Enjoy an exclusive guest post from J.C. Raye, author of “30 Days with Fletcher,” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
The short stories I write for anthologies hit the sweet spot, at around 4-5K words. This means I have the luxury of penning bundles of them, and the pure joy of inventing new characters almost as often as I have to go pee, after now reaching the not-so-tender age of fifty-two. Of course, there is no point cranking out loads of people, if those people aren’t real, both to myself and for the seventeen and one-half folks who ever read me. And, it can be tricky finding avenues to just hang out and observe men in their natural habitat, without coming off as a bit strange. So, for those of my sister authors who struggle with it, here is a tip, once shared with me, to help avoid those stereotypical cop-outs and collect some of that elusive male stuff, which will make your story howl with authenticity.
Aristotle. Yeah. That far back. You know? That philosopher? B.C.’s and all? He said character is action. That an audience can certainly build the idea of your character in their mind by reading what he says about himself, or by paying attention to what others say about him in the story, but his actions, well now, there’s the ticket. His actions, by far, are the most telling descriptors. So instead of just trying to figure out what your guy will say or do in the scene you are actually writing, why not conjure up some of his acts, deeds, and inglorious exploits in offshoot scenarios as well? Think about the basics first. What is his nighttime routine just before bed? How does he sip a hot cup of coffee or chew his food? What was the last object he tripped over? And how exactly did he fall down and go boom? Concoct his sneeze. His laugh. His hiccup. The little sniffle in his right nostril just before he throws a punch. The way he carries his body when he walks, runs, or goes boom. You can see I like that “go boom” one very much. Nothing personal, guys.
Once you’ve got some of that swimming around in your noggin, now, ramp it up. What part of his body ails him the most? Is there an itch or twitch which is his alone? How might he behave at water’s edge if he saw someone drowning? How would he beat off a coyote gnawing at his leg? Fix your mind on a moment of life where he performed his most disgusting act or displayed an exceptionally heroic gesture. And, let’s go there, too. Well, why not? Decide how he makes love. The movement. The noise. That kind of boom. All of it. Create some of the moments your audience never reads about, and you will build more than just a character in a scene. You’ll build a whole life. A guy worth remembering. Your guy.
J.C. Raye‘s stories are also found in anthologies with Belanger Books, Chthonic Matter, Scary Dairy Press, Devil’s Party Press, Books & Boos, Franklin/Kerr, and Jolly Horror to name a few. More stories in 2020 with Rooster Republic and Transmundane Press.
For 20 years, she’s been a professor at a small community college teaching the most feared course on the planet: Public Speaking. Witnessing grown people weep, beg, scream, freak out and pass out is just another delightful day on the job for her. Terror down to the bone. She’s seen it all.
She’s won numerous artistic & academic awards over the years for her projects in Communication and seats in her classes sell quicker than tickets to a Rolling Stones concert.
J.C. also loves goats of any kind, even the ones that faint.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.