Character Counts

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Character counts! Let’s face it, great fiction must have mesmerizing central figures. Take Forrest Gump for instance, there is something about him that moves me to so many different types of feeling. Of course, Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic comedy-drama romance film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. Why do we want to stand up and cheer for this guy though?

Think about all the fears he had to overcome, the courage he had to muster, the sorrow he experienced, the joy he found, and all the other crises he faced. That’s what makes Forrest a great character.

If the characters in my stories don’t have formative moments like these, my book may not be worth reading. Not that each character must have each area developed, but a few should stand out.

Read through this list and ponder the characters you are developing.

THE MOMENT OF GREATEST FEAR: This is perhaps the most important emotional trigger, because almost all of our limitations, failures, frustrations and disappointments—and thus our secrets and vulnerabilities—can be traced back to or relate to some fundamental fear.

THE MOMENT OF GREATEST COURAGE: This may be physical valor, moral isolation or simply persisting in the face of some dread.

THE MOMENT OF GREATEST SORROW: Think of death, grief, loss.

THE MOMENT OF GREATEST JOY: It’s strange how nebulous moments of joy can seem—and what a loss. At what stage in your character’s life (or in your own) did the golden moment occur? What’s happened since?

THE WORST FAILURE: Ouch, I know, but don’t shun this moment; from a writer’s point of view, it’s golden (as are all our travails, sorrows, embarrassments and screw-ups—embrace them).

THE MOMENT OF MOST REDEMPTIVE FORGIVENESS: If you’ve been forgiven for some serious wrong, it’s not likely you’ve forgotten it. It’s permitted you to regain your place with some crucial loved one.

When performing this exercise, my students sometimes get caught up on trying to think of the “greatest” such moments. Don’t fall into this needless trap. Instead, think merely of one moment (presumably of many) of particularly strong impact in any one category.

How to Write a Story


Storyboarding for Writers with Mary Carroll Moore. This is great material if you’re a writer.

Summertime Gershwin

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Smooth and easy just like a summer day.

Google Drive

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I really enjoy the writing life, but at times, writer’s can get into ruts. We all go through writer’s block of some type. Admit it, writing takes discipline and at times, you’d rather procrastinate on that book or story. Well, I’ve developed a new routine that can help.

Find a different writing location and on a different device. This may sound ridiculously easy, but it has worked for me and Google Drive has helped me push past many a case of writer’s block.

Believe it or not, at times, sitting in front of the computer can work against you as a writer. I often get stuck on books or on certain chapters to the point that every time I approach the writing process, I form a mental block. Then one day, I grabbed my I-Pad and worked on my bed. Just the change of pace and environment helped me get refocused.

I’m just saying. Little things can make a big difference.

Bargain Vacations

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My wife and I are headed out to Manchester Beach KOA in a few days. This got me to thinking about bargain vacation destinations. You really don’t need a lot of money to enjoy time away from home these days. Here are a couple of ideas I came up with if you’re thinking about vacationing on a (92)

The Great Outdoors

Camping is always a great getaway because it’s affordable, and you have a chance to enjoy nature. Whether you go with a large number of friends or a small group, you’re sure to enjoy roasting s’mores over the fire and trading stories at night.

Quaint Bed and Breakfast Inns

Need a little rest and relaxation? Look for nearby cities that are perfect locations for bed and breakfast inns. Some bed and breakfast places have great amenities like library of DVDs in which guests can peruse and take back to their rooms and of course, wonderful homemade meals in the morning. My wife and I went to a great place in Pacific Grove. Some inns have amazing scenery like beautiful beaches or rose gardens so be sure to do some research!


Take the night off and make a trip to a winery nearby for a tasting. It’s such a great social outing, and it’s always fun to go with a couple of friends to enjoy some good wine and conversation.

Beachy Activities

photo (93)Listening to the waves crashing along the beach while conversing and joking with your friends can be the getaway you needed. The beach is always a good choice because there are plenty of activities you can do, such as building sand castles, picnics, playing volleyball, or flying a kite. Be sure to bring a frisbee. The last time we visited the beach, we had to buy a frisbee.

Even if you don’t end up camping at a national park, it always makes for a good day trip. You can plan to go on fee-free days so you don’t have to pay the entrance fee. But the fees are generally affordable and can cost around $10 per person if you decide to go on a regular day.

A Walk to Remember

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My wife and I do a lot of walking. We blame it on our dog Roxy when we do.

“Walkies!” we say.


Sometimes, I will jingle the leash and Roxy will come running. Well, she doesn’t run anymore. She kind of strolls toward the front door. Truth is, my wife and I actually like to get outside, see our neighbors, and breathe some fresh air.

So there we were at my daughter’s house in the SF, feeling lazy. The weather was grand outside, so we decided on a walk with no dog. With cell phone in hand and track shoes tied, we walked out into the city.

Walking is pretty common in SF too, as you can imagine. Frankly, there is no better way to explore the City by the Bay than walking around it’s unique neighborhoods on foot. Whether you’re exploring shopper-friendly Union Square, Famous Chinatown, the skyscrapers of the Financial District, or the Golden Gate Bridge, SF is a walkers paradise.

In SF, everyone is out walking their dogs, going to the market, or doing errands during the day. That’s how people get around in the city. 20130706-195655.jpg

Here’s what I saw.

The city scape is quite a sight in SF. So many buildings and homes and bridges.

It always feels like a vacation when we visit SF.




Grizzly Bear Encounter

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The highlight of our trip to Montana.

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