Monday, August 18, 2008

Andif Outdoes Herself


I think this is an amazing photo. The composition is wow. That single weed is like Leonardo DiCaprio on the prow of the Titanic yelling, "I'm the king of the world!" (He seems to have dropped Kate Winslet, though.) You can see a mountain in this photo if you look just right. It gets even more interesting if you look at it sideways (I saw snow) and also upsidedown. Then it becomes wonderfully abstract.

Note for writers: I'm going to relate this photo to writing, though it may be a stretch. One of the things that talking to so many book clubs has brought home to me in the past year is that readers want to be able to "see" characters from rightsideup, upsidedown, and sideways, along with inside and out. They want to understand characters' actions, emotions, motivations. They really want to understand, and if they don't they are left unsatisfied. I know I can't manage that for every reader, but it's an objective to aim for, especially when I'm rewriting: I can ask myself, do my characters feel whole to me? Do they interest me? I mean, heck, I'm a reader, too, right? Do they interest me from every angle and surprise me from some of them? If I am pretty sure about all that, I will not only have created them, but I will also have created some happy readers.

15 comments:

Nancy P said...

Posting early for tomorrow (Tuesday) G'night and g'morning, Mates.

AndiF said...

So now that I've outdone myself, there's one of me that's gloating and one of me that's feeling defeated?

Well the gloating one says 'Thanks' and the other one says -- oh nevermind ... we don't print words like that at this site. ;)

Morning all.

Lisa Miller said...

Nancy- I'm having a hard time slowing myself down to stay with Dani, my main character, long enough to accomplish all you are talking about in fleshing out character. Using Andif pictures to help me focus may be just the ticket. Though you use the photo symbolically, I think literally using it as a focusing tool may help me. This striving to improve my character is what brought me to Nancy in the first place.

Andif--I am up early today thinking about your pictures and my lesson. It's similar to writing fiction. Ideas come to me in flashes at odd times.
I feel the fogginess of my students' minds. All are at risk, many very poor students with few role models at home for how to cope with adversity. Frequently they lash out, swirling in the fog with no idea where they are going. I think we will talk of dreams, but more specifically of goals, and the difficult single steps we have to take to make progress toward our goals.

One goal for my novel is to provide a compelling and entertaining story to high school students that are frequently poor readers. If you can hook them with one book, you can get them to look at another. I will talk about my struggle with the writing and what I do to make forward progress.

I want to talk about some published authors or other careers too. Any one want to give me examples of steps you take to reach your goals? The adversity you overcome maybe daily to accomplish your goals and dreams.

For example Andif what do you have to do to create such beautiful pictures? Learning new technology, understanding composition, going out to where the natural elements kind of things.
By the way--Andif it's not gloating at all but exhilaration at reaching a goal of having others appreciate your pictures.
That doesn't take away the negative feeling you have about something else, but use the atta boys to balance the aw shucks.

Terrific Tuesday to All.

AndiF said...

Lisa, I credit Olivia with giving the insight to take pictures. Seeing her wonderful pictures made me realize how much I was missing by not really looking around me as I walked in the woods. So I started paying attention to the all the details as I walked. And the result of seeing is learning -- I learned the pattern of light, the cycles of plants growing and dying, the effect of the coming and going of rain, the replenishment and drying out of creeks, the creations of heat and cold.

And by spending most of my time in a specific area, I can really use my knowledge -- a lot of my pictures are ones I seek out because I know where, when, and what to look for.

So there's a narrowness of focus that paradoxically leads to an expansion of experience.

Maria Lima said...

Lovely pic, Andi!!

I adore creating characters and making them whole people...whether villains or the good guys.

One exercise that I had a lot of fun with came from fan fiction; a meme that was going around Livejournal for a while. Personal canon: write 20 bits of personal information about your character(s) that no one knows, or aren't in your stories/books.

I wrote a total of 20, covering the 4 main characters in my series. Fascinating what I discovered I "knew" about them.

In fact, I think I shall blog on this very topic sometime later today.

It's off to the DMV I go to renew my driver's license.

Ciao and have a fantastic day, all!

Nancy P said...

