Category Archives: Just For Fun

Upcoming Events and a Call for Guest Bloggers

He likes to move it, move it. Image via Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

He likes to move it, move it. Image via Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

“I don’t think there’s a punch-line scheduled, is there?”

~ MontyPython

“Always look on the bright side of life.”

~ Monty Python

Dancing lemur + Monty Python quotes= Happy Saturday Morning.

Anyway, that’s the equation my caffeine-addled,editing-befuddled brain came up with.

We’ve had a brilliant year, so far- some wonderful insights and information from my fellow ladies-of-the-word, including guest Lara Shiffbauer’s post on self-publishing.

Our very own Heather Reid will be taking a short leave-of-absence while she and her Scottish husband prepare to move stateside and Heather prepares for the release of her debut novel, Pretty Dark Nothing, in April. We would like to extend a huge congratulations and send her our best wishes as she undertakes what I’m sure will be a fantasic adventure.

I am delighted to announce that D.D. Falvo and Vaughn Roycroft have accepted our invitation to stand in for Heather. Shoes of lead couldn’t keep D.D.’s feet on the ground as a child and as an adult, D.D. is known for her passion to connect(and often mentor, as in my case) with other writers. Vaughn Roycroft, a Writer Unboxed contributor and world-builder extraordinaire wrote this post for us last year. D.D. and Vaughn, thank you and we look forward to your posts.

We also welcome these guest contributors over the coming year:

January 29th- Amy Sipard Freeman

March 29th- Sevigne, a strong, and thoughtful presence over at the Writer Unboxed community page on     Facebook

April 29th- Connie Cockrell

May 30th and September 30th- Lara Shiffbauer will presents parts 2&3 of her Self-Publishing series.

While we plan for workshops and online critiques for the coming year, we extend an open invitation to bloggers. We look for pieces that motivate, inspire, and inform writers. Posts can be anywhere between 300 and 1500 words long and should include an author biography and high-resolution picture. If you’re interested, please leave a message in the comments section or email me @

Available Dates for 2013:

August 30th

October 30th

November 29nth

Have a swell Saturday and here’s a cheeky Monty Python clip for your viewing pleasure:


Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Guest Posts, Just For Fun


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Meditation: Finding Quiet in the Chaos

Chaos“Within yourself is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”

~ Herman Hesse ~

“Without patience, magic would be undiscovered – in rushing everything, we would never hear its whisper inside.”
―    Tamora Pierce,    Sandry’s Book

Everyone has their own definition of chaos. Many of us have to rip our writing time out of the day like an ingrained splinter and be thankful for it. We have jobs, kids, deadlines, and life…beautiful, crazy life. My definition of chaos is a three-year-old fighting potty-training…and sleep, two pre-teen girls who insist they are not drama queens, two part-time babysitting gigs, and two rescue pets. Oh, and the husband- the guy who learned to never ask me, “So, what did you do today?”

Yesterday, I grabbed my weekly goal list- see, I’m making those resolutions happen- and realized I had two days to edit three chapters, a messy house I’d just cleaned before our daily Tasmanian Devil paid a visit, and an overwhelming need to finish that pack of cigarettes. My husband sat contentedly in the middle of children planning to turn our living room into a UFC fighting cage, bless his heart( which is a Southern euphemism for, “isn’t he cute? I wonder if he’d notice if I took my iron skillet…”).

I longed to lose myself in revisions, which is saying a lot for me. I wanted to steep myself in my story like a bag of Lipton tea. But I would have to ignore the story’s siren song for just awhile longer. I felt that twinge of frustration tighten, then expand.

In short, Mom needed a time-out.

“I’m meditating for twenty minutes,” I told my husband. “I’ll be in the bedroom.”

He nodded and eyed the kids. They retreated to books and video games, fighting cage forgotten in a slew of couch cushions and heaped blankets I resolved to ignore until after my twenty minutes were up.

And it happened- I sat on my bedroom floor, in uninterrupted silence for twenty minutes.

Sitting in silence, letting thoughts trail through my head like summer clouds, challenges me. I prefer yoga, Pilates, or a hard, long run. All of which are beneficial, all of which relieve stress, release endorphins, and makes room for creativity and drive by clearing away the flotsam in my head.

