Tag Archives: “Relocated”

Finding Their Voices: Using Language to Build Character

rndrbnlogo

Broken Bonds was the first novel I wrote with more than one point of view. The final version has five point-of-view characters, the four characters involved in a romantic relationship and the antagonist who is the “villain” in the political plot. There are three aliens and a Terran: Major Brad Reynolds, a major in the Terran Federation Guard, Ardaval Namar, an BrokenBondsCoverAleyni scholar and teacher, Imarin Namar, one of his former partners, involved in government, and Nidrani Namar, another former partner, a woman, and a musician. As well, there was Senator Hank Manning, a member of the Terran Federation senate.

I wish I could tell y’all that I was wonderfully methodical about this, but, alas, it would be a lie. Ardaval and Brad had appeared in a previous novel, Relocated, so their voices were pretty clear to me. I had little trouble finding a voice for Imarin and Hank Manning, but Nidrani was slower to come clear, and I ended up searching out clothing I thought she might wear to help me out.

I pay attention to grammar, sentence structure, word choice, pet phrases, how formal or informal they typically are in their speech,  pet phrases, etc, but a lot of it involves my being able to “hear” my characters.

One of the things I did was collect up all of the pieces from each character’s point of view and put them together. Then I read through them for consistency of voice and to make sure that they sounded distinct.

I do use grammar and word choice with far more intention for minor characters, where there is less time and space to paint a full picture.

 

 

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-OB
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

 

Advertisements

Persona Poems and me

About Persona Poems

Persona poems are poems that are written in a voice other than that of the author, where the author pretends to be someone else. The first one I wrote was in response to a poetry writing exercise. The next one that I recall writing ended up in “Lifelines.” Since then, I’ve created two treb4cfimaginary poets as part of the science fiction novels I’m writing, and written at least 30 poems by each of them.

Writing a persona poems involves getting inside the head of the narrator (or in my case, the supposed author of the poems). It’s kind of like acting a part in a play, except that the writer is creating their own dialogue.

A Well-known Persona Poem

Here is a persona poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, one of my favorite poets.The young girl’s voice, her longing, and her desire to be  bad come through so clearly.

Notice the pattern of two unrhymed lines followed by two lines with end rhymes, and how in the final stanza both pairs of lines rhyme.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172082

a song in the front yard

By Gwendolyn Brooks

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.

I want a peek at the back

Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.

A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now

And maybe down the alley,

To where the charity children play.

I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.

They have some wonderful fun.

My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine

How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.

My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae

Will grow up to be a bad woman.

That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late

(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.

And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,

And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace

And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

Creating a poet  — or two

In the course of writing my science fiction series, Novels of Aleyne, One thing that surprised me in creating the two poets and writing in their voices was the ease with which I slipped inside their heads. The first poet I created, Raketh Namar, namesake of the main character in my novel Relocated was supposed to live and write 5,000 years before the action in the novel and was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty.  Later, I created another poet, Constance Trusdatter, a very political poet who lives and writes about 100 years before the action of Broken Bonds, the second book in the series. I don’t usually write much about politics, yet a good number of Constance’s poems are strongly worded poems about this very subject.

World Creation

I am a way-back science fiction fan, but until November,  2010, I had never

written a science fiction story. The

This is the cover for my  poetry collection, Sand in the desert. I wrote the poems to go long with Relocated, which I wrote for 2010 National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo.

Around September or October of 2010 I decided I would simply go for it and write a science fiction novel for NaNo.  I started with the world-building: the planet, the aliens, the Terran Federation, the aliens’ society, values, arts, politics (or lack thereof). I’d been mulling over several things for years: a society based on personal responsibility, and one where the “normal” relationships contained multiple partners and included same-sex relationships.  I continued happily outlining the society and the people. I noted down about a page about the plot, including the main character, his father, and a couple of others.  I decided to write a YA/MG sci fi novel.

To make the plot work, I needed my aliens to be distinctive but close to human in appearance. I gave them wider hands and feet, no body hair, and heads that were more oval than ours. I also needed them to have skin color that could be found here on earth, yet still be distinctive, so for this and a number of other reasons, one of them being that I was damned sick of the good guys always being white, I made my aliens, my main character, and his father Black.

