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Writing About You


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Writing About You

As an author, writing can really be a personal activity. It takes time, patience, and tons of emotional energy, to really put together a great story with a good plot and populated with interesting dialogue and engaging characters. However, I have always believed that the one element that holds it all together and provides it with that particular shine is...quite simply...you. You are the adhesive that keeps it all focused and concentrated into a series of moments in time that radiate depth and feeling. Every story can have a bunch of crazy stuff going on all at once, and it’s supposed to be entertaining no matter what. As long as you’ve got the right formula, it should work, right?

Not so. Stories need a ‘voice’. They need a perspective. They should feel as though every last piece of it is coming from somewhere, and not just a bunch of themes and tonal changes being slopped together on a plate like edibles at your local afternoon buffet. I believe that every author should be deeply threaded into the stories they tell. I definitely exist in some form or fashion in all of my stories. In my characters’ personalities, their sense of humor, their pain and how they try to deal with it as best as they can. All of that is in there. And you might think that this is going to be an article about how awesome it is to see yourselves in your own works...

...But that’s not what this is about. Not this time.

See...the thing about writing about yourself means being extremely and unapologetically honest with your audience. Both with the good parts of yourselves and the bad. Nobody is perfect, and it makes for an unrealistic story that is certain to lose people’s interest after a while if you pretend to be. Maybe even if just a short while. So, while your story may get some bad feedback or criticism, it’s important not to take it too personally. I realize that this is a task that is easier said than done, but you can’t let that scare you away from the truth of who you really are. You’ll get through it, hehehe, promise!

I say this because it’s very easy to kind of slip out of an honest presentation, and directly into our ego. It happens. No apologies needed, just make sure that you keep your eyes open when it comes to that kind of thing.

I can be hopelessly optimistic more times than not. I love to smile and to laugh, I appreciate romantic gestures, I’m intelligent and outgoing enough to hold my own in a conversation, and I’m eternally grateful when it comes to compliments, gifts, or small acts of kindness. But...I can be a dick sometimes too. I get frustrated, I get depressed sometimes, I can be really isolated from other people whenever I’ve got something weighing heavy on my mind. Piss me off, and I’ll stubbornly do things just to spite you. And if I’m not in the mood, I can keep the whole world at arm’s like until I feel like dealing with them again. It’s a part of who I am, and if you read my stories, I’m sure that you’ll see all of the negative stuff too. But, so be it. More often than not, I’m probably using my writing to correct some sort of temporary damage in me that won’t leave me alone in that particular moment.

But hey...better that than lie about the parts of myself that I’ve added into one of my stories and have it come off as being disingenuous. You know?

I think that it’s a problem for some writers to pour themselves into a story and not completely paint themselves through the lens of rose colored glasses. It’s not really ego so much as it is a strong sense of self confidence...but it clouds your perspective sometimes. As I said, a story needs a direct vision for both the writer and the readers to focus on...but there’s a very thin line between having a distinct point of approach to a ‘fictional’ situation, and a matter of written self stroking, if you know what I mean. Hehehe! Knowing the difference can really help when you stand back and try to look at things from a distance. If that makes sense.

I really do try to stay away from taking another author’s hard work and throwing it under the bus, but for the sake of having a clear cut example to use for you guys to know what I’m talking about...I want to talk briefly about Stephanie Meyers’ series, “Twilight”. I understand that it’s meant to be safe vampire fiction for young adults...like...I get it. But I just remember reading some of it and watching the movies, and that didn’t feel like a ‘new girl in high school’ story at all. I mean, has high school changed that drastically since I was there? I’m not one of those jaded people that thought high school was the worst, most horrible, experience that any adolescent could ever possibly go through growing up...but it certainly wasn’t like what this book was presenting as reality. God help any tween girl reading that and anticipated showing up for their first day of high school expecting it to be like that.

Our protagonist, ‘Bella’, joins a brand new school...shy and alone...and on the first day she makes an entire group of best friends that are in for the long haul. And they all think she’s funny and so pretty and incredibly interesting. Boys want to date her, teachers are impressed with her, everybody knows who she is, the hottest boy in the whole school immediately gives her all of his attention, she has another shirtless hunk not far from her house who also wants her all to himself...it’s like, what the hell is going ON here??? Brand new school, brand new town, shy and standoffish? You’d be lucky if a group of high school kids even let you sit at their cafeteria lunch table without frowning and getting up to walk away. Or teasing you for your shoes or your clothes. Or just giving you the cold shoulder in general for no other reason than they don’t know you. What happened to all of THAT stuff that came with the teenage high school life?

