Sunday, February 6, 2011

Who holds the pen— you or your characters?

Something that’s intrigued me as writer is: how much control do I have during the creation process? When I sit down to write, I usually have a brief outline either generated in ink or, at the very least, well defined in my brain. I usually know where I want to begin and have a ballpark estimate of how and where my story should end. The middle, or meat and potato portions of my tales usually dwell in very murky waters.



…my characters dictate their own direction. How so?

Let’s try a writing exercise.

I see a woman. Her name is Wendy. She’s tall and beautiful. She has brown hair and blue eyes. She loves the theater and Italian food. She loves her boyfriend, Max and has never cheated on him. She practices witchcraft and eats babies. Whoa! What happened there? She was almost perfect until I found out she loves the theater…

Just kidding.

The witchcraft and eating of babies just came out of nowhere. Or did it? How does the brain birth a person of our own devise? Is it our own devise?

Sometimes I get stuck in the middle of what I consider a strong story. Everything is going splendidly until I hit “the wall.” You writers know what I mean. There’s no way to get around it either, so I try breaking it down. I try going over it. I try going under it. Every attempt ends in failure. I look back and I can see Wendy with her arms crossed. She’s tapping her foot with a smug look of “I know what your problem is…you’re simply not listening to me.”

I get worried. Do other writers have conversations with figments of their imagination? Is it schizophrenia? Is there a bit of insanity in store for me? Is there any harm in listening to what Wendy has to say?

Maybe not. Okay…here goes.

Hey, Wendy. Uh, I think I’ve been a jerk. I probably haven’t been paying enough attention to you.

You haven’t.

I know. Sorry. But I’m willing to listen now. What should do? I’m stuck here in front of this wall, and I really don’t know what to do.

Angel, Angel, Angel…first of all, the main problem is my name isn’t Wendy.

It ain’t.

No. It’s actually Frank. And I’m short. And I hate the theater. And I cheat on my wife all the time.

Wow. No wonder I can’t get through this wall. I’m really sorry, Frankie.

Excuse me, it’s Frank.

Oh. Sorry, Frank. What now?

I need you to trust me.

How so?

I need you to give me that.

Give you what?

That pen in your hand.


Because that wall isn’t a wall at all.

It isn’t?

No. It’s a door. Watch. Give me the pen and I’ll show you.

* * *

Okay, a bit theatrical, but this is how it works for me sometimes. I have to hand over the reins to my characters. I have to give them control. I have to listen to them. It’s not enough to create this person from out of the thin air. I may have given Wendy…er, Frank his first breath, but I have to realize he longs to breathe on his own.

Okay, enough about me.

What’s it like for you and your creations?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New story, "Chewing the Fat" up at Pulp Metal Magazine

I got a brand new story, Chewing the Fat up at Pulp Metal Magazine. Many thanks to Editor, Jason Michel – The Dictator.

Millie had her first baby the day after her eighteenth birthday. Although “had” would imply “given birth to” when in fact “had” in this particular case denotes “ate.” And she’d have no problem telling you that that Antichrist infant tasted nothing like chicken.

“It really didn’t,” she’d admit with a wink...

Read the entire story here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Author CK Webb Reviews The Man of Shadows!

The Deepening is a fantastic resource for book enthusiasts. Editor-in-Chief, Clayton Bye and his staff offer insightfully honest book and novel reviews. One of his staff members, Author CK Webb, has just posted a review of my book, The Man of Shadows, published by Panic Press. She says, "I absolutely loved The Man of Shadows. The writer’s tales give a new spin to old stories, and he does it with a style unlike any other. Angel Zapata will have you questioning everything that you believe as an adult and wanting, more than anything, to pull the covers up tight when you crawl into bed at night…"

Read the entire review here.

You can pick yourself up a copy of The Man of Shadows through Amazon here.

I really appreciate CK taking the time to read and review my work. Thanks so much, CK!

CK Webb is author of Cruelty To Innocents & Collecting Innocents which she co-wrote with her mother, DJ Weaver. You can find out more about her work at the site, WebbWeaver.