Tag Archives | character

Link Round-up: Writing the Novel

While I'm teaching writing in Europe, I'm mining my eight years of articles on writing for you.  Once a week I'm posting a link round-up on a certain subject.  I'll also re-post an oldie but goodie in full on a different day. And I've got a couple of new posts scheduled for you as well. 

Today's topic is writing the novel.  Scroll down for tons of links!

Work-in-house-1232248

Not sure what exactly is going on in this photo besides the writing. Are you?

 

Starting & Prep

 

Finding the First Line of Your Novel

A Novel-Writing Vision Board

Tips on Writing: Prepping For the Novel, Part One: Tools

Tips on Writing: Prepping For the Novel, Part Two–The Ideas and the Process

Tips on Writing: Prepping For the Novel, Part Three: Character

Tips on Writing: Prepping For the Novel, Part Four: Story

 

The Long-haul (or, Sticking With It)

 

Making the Magic Happen: Committing to a Writing Schedule

Fast-Drafting Fiction (Or Any Other Kind of Writing)

Never Underestimate the Power of a Writing Prompt

Willingness: The Mindset for Writing a Novel

Writing Every Morning

 

Character

 

Characters at Cross Purposes

7 Ways to Get to Know Your Characters

9 Ways to Create Characters Readers Will Identify With

Creating Characters: Compassion and Conflict

The Ordinary Day

 

Setting

 

Building Your Fictional World

The Power of Place

Location, location, location

 

Structure

 

Overcoming Flat Scenes: Rising and Falling Action

Story Structure 

The Value of (Groan) Structure

Saturday Writing Tip: Scenes

 

Okay, that ought to keep you busy for awhile.  And remember, I'm teaching my novel writing class this fall, starting in October, if this has whetted your whistle for the process. 

Next link round-up is a week from today, Tuesday, September 8, on journaling!

 

1

Are You a Right-Brain or Left-Brain Dominant Writer?

ElliottBayBooks

A Stack 'O Writing Books

I learned a different way of looking at my writing this weekend, a way that I think will help inform how I plan and plot a novel. (One of the things I love best about writing is that there's always something new to learn.  It's impossible to be bored by it.) I'm thinking this thing will help you, too, so let's discuss.  But first, some background.

This past weekend, I went to Seattle with my daughter.  We took the train up and back (the best way to travel), stayed in the Roosevelt Hotel downtown, and reconnected with an old friend and met her new family.  (One of the most adorable two-year-olds on the planet, second only to my own granddaughter.)

One of the best times we had was Saturday afternoon, when we hung out at the new (to us) location of Elliott Bay Books.  The bookstore is dotted with large tables at which you can while away the afternoon.  Which is exactly what we did. It felt like the height of luxury to spend a couple of hours doing nothing but looking at books.  My daughter perused books from the design section, and I pulled out stack after stack of titles from the writing section.  I read through many of them,  took notes from some, and ended up buying two:

Naming the World, and other exercises for the creative writer, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston.  I remember being at AWP years ago right when this book came out. It is comprised of brief essays and accompanying writing exercises from a wide variety of writers.  I'm always looking for exercises for myself and my students–I'm not sure why I haven't bought this one earlier.  It is excellent.  (I especially love the section of Daily Warm-ups at the back.)

PlotWhispererThe Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson.  I've read her blog, but for some reason shied away from the book, which has been out a few years.  I'm only a short way in, but the book is excellent.  And the thing that has grabbed my attention is the distinction she makes between left-brain dominant writers and right-brain dominant writers.  To wit:

The left-brained writer thinks in language more often than images and is quite comfortable with action.  He might also be analytical and detail-oriented.  Alderson says that if you crave action and "spew out dialogue at will" you are a left-brained writer.

The right-brained writer thinks in pictures rather than language and likely starts his writing developing characters or emotional moments in the story.  He takes a more intuitive approach.  If you fall in love with your characters and love to ponder theme and meaning, you are more right-brain oriented.

Raise your hand if you recognize yourself in one of the descriptions above.  Me! Choose me!  I'm a right-brained writer through and through.  I can't think of a novel or story I've written that didn't start with a character, and because of this I also have a few abandoned stories littering my computer, because I didn't know how to develop action for the character.