If you really look at “Twilight”, the entire series is just completely ‘Bella-Centric’ from beginning to end. Her friends instantly care about and love her, vampires are willing to die for her, werewolves are willing to die for her, her father outdoes himself trying to make her happy, the whole town is enamored by her...hell, even the villains are immediately fascinated by her in a really unnatural way. There’s a whole TOWN full of potential victims for them to feed upon...but nope! They want Bella. No other new girl will do when it comes to satisfying their lust for blood.

It makes for a fun high school fantasy, I suppose...being the most beautiful, sought after, and popular, girl...well, EVER! But in terms of putting out a narrative that feels somewhat natural and realistic, I think that there’s got to be a little bit more balance in the storytelling. Some flaws, some mistakes, some self doubt, a few enemies. These are elements that all contribute to a feeling of connection between your audience and the characters that you’re writing about. How else can they invest a whole lot of emotion in someone like that, unless of course you were one of the most popular girls in school for four years straight?

I’m not saying that Stephanie Meyers definitely modeled Bella after herself, who she thought she was, or who she always wanted to be. That’s not the point. The point is...we all have a true sense of self when we’re writing, and we can’t just cover our scars and blemishes with makeup and keep going. There is real gold in our flaws. Drama in our hard times. True lessons to be learned from our mistakes and our disappointments in life. Don’t horde them all to yourself. Thread them into your story and let people see them for what they are. You’d be surprised how many fans will end up relating to a flawed character much more than they would a perfect specimen who always wins without fail. Bottom line, no one wants to spend all of their valuable time looking waaaaay up at someone standing on a pedestal. Bring them down to Earth for them to meet your audience face to face, eye to eye. It makes for a better story.

It’s easy to build a huge altar and a magical temple to someone who comes to you in the guise of absolute perfection, but to see someone’s flaws and insecurities being put on display and finding that you love them just as you are without judgement...how special is that? I think that this makes for an incredibly engaging story. And it comes from this deep seeded desire to be loved and cherished and good enough. But the truth is...I’m not perfect. And anybody who WAS perfect, or at least thought of themselves of being as such...probably wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. Hehehe, or would exhaust me to the point of simply running out of the energy it takes to be with someone like that. So self confidence and ego aside, my big dream, and a dream shared by a lot of my readers, comes from the idea that we’re all good enough right here, right now, to attract and impress the unfathomably beautiful people, no matter what. Beautiful in our eyes, at least. That’s what it’s all about. Allowing me to be me in my writing without feeling the need to go overboard in order to have those same emotions reflected back at me or strive to live up to some weird idea of being so far above average that there’s nothing for me to latch on and relate to. That’s weird to me, hehehe!

This is a song from an artist named JoJo called, “Joanna”. And I remember when she came out years ago, and she was singing and did some acting...not a huge mega star or anything, but definitely talented enough to raise a few eyebrows. She should have been more well known in my opinion, but that’s just how the fame game goes sometimes, I suppose.

Anyway, this is like an open letter to herself and her career, and there’s just something about it that I really connect with. It’s honest. It’s heartfelt. And it’s not a braggadocious song about how awesome she is, or how she was ‘cheated’, or how everybody missed out on what she had to offer. You know? It’s just a humble vision of what she’s been through, and probably mirrors she’s had with other people over the years when she started as a young teen. I respect it. It’s a display of talent, and yet a touching moment of vulnerability as well.

 

I would much rather hear a story like this than one where the protagonist is so nice, and so perfect, and so lovable, that anyone bringing any trouble their way must be a villain or simply misunderstand them for some reason. That’s not reality. People have flaws, they make mistakes, they get nervous or clumsy on occasion...and that’s far more entertaining than constantly reading about perfection. Give me something to latch onto. Give me a real human being, and not a fluffed up version of what you see when you look in the mirror every morning when you feel like you’re on top of the world. It gets old very quickly, trust me.

Anyway, just keep in mind that conflict is interesting. Even inner conflict. You want to hold the attention of a mixed audience? Make your flaws your treasures when you’re writing. It always creates a bond between your story and its readers. Every time. K?

That’s all for now. I hope this made a bit of sense, and that you can use it in your own work the way I use it in mine. Happy writing, folks! And I’ll seezya soon!

 

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Give me a real human being, and not a fluffed up version of what you see when you look in the mirror every morning when you feel like you’re on top of the world. It gets old very quickly, trust me.

Anyway, just keep in mind that conflict is interesting. Even inner conflict. You want to hold the attention of a mixed audience? Make your flaws your treasures when you’re writing. It always creates a bond between your story and its readers. Every time. K?

Yes, thanks for this. Real is so much more interesting to both read about and write. 

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