Saturday, November 30, 2019

My Oddest Character

Does A Tran Character Fit It at Burning Man?

What is the oddest character you have ever dreamed up, and how did they fit into a story?
I didn't dream "her" up, but she became a great character with bravery and wit.  

I belong to two professional organizations for mystery writers:  Sisters In Crime and Mystery Writers of America.  We are always education ourselves about topics of interest to crimewriters, and several yeas ago, this involved visits to the Norfolk County Jail by both groups in separate visits.

Needless to say,  this was an intriguing experience which I don't have space to describe but we were taken all over the jail, including the section where prisoners were in protective custody, and throughout the prison, the color of the inmates uniforms identified their status.  It was hard to ignore that one of the inmates who appeared to be a female. "They" had long dark ringlets and swanned about with a seductive smile on their face working their shoulders for dramatic affect.  The other  inmates hooted and whistled which obviously pleased the ringleted one.

Our escorts said, "That's Angel. Protective custody."  A male identifying as a woman would have a rough and dangerous time in prison. This inmate belonged in protective custody.

I  remembered Angel,and sure enough, she was still around (or again around--who knew?) at my next jail visit.  Still running her  hand through dark ringlets and strutting around.
I had begun a new book with a whole section  devoted to the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada.  Of course, I needed colorful characters.  I had an entire "camp" of computer types, but I needed someone else.  My main  character, Emma, was driving an old rented camper to the festival and she stopped at the overlook for Pyramid Lake. There was a person of uncertain sex, a woman she first thought, and then on second or third glance, a man.  With dark ringlets. This was Daze, soon. to be Daisy,  who was transitioning from male to female.  Emma liked Daze and they spent time together at Burning Man, where everything goes.  Everything. Daze convinced a reluctant Emma to participate in the women's topless bicycle ride, "The Critical Tits Parade."  I am not making this up. Well, the story but not the bike ride.  It's real.

After the festival, Daze got a job in a company Emma knew, and lived in the garage apartment at Emma's home outside Boston.  More adventures ensued.

I  studied the book,  She's Not There, about a person transitioning between sexes.  This was probably around 2007-08 when the topic was not so well known.  I really liked Daze, who became quite real to me. "She" was funny and I liked  getting to know "her." And she was my oddest character and I am so happy to have found her staring at  beautiful Pyramid Lake in Northern Nevada.  Where did you find your oddest character?
 These bloggers have their own stories. Take a look.

 Skye Taylor
Victoria Chatham
A.J. Maguire
Dr. Bob Rich
Connie Vines
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Fiona McGier

Rhobin L Courtright

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Writing Group Rules

 The blogger's topic for October is this:
 What unique situations have occurred in the writingprocess of any of your novels? Perhaps, but not limited to,things like where what you planned changed, or the direction you thought
the story was on deviated or transmuted?

I have a couple of tales of when my writing group objected to something I wrote and I changed my story because they said, "You can't do that! 

The first instance of this was in World of MIrrors (set in then East Germany) where a couple wanted to snoop around someone's house.  The owner wasn't home, but his watch dog (a dog who formerly patrolled the Death Zone around East Germany) was.  The dog pinned the couple down  in the driveway.  Didn't bite; didn't bark, but growled and threatened. The couple's so-called friend, arrived,  saw their dilemma, and  hauled off and shot the dog.
In the first iteration of the story, the dog died, and the friend told them to dump the dog in the harbor.
My writing group said: "You can't do that!  You can't kill a dog!"
"But he's a mean dog".
Didn't matter.  So, I changed the story.  The dog was still shot and  wrapped up in a tarp weighted down the rocks.  In the new version of the story, the dog whined when the tarp was opened, and the couple realized he was only wounded.  They had qualms. This presented a problem, because trying to explain to anyone about the dog would give them away.  It was the middle of the night and they were parked  on a sort of bridge by the harbor.  A car stopped and asked if they needed help.  They asked for the name of a vet.  The driver passed on that information and they took the dog to the vet and rang the bell, leaving a wad of West Marks and the dog.  Ran like hell.  This led to some interesting further complications in the story.

2nd Verse.  Another novel, this one Chased By Death, just published this month.  Another dire   situation.  In the desert, the heroine, trying to protect two kids, faces a man with a knife. He is a very bad man who has killed many people and he has held her hostage for an entire day. He doesn't know she has a gun. In the first version, he threatens her  and she shoots into the air because a helicopter is (maybe) about to land. The bad guy turns and  runs  toward the woman.  
My writing group said, "No, she has to shoot him.  He' could take them all hostage." So she shoots him. Stone cold dead. Helicoptet lands.  Yada Yada.  More satisfying because heroine has saved herself and the kids. Always better if the main character saves herself.  In this day and age.
Suspense and a woman in jeopardy.
My writing group would not let me kill a fierce dog, but had no qualms about my killing the evil man with the knife.  Crazy happenings on the writing front.  Both times, they were right.

The authors below no doubt have interesting tales.  Read on.
 A.J. Maguire
Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Margaret Fieland
Helena Fairfax
Dr. Bob Rich
Diane Bator
Rhobin L Courtright