare the robber’s account against.  Also when using the first person point of view a beginner writer has to be mindful that the use of I and we could get monotonous.  Try to find other ways for the single narrator to refer to themselves.  Instead of I sat it could be my bulk rested on the torn chair.  

Next we have my favorite, third person point of view.  I like third person point of view because I feel it gives the whole story.  And it makes for a more complex tale.  Lets go back to the robber premise.  Only this time when using the third person point of view we now get to see how it happens from the clerks perspective too.  Instead of using I or we, you will be using she, he or it

Lastly you must decide if omniscient, the narrator knows and recounts all actions and feelings of more than one character, or limited omniscient, only knows the feelings of a single character, would work best for your story. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

If It Doesn't Move the Story Along, Get Rid of It

When Makeup Girl (I’ll use nicknames to protect the identities of any friends and family members used in such scenarios to avoid any Jerry Springer moments:-) first asked for my help with a creative writing class assignment, she had no idea that I would be “so mean.”  Yup, Makeup Girl actually called me mean.  All because I pointed to large sections of her narrative and admitted that I didn’t care about the information given.  What Makeup Girl soon learned was one of the most important rules in regards to writing.  According to Tanya Yvonne anyway, omit anything that will have that voice in your reader’s head screaming: I don’t care.  I can’t tell you how many stories I have read where the author has taken several pages just to describe a room, a dress, a character’s appearance or how she/he walked in a room.  Boring!  Unless it is key to the plot, meaning that it will somehow move the story along , GET RID OF IT.  I know, I know you spent hours maybe even weeks crafting that scene.  I DON’T CARE.  GET RID OF IT.  You know how you watch a movie and there is some random scene where the lead hot actor is partially naked? And once the next scene starts you think to yourself what was the point of that?  Finally, when the movie has ended you realize that the nudity had nothing to do with what was going on, the producers just thought that it would look good.  Annoying.  Same thing with writing.  Don't just put a passage in to show how you can do a great description.  Because if that looong, overly detailed description does not end up moving the story along it should not be there so GET RID OF IT: )              

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taking a Closer Look at Catelynn of MTV's "Teen Mom"

by Tanya Yvonne

Recently I got the chance to sit down and have a phone conversation with MTV’s “Teen Mom” cast member Catelynn.  After an awkward start, I accidentally called her Carly instead of Catelynn, the 18-year-old put me at ease with her girly laughter.  There was so much I wanted to know about her.  After all she was the only one of the girls who chose to give her baby up for adoption.  A decision that her family disagreed with.  I wanted to know how old Carly is now and what type of emotional attachment did she have towards the soon-to-be toddler.  In a delightfully, young, teenage sounding voice she explained to me that Carly was now a one-year-old.  And the feelings she has for the little cutie would fall more under the heading of aunt like.  In a way that hints that what she has gone through has made her wise beyond her years, she tells me that Carly has a mother.  And that person is the woman who is raising her.  I then wanted to know about the level of contact.  She explained that she regularly receives e-mails and gets pics on a monthly basis.  Of course I had to make some inquires regarding her relationship with Tyler:)  Birth father of little Carly.
The tone of her voice shifts slightly as she tells me how in every relationship there are bumps but also that things were improving.  During the first episode of this season Tyler and his mother ask her to move out, indicating that perhaps some space was needed between the two teens.  I asked how things were with her mother.  No surprise to those of us who watched the first season that things are still strained between the mother and daughter.  I wrapped up the interview with questions regarding her future. 
I wanted to know what was next for her.  If she was ready to close that chapter of her life.  Catelynn explained to me that while she was ready to look ahead, when it comes to Carly that is a chapter in her life that will never be closed.  Why do the show at all?  “I want people to know that there are different ways to love a child.  Adoption is not a huge, horrible thing.  It has wonderful rewards.”  This year she is looking forward to graduating from high school and going to college.  Just like any other 18-year-old.  Catch “Teen Mom” Tuesdays on MTV.            

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plot, This Took Place Because That First Took Place

Plot is what occurs during a story.  In the best of tales it is done in such a way that it’s clear to the reader when, this took place because that first took place.  Allow me to clarify.  I am writing a romantic type of story where I have a male character going on a first date.  Throughout this date he demands that the woman pay half of everything.  Movie tickets, popcorn, drink and even dinner.  At the end of the date before leaving the restaurant he hints at a second date.  The woman flatly turns him down.  Not wanting to waste more gas, for he was the one who drove, he gets angry and tells her to take a cab home.  The story ends with his date taking a cab that just happens to be driven by a guy who had a crush on her in high school.  When he pulls up to her home she reaches in her purse preparing to pay him but he indicates that the ride is on him.  She gives him her phone number and they soon fall in love.  The end:)

See how it is clear how the female character went from being on a date with one guy to riding in the back of a cab be driven by another guy whom she quickly falls for?  This took place because that first took place.  While revising your story if you can not pinpoint the moment that this took place because that first took place, the section(s) then needs to be reworked so that is does.  


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Well Since This is What I Do

Recently I have had a few people express to me their confusion over the lack of posts regarding writing.  I  surprised myself when I could not offer up a good enough excuse as to why I have avoided the topic.  As a result of these conversations I plan to make frequent posts about writing fiction.  Here is the first of such posts:
When people find out that I am a writer as well as stay-at-home-mom the next phrase is almost always about how they too have wanted to write, but could never find the time to get started.  I can totally relate to this because when I started, "Alien Line" I was a full-time college student as well as full-time mom.  After sometimes going weeks without working on the manuscript I committed myself to, at the very least, reading it over for a minimum of twenty minutes a day.  Now think about this.  How many of you find time in each day to watch a thirty minute program?  Replace that television time with writing.  If you don't have twenty or thirty minutes find at least ten.  There is nothing wrong with scheduling short burst of times for your passion(s).