Today’s Writing Tip: Make A New Friend (or Two)

Beatlemania Again

Beatlemania Again

On the morning of June 9th of this year, you could not have told me that I would write a book about a rock ‘n roll band beginning that night.  You could not have convinced me with any powers of persuasion that one little concert would convince me to not only write one book about a fictitious rock band (“Nobody’s Girl”), but that it would also lead to a minimum of two other books as well (“Drop Dead Daisy” and the yet unnamed third book).  And there’s no way that you could have told me that one Beatles Tribute band would convince me, a musician myself, to change my entire view of music.

But…all this happened because of one concert, and two new friends, Rich & Tom, members of the Beatles Tribute Band, Beatlemania Again.  Sure, I don’t know these guys all that well, and I didn’t even meet them that night I first saw them.  But something about the presence of those specific four guys on stage that night captured my imagination.  And a few weeks later, I was able to catch them in concert again, and was able to meet some of the guys.  And ever since then, they probably wish they didn’t know me…I ask too many questions.  But, I’m grateful for them allowing me into their lives, even just a tiny bit, with my questions about music and life.  My books wouldn’t be the same without them (well, they wouldn’t exist without them).  And my world would be different without them.

So today’s tip is this: step outside of your own little world–your comfort zone–and go meet some people you never thought you’d have anything in common with.  You might just discover that you really do.  And that you like it.

Rich, er "Ringo" & me after the second concert I was able to attend

Rich, er “Ringo” & me after the second concert I was able to attend

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Method Writing

The Beatles' Rock 'n' Roll Music, Vol. 2, from...

The Beatles’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, Vol. 2, from 1980. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Method acting: “an acting technique introduced by Stanislavsky in which the actor recalls emotions or reactions from his or her own life and uses them to identify with the character being portrayed.”

While this means the actor (or writer in our case) brings to mind the emotions and sensations from a previous experience, this also sometimes involves actually going out and gaining knowledge of a character type.  If he’s playing a homeless man, he might go spend a week on the streets, panhandling.  Or he might shadow a police officer on duty, or hang out with doctors in the hospital, watching surgeries from a viewing room…

Duh, um…what does that have to do with writing?

Well, you’ve heard the cliche, “Write what you know…”  But, since we don’t all know what it’s like to lose a friend in a train crash, or the sights and sounds of an actual battlefield of the Civil War, “method writing” is sometimes our closest option.

For example, as I write “Nobody’s Girl” and begin work on Book #2 (“Drop Dead Daisy”) in the series, I have done the following things to “get to know” rock ‘n roll (mind you, I have never listened to rock ‘n roll before, with any regularity, in all my 30 years!).

  1. Talking regularly with as many rock musicians as possible (professional as well as casual)
  2. Reading books and articles on various genres/subgenres, bands, sounds, etc.
  3. Studying instruments (drums, guitars, basses, keyboards, etc.)–specific makes and models, and well as general functions and sounds
  4. Learning to play electric guitar
  5. Listening to rock ‘n roll for hours and hours every day (the Beatles, the Who, the Animals, the Monkees, etc., etc., etc.)–4 new bands per week
  6. Writing and performing my own rock songs
  7. Forming a casual rock band with friends

Okay.  So, starting a rock band and spending 10 hours a day listening to rock music might be more than you can devote to your book.  After all, you have a full-time job, a family or significant other and, well, your story is about aliens invading New York City in a parallel universe.

But that doesn’t mean that “method writing” isn’t for you.  If your book is character driven, find someone (or multiple someones) that share the same career as your lead.  Or if it’s plot driven, go watch a bunch of movies and read a bunch of books on the subject…yes, I mean documentaries, as well as fiction.  Or if your book is about a landscape or type of terrain, get to the library and pull out every book you can find.  Look at pictures, study maps, indulge in the foods of the land (find some recipes online), or, better yet, go visit for a week or month.  Join a forum where people from that culture hang out.  Tell them you want to depict their culture/land accurately.  Ask questions.  Most likely, they’ll be glad to answer.

There are lots of ways to immerse yourself. And you should. Your book will connect with your audience more, because of its authenticity. So, become a “method writer” today!

What can you do to immerse yourself in the world of your book?

Great online resources for writing in any genre

Check out the Thesaurus' sibling, Dictionary.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been crazy busy getting the manuscript for “Nobody’s Girl” ready for my proofreaders.  All of them have received the final chapters now, and so I’m just waiting to hear back from them to finalize the copy and send to print!

So, in the meantime, I thought I’d toss out some of the resources I’ve been using to write.  They’re simple, but highly useful tools.  Enjoy!
Rhymezone (great for writing song lyrics and poetry, though their thesaurus and dictionary leaves a lot to be desired).

Faithful standards: Thesaurus & Dictionary

A fun resource you could waste too much time on, if you’re like me (and I’m sure at least one or two of you are, being writers and all): Band Name Generator

I’m  not expecting any babies except my books, but sometimes these sites come in handy anyway: Baby Zone, Behind the Name, Baby Names, & Parents Connect

And while it’s not exhaustive, this site is pretty good for etymology, when you just gotta know if that phrase or word was used in “that kind of context”: Online Etymology

List of Emotions, for that moment when you cannot quite pinpoint what your character is feeling.

Sometimes, you need to know when the sunset was in a given year, at a given location.  Here’s where you can figure that out: Sunrise and Sunset times (Set to Denver, but you can adjust).  This site is also good for other related climate/environmental things.

And another fun resource, that may or not actually be of any use.  But, why not?  Especially if you enjoy fantasy… Fantasy Name Generator

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today.  Back to my “method writing” (a.k.a. learning guitar for Book #2 in the series, “Drop Dead Daisy”).