Happy day after July 4th!!!

This blog may be short. It’s July 4th and I’m writing it between shots of nature’s sparkly fireworks and the ubiquitous power outages that accompany them. That said, I love the noise. Of thunder and of fireworks.

I grew up in a place that celebrated the 4th. Washington slept in my town—at least that’s what the sign on the house on the corner of Union Avenue and Chestnut Street read. I’m pretty sure Washington is gone. Not having been back since 1979, I couldn’t tell you if the sign, or the house, are still there. No matter. The 4th was a time for families to gather, to Fireworkspicnic, and to watch the fireworks. We played with sparklers when I was young. We delighted in waving them out the windows and running with them in the fields while the pyrotechnic experts painted the sky overhead with bursts of red, blue and white. Great large explosions, fading to darkness.

I don’t write funny. I wish I could. I envy those writers who are able to produce wonderful, sparkly, funny, characters. You know those writers, two come to mind immediately, Diane Vallere and Janet Evanovich. Their characters could light up the night with their sparkle and pizazz. I love to read them, I’ve tried to learn the technique, but I fall short. Woefully short. My dialogue sounds forced, and that’s when it’s going well. Tortured has come to mind the rest of the time. So, shelve the laugh out loud dialogue for me.

Does that mean my characters lack sparkle? Nope. They shine in other ways. Theirs is the dry wit. In the spirit of daytime fireworks, they paint the world around them with wonderful insights, exotic similes, connections that the average bear would miss. Thesemay make a reader crack a smile, and maybe chuckle, but rarely laugh aloud.

Hayden, the protagonist in my Florida Keys mysteries, gets her sparkle from an unshakable belief that the glass is half full. No matter what happens, she bounces back and manages to turn the event to her advantage. Coming from a family with four generations in the Florida Keys behind them, her view of the world is slightly skewed. She grew up where the road ended. It’s true what they say, in the Keys, the rules really are different. Like all conchs, coloring outside the lines is a way of life.

Just like fireworks, our characters and our writing have all different kinds of sparkle. Some soft and subtle, like those smoke fireworks that send smudges of color across the sky. Others burst exuberantly overhead bringing a bright smile with them. Each works best in a different setting. All are special.

What about you readers and writers. Do you love the bright richly colored blasts of humor and joy that some writers bring so effortlessly, or do you prefer the subtler hued characters? Or both?

Kait loves to hear from fans, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at kait.carson@gmail.com.

 

 

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Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, six cats and three birds. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

11 thoughts on “Happy day after July 4th!!!”

  1. Kait, your hometown sounds wonderful! Maybe you should make a trip. I bet the house and sign are still there. In New England we live for those signs!

  2. Hi Lisa – I did a google search and it looks like the house is still there, but the marker seems to be missing. Not sure I could find my way around there anymore. Very little looked familiar. Sigh.

  3. I love thunderstorms and yes, my grandmother used to say it was the angels bowling. I’m also not good at the laugh-out-loud humor. If I try for it, it’s forced. My writing seems to be funny when I’m not trying to hard.

  4. Kait, I take my smiles anyway I can get them, from belly laughs to smirks and rolled eyes. I love reading something humorous in the middle of a thriller or laughing with someone while I stand in line at the grocery store.

    As writers, I think knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are is half the battle. Your subtly-hued characters are stronger because you don’t force them into dialogue that doesn’t work. Well done!

  5. @ Mary – sounds like a natural talent! Good for you.
    @Peg, me too. I love to laugh, smile, or just feel good. So true that knowing strengths and weaknesses is a strength. I love to try out new techniques in short stories to see if they fly. Do you do the same?

  6. I like them all. The books I read alternate between noir, noir, noir, cozy, non-fiction, noir, noir, noir…and what I write is more traditional mystery verging on noirish. Feeling utterly incapable of sustaining funny through an entire book, I admire those who can. I like writing a short story from time to time. They are nice little palette cleansers, and its nice to have a finished product in a matter of days.

  7. I am a reader. I like characters of all sorts, but they have to be “real,” fully developed, and multi-layered. They have to be so real that I might run into them at the mall or the grocery store. I might look over my shoulder in the parking structure and see one of them watching, lurking behind someone else’s car. If they are “cookie cutter” people who have a new name and have just been dropped into the story, I’m not interested.

    I see the “cookie cutter” characters more in the later issues “series” books set in fixed locations. In those settings, sometimes you authors have a limited frame of reference for the story line. After all, the more “normal” the main character and the smaller the town, is the harder it seems to “invent” those encounters with “crazy criminals.”Don’t get me I do love continuing characters, but I sometimes want to just scream at the book “move away from this crime infested town of 200 people.”

    Now, a question for you authors — how do you decide that it is time to end a series and move on to something else?

    Now, as for Independence Day fireworks — how many “small town residents or business owners” wake up on July 5 and find that some of the fireworks were really gun shots, and there is a corpse in a blood-covered flag t-shirt crumpled on the sidewalk in front of the doughnut/coffee shop? Just asking.

  8. Kait, I like a variety, but the laugh-out-loud books don’t stay with me as long as the subtler ones do.

    3 no 7, good question about when to end a series. A bookstore owner friend of mine once said that series shouldn’t go on longer than about 7 books. As for me, I am working on my 4th in the series and still enthusiastic about it. I think when I no longer feel that same level of enthusiasm I will move on to the next “oh shiny,” which is already luring me.

  9. 3 no 7, sometimes it isn’t the author who decides, it’s the publisher. I know of one best-selling author who has tired of writing a particular series, yet the publisher requires one a year. And the money is good. The reason the publisher wants more of the same? Readers buy the books.

  10. Happy day after 4th of July to you too, Kait! 🙂 I love all kinds of characters from somber to humorous depending on what I’m in the mood for, but writing that makes me LOL will always have a special place in my heart. Humor is tough to write–it has to be smart, fun, and have that element of surprise, and I so appreciate writers who can do it well!

  11. @keenan. Your reading tastes sound like mine. I keep a subscription to Ellery Queen just for the shorts.
    @3no7. I love it when you post. Always a refreshing insight. We all hope our characters have depth. There comes a time in every novel I’ve written when I’m not sure. That’s when it’s time to bring in the beta readers. Always a good reality check.

    When to leave a series? Hard to say, but I would hope I would have enough sense to do it if it bored me to write it!

    @sue. I kind of agree, but then I think of the writers who do it well its so organic to their characters that it warms my heart.

    @ Kate. Yep. When it’s well done, it’s champagne! Good champagne.

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