But there’s something to breathing and being. No miracles occurred, but I didn’t spend the rest of the day chain-smoking, and I liked my husband again. I found a few minutes that evening and jotted notes for a new beginning to my story, and I felt like I was no longer trying to pull water from a dry well.

Getting Started:

I use a simple technique at the beginning of my session. I count while breathing. I breathe in for four breaths, hold for seven, then release for eight. This forces my mind away from to-do lists and other idle chattering. Meditation is simply another word for contemplation. I’m learning to look at it as a gift to myself. I’ve included links at the end to some helpful sites to getting started. Going for a walk, a run, or any form of exercise works as well.

Benefits for Writers:

* Produces beneficial change in brain electrical activity

* Decreases tension

* Leads to deeper levels of physical relaxation

* Increased control of thoughts, focus, and concentration

* Encourages development of intuition

* Improves sense of the larger picture in a given situation(plots, character arcs, etc. Oh, and real-life stuff, too!)

Please, share your thoughts on meditation or any new habits you want to acquire. What do you do for yourself daily to replenish your energy and creativity? How are those New Year’s Resolutions coming along?


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My Favorite Hugs and Chocolate Posts

Sometimes, a hug is all what we need – Jesslee Cuizon

What a good year it’s been over here! I though that the best way for me to end off things would be to share a few of the post by the wonderful ladies I share this blog with. If any of the links go to places they shouldn’t, please let me know.

It’s been such a pleasure getting to know all of you this year. I’m giving all of you big virtual bear hugs. I can’t wait to see what next year will bring us.

It’s been an honor, ladies and gentlemen.

Jamie Raintree

My Romance With Writing

Who Cares About Writers?

Instruction Manual for a Full-Time Writer

Why Character Archetypes Aren’t Just About Commercialism

Why I Heart Scrivener for Outlining

How to NaNoWriMo During Thanksgiving

Tonia Marie Houston

Bring Your Shovel

St. Patrick and the Writer’s Trinity

Gift Ideas for the Writer in Your Life

33 And It Feels Divine

Give Your Characters Quirk

Synopsis Fundamentals

Heather L Reid

Learn to Love Writing Queries

Dream Big and Never Give Up: How I Landed a 2 Book Publishing Deal

The Third Perspective: Why I Love Third Person Narrative

The First Editorial Letter: Let the Revisions Begin… Again

Riding the Revision Coaster: Completing My 30 Day Deadline

Rebecca Fields

What If…

Luck of the Irish?

The Magic of Fairy Tales

A World of Ideas

Pardon Me, Social Media

Read A (Banned) Book

Courtney Koschel

Filtering Filter Words in Your Writing

Questions to ask When Hiring an Editor

I Suck Syndrome: Recognize it and Beat it

Giving and Getting the Most Out of Critiques

Common Comma Issues

Manuscript Formatting

Jani Grey

Support from the obvious places

Need a little motivation or inspiration? I have some of that for you

Personal Perspective: Why I write 1st person POV

Let me tell you why you’re a winner

The Small Things

Why the subject of your blog post is so very important

Guest Posts

Visualize Your Way to Success: Guest Post by Vaughn Roycroft

DIY Editing and Proofreading Part 1 with Karen S. Elliot

Editing, Proofreading, and a Contest with Karen S. Elliot

Pants on Fire: Guest Post by Laura Long

Guest Post by Brian Taylor: Take a Walk… On a Tightrope: One Writer’s Journey

I’ll see you next year. Have a happy and safe new year!


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Is There a Publishing Contract Under the Tree?

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate! I hope you’re able to share it with your family and those you love most. Since today is the day before Christmas, I’m sure most of you are busy finishing up your last minute wrapping so I’ll keep it short.

As I’m sure you know by now, no one knows what to get writers for holidays. Books are a pretty sure thing but how can we expect our family members to know where to get NaNoWriMo gear or which James Scott Bell book we don’t already have? In reality, all we really want is a great agent, a publishing contract and a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, right? Would that fit under the tree?

