Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Drawing the Story"--August 20th, 2008

Use common surroundings when developing settings or visual imagery to help bring your fictional stories to life!

When people ask me how I came to write "Proud Souls" or where I got the inspiration to create such vivid scenes, settings and literal imagery, I like sharing the special [common] places that are part of my everyday life, that became settings within my novel.

As an example, there is a scene where I describe Reverend Polk's living quarters behind the church. His home is nothing more than a garage loft-style apartment. I described the green grass at the base of a wooden staircase that meets a small deck where he likes to drink tea outside. Now, ordinarily I wouldn't have come up with something like that, even if I was in the creative mood. That was actually an actual home behind one of my neighbors houses, where (I believe) a son lived with his mother. The primary residence was his mother's house and he lived in the back--the very nice and elaborate garage apartment out back. Every morning when I would review the entries for "Proud Souls" I made the previous night, I would watch him come out, down the wooden staircase and water his grass while having coffee. The particular morning I was working on Reverend Polk's home and the history of where he lived and how he came to live there--it just made sense to me.

Another example of how common settings in our lives can be transformed into more elaborate settings for our novels is the moment where I described the town bar, The Hawk's Nest. This was Tessa Jameson's metaphorical prison and it was important that I identified with my audience, regardless of where they lived in the world. Now, that's a pretty extensive goal, to say I am going to create a world that will identify with a vast majority of my readers, but it is something I feel as a writer you must try to accomplish.

To master this I had to first determine what made a bar "common." I have been to the "hole-in-the-wall" bars and the more elaborate high-dollar bars where you literally buy a 12-pack of bottles for one drink and the underlying theme in each of them is freedom. People feel free to become something other than themselves--the person they can't be and would never become at work--or at church or in front of in-laws, etc. I paid close attention to why people went to bars and how they acted (or didn't act) when they arrived and how they were when they left. I listened to them talk, quietly and discreetly at first, and then louder, free to share their feelings and expressions with complete strangers over time (and drinks). Regardless of where the alcohol was being served, I found people came in the same way and left the same way. So, I targeted those emotions within the settings for my bar--The Hawk's Nest--just enough for an average person--male, female, young, old, etc--to identify with. That is why so many people say, "I feel like I have been in that bar you talked about."

When trying to draft a story and you feel your setting lacks powerful characteristics or worse, maybe you feel you haven't "been anywhere" and because of that your stories can't compete with more "experienced" writers...stop and look around. Take in your own environment and use people, places and things common to your everyday walk and then put on your creative hat and let your imagination take control. By using people, places and objects common to your everyday life, it at least gives you a baseline for drawing your story...with words...

Best of luck to you.

~Bobby Ozuna


Ashley said...

Talk about having bad days! Sounds like you had one of those days when all you want to do is go home at the end of the day, kick back and forget everything else!
I guess we all have days like that, though! LOL! I know I sure as heck have!!

Your Fan,

Ashley Nicole

Bobby Ozuna said...

I know you are referring to my previous posting (old sneakers) and yes, that evening I had some family over and I was completely out of it. People were talking around me and I just sort of missed their words. I wanted to crawl into bed and start over...

Thanks for being such a fan!

Ashley said...

Yeah sounds like me when I was in sixth grade in a new school! It was awful! I went home and cried myself to sleep!!!
Anyways, I so love writing! It's one of my favorite things in the whole world to do! You can probably tell, huh? Pretty much all I talk about! I write country western songs. You have to hear a couple of them! I hope to have my first book published when I'm eighteen, but I'm not sure if I'll make it. How long did it take you to write your first one?


Bobby Ozuna said...

It took me only 4 months to write the draft version of Proud Souls and I spent another year re-writing, editing and proofing the story. That one year to 1.5 years of "work" on a novel is the "long time" you hear writers reference.

But in all actuality, if you were to take the time to write (only) five pages of new material per day--not polished and perfect text, just new material--and do that for two months straight (60 days), then by the end of that time you will have a (draft) 300 page manuscript.

After you produce the draft and go back and begin re-working each page, each chapter, etc., you will see that you can develop on your previous words and start to fatten the novel until its not only (as) polished as possible, but alive with more details...

Great question!

Ashley said...

Thank you for the tips! I started writing when I was about 16give or take. It took me about a year to have about 26 chapters of the book finished, but then again I didn't work on it constantly. I wish I had. I'm still in the process of writting it, but I'm almost done.
I guess the long part will be re-reading, correcting mistakes, and adding more adventure!!
My worst nightmare is I always try to start writing anotoher dang book before I finish my first one, but I always go back to it! Maybe one of these days I'll get it straight!!!
By the way who did you go to get your first book published? It's amazing! One minute your plain old Bobby, next your a famous writer! That's Awesome!!!!

Bobby Ozuna said...

Let's not get carried away! I am still plain 'ole Bobby...just one with a very creative side and one who has learned how to produce a book in a smooth manner.

You will have to learn to discipline yourself to working on one project at a time, at least until you finish the novel. When you are comfortable with a start and finish (of any project) work on as many as you like. But I would focus all my efforts on completing the draft. The process of finishing the novel is much easier when you have a completed draft to work with. That puts you way ahead of everyone else.

There are so many things you can do and other things you must do in the meantime but for now take everything in stride--babysteps, babysteps--focus on finishing what you have and if you need help, I can offer some insight to guide you through the next process.

Good luck to you!!!

Ashley said...

Yeah, I do tend to get carried away! Sorry for that. I definitely ned to discipline myself too. It's all so new for me. I'm sure you know what I mean, Thank you for all the tips! You're a great help!!!

Carried Away!

Nancy Siron said...

When describing the setting of your stories, do you research the places you describe such as Lake Kemp and Seymour, TX in "Proud Souls" or perhaps a marine base, or airport in a certain city, etc. for accuracy or do you think that it is of any importance to a fictitious story?

Zulmara said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zulmara said...

Great advice to all writers..and nice description of how a scene came to be.



Bobby Ozuna said...

To answer your question regarding my "research" of particular places prior to writing about them--I have to say no...and yes. But I say yes, only because I say no...

I know, I know, that isn't a fair answer, but I will elaborate further.

Yes I do research the places I write about, but only because I have lived them or visited them or at one time allowed those places to become part of my life. I don't (or haven't yet) picked a setting for a story and said, hmmm...maybe I should write about that...

Remember, all fiction stems from some form of truth within the author...well at least this author...


Bobby Ozuna said...

You have been such a support to my work this year...I cannot thank you enough!

I hope the little chunks of information I present from time to time, with relation to how I create my stories...truly helps....

Thanks for the support!

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