Words

Pitcher - a ball player that throws the ball

Pitcher - a ball player that throws the ball

There's a Chinese proverb: a picture is worth a thousand words. As writers, we know that is so true. When I go into a room, I could write a novel describing what's there, why it's there, what it says about the person, what it all means.

Word Up

Word Up

As storytellers, we don't communicate with words. They all have inherent meanings that have long histories dwelling back thousands of years. But they are essentially not alive. My favorite acting teacher, Jean Shelton, told me I had to lift the words from the page, give it life, and internalize them before speaking. A small task. So how do writers give life to words they're scribing?

Or the question becomes, how many words is a human emotion worth? Are words even enough? Are they worthy of that heavy weight of communicating something like love, hate, the pain a person feels when they're not accepted in society, the loss of a loved one, the never ending love of a child, or the awesome view of a sunset and why humans gather at places to witness something that happens every day? How does anyone describe what an orgasm feels like? Why do I go there?

Manual on Women

Manual on Women

When we look at the business of fiction, I read somewhere that half of it comes from romance novels, which makes sense given the successes of Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, Fabio's career, and the widespread love of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. What does this say? Only women have emotions. No. But words can spark emotions, which is what we communicate with. At what length, though?

I think, that is left up to the story at hand. Some stories require severe massaging, like FIFTY, others like mine require finesse because the love of a family and children needs to be subtle. Overwhelming the reader with heavy words can seem forced, unless the situation calls for it like a death of a child as written in my prologue.

This picture is so wrong...oh well...

Oh, no. Not again

Oh, no. Not again

This brings us to the dilemma of how to spark human emotions. When I type the word orgasm, does it ignite an image, a feeling, or a memory? Or do I have to go into detail, the lead up to foreplay, which is also foreplay, men, then the gentle touch and exploration of every inch of the body, plunging into the penetrating act of sex, ending in the explosive release of...pleasure? Pain? Catastrophic relief? Massive uncontrollable gyrations that jump off the cliff of silence and exhaustion?

Or do we just write enough and let the heavy lifting be done by the reader? I was talking to a fellow writer who loved FIFTY, and she said that E.L. James used suggestive words instead of being blunt. Despite my lewdness in this article, my sex scenes are pretty tame in that foreplay is the most important aspect and the climax is never written. I'm not trying to capture the female audience as much as displaying the kind of character my leading man is. He's not a wham bam, thank you ma'am kind of guy, at least not with his beloved wife. Because he understands that she wants pleasure, too, and he's completely in love with her, so he treats her like a woman and gives her everything.

Be gentle, NOW!
Be gentle, NOW!

This leads to one tangent that I've been thinking about. Every word that we write, we're trying to describe the setting, develop and show character, move the plot, move the story arc, root the reader to the characters, ground the story, ground character interactions, etc, all to create intrigue and a page turner. In regards to sex, this can fall into plot, for example, but it definitely shows character traits. And that's why I chose not to show my couple having sexual intercourse and emphasized the foreplay. Does that mean they never have quickies? No. Common. These are made up people. Kidding. They do have quickies, but that wouldn't communicate my leading man's love for his wife, which will be important as events continue. Show what's important, leave everything else out.

Wake Up

Jean Shelton

Jean Shelton

I was talking to a friend of mine today. We met during my acting days when we both attended The Shelton Theater school for actors in San Francisco. Man, I miss those days. Jean Shelton had been around since The Group Theater in New York, and for those of you who know that lineage, they produced some of the best actors the world had literally seen. I’m talking about Marlon Brando, Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, famed director Elia Kazan, list goes on and on. She’d also met the greats like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. Her history is simply amazing.

Is my teef big enouf?
Is my teef big enouf?

My friend and I were discussing his history with women and how he only felt comfortable dating Asians. I asked him why, and he stated that he didn’t venture outside of our own slanty-eyed folk because he didn’t want to get rejected due to his ethnicity. During his formidable years in high school, he was bullied due to being one of the few ethnic kids in a town that was predominantly white. Of course, after many, many years his past still haunts him. And really, it’s not his past, but his constant thinking of it, blaming it that limits him.

This brought to mind almost all of my characters in my fantasy, Nightfall. Every one of them has a past that has directly affected their actions and decisions in the present. And almost all the time, those decisions have helped moved the story along because the choices they made were based on limited thinking and fear, resulting in disasters.

And disasters are great for storytelling. “We need to get this amulet to save the world. After acquiring it, the enemy stole it and will use it to conquer the world over. What do we do?”

My main character, for example, lost a toddler through a horrible, tragic accident that was outside of his control. (Read the prologue) Guilt and hate and fear swirl around him and his wife, weaving through out the story, churning their decisions into bad ones. And they can’t seem to get themselves out of their past.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. But then, I’m not saying it needs to be difficult. For me, it took time to get over my relationships that ended, for example. And it did n’t take much for some of my exes. Not sure if that’s saying something about me. Nah.

Eventually, I did let go of the trauma, which you need to understand was self-inflicted. I know this because sometimes I kept those memories alive. And in those rare moments where I was steeped in something else, the pain disappeared. And I guess that’s why rebounds are so common. The new relationship takes your mind off of the old one.

Going back to my friend, he hasn’t let go of the fact that his ethnicity is not to be blamed for what he perceives to be a limitation. It’s his continued belief in that idea. I told him my nephew has a black girlfriend, and they absolutely love each other.

I was like what...cuz he was like this much

I was like what...cuz he was like this much

Once you go black, you don't go back. That apparently doesn’t apply to Asians. One of my first exes had dated two black guys before me. I guess you can go back.

I personally understand the stigma of being Asian. I was bullied during school in a different way. Many of the jocks sat close to me during tests because they wanted to copy my answers. I shrugged because I wasn’t the best student in school. But they assumed that I studied hard when I hardly studied. Those same jocks were shocked when I could keep up with them in P.E. class. What they didn’t realize is being chased throughout the school helped me run faster. The threat of wedgies scared the shit out of me, so we nerds had no choice but to book it. Most of us never got caught, but that’s because we were forced to be fast.

Wayne Dyer, a well known self help author and speaker, said that the wake is the trail that’s left behind…the wake can’t drive the boat. So it is with our own pasts.