Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-welcome November 17, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:22 pm
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You came on evening light

uttered soft greetings,

“Tell my tale,” you whispered,

and so begins






This weekend, as I was drifting off to sleep (see yesterday’s poem), I was introduced to Dustin who wanted to tell me the story of his life with Lydia.  I had not intended to start a new novel (if that’s what this is) before finishing the projects already on my plate, but Dustin was pretty insistent.  So, instead of doing what I planned today on my Sunday off, I lent my fingers to Dustin.  I have no idea where this will lead, but it looks like it will be an interesting journey.



quote- loud stories October 20, 2014

Filed under: Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:16 pm
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The more she wrote, the louder the stories seemed to grow, swirling in her mind, pressing against her head, anxious for release.  She didn’t know whether they were any good and in truth she didn’t care.  They were hers, and writing them made them real somehow.  Characters who’d danced around inside her mind grew bolder on the page.  They took on new mannerisms she hadn’t imagined for them, said things she didn’t know they thought, began to behave unpredictably.

Kate Morton The Forgotten Garden p. 326


writing quote- write to know them September 3, 2013

Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird writes about the importance of learning about your characters as you’re writing them:

Say this boy meets a girl….Things need to happen.  Then need to get to know each other, even if just a little.  They will talk to each other, and they will talk about each other to friend.  Get all this down.  After you’ve spent a while with them, they will start to sound more like themselves–because you are getting to really know them…

The better you now the characters, the more you’ll things from their point of view.  You need to trust that you’ve got it in you to listen to people, watch them, and notice what they wear and how they move, to capture a sense of how they speak. 

As you learn who your characters are, compassion for them will grow.  There shouldn’t be just a single important character in your work for whom you have compassion.  You need to feel it even for the villain–in fact, especially for the villain.  Life is not like formula fiction.  The villain has a heart, and the hero has great flaws.  You’ve got to pay attention to what each character says, so you can know each of their hearts.

The books that stay with you are the books that have characters with many dimensions to their personalities.  Yin and yang.  Evil in the good.  Good in the evil.

One of my favourite examples of this is Laoghaire MacKenzie in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  In the first book, we hate her for being so jealous of Claire that she sets her up to be burnt as a witch.  By the end of the series we sympathize with the bitterness that grew when she realised her adoration was unrequited.  She loves Jamie, and since we as readers do too, we can relate to her pain at not ever being loved as she wanted to be by the man she has loved since childhood.  She believed erroneously that they were star-crossed lovers.

What examples from your reading support this view?  What author is a master at this strong character development?


the fundamental fiction July 13, 2013

In love with a fictional character?


Don’t you know that


objects of our desire

are fundamentally fictional?


is a time of great performance,

convincing the other,

showing the best face,

doing things you’ve never done

(and won’t do again)

pretending you love each moment

to impress the object of your desire.

Love is always


We love what we wish

it to be.

If we’re lucky,

when rose lenses are lost,

what we created in dream

bears enough

resemblance to reality

that truth

becomes better

than fiction.



In response to a Tweet about all the wild Outlander fans in a tizzy about Jamie Fraser coming to life.  I was thinking how we fictionalize real people all the time.


inspirational kids October 10, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Grace Awakening Myth — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:11 am
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I’ve already told you that I occasionally use the names of my students (with their permission, of course) in my stories.   The characters are not representations of their namesakes; they have their own adventures, conflicts, and personalities which are completely distinct.  Still, sometimes the fictional and real have the odd thing in common.

For example, in Grace Awakening Myth there’s a character called J-Roy.   You learned the other day that J-Roy dances, is athletic, and looks great in a unitard.

The real J-Roy is also pretty tough.  Look who’s a head-liner in a local mixed martial arts fight? Uh huh.  Ben desperately needs all the help he can get.  I wonder if J. Roy will give him fighting lessons? 😉




music for my iPod March 13, 2011

Filed under: anecdotes,Grace Awakening,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:12 am
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One of my former students, who was a beta reader for Grace Awakening, wrote me the other day to tell me how she was thinking about downloading some music for her iPod.  She thought, “I should download that song Ben wrote for Grace” and then realised with some chagrin, oh wait.  That doesn’t really exist.

The note has made me smile all week.  I love that my characters are so alive!  I love that Ben is so real that people want to find the music described in the book for their iPod. 

Of course, there was music that inspired all the music Ben writes for Grace.  I don’t think I could have written it without remembering the feeling of listening to a composition created just for me by a musician I adored.  (See the blog entitled “Starry Night of Music” for a general sense of it!)  When I find the missing cassette tape,  I promise to post my Graduation tune (providing the composer gives permission, that is).  Until then, perhaps you can find something inspiring among the demo reels at Bhatia Music?


Well met March 12, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Literature,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:42 am
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Prompt 67 If you could bring one fictional character to life for a day, who would it be?

Wow. What a great question. Since I just finished Inkheart, where fictional characters pop to life all around, my first thought was Meggie, but I quickly shelved that idea recognizing it was only because of her current status as ‘most recent’ that brought her to mind.

The next character to pop into my mind was Jacob from the Twilight series. That idea just made me giggle. I love his sense of humour and strong sense of right, plus his devotion and loyalty. His take is less obsessive than Edward’s: more honest and less obnoxious. My favourite students are these kind of laid back, witty clowns.  Since I see these guys all the time in my class room, I guess I will leave Jacob and his abs in the book.

The next thought was Harry Potter. Such nobility of character!  He had greatness thrust upon him and met the expectations to serve the greater good. I love him as a character, but what would he say to us in the muggle world? He’d better stay in his books.

Grace. Oh yes. I would love to meet my Grace Severin! Like a child, I may have birthed her, but she has taken on her own life. She has her own friends, speaks to other people, and she definitely did what she wanted, despite what I wanted on many occasions. She’s a responsible person though. Hopefully a bit of a mix of all the best things from other characters I’d like to meet. Yes. I’d love to sit down for a heart to heart with Grace. I know a nice Greek restaurant we can go to, and this weekend, they’ve even got a harpist.  I’ll wear Bright’s boots.


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