I also wanted to participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides November Chapbook challenge, so I conceived of a poet to tie the two together. One of my alien characters is a scholar, and my main character ends up studying the poems of my imaginary poet. Raketh Namar, the author of the poems, exists in the universe of the novel some five thousand years before the action of the book on planet Aleyne. Raketh Namar, the poet, was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty. Raketh Frey, the main character in the novel, studies these poems during the course of the action. Eight of the poems, noted in the acknowledgments, appear in the book.

In the universe of the novel, this collection of poems was translated into English Common Speech by two of the other characters in the novel, Ardaval Namar and Gavin Frey, the father of my main character, Raketh Frey. Aleynis do not translate their sacred texts, and this translation is therefore unusual.

Having written the poems, I wanted to put together the collection and publish it, but having dilly-dallied for some time, I decided to self-publish. The cover, designed by Karen Cioffi, and Michele Graf edited the collection, including some valuable suggestions about the order of the poems.

Here is one of the poems:

Ode to My Father

When I was very small child

he was as tall

as the stars.

When I was boy-high

he had shrunk

to the height of a large tree

When I became a man,

he shrank to the size

of a fist.

When I became a father,

he rose again.

His head touched the sky.

Now he is gone.

I take my small son

and point heavenward.

“There is your grandfather.”

Here’s an exercise that you might want to try:

Left as an Exercise for the Reader

Read up on a famous figure (living or dead)  (or use someone you know) whose personality is completely different from your own. Write a poem from that person’s perspective about an important event or series of events that shaped who he or she was.   

For Oct 22: A Book by Any Other Title

RoundRobinBlogTour

One of the first things any reader knows about a book is the title — and the author and the cover image, but for now let’s stick to the title. We all want a catchy title for our books, one that will stop a potential reader in their tracks and make them open it up (or click on it) to discover what it’s really about. And we all want a title that’s going to pop up when readers are searching on Amazon for books in our genre.

So, when I go to my local library or bookstore and search for something to read, I start by browsing through the shelf of new books, checking out the titles and, if it looks interesting, plucking it off the shelf, opening it up, and reading the blurb. Then maybe I’ll check out the first couple of pages.

I’m staring at my latest collection of library books, one of which is “Little Beach Street Bakery,” a book I chose in just such a manner. It sounds satisfying — not disturbing, not likely to give me nightmares, which is what I was in the mood for at the time.

So, hmm — what attracts me to a title depends on my mood, and therefore what I want in a book at the time: romance, mystery, adventure, horror, or whatever.

I wish I could say that I have a wonderful method for choosing titles for my books, but I don’t. Sometimes they just come to me, and sometimes I have to work at it.

The title of  Relocated,   just came to me. It’s about a teenage boy who ends up on an alien planet when his father is sent there to help root out some terrorists.  The title of Geek Games   and Broken Bonds took more work, as did my latest novel, Rob’s Rebellion. Its working title was “Rob’s Book,” after the main character, Colonel Robert Walker, a colonel in the Terran Federation Guard who is posted to the alien planet Aleyne with orders to arrest the current, very popular, commander of the military base there on charges of treason. I eventually ended up soliciting suggestions from my reading group.

What attracts you to a particular title? Leave a comment and let us know, and do check out the thoughts of my fellow posters:

“Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-MI
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Researching Science Fiction

 

AleyneDesert6

 

 

 

What research is involved in writing science fiction? There can be quite a lot, actually. In my first science fiction novel, Relocated,      my main character, Keth, becomes involved in ceramics and glass blowing. I had some knowledge of ceramics left over from a pot-throwing course at summer camp and another summer spent playing with copper enamel, but I knew nothing about blowing glass. So it was off to the internet to check things out and construct — mentally,  anyway — my studio. It turned out to be quite large, with a separate room for storing the finished work, an area for throwing pots, and another with a couple of furnaces for the glass. Because my main character was sweet on the master craftsman’s daughter, I spent a fair amount of time getting the details nailed down to my satisfaction. My character spent quite a  lot of time there, too.

In the next Aleyne novel,  Broken Bonds, I shamelessly picked the brains of my middle son, who was in the army at the time, as my main character was a military officer who was called up on charges. I also researched the International Court, which had an equivalent — the Interstellar Court — in my novel. As well, I checked out procedures for criminal trials. My father was an attorney, my mother served on the Grand Jury, and I have been a juror several times, so I was more comfortable with trials and courtrooms than I was with military procedures. Still, I wanted to get the details right.