This year, I’m taking the guess work out of it for my poor husband and printing out the information for the Savvy Authors online workshop I want to attend. He can wrap his credit card for me. 😉

So let’s pretend I’m Mrs. Claus and you can tell me what writing-related gift you’d love under the tree this year. I’ll do my best to get the message to the big guy.

(But remember, of course, that hitting your goals and reaching for your dreams will always be up to you. 😉 )

I hope you get everything you’re wishing for!

Photo by asenat29


Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Just For Fun


The One Question You Should Ask Yourself(And A Personal Writing Challenge)

Corinth in Romeimage via Urban at fr.wikipedia

Corinth in Rome
image via Urban at fr.wikipedia

““If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
―    Henry David Thoreau,    Walden

My daughter made the point that my husband and I still have a honeymoon to plan. My husband and I talked about what our dream honeymoon would consist of and where it would take place. We daydreamed about Mediterranean- touring ancient architecture, chasing mythology, and tasting the warm sea air…

In doing so, we discovered some mutual interests and passions. Did we call our local travel agent? No, but we made it clear what we want, and though our aim is high, it’s something we can strive for together. We created a goal- a dream.

Which, in my usual round-a-bout way, leads me to the one question I believe everyone should ask themselves:

What is your Perfect Day?

Most of us are planning our resolutions for 2013. Some people build strategies, others, like myself, tend to write them down on scrap paper, lose them, and hope for the best. I believe goal-setting has its value. But I also believe that for those goals and dreams to become a living, breathing reality, we need to visualize those goals and what the rewards mean to each aspect of our life- including our day-to-day writing lives.

When we invest the time in visualizing our Perfect Day, we access our desires, what we expect from ourselves, and the emotions that drive us. We realize what we want, almost to the letter, and then we can recognize what kind of commitment it’s going to require. Commitment is the key word. Read Steven Pressfield’s posts on commitment, How Pro Are You and Depth of Commitment, Part Two.

Personal Writing Challenge

I challenge you to write down your Perfect Day. Go into detail and description. Think about the first thing you’ll do in the morning, what you’ll eat, wear, where you’ll go. When is your ideal time and place to write? What will the conditions be? Who are the players in your Perfect Day- family, friends, other writers? Use your imagination and don’t hold back due to any current budget or other restrictions.

Take the time for yourself to journal or log the details. Use your ideal to find the things that are within your grasp- maybe you can start your morning with that run or yoga, or writing before anyone else wakes up. Use that ideal for motivation to break the bad habits that get in the way- social networks, smoking, procrastination, Doctor Who memes…

Next week, we plan to share our goals and predictions for 2013, and we want to hear from you. Ask yourself, before then, what is your Perfect Day and meditate on the minutiae. Or use it as a prompt to spur your ingenuity.

Let us know if you decide to participate in the writing challenge.

What are your thoughts on today’s challenge? Do you think taking the time to write down your Perfect Day will inspire you to finesse your goals and find out what drives you? Or do you have a few details you would like to share?

Happy Holidays!


Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Goal-Setting, Inspiration, Just For Fun


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Chance Encounters

Pink Sherbet Photography

*A few years ago I’d been sitting at a really arty coffee shop waiting for a friend. It was the kind of coffee shop that had worn couches along the walls, bookshelves with new and second-hand books for sale, art supplies in one corner, and a real eclectic mix of patrons. It was one of those places that made people-watching a real treat.

So while I waited for my friend, I sort of spied on the middle-aged man at a table near me. He was a sketch artist, and the table he occupied was littered with pencils of various sized, crumpled pages, and eraser shavings. I think when I chose that table, he’d already been there a good half an hour, just drawing. The artistic mess in front of him might have been what made me choose that table, because my friend was notorious for being late. Most of the time very late.

But it was when I combined that mess with the business suit he wore that I chose a table that allowed me to watch him without him being aware of it. Not that he would have noticed, he was too engrossed in sketching the bus stop across the road along the lady waiting there.

