August MacGregor

Celebrating Sensuality. Intended for mature audiences, 18 and over


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In That Song

it’s in hearing that song
that brings you back to the time
when you felt you lived
inside that song

its lyrics somehow
reflected what was going on
around you

the ache for things to be different
no matter how many prayers
your heart whispered,
they went unanswered

each prayer seeming more like
a shovel full of dirt
tossed to the side
to deepen the hole
in an attempt to bury your hopes

or maybe discover
water down there
to make a well

where you could stand
and listen to others
whisper down their prayers

you could softly answer
with that song
that wraps around them
and says the ache
is part of you

and it can help you treasure
the good times.

now the ache is a memory
among many memories
sweet and sad and precious
brought back by the melody

in that song.

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Showtime’s “The Affair”: Lessons on Character Perspective

Montauk Lighthouse and Beach, by Neil R (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Montauk Lighthouse and Beach, by Neil R (Flickr, Creative Commons)

As the first season of Showtime’s “The Affair” wound down, I was compelled to write a blog entry about the TV show. Because I wanted to share how I enjoyed the show’s treatment of character perspective.

Before I get into this, first a little bit about the series. As you can guess from the title, it’s about infidelity — how an affair began, and the consequences of it. Here’s the description from Showtime’s website:

At once deeply observed and intriguingly elusive, THE AFFAIR explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship. Noah is a New York City schoolteacher and novelist who is happily married, but resents his dependence on his wealthy father-in-law. Alison is a young waitress trying to piece her life and marriage back together in the wake of a tragedy. The provocative drama unfolds when Alison and Noah meet in Montauk at the end of Long Island.

As a writer, I was keenly interested in the format of “The Affair.” Each episode was split into two sections: Noah’s side and Alison’s side. (Dominic West plays Noah Solloway and Ruth Wilson plays Alison Lockhart.) These two characters relayed events of a summer on Montauk to a police detective.

This split format made for an exploration of “he said, she said.” In the beginning of the season, the same scenes were told from the two different perspectives. And from that, you got to see the action through the scene of each character.

Which created an interesting study in character and seeing the events through their eyes. Because, of course, the characters came from very different places. A man and a woman. Different ages. Different homes (New York City and Montauk). One with four kids, and one who lost a child years before (not a spoiler alert, since this is told early on).

In the characters’ retelling of the same scenes, how they differ was very interesting. Their clothes were different, for example. In Noah’s retelling, he usually wore cooler clothes that seemed of a younger style. Also in Noah’s retelling, Alison wore clothing that showed more skin. When Alison narrated the scenes, the colors of her clothes were more muted.

And then, you had how each character described the affair began. Both claimed to be the one who was more hesitant, unsure, and wanted to take more time to make up their mind. Even though both admitted to mutual attraction, they described the other as more eager to start the affair.

I took all of this as a lesson in storytelling. Because so much of story is shown through character, about how the character perceives events and makes decisions. Characters come at the world from very different places. These affect how they think and act. In writing a story, an author has to use that background in framing how the character moves in the story.

How a character sees the world and acts within it shows a great deal about that character. Their background, personality, what they feel is important. That comes out in how they tell the story as narrators, as well as what they choose to do in a story.

I very much admire authors who do this well. When the decisions of the characters make sense with who the characters are. Because there are books where I’ve thought, “That doesn’t seem right.” This comes up when a character did something that struck me as out of character with who they were. That can jump out at you. But when the actions and decisions fit in character, the writing is much smoother.

True, I write erotica under a pen name — and the actions in my stories involve sex. Still, there are relationships in my writing. Characters who come from different backgrounds and have to interact with other characters. That brings up a variety of emotions: gratitude, love, friskiness, jealousy, anxiety, and anger. And I hope I strike a chord with what the characters say and do, how those fit in with who they are.

Also, I write stories that aren’t erotica under my real name — and I hope for the same thing there. Because I certainly don’t want a reader to think, “That doesn’t seem right.” I hope the actions fit, because that’s staying true to the characters. And that makes for a better story.

