Monday, February 1, 2010

Fast-Food Free February

For my family, this month is going to be a new and daring adventure. We know that we want to get back to California. This will be no easy task. It was hard enough once, and we left a lot of stuff behind. We don't want to do that again. So, it will also be expensive. In honor of our decision to move forward with the whole, get the H*E*L*L out of here goal, we are going to stop eating fast food. *Gasp!*

It seems impossible, but where we lived there was no fast food. Only a Subway and Quiznos popped up the year we moved. Other than that, zilch. We learned that we only ate fast food once a month when we left town for groceries. Honestly, I really miss that way of life. We saved money, we lost weight and felt better. If you wanna give it a shot, you should. I think you'd find it very refreshing.

And now for the real reason of posting. Characterization. I stumble across so many posts and websites where this seemingly complicated process is explained in various different ways. If you are a beginner and reading this post, great. I think I might save you a lot of heartache. If you are a more advanced type of writer, you may disagree with what I have to say and you might even really yell about it. It's okay. I can handle it.

Characterization is a point of view. Sounds like a bad English professor's joke. Seriously, is. My interpretation of another book's main character might be different than yours. The author may have a slightly different idea of than what you two came up with. Understand?

I like books that leave me in the dark with some of the character's secrets staying hidden in the closet. I don't like detailed physical descriptions-because as I read, they form in my mind according to their character. I hate finding out that a description is different than the one in my head. LOL

Some places/authors/random people will suggest that you interview your main character, answer a list of questions about them or even assign a playlist of your character's favorite music to get you in the mode of writing from their POV. I think these are all excellent ideas on two conditions:

  1. Save it for the second draft. While you go through your first, rough draft. Certain things about your character can be discovered in the light of creative freedom that you should give yourself in the rough draft.
  2.  Don't let your character become a laundry list a traits. The tendency to list their physical attributes, for example, when we first start writing. The young woman, about twenty three and slim with long hands and painted nails, pushed a golden clip in her coiffed brown hair and stared at the boy with green eyes. Her nose was long and pointed, she loved elves.... I went overboard for the principle of making a point. :0) If you do an interview or make a list of qualities you want for your character-keep in mind they can change as the story goes along, or that some things might be alright omitted. 

So that is the short post of characterization. Don't worry, I'll go into more details on Wednesday. Tomorrow I'll be reviewing, Airhead and Being Nikki by Meg Cabot. These were two books suggested to me when I mentioned my interest in YA. So, they aren't very recent, but if you haven't read them or heard of them (like me, who lived under a rock-yes) stop by tomorrow. :0)


  1. In some books, detailed descriptions do matter because it's a character's physical traits that become part of the story. For example, the main character of my book, The Seventh Tribe, is Native American, so I had to illustrate how different she looks in comparison to the nearly all-white HS that she attends. The same with my current WIP. There's a reason why I detail the looks of some of the characters, but not others.

    I actually like character description. Only, tell me once and don't tell me again. Books that belabor what a character looks like get on my nerves like a person who says "um" and "well" too often.

  2. More info about which I hadn't a clue! Excellent stuff, Miss Kristi!

    I did so appreciate it when you went overboard with the liking elves part!

  3. I figure at some point I'll have to add in some description into my draft. I'm really lax on describing people and places. Something I never address in first draft. Next round :)

  4. No fast food for a whole month, incredible! Keep us up to date on how it's going! Excellent information on the characters! I'll keep them all in mind! Oooo I look forward to the reviews!!!!

  5. Melissa: This is so true and one of the things I'll be addressing on Wednesday. :0) Sometimes it is our character's description that makes the rest of the book make sense, and in that case we need those descriptions.

    PJ: LOL Glad you liked the elves and found the information helpful. Will be more the rest of this week, so stay tuned. :0)

    Jemi: I always have to go back in and add descriptions of setting or character. I tend to write skinny at first and then need to add as I draft over and over. :)

    Jen: I will definitely keep you updated on our fast food free month. I imagine it will be difficult to resist the temptation (especially on those nights i don't want to cook!)but we used to live that way and we need to do it again. (I'm getting pretty fat!)

  6. Congrats on the no fast food thing. And I truly hope you get back to California. I want y'all to be happy.

    Great characterization thoughts too. Really great post here. =)

  7. I look forward to what you think of Meg Cabot. I haven't read any of her books, but I want to. Maybe I should find one for my Nook. :)

    As for characterization... I hate over description, too. Although someone told me when they read my book that it drove them nuts that they couldn't figure out what Babs looked like. I said, "Join the club. I have no idea what she looks like!" Is that bad? Maybe in writing I'm much more interested in who a character is - personality, beliefs, motivations, etc - than how they look.

    Good luck on the fast food. I had a friend who did that for a whole year. And he travels for a living. Yikes! I'd love to do it, but I don't think I could get the family on board.

  8. I'm with you on not liking detailed character descriptions. So often they sound forced and I don't need them to enjoy the story.

    Good luck with ditching the fast food. Funny thing is, my husband keeps talking about leaving California!

  9. We try to eat as little fast food as possible. Sometimes, when we're on the go, it's impossible to avoid. I agree with your points on characterization. I like to formulate my own opinion of characters. I think we owe that to our readers. There's nothing like the imagination.

  10. Fast food is definitely a great evil. Good for you! I'm liking your blog. I love your ideas at the top. My problem is I always have too many things to write about... Of course now I have probably jinxed myself and will have writers block - big time!

  11. LOL Jenny, here's hoping there's no jinx! Thank you for coming by and I do hope you continue to visit! The writing prompts at the top are ideas for short stories as I did a three part post on writing short for some of my cool kids. :0)

    Susan: Yes, I like the way you explain it! We owe it to our readers. :0)

    Sherrie: Tell your husband he'll miss it. We didn't think we would be so homesick as we are. The weather was perfect for us, the location, the skies....we were in a rural area.

    Heidi: Funny, I had an exact idea of what Babs looked like. :0) Truthfully, that is the beauty of reading, isn't it?


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