In truth it was a really inspiring sight, this man in his business suit, sketching. Just by the look of him I could tell he probably worked as a manager or an accountant, something along those lines. It might have been his lunch hour, and he spent it doing something he loved. Something he was exceptionally good at, if what my spying had shown me was anything to go by. I had been an inspiring thing to see. Somebody with a day job still finding time to do something he loved. I’m sure had I asked him, he would have told me he’d much rather devote more time to his art, but he had a family to support and he loved them more than he did his art. He’d looked like he kind of guy who would have a wife who tried giving him as much time to devote to his passion as possible. Sometimes you could just tell these things about certain people.

My timing couldn’t have been more perfect if somebody had sent me there on purpose. A couple of student had walked into the coffee shop, and after they’d all placed their orders, gathered around a table and started talking about all kinds of random student things.

One of them, a guy I guessed could have been twenty or so, had leaned back on the two hind legs of his chair and looked at the man drawing. He’d complimented the man on his skill, and the man had accepted it graciously. The student then went on to tell the suited man how he used to draw until some personal issues got in the way. The man had asked the student if those personal issues were still in the way, and the student had said no, they weren’t. ‘Then why aren’t you doing it again if you love it so much?’ the suited man had asked him.

You have to understand, this conversation fascinated me. I’d once asked myself the same question, right before I’d started writing again. It had changed my life, that question. Why aren’t you doing it if you love it so much? Good question, right?

The student had replied that the man had made a good point, and the man had agreed. He’d said that there would always be things that get in the way of doing what you really wanted to. The trick was finding ways around it or making those things work for you. Bad things are only bad things until you decided to do something about or with them.

It had been a strangely wonderful thing to see, the light of comprehension in the student’s eyes as he assimilated what the man had said to him. He’d returned to chatting with his friends, but I’d seen the change in him. Good change, and maybe the change had gotten to me too. I like to think it had.

Fifteen minutes after the encounter, the artist had gathered his pencils and pages and placed them all inside his briefcase. Before he’d left, he’d touched the student’s shoulder and had pointed to the corner where all the art supplies were on sale, then left.

I have no idea if the student went to buy any of the supplies, but I like to think that he had.

* Please ignore my tense issues. I blame it on almost being the end of November and my brain not functioning properly. Any of the H&C ladies are welcome to correct anything they want. I take no responsibility 😛


Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, luck, Motivation, Uncategorized


Hunting for Writing Drive

Yey for short posts!

NaNoWriMo aside, sometimes I think November is the longest month ever. I’m tired. Are you tired? I thought so. It’s been an exceptionally long year, and I can’t wait for my vacation to start in *checks calendar* 29 days and counting.

When I get tired, especially at this time of the year, I lose a bit of what I like to call my ‘writing drive’. As much as I absolutely adore writing, it feels just that bit more painful in November, like I’m truly bleeding onto the page. Every. Single. Word.

The need to go home, fall onto my bed, and stare at the ceiling for a good hour and just skip the day’s writing, is especially prominent in what’s come to be known at work as ‘hell hour’. It’s that hour before I go home, and my motivation to do anything is less than 0. Or rather, my motivation is hiding in a pitch black drainpipe somewhere, and the only way to get it back is to stick my hand in there with the hope that nothing tries to eat me.

We all know one of the true signs of being a writer is to write even when you don’t feel like it. Having a muse is all well and good, but once you have deadlines you can’t miss, your muse isn’t going to do anything for you. He/she might even laugh a bit as you struggle to get those words out, but out they have to go.

So in an effort to get rid of the day’s reluctance to write, I do a few things that scrape together all the motivation scattered around me.

  • Half an hour before my workday is done, I stop working. Maybe stop is too direct. I pretend to work. This is something that will definitely not work for everybody, but for those who can, try it out.
  • You’ll be surprised how invigorating/recharging a silly conversation can be. I had one yesterday about alligators and yo mama jokes. After that I managed a solid 1k +. Twitter is great for this.
  • For those of you driving to and from work, I want to seriously suggest maybe skipping the radio station you listen to, and instead listen to your WIPs playlist or music that chills you out/inspires/motivates you. I do this every afternoon, and by the time I get home, I’m almost ready to get things one. If you don’t drive or use public transport, maybe take a half an hour or so and listen to something that works for you before you start writing.
  • Don’t underestimate procrastination. Let your mind wander, you might be surprised by what you pick up along the way. Tumblr is a great place for that. Pinterest and DeviantArt too.