*****

Photo of Montauk lighthouse and beach is from Neil R, used here under the non-commercial Creative Commons license. Click here for his Flickr page.


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Magic of Books

space, by Sweetie187 (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Sweetie187 (Flickr, Creative Commons)

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Source: Goodreads
Click on image to jump to photographer’s Flickr page.


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NaNoWriMo Finished! My Results…

dogs and jumping for joy, by Jasmin Bauer (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Jasmin Bauer (Flickr, Creative Commons)

NaNoWriMo is over! Jump for joy!

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
― Dorothy Parker

Source: Goodreads
Click on image to jump to photographer’s Flickr page.

*****

NaNoWriMo winner banner

Sorry Dorothy, but I’m going to disagree with you on this one — though I do enjoy your wit in your other quotes. I put this quote in because I thought it fit with NaNoWriMo ending up.

In truth, I love writing. It’s a rush that entrances me when it really gets going and the scenes unfold wonderfully. It’s something that I’ve become addicted to.

My NaNoWriMo ended with 52,386 words written for You’re Next, my horror novel. I really enjoyed the momentum of NaNo, and connecting with other writers who participated. It was great to find other writers on WordPress and Twitter who were pushing to get their stories written! And I found solid advice for sparking new ideas: giving secondary characters a few scenes and doing historical research to find inspiration.

A huge lesson I gleaned from NaNo was to simply write. Put some words down. Even when you don’t feel charged up for a scene and have the thing planned out. Just write something. Many times, the words pick up speed and start flowing more smoothly. You get into the scene, and suddenly you’ve got a couple thousand words written.

But not always, of course. Sometimes, the words plunk down and don’t pick up speed. But you never know which way they’ll go until you start writing them down.

With NaNo done, I’m looking ahead on You’re Next… I wrote 16,803 words of the book in October, so the novel stands at 69,189 total words. I’m not even close to finishing this story. Is it going to be a really long book, or maybe even a series? Not sure. But right now, I want to put it to the back burner and put other projects on the front burners. I like this imagery, because You’re Next will continue to simmer — it’s not completely off the stovetop. I’ll keep writing notes about it and try out possible scenes.

Because I know how I want You’re Next to ultimately end, but I’m not as clear on getting to that ending. I suppose I could pull a nuclear option and just say: the good guys won and the bad guys lost! Yay! But I don’t want to cheat the story. I want the events to unfold in ways that make sense and respect the story. So I’m going to sketch out bit by bit what happens next.

On the front burners will be projects for which I have a clearer idea of the story. This is not only for a creative break from the novel, but for practical reasons, too. In November, more of my e-books sold than in the year previous to that. So I want to get more e-books finished and published and out there for people to hopefully enjoy. You’re Next feels like it’s going to take a lot more work and time to finish. Eventually, I will complete it. But first, I want to finish smaller projects.

Thanks for sticking with me for November through NaNoWriMo, and I hope the daily quotes inspired you 🙂


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Sublime Fool

funny cat, by Vladimir Pustovit (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Vladimir Pustovit (Flickr, Creative Commons)

LAST DAY OF NANOWRIMO! YES!!!

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

Source: Goodreads
Click on image to jump to photographer’s Flickr page.


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Sprint to the Finish Line! Or Walk, That’s Okay, Too

sand through fingers, by bekassine (Flickr, Creative Commons)

bekassine (Flickr, Creative Commons)

“Go for broke. Always try and do too much. Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath before you begin talking. Aim for the stars. Keep grinning. Be bloody-minded. Argue with the world. And never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things — childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves — that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.”
― Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991

Source: Goodreads
Click on image to jump to photographer’s Flickr page.


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Goonies Never Say Die

The Goonies, by Ben Northern (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Ben Northern (Flickr, Creative Commons)

“And that’s why books are never going to die. It’s impossible. It’s the only time we really go into the mind of a stranger, and we find our common humanity doing this. So the book doesn’t only belong to the writer, it belongs to the reader as well, and then together you make it what it is.”
― Paul Auster

Source: Goodreads
Click on illustration of The Goonies to jump to the illustrator’s (Ben Northern) Flickr page.