Ha! Andi, you crack me up. ::pats back of poor defeated Andi, while smirking at the winning Andi::

Ah the smell of victory in the morning.

Just you wait, little slumping Andif. Your day is coming. But wait. That will mean another Andi's day isn't coming?

::sighs and stalks off::

Nancy P said...

This is a nice conversation among creative peeps. (Thanks, Lisa.) I think I'll just let it unroll. . .

Beth said...

I'd love to chime in, but we're out the door on our Harley vacation. Back on Sunday - no internet! The Oregon coast and the Redwoods - if my rear end survives. Have a great week, everyone!!

Dina said...

I can't speak to the creative process, but I just adored the picture. Water, mountains, fog beautifully captured! What's not to love.

maryb said...

That's it. We all need to go to Andi's and see the fog for ourselves.

Nancy, as a reader I agree with your assessment of what we want - knowing all facets of the character. I would say for myself - I also want the illusion that I discovered those things about the character myself the way I do in real life with people I meet. There's nothing better than thinking you know a character and then realizing from something they say or a gesture they make or some other small thing that ... hey maybe there is more to this character than I thought.

I really like when an author applies the layers to a character in such a way that not every reader is going to pick up on every single layer. And it won't matter for the plot. But it will enhance enjoyment of re-reading.

It's like going to Seattle and knowing a mountain is there but not being able to see it or seeing it only vaguely. You can still enjoy your trip to Seattle. But if you are lucky enough that one day ... WHAM ... the mountain is out, you think - my goodness how couldn't I see that before? And it becomes a key memory of your trip. Not just the fact of the mountain but that it revealied itself to you and you were in the right place to see it.

Why couldn't you see it before? Some fog doesn't look like fog - and you don't know it's there until it's gone.

Kelly McCullough said...

Good morning all.

My main struggles as a writer have been dealing with the business side of things. I find that I enjoy pretty much every aspect of craft from the pure play of coming up with a cool idea to build a story around, to the day to day putting words on paper, to the rewrite where you unfold bits of story and then refold them to make them fit the big picture. I love the little fiddly sentence level work, and the unexpected wonders you find as you write a scene and bits of the picture become clear, but probably most of all I love the big novel level worldbuilding and plot structuring that makes a story snap.

Then there's the business side which has driven me deep into the ditch a couple of times. The best expression I've ever had of that is over here in what I call my deciding not to quit moment.

Janet said...

I'm no writer. Unless I'm pulling something out from my gut or sharing about some event that took place and that's with manymanymanymany edits and I ususally do it with photographs.

I've been thinking about turning my blog back on again but only using photographs. I dunno...

Anyways, in reading the words from many of you who write, it reminds me of alot of what I had to do in order to get on a stage and perform. As I posted elsewhere here... when I read books I'm usually more concerned with how that charachter would speak and sound like. :) People get upset when a novel gets made into a movie because the protaganist doesn't LOOK like they imagined as they read. Me, I imagine/hear their voice instead.

I think that's what makes a story good for me. How well the author enabled me to hear them speak.

I used to volunteer read at schools and public libraries. I do rather well with making up voices. So maybe that's why charachter development for me is -- how do they sound? Do they speak slowly, fast, pauses...?

Gotta run. Been a long week with Danni. She got horribly burned at practice and going thru hell week number 2 for Natl. competitions. Then we have school starting, registrations today/tomorrow AND special olympics coming up.

breathes...

Nancy P said...

Sneaking in just to say--don't forget to click on Andi's photo to enlarge it. It's goorrrgeous that way.

(I'm at library. Just wrote 7 new pages.)

paul lamb said...

One trick I've used to help flesh out characters has worked for me when I'm stalled.

I take my familiar character and put him/her in a completely different genre. My detective is now a saloon keeper in the Old West. Not solving crimes but living in that era in that way. Or my gritty character is at a dinner party. That kind of thing. I find that it gives me all sorts of insights into the character that I never knew were there or that I hand thought of before.

Nancy P said...

Lisa, if it helps. . .the kind of fleshing out of characters usually doesn't come for me until rewrites. (And rewrites and rewrites.) When thinks are coming fast, I never slow down to do it. You can always come back to it. (In my opinion.)