I will present this in 5 parts. Remember, just because I say this is the way to do it, does not mean it is the way to do it. What it means is, this is the way I do it. Find your way
PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet
Writing Basics is © Copyright 2021 Dell Sweet, all rights reserved
Dell Sweet is a pen name owned by Wendell Sweet
Additional Copyrights © 1985 – 2010 – 2012, 2014, 2021 by Dell Sweet, Wendell Sweet, the Estate of Wendell G Sweet All rights reserved
This is an exercise in learning how to get past certain roadblocks and get what is in your head down on paper. Additionally, I will show you my own technique to continue to build the story using questions. I will cover critiques, your own belief in yourself, and how to write what you want to write, even if it may not be the day you want to write it.
I will just remind you: Believe it or not some people hate my writing. Amazing, right? All joking aside, that happens to be as true for me as it is for anyone else. The thing is there are people that hate what I write. Go read some of my reviews and you will see that, but you will also find reviews written by people who like what I write. It will be the same with you. I have a friend that I am constantly reminding that she is good. I mean so very talented, but it doesn’t matter what I say if she doesn’t believe it inside of herself. That is where you need to go with what you write. I do not mean to close yourself off from criticism or feedback, you need that. How else will you know when you provoke someone strongly? What I do mean is that you must know in your heart that once you get past the writing errors and mistakes that we all make (Read some history about any writer at all) you are good. You are writing something that is worth reading and interesting. And you do not need someone to tell you, you should know it inside of you, because you wrote what you like. What you know and understand. Read it through. Do you like it? I mean before anyone else has said a word, do you like it? If so, the rest doesn’t matter. If you like it, someone else will too. If you get it, someone else will as well. Don’t expect everyone to get it or like it. Understand that some will not and that most of those that do not are the ones that will do reviews. So you have to look past all of it and know that you like it and therefore it is good.
Dreamer’s was like that. Here I am writing a book that is not written in a traditional style. I published it and no one bought it. But I knew enough then to know that if you don’t have zombies or an in somewhere in publishing, you are not going to get people to flock to what you write (Zombies now, Vampires back in the 80’s). It is going to be harder. All you can do is have that faith that it is good. Continue to plug away and build your self confidence. It doesn’t matter whether you ever sell a single copy of your books at all, it only matters that you believe in yourself. Maybe that book was not the book that will do it for you, maybe the book that will do it for you is the next book in the magazine, and if you do not have faith in yourself you will stop and that book, that one that is the one that makes it, will not get written.
Another problem that is not a problem for me, is a man writing a female character, or a woman writing a male character. At first it was. Somehow I convinced myself that men and women are completely different and therefore I could never write like, or about a woman because I am a man. And that might be true in as far as it goes. A story that is written by a woman might contain things I could not match because I could not understand them. But I know women, and I am no longer shy, I will ask about what I don’t know. And I will understand it, but as a man, I still might not capture what the woman wrote. But that doesn’t matter in almost all the important cases, because I want to write a female character: I don’t want to become a female, I don’t want to be let into the secret society of women, and by the way, if there is a secret society for men I have never been invited in. Either because I am unacceptable of because it doesn’t exist. I don’t want to do anything other than write a female character that seems like something a woman might write: A character another woman can identify with. A female character that seems real, believable. It should not be a big deal to do that.
First of all, as a man or a woman, you know far more about the opposite sex than you think you do. It is like I started out saying, you remember more than you think you do. All those little remarks, mannerisms, ways of talking, handling problems, you remember those things and you do understand them. You don’t have to jump to the stereotypical male or female either. Have you, as a woman, ever seen a man cry? Never mind the old school thought that men aren’t supposed to cry, men cry all the time in public now, and as a man I can tell you they cried before too, in private maybe, but they cried. The differences between a man crying and a woman crying are not that much. It sometimes may seem as though the man is a little more emotional. But if you think that through you will see that that makes perfect sense. Men are not used to dealing with strong emotions in that manner. Sure, we are supposedly living in a politically correct world where men are not physical or aggressive. Bull.
Men are still raised in almost all societies to be aggressive. To hide emotion, and so when a man cries it might seem to you to be more intense, but in reality it probably isn’t. It is a man expressing the same emotion, maybe in a slightly different way, but they are expressing it. The man is the same as the woman then, right? No. Of course not. The part you remember is all the men, you as a woman, or all the women, I as a man have known. Are they all the same? No. Pick one and use it the next time you write about a man or woman. Or pick more than one. Let me give you an example. This is Beth from the Earth’s Survivors books:
L.A.: 2:00 am.
The night wore on. The morning came and went and the club shut down for another day. Beth worked at cleaning up the last little area of the bar as two of the dancers finished their drinks and hushed conversations, smiled at her, and walked away. A short conversation with Jon, he had probably made some crude remark; Beth had seen how both of them had instantly stiffened their backs after he spoke. It wasn’t just her, Jon was an actual creep. Whatever he had said the two girls chose to ignore it, turning away, making eye contact with Beth, waving as if they had been at the bar talking to her, and when Jon looked back to see who they had been waving at they slipped out the door. Jon made his way over to the bar.
