How to use a hottie

February 8, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Posted in character, hero, Meg, television, writing | 3 Comments

Hottie. Cutie pie. Sweetheart. Sex personified.Whatever you call ‘em, we love ‘em. Men who make us smile, sigh, blush, catch our breath, quiver, melt, beg, laugh, flirt and want more. Men who inspire us to wake up early to shower and shave (our legs), put on makeup, wear sexy clothes, exercise and keep ourselves looking good. Men who cause us to toss our hair with that silly little giggle or bat our eyelashes. Men who might come between you and a good friend or break your heart into a million pieces.

Hollywood has an unrealistic percentage of them. There’s Patrick Dempsey on Grey’s Anatomy- he could cut open my brain anytime. Or Chad Michael Murray on One Tree Hill- how I’d get in trouble if I were his teacher! And let’s not forget Lost– I don’t think I’d be trying to get off the island if I were trapped with Jack, Sawyer and Locke (something about that man just melts my butter). And a few American Idol hopefuls have me actually tuning in this season. I love television!

And what about in my real world? There’s the teenager I met last week- the way he twirled his pencil mesmerized me. I couldn’t stop staring at his hands. Or the juvenile probation officer I worked with a decade ago whose humor and voice caressed my ears and made me crush on him before we even met. And an old childhood friend who always knows exactly what to say to elicit a blushing smile.

All of these hotties in my life (real and theatrical) get used in my writing. That adolescent’s hands will entice and tingle the virginal skin of my YA heroine. The PO inspired the hero in my first novel (one I just might drag out and dust off again). And the childhood friend’s comments made their way into the mouth of the hero in my second women’s fiction. And there’s no denying the resemblance between Patrick Dempsey and my last hero- the twinkling blue eyes and magnetizing smile.

Psychologist call this sublimation, or the act of transforming unwanted impulses into something less harmful. You see, I’ve been married over ten years to my own hottie. He’s sweet, smart, sexy, funny and lights my candle (lol- the clichés are getting thick aren’t they?). BUT, he’s nowhere in my writing. You’ll never find a hint of him in my characters. Why? My writing is fantasy. It’s the energy behind all those naughty thoughts I’ve ever had about other men put into something constructive and positive. I don’t think I need to explain my outlet for mischievous thoughts about my husband, do I? 😉

So your assignment this weekend, if you choose to accept it, is to find a hottie. Maybe it’s a complete person, or some quality of someone (in your real life or theatrical) and figure out what makes that person a hottie. Then use that in your writing. Juice up your hero- his voice, his looks, his mannerisms and behavior. Make him HOT!


How I love television

September 28, 2007 at 2:01 pm | Posted in books, character, Meg, names, television | Leave a comment

I’m not a big gadget person, but I’d like to send a little thank you out to the individuals who created the DVR. It’s a beautiful piece of technology that has allowed me to return to my prime time television addiction. With two kids, I haven’t watched television in years (except for Lost and The Office– two guilty pleasures I manipulated time for each week once I caught up with DVDs). With my wonderful DVR, I can capture all the time sucking moments of my new favorite shows, allowing me to procrastinate on my rewrites! YEA!

I started thinking about the trends in this season’s new shows (at least ones I’ve watched thus far) and discovered that there is a connection to fiction writing (or maybe I’m reaching because I couldn’t think of anything else to write?). Here goes:


Revenge of the Nerds
I don’t know whose in control of Hollywood these days, but it’s definitely not a former star quarterback. Not with ‘nerds’ or loner guys being the heroes in three new shows. Chuck in Chuck defuses a bomb using a computer virus, Sam in The Reaper kicks a bad soul back to hell with a Dirt Devil and Dan in GossipGirl punches out a popular rich jerk. And they all have THE hot girl batting their eyelashes at them.

So it’s possible, that when you’re creating your heroes, you might want to consider toning down the Alpha male or hot stunt guy, and think about enlisting that likeable, nice guy next door to win the girl’s heart. These three guys are already winning mine.

Josh Swartz reads YA
Ah, the teen drama. Every year there’s a new one and I admit a perverse love of them. 90210, Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill. Loved them all. Now we have GossipGirl, the first teen show I know that’s based on a Young Adult literary series (I’m not including great stories like Princess Diaries and Sisterhood of Traveling Pants because they are movies).

I admit I haven’t read this series yet, so I’m not sure how ‘based on’ the books by Cecily von Ziegesar or how glammed up for television it is. I do know I’m hooked. It’s racy, edgy and the first two shows have more drugs and alcohol than the entire lifespan of ABC Afterschool Specials. Less sex than I had expected, even a virginal BP (Beautiful Person). A good insight into what teenagers are watching, thinking and doing (if you tone down the sophisticated rich stuff- not many teens have elaborate, expensive Sunday brunches with champagne and Scotch, at least not in my home town) if you write YA.

Back story
When and how to reveal the characters’ back-story can be a writer’s nightmare. We want readers to know why characters are doing what they’re doing, but readers don’t want to be hit over the head or treated as idiots. This week, the new shows used different techniques to explain the back-story of characters and they all worked. NBC’s Life inserted ‘interviews’ with key players from Detective Crews’s life giving us glimpses into his past as an officer and felon. GossipGirl used a voiceover of the prep school’s anonymous gossip blogger to fill us in on intimate details of the relationships, activities and drama of the Upper East Side. And instead of the standard prologue or flashback, the writers of the CW’s Reaper informed the audience and main character about the ‘sold your soul to the devil 21 years ago plot’ in a father-son chat. Cracked me up.

In recent weeks, we’ve blogged about the importance of names for ourselves and our characters. I’ve shared websites that have helped me find elaborate names for characters. Jess divulged her anxieties about finding the perfect pen name. And Bria wrote about meaning, connotation and sound of names. Waste of time for all of us. Why? Because maybe names aren’t as important as we thought. Here are the list of names for the male characters of this year’s new shows: Dan, Nate, Chuck (used in two shows), Sam, Charlie, Ben. Boring, boring, boring. Winner of most original name is: Sock and The Devil. For female characters, things aren’t much better: Blair, Serena, Jenni, Constance, Andi, Sarah. Simple is in.

Okay, I think that’s all the epiphanies I have for now. Twenty minutes until the season premiere of The Office. I’ve been counting down since that last moment when Jim asked Pam out for dinner. That’s the problem with television versus books. With the literary entertainment, I can turn the page to get to the next chapter. With television, I have to suffer through months of reruns and wait. UGH!


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