Being an Ass to Your Characters

This week's topic comes courtesy of the ever-cool Lydia Kang, who axed, "What part of yourself have you put into a main character? Why?" (See what Laura and Danyelle had to say about it.)

Characters swim into my psyche mostly intact. And since ye olde subconscious is holding the net, there's all kinds of Zoe-bits in each one - the flotsam, jetsam and half-chewed fish from the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald of my brain - which means I now gotta work to make sure they're, yanno, them and not me. And one of the ways I do this is by probing as deep into dey biznass as I can

chiefly by being an ass to them.

Easy way to get another angle on your character? Take the scene you've already got in mind, then run it aground. Got her arguing in a diner? Drop her on a ship's haunted prow while some fucked up apparition screeches toward her - and her only escape is the black churn of water. What does she do?

Is he in a school cafeteria breaking up with his girl? Drop that motherfucker into the funeral of his ex's mother. What does he say? Female detective chasing dude through a Noo Yawk street? Plant her in Afghanistan, bleeding from friendly fire. What happens now?

Remember, you ain't gotta USE any of your alternate scenarios or even write 'em down. Imagining is plenty. Just like we grow best outside of our comfort zones, our characters develop more fully when you take THEM out of YOUR comfort zone (i.e., your planned scene), just to see what happens.

So, yanno, it's cool that my brain comes pre-populated with characters. It's cool if they snatch bits of my personality as they scramble out of my gray matter. It's not cool if they all look, eat, curse and otherwise act like me. That's how I separate church and state, anyway: First realize they're Bits o Z, then swap their situations to see how they act which helps make each one unique, whether they be sons, daughters, captains, cooks - or the North Wind or the Witch of November :)

Sweating Through Writer's Block

The inimitable Carol Kilgore of Under the Tiki Hut fame has courageously offered me this award:

I say courageously because the award involves sharing seven things about yourself - and anyone who opens up to floor to yours truly is a brave soul indeed :D

But because I'm so damned contrary (thanks dad - you said it best!), I'm gonna do it differently. So in a red-faced, panting, sweating, cursing and oh-my-god-my-legs-are-falling-off twist, I offer you my best seven tips for breaking through writer's block, in lieu of seven random tidbits about me :D (Awardees at the end.)

Sweating Through Writer's Block
1. Get your ass up from the computer. Then, do what I do every day:
2. Walk. (I jog/walk 2 miles every a.m.) Then watch the ideas pour out like sweat and curses.
3. Later, do 3 sets of 10 girl push-ups. (This is especially great if, like me, the Huffington Post terrified you about the dangers of all-day sitting.)
4. After push-ups, do 3 sets of 10 dips. (Start with 5 if it sucks.)
5. Yes, dip right off the coffee table. (Ignore the cats. Bemused little fuckers.) Then plank for 30 secs.
6. Imagine the burn in your abs is writer's block. Burning's for pussies anyway. (Didn't I say ignore the damn cats?) Then: 
7. Finish up with 3 sets of 10 squats.

By the time you're done, you'll feel so freakin' bionic that NOTHING is gonna stand in your way. (Definitely not no pansy-ass writer's block.) Or you'll feel that everything's gonna stand in your way because now, thanks a lot Zoe, you can't even stand at all. (Fucking quivering quads.) 

BUT. Your blood'll be pumping furiously, delivering lovely little oxygen fruit baskets to your brain, which'll charm the PANTS off the block and it'll cave. See if it doesn't.

Srsly, every time the MS just won't be-freakin-have, I move. Works every time. What doesn't work every time is my adherence to blog award rules. NO ideer how many folks I'm 'posed to pass it on to, but here's 3:

1. Alesa Warcan. Dude. You need more than one award for putting up with my non-responsiveness. :D Especially when you went and made me an amazing award like this!! Thanks! See u at Fox BBQ in October!

Explosions. Gore. And my name. Sigh. Alesa, you get top marks. Thanks!

2. Alex J. Cavanaugh. This blogger with such eclectically cool movie interests kicks so much ass. And I loved his blogging tips from his recent series. I definitely want to know seven new things about him.

3. Laura Diamond. Because, as I said in a comment yesterday, Laura gave me such a boost with an Up and Coming Blogger feature way back when. Never forgot that. Thanks, Laura!

So whatcha sitting around fer? Get up, get your blood moving and elbow drop the crap outta writer's block!!


A Blog Award & Gunslinger Hijinks

Before we get to the gunslinging below, let me say that, in the best way to start a Monday since coffee and a run, Ricki Shultz kicked my week off right by tossing me some blog award love this morning:

As it's some pay-it-forward style razzmatazz, I'm to hand it over to 15 blogs that I've recently discovered (more or less). So that's a big 10-4 and another thanks(!) to Ricki, as well as the 15 blogs it goes to next:

1. The Vegetarian Cannibal
2. Janna Qualman
3. DJ Kirkby
4. Milo James Fowler
5. Kristopher & Crew
6. Carl @ I Like Horror Movies
7. Laura @ My Dear Trash
8. Deniz Bevan
9. Melissa J. Cunningham
10. Karen G of BBQ fame!!
11. Nicki Elson
12. Angie Ledbetter
13. The Scribbling SeaSerpent
14. Kelly M. Olsen
15. Carol Kilgore @ Under the Tiki Hut

Psst! Guys! Don't look now, but it's a #seguefail!!:

Just when I was bemoaning the lack of new television (tho, at least I still have Fringe and The Walking Dead this year and Joe Hill's Locke & Key next year), there's THIS news:
Pic from
Yep. That's a rather dark tower. And yep, that's a gunslinger. And you know what THAT combination means:

Stephen King's THE DARK TOWER!!!

Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer are working on the story of Roland & co. for a film trilogy & television series of Stephen King's Dark Tower epic next year. Y'ALL. I don't know about you, but I can't freakin' WAIT to see Roland amble out with his big-ass revolvers blazing. Susannah! Cort! The Man in Black! Hell, SHARDIK!!! Hot damn!! 

Let's see, I love this shit so much I named a cat Roland, I won't ever buy a semi-automatic handgun - cuz I HAZ to haz me a revolver, and there MIGHT be a Dark Tower easter egg or four in my current WIP :D

THIS is cool...

While I'm definitely a visual kind of creature, I do love me some sounds. That's why I squeed in my mouf a widdle when I saw sound designer Ben Burtt's latest book: THE SOUNDS OF STAR WARS:

I'm sure I've said it before, but like the White Stripes, it bears repeating: My favorite STAR WARS sound comes from this guy in Episode II:

Behold the awesomely rippling roar of the Reek as he lumbers out in the first few seconds of this clip (beware, it's a really fleeting coupla seconds, and doesn't last nearly as long as it oughta):

Even so, isn't that just the most delicious sound??

Ah...the bleeding dark...

This is my brain on darkness. Any questions?

The dark n' lovely Lolly Jane Blue, without the perm. C/o Caitlin R. Kiernan's blog.

Wait, you do have questions? Okay, I'll post the two I get the most:

Why do you write horror? How can you read that stuff?

1. I write horror because it makes me a better person, a better mother, a better fatalist, a better dreamer, a better thinker, a better jogger, a better fighter, a better fear-er, and a more wicked wife (trust me on that one, folks. My hubs, The Great Kevinsky, lays down with darkness every night. Makes him a better optimist).

2. I read horror because it sings to me. It lulls me deep when I sink into its smoky bed linens, curls my lips into a smile when it telegraphs its bleeding radio show into the glowing filigree of my brain synapses. It's like electricity, with more shudder.

What sings to you?