“You scared my honeys away,” he told her.
“I think you can do that all on your own,” Beth told him.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jon asked.
Beth frowned and shook her head. Sometimes she wondered if Jon even knew what a creep he was. How he made the girls who worked here, her included, feel. “It means that not everyone is always on the same page,” Beth said. She had changed her mind at the last second. She had to work here. Jon was the nephew of the owner. Creep or not he was part of the package.
Jon looked confused.
“Jon, Jon, it means that sometimes you just have to let things happen. Go slow. A girl wants to think it was her own idea to like you,” she told him.
“Yeah… I can see that, but when you need it you need it. Some of these bitches need to be on point.” One finger disappeared into his nose and then he seemed to suddenly remember she was there. “You know, me and you need to hook up. I got …” One massive hand settled onto his shoulder, and he stopped in mid sentence.
“Disappear, Jon, Jon. I need to talk to Beth right now,” Tommy told him as he sat down on one of the stools.
‘We was just talking, uncle Tommy.”
“Right, and now you’re done talking… Unless you’re not? Am I interrupting you?”
Jon turned beet red. He laughed to hide the embarrassment. “No… No,” he turned and walked away.
Tommy turned to Beth. “I guess you’ll have to get used to the kid. He’s a pain in the ass, but he’s my pain in the ass… Load to bear,” He turned and watched Jon step out the door to the parking lot. “Jon, Jon,” Tommy yelled. Jon poked his head back in the door and looked at his uncle. “Take a good look around out there, make sure the lot’s empty, and the girls all got to their cars okay.”
“Okay, uncle Tommy,” Jon called back. The dopey smile that he usually wore settled back on his face as he stepped out into the darkness. Tommy turned back to Beth.
‘Billy Jingo,” he said.
Beth looked at him.
“I think that kid is bad news for you… Not telling you how you should live your life, just distributing advice… A girl like you, a dancer, don’t need a distraction like that. The customers don’t want to see no boyfriend hanging around. Spoils the fantasy.” He held her stare.
“It’s not like that, Tommy. “Billy is a friend only… Lives in the same building.” She had caught the fact that he had said she was a dancer. Something she wasn’t yet, unless…
“Uh huh, but he wants you. The kid is like a love sick puppy. If you could step back and look at it you would see it clearly. Are you telling me you are smart enough to handle Jon, Jon, and you can’t see this Jingo kid has it bad for you?”
Beth shrugged. “No… I know… I know that, but he knows it isn’t going to happen. He knows what the deal is.”
“Good… That’s all I’m saying, but you need to tell him to stay away… Can’t be hanging around while you’re working… See?”
Beth nodded. “I see.”
“Good, cause next week you start as a dancer. I know you…” He stopped as Beth lunged across the bar and hugged him, squealing as she did. He hugged her back, laughing.
She kissed his cheek, and then her smile went away a little as one of his hands cupped the side of her breast. Her eyes focused on his. “I think we’ll become good friends, Baby,” he told her. She nodded as his hand roamed a little further, and then trailed away across the flat plains of her stomach. She pulled back. Tommy wore a crooked smile on his face. “So we understand each other?”
“Yeah,” Beth told him.
“So smile then. Let’s have a drink… On me… Pour us something good, Baby,” Tommy told her.
Beth smoothed her skirt flat as she stepped out into the darkness of the parking lot. She had spent over a month trying to convince Tommy to let her dance. She had gotten her wish, and more than she had bargained for, a relationship with Tommy. She wasn’t sure how that was going to be defined in public, but in private it was going to be defined as a sexual relationship. He had just defined it for her, she would have to wait to see what the public definition was going to be, but she had a good idea how it was going to be.
Nan, the dancer Tommy was currently seeing, was going to be upset. Tommy was not subtle. It had been clear that they had been seeing less and less of each other. She had no doubt that her first night of dancing he was going to make it clear she was his. Like a dog marking his territory. She sighed, off the street, but still getting fucked for money. She hated putting it that starkly in her head, but that was the plain truth. She was still selling it, just different terms, better money, better protection. She heard footsteps running behind her and her breath caught in her throat. She turned as the club door that exited to the parking lot banged shut.
“Beth,” Jon yelled. “Beth.”
She stopped and waited.
“Uncle Tommy said I should drive you home… He don’t want you walking.”
She sighed. She had half expected it. Jon ran the twenty feet from the door to where she was. She changed direction and walked slowly toward Jon’s car. Well, she thought, at least there would be no more bullshit from Jon.
Or, Candace Loi from the same series.
Shop and Save Convenience store: Candace Loi
“Last one,” Neil said.
Neil was a detective for the Sheriffs department. It was closing in on 2:00 AM and he and his partner Don had just come back from six hours of sleep to get a jump on the day. Yesterday one of the checkout girls had disappeared between the Shop And Save and home. Earlier this morning she had turned up dead in a ditch just a quarter mile from the front door. The techs were still processing the scene, but it was looking personal. Stabbed to death, multiple wounds, no defense wounds, at least none that he or Don had been able to see, and fully clothed. Her purse had been found nearby, wallet and cash inside. They would know more in a few days once the coroner did her magic. It all pointed to someone she knew, and they had no known boyfriend. The trailer park where she lived had turned up nothing, they had questioned some people at the convenience store, but some had been off shift, so here they were back at the store questioning the other employees.
