Imaginary friends and writing

by Mandy Broughton

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My daughter had an imaginary friend. My daughter treated her as a real friend. So real that it was six months before I realized she didn’t exist. Imagine my surprise when I asked the preschool teachers to point out Olivia to me and they told me, “there’s no Olivia in this class.” Turns out there wasn’t an Olivia in any classes at the school. I know, I checked.

Best friends. Olivia was quite the trouble-maker. I’d hear all about these wild parties my daughter and Olivia would throw while I slept blissfully through the night. I said more than once I was glad Olivia was good at cleaning up the house after a wild night of partying.

Olivia’s mom was quite the rebel too. I was informed one day that Olivia’s mom was thrown in jail for speeding. I found myself arguing with a three year old on whether or not her imaginary friend’s mother was thrown in jail for speeding. Sheesh!

I decided to research children and imaginary friends. I never had any. As a child, I was perfectly content to sit and read in my room all day. Friends–real or imaginary–would disturb that peace.

Imaginary friends are what we would expect from highly creative people. Active imagination. Intelligent. Creative. Verbal. What I did not expect was that many adults had imaginary friends. What?! Are these people in need of a mental health professional? Maybe, but mostly they are creative adults. And it turns out many of those creative adults are authors.

As a writer, I know I have proper characterization when I dream about my characters. I can hear what they say in certain situations. I know how they’d act when problems arise. Fictional characters should not be shooting gallery ducks forced to respond in a certain way when a crisis occurs.* Characters should be organic, growing as the story progresses. They should feel more real than some real-life celebrities we watch and follow in the news.

As a writer, have you ever needed a character to act a certain way and she just wouldn’t? She’s supposed to be angry but she’s acting all quirky and sarcastic on the page. Or two characters start flirting with each other and they’re not supposed to even like each other. Happens to me all the time. My characters have taken over the pages of my manuscripts. And many of them are completely unrepentant for derailing my plot. I guess I’ve developed imaginary friends as an adult. Maybe I’m a late bloomer.

So tell me, dear writers, how do you know when you’ve achieved proper characterization? Do you hear voices in your head? Do you dream about them? Do you mock-up a fake Facebook page and imagine what they’d post? I mostly argue with mine.

Back to work on this first work week of the New Year. I hope the New Year brings plenty of good books, lots of writing, and great friendships–real and imaginary!

Oh, and I can’t forget, as a longtime, die-hard University of Houston Cougar alumni and fan… oDPuclxr.jpgCongratulations on winning the Peach Bowl. GO COOGS!

 

*My editor once told me my characters were like shooting gallery ducks, they were cardboard and went back and forth like I was shooting at them.

 

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Small Steps First

change ahead

By Ellen Leventhal

Here we are approaching the end of the year. Time for resolutions, right? When we make resolutions, we look forward, but I think we look back as well. Speaking personally, my resolutions are based on things I didn’t achieve in the past year. In other words, if I didn’t get in shape in 2015, I may resolve to find my ideal body in 2016. If I didn’t get a book deal in 2015, I may resolve to get one in 2016. Sounds kind of crazy, right? Right.  Things like getting a book deal, snagging the perfect agent,  and certainly obtaining that ideal body aren’t really resolutions. They’re goals. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think you can put a time limit on those types of things. They can take years. Or you may never achieve those long range goals. But you CAN resolve to take steps that may lead to your goals. Those steps are what I consider resolutions.  So here they are, out in public, a few of my writing goals and resolutions.

  1. GOAL: Get a particular story traditionally published.  RESOLUTION: I will polish it, have it critiqued several times, revise as much as I need to, and most importantly, send it out to targeted editors.
  2. GOAL: Snag an agent. RESOLUTION: I will go to conferences, network, take classes, and again, most importantly, send my stories out.
  3. GOAL: Redo my website.  RESOLUTION: I will find people who can help me with this (I resolve to ask for help a lot this year!), and I will dive into it head first instead of just talking about it.
  4. GOAL: Indie publish an anthology of short stories.  RESOLUTION: Write two short stories a month.
  5. GOAL: Learn more about e-publishing.  RESOLUTION: Again, ask for help. (Especially from my wonderful, talented, and helpful Space City Scribes buddies!)
  6. GOAL: Reissue Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets.  RESOLUTION: All the resolutions are taken care of on this one. Ellen Rothberg and I are thrilled to be working with Joel Cook to create an even better book than the original. Stay tuned!

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On another note, I’d like to tell you about a goal I did reach this year. I was honored to be part of a Middle Grade anthology in which all proceeds go to the Sturge-Weber Foundation. It is a wonderful organization that helps families affected by the neurological syndrome, Sturge-Weber. If you want to find out more about Sturge-Weber, please check out www.sturge-weber.org. If you want to help, go to Amazon and purchase Kissed by an Angel compiled by Robyn Campbell.  You won’t be sorry you did!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season!

http://www.amazon.com/Kissed-Angel-Robyn-Campbell/dp/151936055X/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450096921&sr=1-9&keywords=kissed%20by%20an%20angel