It doesn't matter which one you are, but it helps to figure that out from the get-go.  Because just as I've struggled with action in my stories, the left-brained writer will struggle with getting character emotion and detail into her work.  And if you know that going in, you'll know where your weaknesses lie and you can figure out how to correct them.

You'll know that if your left brain tends to be more dominant, you'll need to learn to focus on character, imagery, and emotion.  Conversely, if your right brain rules the roost, you'll have to focus on plot and goal and structure.  (There are ways to do this without freaking yourself out.)

Alderson has an interesting offer on her website.  (I'm in no way affiliated with her, just intrigued by the info she's presenting.)  It's called Writing a Story Takes You on an Epic Journey, and since it is in beta, it is really inexpensive (like $14.99, amazing). 

So that's what I learned this weekend.  Does the concept of left-brain dominant and right-brain dominant writers resonate with you?  Which are you? Do discuss in the comments.

All images are by moi.  I've been using Instagram a lot lately.  Come follow me there, why don't you?

13

Characters at Cross Purposes

Light_lights_cross_220357_lBefore I started the actual rewriting of my novel, I did a lot of prep work.  One of the things I did was make a chart listing the goals, motivations (what the character wants), interior and exterior conflicts of each character.  These are the kinds of things that you generally at least have a vague sense of as you write the first draft, but need to be nailed down more specifically as you embark on the second time around.

And, as I discovered for the umpteenth time, these are also the things that are sometimes really, really hard to get specific about.  I mean, I know what my main character, named Madeleine, wants in a sort of wafty, overall sense, but defining it in a definite, precise, manner is difficult.  It drives you down into the heart of the story–which is why it is a worthy exercise.

I also did this for each of the important characters in the book.  And then I took a look at my charts. And realized–pa-dum–that some of them had similar motivations.  One could even say they had the same motivations. Which doesn’t work.  Why?  Because if all your characters want the same thing, they can all work together, united as one, singing Kumbaya.

This aggression cannot stand.

Because what is the most important element of all fiction?  That’s right, conflict. And if characters are all united as one, there won’t be any.  All good fiction is about characters in action, and characters at cross purposes with each other create conflict in action.  And so you need to put your people at cross purposes with each other, which is as simple and complicated as giving them conflicting desires.  Here are some simple suggestions as to how to get yourself thinking that way.

Finish Your First Draft First

Don’t argue with me.  You just have to.  You will know more–way more–about your characters when you get to the end of the draft then you do at the beginning.  Write it fast (which more and more I’m coming to believe is the ticket), or write it slow, but write it.

Look at yourself.  

Ask yourself what you want.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely get a list of garden-variety desires like lose weight, make lots of money, travel the world, have successful relationships with friends and family.  And guess what?  It is fairly likely that your main character wants those same, garden-variety things as well.  Now think of times you’ve struggled to get what you want.  Did your mother-in-law bake you a chocolate cake for your birthday, despite the fact you’ve been on a strict Paleo diet?  It’s not that she wants you to stay fat–she just wants you to enjoy her cake she baked for you. It is still in conflict with your goal.

Tweak a bit

Let’s continue on with the above situation, your MIL baking you a cake for your birthday. Maybe she has a deeper motivation.  Maybe she wants to make you gain weight so that her darling son will leave you.  That is an excellent cross purpose.  The simplest of actions can have devious motivation attached.  And in this case, all it took was a little tweak.

Brainstorm and free write

I realized my character Madeleine has a nicey-nicey relationship with her sister.  Bor-ing.  The two of them don’t need to be at war with each other, but don’t all siblings have some tension embedded in their relationship?  I did some free writing and realized that Madeleine was very close with her late mother.  Her sister?  Not so much.  This is the cause of some friendly “Mom liked you best” rivalry that ends up going deeper than expected.  And I got to it the way I get to all things–by writing about it.

Think up the absolute worst conflict

What is the worst thing that could happen between your two characters in the fictional situation you’ve set up for them?  You don’t have to use this eventuality, but pondering it can help you get some strong-ass conflict into your novel.

How do you create characters with strong conflicts?

Just for fun:

Photo by reuben4eva.