They had commandeered the night manager’s office which was barely larger than a broom closet, but at least it was a place to sit with enough space left over to call in the workers and ask their questions. Free coffee via the same night manager, who had still not gone home, was taking a little of the six hours of sleep sting off, but to Neil free coffee in a convenience store was like a whore offering a free shot of penicillin to the first twenty five customers.
“Who’s next?” Don asked.
The last half hour they had been interviewing the people who worked the same shifts as Amber Kneeland.
“Candace loi,” Neil said.
Don looked up and stopped writing in his little notebook. “How do you,” spell her name, he had meant to ask Neil, but she was right in front of him.
“EL. OH. EYE,” she said with a smile.
“Vietnamese?” Don asked. She was obviously mixed race, African American and Asian, he questioned himself.
“Japanese,” she told him.
“Nice name,” Neil said, “Candace.”
Beautiful girl, Don thought. “Did you know Amber Kneeland? Sometimes works this shift?” he asked.
“Not really,” she answered. “I mean, I met her, but only in passing… I just started here myself.”
She really is beautiful, Don thought. “You wouldn’t know if she had a boyfriend… Other friends?” he asked.
Candace shook her head. “Sorry,” she said… “What has she done?”
“Nothing,” Neil supplied.
“She went missing last night,” Don said. “Turned up dead this morning.”
Candace shook her head. “Oh my God. That’s horrible. She was such a nice girl… Quiet.”
Neil nodded his head. “So maybe you did know her a little better than you thought?”
“I just started here a few weeks back, and like I said, I don’t really know her… But it might be a girlfriend not a boyfriend.”
Don looked at her. “You wouldn’t know who?”
“No. It’s just a rumor. Someone said it to me… I don’t even remember who… But I’ve never seen her with a guy, and I have seen her with other girls… Maybe also the way she looked at me a few times…”
“Go out with her?” Don asked.
“No… Never… I…”
“Don’t swing that way?” Don added.
Candace frowned slightly before she answered. “I work. I don’t swing any way. But if I did she wasn’t my type. She never asked me out, I never asked her out.”
“Didn’t mean to offend you,” Don said. He shrugged. “She’s dead.”
“She would probably do the same for you,” Neil said.
Candace nodded. “That really is all I know. I hope you find who did it though. She seemed like a nice girl,” Candace said.
“You don’t seem the type for this… Bagging groceries at 2:00 am,” Don said, changing the subject. “You aren’t local or I’d know you… This city really is small despite the base.”
Candace smiled. “Came here a year back with a boyfriend, Army. He left, forgot all about me, I guess. I had this idea of modeling… Tough to get a foot in a door though.”
“Wow, if he left you behind he must be a fucking idiot… Any good?” Neil asked.
“Excuse mister smooth there,” Don told her. Neil feigned a hurt look and Candace laughed. “He meant have you done anything? I know somebody… Might be interested.”
Candace arched her eyebrows. “I can model. I did a You Jeans ad back in Georgia a few years ago. I just need to prove it to the right person.”
“Escorting? It’s strictly escorting, no funny stuff. Dance clubs… Clothing modeling,” Neil said.
“Probably start out escorting… Dance a little… Then if he likes you he’ll put you into the modeling end of things. He owns a lot of shit… Several car dealerships across the state… Some of the biggest dance clubs, clothing outlets, those bargain places, but still, modeling is modeling, right? Not the big name stuff, but it’s a foot in the door,” Don added.
“I can do that,” she said slowly.
Neil passed her a white business card with his own name scrawled across the back. “Tell him I sent you… That’s my name on the back.”
“Jimmy Vincioni,” Candace asked.
“Just V… Jimmy V, good guy,” Neil said.
Candace nodded and tucked the card into her front jean pocket. “I’ll call him… Thanks. Look…” Her voice dropped to a near whisper. “I’m pretty sure she had a girlfriend here… I just don’t know who,” Candace added quietly.
Don finished writing in his notebook, nodded once he met her eyes and then shook the hand she offered. She walked away.
“Beautiful,” Neil said.
“Absolutely,” Don agreed. “You ain’t getting none of that though.”
“Yeah? But if Jimmy V hires her? It’ll be the next best thing.”
Don shook his head, but smiled. His eyes rose and watched as Candace walked away. “Guess I’ll have to have a few drinks at the club if that happens.”
Neil chuckled low. “You and me both,” he agreed.
Two female characters written by me, a man. It works because I went with what I knew. I did not go for stereotypical women, but women who were composites of a few women I have known in my life. Beth is loosely based on four women. The first and most obvious was a woman whom I met in the early eighties when I drove a cab for a living. She was a dancer at a little club whom I picked up every early morning and drove back to her hotel room…