The Struggle Is Real: Developing My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead #AmWriting



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


I’m using Alexa Chung’s appearance, public persona (and style) as something of a cheatsheet for my novel’s female romantic lead. In fact, whenever I can’t think of an aspect of the character off the top of my head, I pull up Wikipedia or YouTube and see what Alexa Chung does.

It really helps to have a public figure to inspire you when it comes to such an important character. The character, though, isn’t NOT “based” on her, so much as it is simply influenced and inspired by her. The character is an amalgam of several women I’m fond of, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jennifer Lawrence, Liz Plank, Erin Ryan, Jodi Kantor and the odd woman I’ve dated here and there.

I finally understand what an author means when they say one of their characters is “an amalgam.” I really need to do a formal personality profile of several characters, but I find actually writing the character out in the copy is more in line with my personal needs as a writer.

I will note, however, that my general fondness for developing female characters is making me self-conscious about not having enough MALE characters. But I think I’ve fixed that. I’m going to have to break the rule about only six POV characters to do it, but lulz.

Liz Plank, Jodi Kantor, Erin Ryan & Some Mulling Of My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time struggling to figure out how my novel’s female romantic lead is. I know her appearance is inspired by Alexa Chung, but it’s taken a lot — A LOT — of struggle to get to the point that I have a character who can be a “Twitter liberal” for the purposes of the plot.

It would help if I, like, actually had friends, huh.

Anyway, I think I may have come up with a character that readers will like. She’s a lot more more a Liz Plank – Erin Ryan character than I expected. Jodi Kantor, while cool and all, just seems a bit more intense and reserved than I need for my purposes. As I’ve said before, if my win-the-lottery dream comes true and I somehow sell this novel and it’s optioned to be a movie, I see someone like Phoebe Waller-Bridge playing the character. At least, that’s who I think about a lot as I develop the character in my mind.

*I* have to want to hang out with this character to write them. Kantor seems like she would be always be quietly judging me for being the doofus that I am. I want someone fun and smart, not scary and smart. (Not to pick on her, but she comes off as rather intimidating to me.)

I’m quite please, like I said, with my female romantic lead. Things are starting to fall into place. I just have to figure out how to give her enough POV screentime so people are willing to see her as real and complex enough.

Though someone called me “both delusional and stupid” for suggesting there are “woke Park Slope Moms,” I do get the sense that these women do exist. I don’t know. No one cares what I do, why can’t I have a little fun to entertain myself by constructing a group of women who probably don’t even exist in any meaningful manner.

Development Struggles With My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


I started off wanting my novel’s female romantic lead to be someone like Alexa Chung. Then she gradually evolve into someone more like Jodi Kantor. Now, she seems more inspired by Crooked Media’s Erin Ryan.

The reasons for this are simple. Chung is too much of a celebrity to write easily and, besides, what would she do? It’s difficult to stand around being gorgeous and witty in a novel. Her character needs to be active in the story. Meanwhile, while the actual human being Jodi Kantor probably has a lot of character, my writing isn’t good enough to portray the type of person she is (very smart and intense) without her character overshadowing the hero. So, now, I find myself thinking about using Erin Ryan as inspiration.

Ryan is very smart and has a lot of spunk. She’s also a bit younger than the other two women, so that affords a different dynamic than might otherwise exist. The dynamic between men, women and age is something you really have to think about seriously if you’re trying to write a novel that’s believable.

None of the women I mentioned would sit next to me in a restaurant. I can’t help how old I am or what I look like. I am who I am. I mean well and can tell a good story. It’s their loss if they think I’m just middle-aged creepy weirdo.

Anyway, my novel’s female romantic lead is now a combination of Alexa Chung, Jodi Kantor AND Erin Ryan. But, remember, while I can articulate a vision pretty well, my writing simply isn’t what it could be. So, there’s every reason to believe that while I can explain to you my vision for the character, should you actual read the character in the novel, you won’t be able to see the connection as clearly as I’ve stated here.

Who knows.

Idle Rambling About The ‘Wind of Change’ Podcast, #JodiKantor, #JessicaAlba & The #Novel I’m #Writing



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Some thoughts.

