August 2014
Monday, August 04, 2014
What if you had a different voice?
A musing on understanding character development

During pretend play, my kids talk in different voices.

For instance, my youngest likes to play “mommy baby” where she is the baby and her older sister is the mommy. When playing, my youngest crawls, cries like a baby, and speaks in baby talk, while my eldest attempts her best impersonation of my voice in her “mommy” role. My girls also wear costumes and shoes that, in their minds, relate to the role they are playing. They become fully vested in the part.

My girls will also pretend to be characters from their favorite show or movie. My favorite impersonation is when my youngest dons a Darth Vader mask, walks around breathing heavily, and speaks in her deep 3-yr-old voice: “I am your father!” (Very intimidating as the picture to the left shows.)

Now that I am grown, I don’t dress up like a princess and pretend to fend off a dragon. But perhaps, as a writer, I SHOULD!

It hadn’t accord to me that I should physically act out the scenes I write or try dressing up like my character and speaking the dialogue, all the while paying attention to my mannerism and the inflections in my voice. It hadn’t accord to me to do this until I started reading the blog posts for KidLit Summer School (nerdychickswrite.wordpress.com).

The theme for this year is character development and voice. Over the past two weeks, I have read how other writers approach character development. Posts have related to writing characters as a reflection of oneself to walking in your characters shoes to speaking/acting out your character’s line, to name a few. The goal of these activities is to create relatable yet believable and unique characters.

The posts reminded me of a question my kids asked me a while back: “What if you could NOT talk in your own voice?”

At the time, I didn’t think too much on their question. Looking back as a writer, talking in a different voice is exactly what I am trying to do as I develop a new character. However, instead of just imagining the conversation in my mind, perhaps I should take some queues from summer school and my children and play pretendat least I’ll get to feel like a kid again!

How do you find your character’s voice? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Read a previous musing on being the “mother” of your character here:
Posted by Michelle
Monday, August 11, 2014
What if you lived in the sky?
My kids were talking the other day about flying up and playing in the sky. They envisioned bouncing on the big pillowy clouds as if they were big trampolines.

The conversation made me smile. What kid doesn’t want to bounce on cloud trampolines? Or fly? I know I did.
(For the musing, What if I could fly?, see michellekarene.com/default.php?content=blog&sid=3&date=2014-03#1).

As a child, I wanted to walk in the clouds and talk to birds. I wanted to live in a treetop treehouse, like in Swiss Family Robinson.

These wishes were fun childhood dreams that inspired my playtime. Because I didn’t have a treehouse and because I couldn’t fly, I spent a fair amount of time trying to climb up to the sky. If a structure looked climbable, I attempted the ascent to the top. I climbed trees, fences, walls, door frames, and even up onto the roof of my parent’s house. In my parent’s garage, if I climbed a ladder, stepped onto a couple of high-up shelves, I could climb through a hole in the ceiling and land on a small floored attic. Not quite a treehouse, but my brothers, sister, & I made it into a clubhouse…and I still got to climb.

What can I say? I enjoyed climbing! I was fearless about the height, but I had a limit. Two-stories! No higher, unless traditional stairs took me there or a safety rail kept me from falling. But that did not stop me from imagining myself living in the sky.

On two separate trips, I came across people who worked up in the sky. LITERALLY. At the Atomium in Brussels, what appeared to be small specs were actually workers repairing, restoring, or perhaps cleaning part of the Atomium. It was nerve-racking to see people standing on the outside of the ball-like structures, attached only by safety wires.

Even scarier were the window-washers (or that is what I think the workers were doing) sitting on what looked like 5-gallon buckets supported by safety harnesses on the side of skyscraper…no thanks!

Although I found the sights unsettling, I could not help but wonder at the beauty these workers see from their higher vantage point and how different the world might look through their eyes. I wondered if the childhood me would have wanted to join them up in the sky. Maybe I would have made it up to the third-story.

Nowadays, I keep my feet planted on the ground, but as I write I still imagine living in the sky, enjoying the beauty of the world from above. Writing has provided me with a way to fulfill my childhood dreams. I can bounce on cloud trampolines, fly through the night sky, or climb tall trees. My story worlds hold no limits except those set by my imagination, and I have learned to let me imagination climb into the sky.

What do you love about writing? What childhood dreams do you still muse? Feel free to leave a comment below.

The Atomium

Workers on a skyscraper
Posted by Michelle
Monday, August 18, 2014
What if summer was never ending?
Sometimes I wish summer didn’t have to end. Lounging in pajamas, sipping coffee until it's time to run errands in the late morning, spending the afternoon at the pool, vacationing at the beach…soon these leisurely times will just be fond memories, and I will wake to the buzz! buzz! of my alarm clock at six in the morning so my girls don’t miss the bus. As I drag myself out of bed, I will wish that I had one more week of summer (and then another and another).

As a kid, I remember being excited about summer and the seemingly endless days of no homework or studying, but, by the end of summer, I was ready to go back to school, see my friends, and learn something new. With school starting back soon, I wondered what my girls thought about summer coming to end.

My girls spent most of their summer playing with their neighborhood friends, going to the pool, and staying up a little past bedtime. With all the playing and swimming, my youngest only wished she could have played in the sandbox more. Thoughts of an endless summer and days spent having “lots and lots and lots and lots of fun” got a resounding “AWESOME!” from my girls.

Thoughts about going back to school, however, were mixed. The uncertainty of how a new teacher will be in the classroom scares my eldest, while being taught by a teacher she loves excites my youngest. My middle child, who turns six today, is the most ready for summer to end. In her infinite kid wisdom, she has learned that life is about enjoying the simple pleasures. With the prospects of cool fall nights, she had two words on her mind when I asked her if she was ready for summer to end —“hot cocoa!”

Now, if only, I can remember to enjoy and look forward to these simple pleasures when I hear the alarm clock ring at six next week.

While getting ourselves prepped for school, here are some children’s books my girl’s and I will be reading this week:

What do you love about summer? What is your favorite summer memory? What do you like best about going back to school? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Posted by Michelle