Dialogue, Fiction, Writing

To smile, or not to smile …

smiley2 Of course, now we all know that Forrest Gump invented the original Smiley Face, but there’s another less familiar one, the Carl’s Jr./ Hardee’s Happy Star. happystar2While driving home this morning, I passed two of these Happy Star signs and realized that I like this smiley better than the original. Do you see the difference in their smiles?

When you truly smile, you eyes change shape, they crinkle at the edges, or change angle slightly, or close a bit. That means the Happy Star smile looks more genuine. The traditional smiley’s eyes are not smiling. To be honest, he looks rather deranged. Try it! Open your eyes wide and smile. Don’t you feel just a teeny bit over the edge?

Okay, this is a writer’s blog, so you’re wondering what this has to do with writing—you are, aren’t you? Here’s my take on it, we need to make sure our characters’ expressions and actions match their words. That’s also a way to avoid the plague of unnecessary adverb use. Is there any doubt what’s happening or how the words are delivered in the following scene snippets?

Sawyer’s face was all teeth and dimples as he said, “Nice to have you back, Freckles.”

The barrel of Sayid’s gun pressed into Ben’s back. “I advise you not to make a move,” he said.

At the sight of the fifty-foot obelisk rising from the jungle floor, Hurley backed away, eyes darting from side to side. “Dude,” he said, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

Characters, Dream, Fiction, Inspiration, Music, Novel, Writing

Inspiration any way

Early last summer, I had a dream with a situation that gave me the idea for my current work. I had my characters, but I didn’t enough about them to start writing. At that same time, I was addicted to playing Bejeweled 2. It was during these sessions I first heard my character Jalal speak to me. I don’t understand the connection, though I do know there is one particular sequence in the background music that evokes him instantly.

In any case, the story started to come together, and when I needed more dialogue, I just played the game and it started flowing. So, I had this lovely little happy-ending story, and then I rediscovered Joan Osborne’s Relish and her song “Crazy Baby” became my theme song for Jalal because, suddenly, I knew at some point he would be in the depths of depression.

There’s something about running water that inspires me so often, I’ve thought about figuring out some waterproof writing device for the shower. (I wrote in another post about using an eyeliner pencil on the mirror.) And someday I’ll remember how to use the memo function on my cell phone so I can record the thoughts that come to me when driving … like when Meredith informed me I had misunderstood her reason for withdrawing from life!

I’ll take inspiration any way I can get it. Anyone care to share, other than reading great writing, what inspires you?

Fiction, Musings, Power, Words, Writing

First, do no harm

Words are power. Last night and this morning, I was reminded how carefully we should choose them. Words carelessly thrown out are dangerous. Consider these clichés: cut me like a knife, pierced me to my soul, sliced me to the bone, broke my heart, stabbed me in the back, crushed my spirit. Words can do those things.

But words can also raise our spirits, fortify our hearts, sooth our souls, fill us with love and laughter and hope. We hold that power in our tongues. We have that power in our hands as we write. “First, do no harm” is a principle we all should live by.

May we love before we hate, laugh before we cry, and listen before we speak.