My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead As Twitter Liberal



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner


Every story needs an outsider to serve as the proxy for the audience. They ask questions that you need to answer for them. For my story, I’m using someone inspired — sorta — by someone like Jodi Kantor. I’m not a good enough writer to properly represent this type person, but in general the novel’s female romantic lead is meant to be, essentially, a Verified Twitter Liberal.

There are some problems with doing this. One is, I fear Twitter Liberals will like this character more than the actual Hero if I’m not careful. I know the mentality of Twitter Liberals well enough to fake it in a character, but I’m nervous that if i do too good a job, they’re going to be more interested in my female romantic lead than, well, my Hero.

But the point of using a Twitter Liberal as my female romantic lead is to prove a point — in the end, we’re all human. That, and the fact that having a character inspired by Jodi Kantor fall for a character inspired by bonkers me is very, very funny to me. It’s both a challenge and entertaining to me as I develop to see if I can pull this otherwise surreal relationship off.

But, again, it’s going to be a huge challenge. Everyone thinks I suck. Everyone wants me to fail. Everyone is looking for some reason to make this all moot. But I believe in myself, nonetheless. I think Ms. Kantor has looked at this Website and found me, shall we say, lacking. I can’t help what a kook I am (using her metrics). I am who I am. I try my best to be the best person I can possibly be.

Anyway, things continue to move quicker with development.

I’m quite pleased.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, #Hollywood, #JodiKantor & The #Novel I’m Developing & #Writing

Some thoughts.

Strangers In The Night

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

By pretty much every metric a “normal” person would use on me, I’m a delusional weirdo currently living one of the more rural corners of a purple fly over state. That’s my reality.

So, as I proceed, keep in mind that I am well aware that I am probably just imagining things. It could all just be me jumping to huge conclusions. I’m using pretty prosaic datapoints and then weaving something out of the ordinary from them.

Anyway, I’ve been contacting a few well-known women the last few days for various reasons connected — and not connected — to the novel I’m developing. Jodi Kantor of the NYT gave me a polite one-line sentence email indicating that I wasn’t worth her time. That’s fair. I am going to exact my revenge, however, by doing everything in my power to have a character who’s professional life is greatly inspired by hers fall in love with a proxy me. Take that, successful investigative journalist!

Then someone obviously using a burner account on Instagram contacted me out of the blue tonight. Given that 99.99999999% of the time anyone who contacts me out of the blue on Instagram is either a troll or absolutely, completely insane, I blocked the account without even thinking about it. No point in wasting my time by engaging the person, whomever they may be.

But the event lingered in my mind. I have an extremely over-active imagination and I started to muse that it might be someone famous who wanted to talk to me, but just not via their official account. The rest of this bit of the post is more about me weighing what famous woman thinks about when contacting someone like me than any notion that that is at all what was going on.

I guess if you were a famous woman intrigued by a weirdo like me and you wanted to contact me you would check out my Instagram and then maybe setup a burner account simply to chat for a moment? Why they wouldn’t be willing say hey with their real account eludes me. But I don’t think that’s what happened. It was probably just my usual insane people trying to bother me. Shrug.

Anyway, enough of that.

The Struggle Is Real: Constructing A Complex, Believable Female Romantic Lead For My Novel

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

With the complaints of outspoken Hollywood feminists like Olivia Wilde and Jessica Chastain ringing in my mind, I find myself trying to construct a romantic partner for my Hero who is strong enough and complex enough that I feel she will be noticed by women who may read the novel.

I’m getting kind of desperate. I know what her name is and what she looks like. But figuring out her personality is proving to be really, really tough. In my desperation, I am turning to someone who has enough of a public footprint that I can use her as inspiration. (Who? Not tellin.) I only do this because, what else am I going to do? I know the woman’s musical tastes and her age, so that goes a long ways towards using her as the foundation of the character, at least in that side of her life.

One element of the character — her professionalism and career drive — is proving to be the hardest to construct because I would need to hang out with the woman who is inspiring that side of her and, well, I’m just a middle-aged loser in a fly over state. So, I’m going to have to some reverse engineering. For this side of her life, I’m really studying Jodi Kantor. She’s a little older than I need the character to be, however, so it’s not an exact fit. But I think if I look at the social media footprint of women like her on Twitter, then that will help a lot.

One thing that’s proving to be a real pain to figure out is, of all things, how my two romantic leads deal with Thanksgiving. Ugh. So difficult. But every problem is an opportunity in disguise.