A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Lightwaste. Is. LIVE!

Dronefall Two, Lightwaste is finally available to the reading public!!!

I don’t usually use that many exclamation points, by the way, but I’m thrilled to be launching this bold dangerous little book into the world. It’s been overdue for a long time. Not only in the sense that I expected to publish it last summer, but in the sense that the YA climate is changing in a very different direction and it’s time to speak on behalf of a popularly rejected point of view—Christianity and its unapologizing truth.

But Lightwaste certainly isn’t all fire and brimstone. What you’re actually about to see is Halcyon coming to the realization that many of us have, that there will come a point where you can no longer hide and go along to get along. The opposition simply will not let her.

There’s a lot that could be said but I don’t want to give anything away or overexplain my own story to you. You probably want to read it yourself. You definitely should. I happen to know that book three is also coming soon, and it’s even better, so you probably want to get reading.

New to the Dronefall Fandom?

Hey, great news for you. Book one, Dronefall, is available for a mere 99c on Kindle. I’ll eventually take it up to full price, but now isn’t the time, I think. So, take advantage of it, and jump in. Get it here. Welcome aboard.

Also! (I always feel very German using that word.) Lightwaste is at promotional price. You can get the second ebook for 99c as well. Both Dronefall and Lightwaste are, of course, available in paperback for those who vastly prefer physical books, (like me.)

Stay tuned for the next post. (You might even want to subscribe.) I’ll be releasing an excerpt of Lightwaste for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing: a mini memoir

If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school and they tell you what to do for about seven years. You get your degree and you train, and you don’t really have to go figuring out how to remove tonsils just by going in there and snipping random stuff.

If you want to be a teacher, you get your degree, you student-teach, you learn from people who are doing it right in front of you. They don’t just drop you into a dusty arena full of middle-schoolers and leave you. (Though it probably feels like that, at first.)

But when you say. “I wanna be a paperback writer! Paperback writeeeerr!” People are like, “Good luck with that.”

Thanks for all the luck, guys. It’s been very useful.

If you’ve read Dronefall, then you know that in the back it says book two, Lightwaste is coming in summer of 2018. That’s not a spoiler. It’s technically more like a lie. Obviously, here we are in the third week of March, 2019, and do we have Lightwaste? No. Why?

I Have No Idea™

From now on, I’m going to note in my captain’s log every time I hit an obstacle in my journey from finishing a book to publishing it. It would make quite a chronicle for Lightwaste. Since summer of ’18, I’ve been telling myself, “yeah, probably next week,” almost every week. I don’t think I could even classify the feeling as suspense anymore. Hitchcock would have thrown the book of my life across the room by now. This has gone on about seven months too long.

I’ve read a pile of books on writing and I tend to browse multiple blogposts on the craft through the week. I’ve finished eleven novel manuscripts and made four available to the reading public. But I’m still groping in the dark when it comes to the nitty-gritty digital world of publishing. I really don’t know what I’m doing.

But I’ve made up my mind to let it bother me as little as possible. I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the chaos of the last seven months and the very possibly extensive chain of roadblocks still ahead. Sometimes I’m smart enough to see work as a game. Part of the game is hacking through Mirkwood with frankly nothing to guide you and assure you that you’re even on the right track. I pick up new skills all the time—things I never would have set out to learn, because I never saw them coming. In doing this I repeatedly surprise myself by doing things I thought were beyond me with my total lack of training.

So, even though I don’t deny that having no idea what I’m doing is potentially extremely frustrating (particularly when it gets in the way of my production of art) I think I’m actually doing pretty well, considering. In fact, right before I published this post, I ordered my second page proof of Lightwaste. Maybe I really will publish the book by the end of the month. Who knows?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

15 Ways to Add Color and Depth to Character Relationships

Gotta love a big list post, right? I’ve had this list stashed away in my writing journal notebook for a while, just as a reminder to myself and a brainstorming prompt. Characters and their interactions are essential to driving a story and keeping it dynamic and interesting. Too often I notice authors slacking off on the complexities of interpersonal relationships in their stories. Some characters are nice to each other, some are mean, some are in love, some mentor each other or behave “like brothers” or “like sisters.”

But within these general outlines in real life, there’s a lot more going on than just that. There are numerous ways for brothers and sisters to relate to each other, and numerous ways to be in love. Sometimes characters can actually seem to lose their personalities and become stock-photo siblings or cute cake-topper couples. Unfortunately, this seriously detracts from my emotional investment in their relationships as the reader.