Four small things when you’ve lost some of your writing drive. It’s been such a quiet week, and now that we’re entering the third week of NaNo, we need all the drive we can get.

Check in, won’t you? How’ve you all been doing? How has November been treating you?


Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, NaNoWriMo, Social Media


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Invoking the Muse (Superstitions, Totems, and Rituals of Writers)

My personal totems.

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

~from Macbeth

Beyond the craft, the rules, and hours of work, there lies a mystical place where the muse is invoked and a spell is weaved. But am I superstitious? Are writers, in general, a superstitious lot?

Overall, we do have a tendency to ritualize our writing  process. Kerouac would only write by the light of a candle. Hemingway carried a lucky rabbit’s foot in his pocket. It’s the things we do to open the door and let our subconscious slide in and take the reins.

I prefer to work with music. I have particular songs for certain scenes and characters. One of the first on my playlist is Sia’s My Love. It evokes a feeling of loss and yearning appropriate for my story. In addition, totems (pictured above) litter my desk. I love the funny little cow my oldest made for me, and the moon rock my other daughter gave to me. I keep souvenir’s brought back from Paris, France by my sister-in-law to remind me of the rewards possible at the end of the hard work.

My husband asked me, “Are all writers like this?”

Perhaps not all, but I’m not alone in my wacky weirdness and OCD tendencies (i.e. saving my work every five minutes).

” I collect talismans on the beach. Specifically crinoids, beach-glass, and heart rocks. The best make it to my writing desk, displayed right below my monitor. The more polished the glass, the better for polishing the ms; the rounder and smoother the crinoid, the more complete and circular and zen-like the plot line; the more perfectly formed the heart, the greater the romantic elements. Finding a trifecta means a really good writing day. Also have roman coins, swords, a pagan Thor’s hammer, and a rooting warrior-guy statuette surrounding me. (But I’m not at all superstitious.)”

~ Vaughn Roycroft

“I always have an empty Google tab open on my computer when I write, in case I need to look something up (b/c I am anal-retentive about researching, but inherently lazy, so I don’t go any farther than some extensive internet searches…which have served pretty well, to date). I also am a compulsive Saver, usually hitting Ctl + S whenever I pause (after a singe word, mid-sentence, after an on-a-roll paragraph).”

~ Danielle Davis

“After a good day writing, I immediately backup to Mozy but only because I once lost 8k words!!”

~ Micki Lindquist

More oddities and enchantments:

* some writers will only work at certain tables in coffee shops

* manuscripts must end on an even-numbered page

* Only one particular pen will do

* Attire: from smoking jackets to favorite flannel pajamas. And yes, socks. 😉

* Vices: Some eat chocolate, some drink whiskey. Others smoke or swear by chai tea.

* Many writers feel out of sync if they don’t write at the same time every day

Do you have any habits, rituals, charms that inform your writing process? Please share.

And for those of us wondering when those nice young men in their clean white coats are coming for us, don’t despair. Follow this link to read more about the odd habits of Margaret Atwood and Truman Capote, among others.

Many thanks to Vaughn, Danielle, and Micki for sharing the quirks of their writing process.

Bonus: Stevie Wonder sings Superstition on Sesame Street. Watch the little guy with the hair get his funk on.  🙂


Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Just For Fun


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What my two-year-old taught me about writing

I’m an Honorary Chocaltier. 🙂

A few days ago, I sat at my kitchen table with my head in my hands and watched my son, Zeke, color. His little tongue poked out of his mouth and I couldn’t help but notice the expression in his eyes: complete dedication to the task at hand. While he colored, I revised chewed my nails, stared into space, and drank coffee. I envied my two-year-old.

It occurred to me that he could teach me a thing or two about the creative process. He’s never lost his joy, second-guessed his motives and actions, or fought Inner Critic Nag Dude. On the contrary, he knows he’s awesomesauce and lives everyday based on that fact.

Humor me, and stop thinking like an adult.

Q: “I want to be an author when I grow up. Am I insane?”


A: “Yes. Growing up is highly overrated. Just be an author.”