I also ended up researching stringed instruments. One of my major characters plays an imaginary stringed instrument, and I wanted to know what it looked and sounded like. I play the flute and the piccolo, but my knowledge of strings is limited, and so it was off to the internet to do some research. In the end, I decided it was made of wood and shaped something like an autoharp, and came in various sizes like violins, violas, cellos and basses do. Did most of this information end up in the text? Um, no, but I needed to know it.

As to badly researched material in books I read, yes, it bugs me. I can still recall a novel by a well-known author where the main character played the flute and composed. I play the flute and the piccolo, and have for many years. Flute players are a dime a dozen, which is one of the many reasons so many of them turn to composing. While the author did a fine job on this aspect, in my opinion she short-changed the flute playing. There were a couple of places in the text where a bit more detail. The character was writing a book on the difficulties of playing the instrument, and there should, I believe, have been more specific detail. It’s been years since I read this novel, and I still find it annoying.

And that is one of the many reasons why I look up glass blowing, the International Court, the military, and stringed instruments. I don’t my readers to have that reaction.

Do check out the posts by my fellow bloggers:
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://www.rachaelkosinki.weebly.com/
Heidi M. Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Lynn Crain  http://www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Mont Blanc

The west face of Mont Blanc, the tallest mount...

The west face of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the French Alps, from Passy, Haute-Savoie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my novel, Relocated, my main character speaks fluent Aleyni, but discovers there are a some things he didn’t learn, like expletives.

Face it, they don’t usually teach you how to swear in French class. Nor do they tell you that the euphemism for bathroom is petit coin, or that sortir means to sleep with someone.

They also don’t tell you about regional differences in pronunciation, or about the many differences between Canadian, Belgian, and French.

Which brings me to the following story. My sister, a friend, and I spent a summer in Europe when we were in college. Our friend was semi-engaged to a young man, a Frenchman with a Swiss father. They owned a dental supply business.

So, one day, when L’s boyfriend had a delivery to make, we all piled in Y’s truck and headed for the hills.  We reached the village with no difficulty, but Y. couldn’t find the dentist’s office, so we stopped a passer-by if he knew where Moblanc (dentist’s name) was.

Apologies for my lack of accent marks on this keyboard, and my free translation of Y’s words:

Y: “Est-ce que vous savez, ou est Moblanc?”  (Can you tell me where Moblanc is?)

Passer-by: “La-bas.” (points to near-by French alps). (Over there.

Y: (realizing the problem – local pronunciation of the famous Mont Blanc ): Non, Moblanc, le dentiste. (No, Moblanc, the dentist)

So we made the delivery and then stopped for a pizza. Pizza is very popular in France, and was even then. French pizza, however, does not by default come with cheese.

Another one of those little cultural differences just waiting to trip up the unwary tourist.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

More progress ..

.. I lost 1/4 lb this week in spite of my food being fairly decent (for me). I exercised five days out of seven.

I also submitted Geek Games, the second Aleyne novel, and will submit the third one, Broken Bonds, tonight.

I’m interviewed on Children’s Authors Radio today
http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShowChildren.html

Aleyne’s Mountains

My vision of Aleyne City

My Alien Visions board on Pinterest has some of my digital art work showing my vision of the Aleyne landscape.

http://pinterest.com/margaretfieland/

Enhanced by Zemanta

Blog tour day 2: Lisa’s world of books

Blog tour day 2:

I’m blogging on Lisa’s World of Books today:
Read about inventing words in my alien language and in future English as well, including the complete list of Aleyni-English vocabulary

http://www.lisasworldofbooks.net/2012/6844

blog tour day 1:

Today I’m guest blogging at Books in the Hall, where my main character, Keth, shares his diary entry. Here’s the start:


Today was my first day at the school on the base, and I wish I were back with Ardaval and the Aleyni kids. Shaffa is nice, and even Darus is up-front about disliking Terrans. The kids on the base, all except maybe one, pretend to b friendly but secretly would happy to see me wander off and die. Okay, maybe not quite that bad, but they’re not nice. Dad won’t give in, though. He wants me to go to school with Terrans.


http://booksinthehall.blogspot.com/2012/10/relocated-by-margaret-fieland.html

Enhanced by Zemanta