So, as a writer, I need to stretch my imagination a bit and search for ways to develop character relationships outside the obvious. This post is mostly focusing on positive, or overall-positive relationships. There’s a lot more to these relationships in real life than thoughtful words, friendly smiles and comforting hugs all around. Here are a few suggestions I noted to myself.

·         Let them fight

No matter how much two characters love each other, there’s no way their interaction is going to be a frolic through a meadow of dancing buttercups all the time. Even the nicest characters have flaws. (And remember, conflict is a good thing when you’re writing fiction.)

·         Give them a secret they can share

Another thing that’s always good is secrets. And when two characters get to guard a secret together, they naturally grow closer. It can be anything from a matter of life and death to simply trying to hide a stain on the carpet from important company.

·         Let them worry about each other

I probably see this enough with romantic couples or parents with children, but people worry about people they care about weather it’s technically their responsibility to or not. And in a gripping story, there’s always plenty to be concerned about. Explore your characters’ personalities in the way they express or don’t express their concern.

·         Have them plot something together

Similar to the idea of them keeping a secret together, showing your characters working on an elaborate plot or plan together will highlight their individual problem-solving approaches and unique kinds of ingenuity. 

·         Make them laugh at each other

I’m not really talking about intentional jokes, here. Characters who are close friends will be very sensitized to each other’s…peculiarities. And once they’ve reached a point when they know their relationship can take it, they will probably start both teasing and simply smirking to themselves over the other’s quirks.

·         Let them discover each other’s weaknesses

Weaknesses are essential for creating a fully-developed character, and once characters have stumbled upon each other’s broken places, there’s potential for a lot of interesting dynamics between them as well as, of course, plot developments.

·         Make them misunderstand each other

Your characters may have similarities and might see eye-to-eye most of the time, but they are distinct individuals with different experiences. Confusion is bound to interfere with their communication sometimes, and it can add to your story while highlighting differences in your characters’ views of reality.  

·         Give them in-jokes

My siblings and I have so many in-jokes. It doesn’t take very long to start creating them within groups, so this should also be true of fictional characters. In-jokes can be used as running gags throughout books or throughout a series to add that all-important humor element and reference characters’ past experiences together.

·         Have them protect each other

And I don’t mean create an Official Protective Boyfriend character and leave it at that. A protective boyfriend is pretty predictable unless you can create a unique and memorable way for him to express his protectiveness. Sometimes a best friend’s protective impulses can be just as strong as any hunky love-interest’s, and outside of a romantic situation, they can pack a lot more of a punch. 

·         Let them reverse roles sometimes

Sometimes the funny one gets in a bad mood and the more serious one has to try to lighten the moment. Don’t give one character all the good lines and don’t let one get all the injuries while the other is constantly the designated healer. Turning the tables now and then will allow you to explore more sides to your character interactions and create depth.

·         Give them a chance to break rules for each other

This is especially good for deepening relationships involving rule-abiding characters. Sometimes a character should find themselves in a situation where they’ll either have to go against the flow or sacrifice their devotion to their friend. Actually, they could choose either way, and it would add dimension to their relationship and make for some interesting plot material.

·         Make their wills or personalities clash now and then

Strong-willed characters are always satisfying to read about. Stubbornness is a major factor within relationships and it can be a great way to create friction and conflict between two lovable characters. The same is true for characters who simply clash because of pronounced difference in personality. Sometimes neither is in the wrong. They just approach the world differently and get in each other’s way. 

·         Let them pick up on each other’s hints

People who are close enough and interact frequently enough can reach a point where they almost seem telepathic because of their ability to read each other. Certain facial tics, postures, or ways of phrasing statements can carry a lot of meaning, and some characters could become great at recognizing them. Some characters might read the signs and analyze them consciously, others might get a hunch and not be sure where it was coming from. Another opportunity for characterization.

·         Have them miss each other when they’re separated

This constitutes a whole plot for some romances, but it shouldn’t be neglected in platonic relationships. Separation can highlight the ways characters impact each other’s daily lives. What does character A miss when character B is gone? Think outside the box. Of course, they miss their smile and their jokes, but think of the other, more specific things they might take for granted.

·         Let them sacrifice for each other

Sacrifice is a great way to demonstrate love between characters through meaningful, plot-driving action rather than words or warm fuzziness. If one character has the opportunity to give up something of their own goals or desires to further those of another character, it always rings true for readers who are hoping to see both true friendship and true heroism in protagonists. 
That was 15, right? Anyway, I don't have a lot more to add. As a final tip I would just say, in every relationship between two or more characters, always strive to highlight the uniqueness of the individuals. Honestly, you can avoid a whole lot of pitfalls focusing on that.