 ~ Neil Gaiman

Zeke’s Lessons on Writing (In no particular order):

* Ask for help. I’ll let you in on a secret- I love it when he asks for help. I like being needed, and with my oldest in junior high, I know these days will pass. If you haven’t already, join a tribe(ours is an excellent place to start) and ask questions.

* Practice selective listening. Put your hands over your ears and tell that Nag Dude, “I can’t hear you, lalala.”

* Figure out how it works before you break it. You know- Da Rules. You can apply this to your manuscript as well. Determine the intent of your story before you beat it with a sledgehammer.

* Emulate the people you admire. Side note: Be a shadow, but don’t climb their back and stick suckers in their hair.

* Learn something new every day. Make life, and your writing, more interesting.

* Development is never a linear process. I’ve experienced information overload in the past few weeks. Panster/Plotter? Social Media? Character arcs? Whew. I love it all, but I decided that there are some things I needed to figure out on my own. If you feel like your journey is more of a toddler’s scribble than a straight line, welcome to the club.

* Say what you mean. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. A wise friend of mine told me, “Readers can only go where you lead them.”

*  Be honest. Kids are known to be too honest, sometimes. Our writing should be like this- a little outlandish, larger than life, and true to our inner landscape.

* Vent. Although it’s tempting to throw a full-blow tantrum, that’s not what I mean. Call a friend, go for a walk, journal the anger and frustration out of your system. Catharsis is a brilliant thing.

* Be picky. Any parent, or a brave soul who takes on babysitting a preschooler, knows what I’m talking about. We should be picky, too- about our word choice, pov, critique partners, what we spend our time on. I know I need to make conscious decisions. Decide what kind of career you want and go for it.

* Demand recognition. When Zeke does something cool and no one notices, he claps his hands and shouts “Yay”. Try it out sometime, then eat some chocolate and dance.

* It’s not over just because you poop your pants. We started potty-training Zman. Poop happens. We clean it up and move on. Apply to writing, to your career, to life. Acknowledge you made a stinky, then get over it.

Can you relate to any of these? Share your insights, humor, and stories. Thanks for your time. 🙂


Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Inspiration, Just For Fun


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Coffee Talk: Stereotypical Characters

I’ve been expectantly waiting the newest post from Hugs and Chocolate today when it suddenly dawned on me that it’s my Wednesday to post! I must apologize for having a complete HUB (head up butt) moment. My second round of revisions came back from my editor on Friday and I’ve been laser focused on getting them turned around in my very tight deadline. I admit I’ve been consumed. Don’t feel bad, it’s not personal.  I’ve also forgotten to eat, what day it is, and the time. I’ve been late for a work meeting, so zoned out on my commute that I have no idea how I arrived home, burned the rice and overcooked the fish. I’ve been focused to the point where everything else around me disappeared. I also totally confused myself by taking the extra Wednesday slot last week. So here I sit, completely unprepared and feeling a little ‘verklempt’. That’s when inspiration strikes.

Coffee talk!

Ok, some of you are thinking. “What?”

No really, it’s like buttah!

Now you’re thinking “Heather has totally lost it.”

For those of you who are not fans of the great SNL Mike Myers skit, Coffee Talk, let me explain.Coffee Talk with Linda Richman was a Saturday Night Live skit performed by Mike Myers back in the early 90’s. If you haven’t seen it, Google it now! It’s one of my favourites.

Anyway, in the sketch, Myers plays a stereotypical Jewish middle-aged woman named Linda Richman. Linda hosts a talk show called Coffee Talk. She loves Barbara Streisand, gold jewellery, gaudy sweaters and big hair.  Meyer’s exaggerated, New York accent, fake nails, and large dark glasses spoofed his real-life mother-in-law, Linda Richman and created an unforgettable character. During the skit, Myers would become ‘verklempt’ to the point of not being able to speak. His solution to keep the show going would be to give a topic to the audience to discuss.

So, since I’m unprepared, time is running short, and I have to get back to these revisions.  I’m going to throw a topic out there for you to discuss amongst yourselves, and since Mike Myers created such a memorable but stereotypical character, I thought that would be a good place to start.

What are your thoughts on using stereotypes for fictional characters?



Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Characters, Just For Fun, originality, Writing