Monthly Archives: March 2013

Metaphor and Voice

guy lying on grass

Use of distinctive metaphors will give characters a strong voice.

Most of the stories I’ve been working on are pretty character driven. I tend to start with a character and then wonder what they are up to in order to get the plot moving along. One of the things I worry about is Character Voice. I come from a video/film background and could kind of fudge on Voice in scripts because that is one of the wonderful things an actor brings to the work. As an aside, I am in awe of an actors ability to become someone else and bring a character to life. For writers working in a text based media, we have to do all of the work. (Well actually the reader does the work but we have to lay the ground work.)  So I worry about getting the distinct vibrant personalities in my head down on the “paper” so the reader can experience these people the way I do.

I think the majority of characterization comes through dialogue. And an important part of speech are the metaphors we use. The little examples and stories we use from our lives to illustrate conversations. Metaphors reveal our world-view and life experiences. When used in writing, they help place our characters in time and place. They help make the setting a real place with real people. They are also the breadcrumbs of our character’s back-story. The young woman from the farm will not only talk “different” than the shield-maiden, she will also use different metaphors to explain her world.

I know this is pretty basic but sometimes we needed to be reminded of the basics. I know I do. Jael McHenry’s blog post at Writer Unboxed struck a note with me and made me think about this. I am worried that sometimes the MCs in the Sci-Fi story I’m working on now might sound a bit too similar. I’m putting a note in Scrivener to keep an eye out for this as I review and edit.

For the writers out there, how do you approach characterization, voice and the use of metaphor in dialogue? For you readers, have you ever been reading and thought, This just doesn’t sound right—they wouldn’t say that?

Thanks for stopping by!



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Follow-up on Timeline post


So after futzing around for a while, this is what I am getting. Right now I am just using two categories  One for the general backstory and one for the events the MC is in. Again, it is a very basic program, but it is helping me a bit and it is nice to be able to zoom out to cover hundred of years of history.


as of 3-4


Filed under Random Thoughts, The Writing Process

When did that happen? Or Bloody Hell I Really Need A Timeline!

datesThe right tools for the right job. How often has that been beaten into us?  I know I’ve used it more times than I can count. Humans make tools and need them. And lets face it without them we’re pretty much just standing around naked, which can be fun on a warm spring day, but after a while someone had to get something done.

The current WIP that is occupying the gray-matter is a science fiction tale with a strong romantic element. I’m one of those “seat-of-the-pants” writers so I don’t do a lot of outlining to begin with. I finally got to the point where I have a pretty firm ending lock down that I can work toward. The problem is a lot of the events are starting to mash up in my head. I know what needs to happen, more or less, before we get to the climatic and tear jerking ending. However getting them to all fall into some semblance of logical order is becoming annoying. Also I am writing in first person which means Mr. Hero kind of needs to show up at said events–all of them. Would it surprise you to learn that I hate day-planers in real life?

Anyway, I wanted a timeline tool. Pen and paper just doesn’t do it for me. I may be in my 50’s but I am a digital kind of guy. For example, I really had trouble cranking out anything until I ran across Scrivener. It lets you write in scenes and drag them around, kind of the way my brain works. I just can’t say enough good things about it. If you write, you need to at least give it a try. They offer a free trial so you really don’t have anything to lose. And it only cost like $40.  Okay end of commercial,  I was hoping to find an outlining tool for writers that would be as helpful as Scrivener.

There really doesn’t seem to be a lot out there. If you can recommend something I’d appreciated it.  I thought of using a spreadsheet. Yeah, I laughed too. Not going to happen. Calendar programs just are too chunky for writing, especially if you want to have backstory on the thing that goes back hundreds of years. The best thing out there seems to be Aeon Timeline. It is a timeline program designed for writers. The rub is it is Mac only and like the other 90% of the computing humans on Earth I use windows. So bummer. The developer claims to be working on a Win version, which is great, but I need something now.

So I spent the afternoon on Google. (Hey I can count this as research right?) And found a program in development on Sourceforge. Sourceforge is the place developers post programs they are working on–really stable pre 1.0 versions of their software. I’ve found some real gems there over the decades. Timeline is just that, a simple Timeline program. I just downloaded it and installed. It is very simple but it looks like it can work for what I need right now. It can span a very large time range, it has options to view millennium or centuries, and you can categorize events. So for the moment simple and free has won me over, at least until the fabled Windows version of Aeon finally arrives. For those folks out there that are writers, how do you handle timelines for your work?




Filed under Random Thoughts, The Writing Process