Friday, June 27, 2014

Drowning in Words and Finding Characters

I'm editing my June of Doom and Gloom story like a madwoman (I hear that clock ticking... tick ... tick ... my time is running out). I'm pushing that ahead of other stories/assignments because June is quickly ending, but I still have other stories waiting for me in the wings with equally important deadlines, so I must continue writing when I can. Of course I must also read because reading is as essential as breathing is to me.

I was born with a book in my hands and I'm a voracious reader. Having
e-readers and apps in my life has allowed me to continue my life-long love
of books without needing shelf space and with the ability to change the
font size or color as needed to make it easier on my aging eyes. 

I think I was born with a book in my hands and nothing has changed that. I read constantly - usually on my NookColor or my Nook app on my phone. When I can't write, I usually can at least have one or the other screen next to me while I count, pack, or label at the shop. I put my reading aside when I'm working with customers, of course, because it's only polite and makes sense. But at all other times, my nose is in an e-book.

Looking for a good book and an easy read with interesting
photographs? Try "Miss Peregrine's Home for
Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. 

Yesterday I finished "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" and immediately purchased the second book in the series, "Hollow City". I really enjoyed "Miss Peregrine's Home" and recommend it to those looking for a good YA novel with intriguing pictures throughout. Yes, there are some plot holes, and there are some plot and timeline questions that I was left with, but despite those minor questions it was thoroughly readable, the characters were interesting, and the premise was of great interest to me.

What story would you invent for this group of children? Are they
in a play? Did they just gather to go to a Renaissance Festival? Are
they returning from a time traveling adventure? 

What I really enjoyed was the author's interview at the end of the book. He explained how he is one of a group of collectors who peruse, purchase and collect old photographs. He said that he started collecting unusual old photos, many of children, and when he was unable to discover information about the people depicted, he began inventing histories for them. Many of these photographs and their imagined characters made it into the pages of "Miss Peregrine's Home".

What's the story of this girl with a mirror? What is she
holding in her other hand? Why is she barefoot? Why, in an
age when photos were expensive and time-consuming, is
she pictured in a sleep dress? 

Isn't that what we, as authors, do? We see a situation - people conversing at a street corner, a person in a dark alley, a soccer mom at the game, or the dog running across the street - and we ask questions. When we see these places, events or people, we begin to invent stories for them. "Why is she attending the soccer game today instead of being home with her visiting cousin?" "What is he doing back in the dark alley? Is he even still alive?" "Where did the dog come from and to where is he going in such a hurry?" The questions we ask about our everyday lives illuminate our stories, our characters, and the lives we put onto electronic screens and paper.

In "Miss Peregrine's Home" there is a character, Fiona, who
can make plants grow at a startling rate of speed. Do you
think this may have been an early photo of Fiona? Or, do
you have an interpretation of your own? 

So today, as you go through your daily errands, look around you. Check out your surroundings. Is your next character lurking around the upcoming corner? Happy Friday, everyone! Have a wonderful day!

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