Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Proof is in the Details...


Come here. I want to show you something.

You’re too far away… come a bit closer. Okay, you see this here? 
What does it look like to you?

An oval shaped crystal bowl of freshly washed bing cherries. Awesome.

Now, what’s over there?

 A picture of a bowl of fruit.

Essentially, both are the exact same thing. I have two crystal bowls of freshly washed bing cherries but one was described in detail and the other was not, but you can still ‘see’ it. Now, in my mind, I see things quite vividly, like the first description and picture.

I have an art background, and I pay attention to tiny freckles, a half cast shadow across an oblong, slightly tanned face. Those things do not matter to some, but to me they do. Therefore, the things that matter to me, I put inside of my book because I am essentially trying to use my art background, visual addiction and imagination and pour all of that into words upon a page. In other words, I am attempting to paint a representation with librettos.  Why? Well, because it is what I do and I have to lessen our degrees of separation. You and I do not live together. Chances are high we don’t even live in the same city, perhaps even the same state or country. More importantly, you do not dwell within my brain. You can not possibly know what I think and how I perceive things without me telling you, guiding the way so to speak.

Therefore, I have to bring you close to me from afar. I do this via details, but also with ‘focused’ character development. Some readers do not enjoy character development and details. Well, that isn’t fair. Let me rephrase. Some readers do not want an in-depth read for they may feel bogged down by the details and simply want to ‘get on with it’.

I respect that, however I too, need to be respected for the the fact that I do not serve "that" at my ‘restaurant.’ There are plenty of diners in town that do, and I could give quality recommendations for such but I will not change my menu because a patron walks in wanting something that I do not prepare. You would be asking me to be something that I am not, and I simply refuse to do that just as I should not ask you to be anything other than what you naturally are. If stylistic changes are to be made, well, that's a personal choice.           

Now, recently, Stephen King’s tips for writing has been swimming around online. He wrote that eons ago but it recently made a come-back. I love this man. I have not read any of his more recent work, but classic Stephen King? Yes, I have him on lock. In any case, he mentioned the act of ‘bogging down with detail.’ Here is the problem, however. What some people are failing to understand and he did not mention, are that these rules are not necessarily for across all genres. Confused? Let me elaborate. For horror and mystery for example, many times less is more. It is critical in these two genres, for you, the reader, to use your own imagination in order to make the situation that more terrifying and emotionally debilitating. The best horror movies and books rely on this technique. This is why the dark closet always stays with us far longer than the man chasing us with the rusty, blood splattered chainsaw. Why? We see him – we know what he is and though we may not enjoy how he is terrorizing us, our brains can make sense of him. He can be a successful technique never the less, but he does not have the same lasting power as ‘void’, ‘dark’, ‘empty’ and ‘lack of origin.’ We are able to place him in some boxes: A man - check! A lunatic - check! He is running towards us with something dangerous - check! He is growling and gnashing his teeth which means he is angry or at the very least, hell bent on murdering us. - check!  We may not know why, which can be disturbing, but we do have at least part of the puzzle solved which gives us some resolution. Lasting horror however is nebulous.


No one can scare you more than yourself, you see? The most horrific things we’ve ever seen sometimes were simply shadows or a faint cry that came from some unknown source. There was no ten-foot tall slimy, green monster with tentacles holding a sign that read, ‘666’ and yelled at you in Russian. No, it was the implication, the thought that something was hiding in the dark waiting to get us, take us away and gnaw on us slowly over a period of anguish-inducing time. However, when it comes to romance, a slow build is what I like to call, ‘foreplay.’ I understand that the majority of my readers are women. Therefore, more times than not, we need to be ‘warmed up’ before we are psychologically and emotionally screwed. But I don’t want to just stop there… I want you to quiver, shake, and sleep with a smile on your face.

I want you to fall in love with the characters and truly SEE them. I need you to feel emotionally invested and attached. There are many ways to accomplish this. For me, I use detail and character development. If I were writing horror, I would still use these methods, but far less of it because I have to look at and consider my goals. Is it my goal to scare you, turn you on or make you fall in love? Once that is established, I then plan a course of action. Every book is essentially a manipulation of your senses. So, I plan accordingly. These methods are also used as it pertains to the differences between romance, erotica and written pornography. All three utilize the art of language bending and all three have to be treated differently to derive the desired effect. Sometimes romance and erotica are blended together in the same story, however, it is almost impossible to blend romance and porn, because though pornography at times can be deemed, ‘romantic’ it rarely lives in that realm for the duration of the description of acts. That is the line between erotica and written pornography. Pornography is more direct; it relies on less descriptive words and more action words. It does not spend an eternity developing characters, if at all. It serves one purpose and one purpose only, to titillate. Romance and erotica serve different purposes, and sometimes they overlap.

I respect just about any genre that you can bring to my attention, and I have read almost any genre that exists. I understand the basics of how each of them work, are effective and constructed. That said, we all still have artistic license, if you will. I use my license to get behind my computer and write the stories that I love, in the way in which I choose. It is important to me to stay true to my writing, and that includes my style of writing. Some will enjoy it, some will not. Not everyone will be happy, and it is not our job as authors, to strive for such an impossible feat. Besides, if I changed myself based on another person’s opinion, more times than not a stranger that wants to coach me from afar and does not have an inkling as to what REALLY goes on in regard to writing a book, then I’d be a fool and easily manipulated as well as depressed due to not truly writing about what I wish to write and how I wish to do it. Authors reading this: Do not change your writing based on popular opinion. Popular opinion changes and is fickle. Audiences are, too. You will lose your zest for writing if you do! It is a trap. Beware.

You must feel good about your end product, and that is what truly matters. You must focus on tightening up your craft and doing your very best, but the essence, the soul of your writing? No, they are not negotiable unless YOU feel that they are.

Authors have to sometimes remind ourselves why we began writing in the first place or we will lose focus due to outside forces and opinions that are not always in our best interest. When you do something you enjoy and you do it to the best of your ability that within itself is a form of success. I am blessed to have people that enjoy my books and want to hear about the bing cherries in the crystal bowl and not simply a two-dimensional container filled with fruit. Both types of writing serve a purpose, but one type is not mine... and I’m glad to know that.

I was born for many things, one of which is to write and express myself. I have received too many emails from women and some men, telling me they could identify with a character or a book in general, and that it in some way helped them. There are readers who express to me that they enjoy my detailed writing, that they actually feel as if they’ve been transposed into the scene. That is what I want. I am an entertainer, but I also want to be of assistance more times than not. So, I will continue to do what I’m doing, hopefully getting better and better along the way but in the meantime, I’d like to take a lunch break and I’m willing to share.

Would you like a cherry?

-Tiana Laveen