October 25, 2012


Artistic License

Recently, most of my down time (if you can even call it that) has been devoted to writing.  The hours after I come home from work are consumed my book, my blog, or my website.  Last weekend I wanted to take a break and just watch a movie. But even then I found myself drawn to movies about writing.  So instead of fighting it I gave in and picked one of my old favorites, Alex and Emma.  For those of you who don’t know this movie, Luke Wilson is Alex, an author desperately struggling to finish his latest novel so he can repay a gambling debt.  Kate Hudson is Emma, the stenographer he hires to dictate his novel to.  She inevitably becomes involved in the writing process, sometimes to the point of inspiration and more often to the point of irritation.  In many ways it’s your typical romantic comedy.  But it also touches on some crucial aspects of writing and explores the relationship between the author and the reader in a unique way.

One scene in particular got me thinking about artistic license and the blurred boundary lines that authors either loiter about lazily or blatantly cross over with no regard to reality.  Alex is dictating to Emma, setting the scene for where his character is spending the summer.  He calls the island St. Charles, after a neon sign he sees as he looks out the window. He then claims the island was discovered by Jacques Cartier.  This is the dialogue that follows:

Emma: I thought you said you made up the island?
Alex: I did.
Emma: But you just said it was discovered by Jacques Cartier in the 16th century.

Alex: Yeah.
Emma: Jacque Cartier was a real guy.  You can’t have a real guy discover a fake place.
Alex: I can’t?

Emma: No, it’s a version of history.  If you have a fake place you have to have a fake explorer. Now if you have a real place you can have a real explorer.

What do you think?  Is Emma right?  Is an author obligated to choose either reality or fantasy, or are they allowed to dabble back and forth between the two?

My writing experience this week has dealt with artistic license in the form of location.  My story takes place in both California and Massachusetts.  The cities I chose as setting I researched online.  I have never lived there or visited, nor do I have any firsthand experience with them.  I tried to find places that fit the demographics, scenery, and overall spirit I was looking for.  I hope I can remain true to the attitude that a local might have about their hometown.  That being said, I also feel this is the perfect opportunity to use artistic license.  While a major element such as the beach would remain a constant, a more trivial locale such as a mall could be constructed by the mind of the author, even if a mall doesn’t exist there in reality.  If done well, the reader probably doesn’t even know which exist in life and which exist in the mind of the author, unless they really did live in that city.  I personally think artistic license is what adds spice to a story.  Reality has enough clear cut lines and boundaries.  Fiction allows us to abandon reality, cross over the border, and escape to the beach…or the mall.

October 18, 2012


Bring Your Ideas to Life

Tonight I decided to start an image board for my book. I’ve had plenty of visions in my head of characters, locations, scenery, etc. But I’m finding it more difficult to create accurate, but entertaining and meaningful descriptions in writing. I want my descriptions to be understood by the readers. I don’t want them to be too confusing, or too detailed. I want to leave room for readers to have their own visions and interpretations.

I figured a tool that might aide me in describing people or places could be an image board. So I found a piece of foam display board tucked away in a closet and I started searching the internet for images.  I’ve found lots of great pictures of a particular type of house I’ve been envisioning, some great exterior shots with beautiful background scenery, along with various shots of different rooms inside the house. They may not even be part of the same house, but to me they fit together to represent what’s already built in my mind. Sort of like a TV show film set. Each locale squeezed together on the same stage, with cement floors and drywall in between. But the audience never realizes their proximity because of the way the show is filmed. This is also the job of the author. No need to describe every room in the house if your character never leaves the living room. But you may find it necessary to create doors, windows, or hallways as your story progresses.

So now at least I have a better, more concrete tool to reference when struggling with descriptions. When my vision starts to cloud, I can look at my image board and get a refresher. What I thought made this project particularly appropriate was when I pulled off the bar code label stuck to the back of the board. The sticker said, “Bring Your Ideas to Life”. So thank you foam board makers, I think that’s exactly what I’ll do.

October 13, 2012

The Journey Begins…

 I’ve finally taken the leap… to start writing.
Wait, I take that back. I’ve actually been writing for as long as I can remember.
Let me try again.
I’ve finally taken the leap…to start writing…publicly.
That’s a very important word. Publicly. I choose to say I’m writing publicly because I don’t think it sounds too scary. The dictionary only says it’s, “in a manner accessible to or observable by the public.” If I had instead chosen to say I’ve started writing professionally, that would be completely different. Profession is defined as, “an activity pursued as a livelihood, career, employment, occupation.” Professional as an adjective means, “having or demonstrating a high degree of knowledge or skill.” Now those ideas scare me. I don’t plan on my writing making me rich or famous. I also don’t presume that it will be perfect, much less good, fair, or even liked by others. I simply want to share my thoughts and feelings in writing with others and get their feelings and thoughts in return. This is why I say I am now writing publicly, not professionally. In my opinion there’s a big difference between the two.

So I go public on 10-11-12. I hope the rhythm of the date is a good sign of a smooth ride ahead. I hope my readers will be honest, but respectful. No growth or good can come from hurtful or rude remarks. But constructive criticism is helpful and welcomed as I journey on this new adventure of making my writing public. Ultimately, I want to write my own novel. But this has proved to be a painfully slow process so far. I hope by blogging about my writing experience I can gain support and gather advice from friends, family, fellow indie authors and their online community. As my own book takes shape, I’ll also be blogging about the books I read, both newly discovered, as well as old favorites. I hope that by doing this it will sharpen my writing skills, help me relearn some grammatical rules, and make me think critically about what I like and don’t like in a story. In the end, I hope all of this will lead to the creation of a better experience for my readers when my final project is completed. And I hope that all the hope I speak of now will someday become reality.

So please, join me on my journey. I would love to have some company along for the ride.