2

9 Ways to Create Characters Readers Will Identify With

I have a bad habit of creating characters that are, um, unlikeable.  Or, in the parlance of the publishing industry–unrelatable.

(As a brief aside, I do worry about what this says about me.  People seem to like me when they meet me in person, and I do try hard to be nice and positive.  But you never know.  I could be horrible and people just aren't telling me.)

This happened with Emma Jean, as I have written about a lot here.  People start out wanting to shake some sense into her (as a fellow blogger said) and end up loving her.   And it happened recently again–I was toiling away on another novel and when I took it into my writing group, everyone told me how much they didn't like the main character.  Which was actually a huge relief, because I didn't like her either.  She really had no redeeming features.  (At least Emma Jean was funny.)

So I set that novel aside, and now I'm working on another one.  The heroine of this novel is a character who has been with me a long time.  I wrote a mystery novel with her as the protagonist years ago (I recently found this novel and its actually not half bad, I just didn't have the fortitude to market it back then), and I've written short stories about her as well.

I think she's likeable.   And relatable.  But I want to make sure.  And somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind, I remembered reading a screenwriting book that had a section on making characters likeable.  So I went to my bookshelf and found Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge, which sure enough, has a whole wonderful section on creating characters, one part of it called Establishing Character Identification.   I found his tips very helpful, and I paraphrase them here:

1.  Create sympathy for the character.  "This is by far the most effective and widely used method of creating reader identification with the hero," Hauge says.  One way to do this is to make your protaganist the victim of some undeserved misfortune.  For instance, in the novel I'm writing, my heroine gets laid off.  It could be a family member's death, a child being bullied, racism or sexism–you get the idea.

2.  Put the character in jeopardy. Thrillers and adventure tales do this well.  I see it used a lot in women's fiction when say, the protagonist's husband runs off with all the money, or she faces some other "soft" threat (as opposed to a situation in which she faces bodily harm or death).

3.  Make the character likeable.  Would that this were easy!  Hauge says that the more we like the character, the more we will identify with her and root for her throughout the story, and he names three ways to make it happen:

–Make the character a good or nice person

–Make the character funny  (too bad this didn't work better for Emma Jean–though it was her saving grace)

–Make the character good at what he or she does.

Hauge emphasizes that writers must use one of these methods to be sure you establish character identification.  And, he says, you have to do this right away!  No meandering warm-ups–let us know who your character is and why we should care about him immediately.  Here are the rest of his ways to establish identification:

4.  Introduce your protagonist as soon as possible.  Sometimes I read manuscripts that confuse me because I can't tell who I'm supposed to be rooting for.  Often writers put auxiliary characters in first.  Uh-uh.  Get your hero onstage first.

5.  Show the character in touch with his own power.  Love this one.   It can be power over other people, power to do what needs to be done, or power to express one's feelings despite what others think.  We are fascinated with power–because so many of us don't have it.

6.  Put the character in a familiar setting.  Time, place, home, and family all create a sense of familiarity.  Maybe you've never lived in or visited New York City, for instance, but you have a basic familiarity with it because you've seen it on TV and movies a gazillion times.

7. Give the character familiar flaws.  Addiction is a perennial favorite because we all know someone who has struggled with it–or perhaps you yourself have (it is a writer thing, after all).  Or, Hauge says it can be less serious, like social awkwardness or clumsiness (correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that a trait of Bella in the Twilight series?). 

8.  Make your character a superhero.  But only if you're writing fantasy or adventure.  There's something primal about these larger-than-life figures that resonate with readers.

9.  The eyes of the reader.  Hauge says that reader identification is strengthened when we find out information at the same time as the hero.  This works great in mysteries, for example.  (And does it drive you as crazy as it drives me when we see the detective figuring out the key to the whole crime but aren't privy to it?)

That's it–the nine ways to create character identification.

News flash: a 20th anniversary edition of the afore mentioned book, Writing Screenplays That Sell, was recently published.  Hit Michael's website for more info. (I have the old version, so don't yell at me if the new one you buy isn't exactly the same.)

Also: yes I know that most of you who read this blog don't write screenplays.  But for my money, the screenplay guys (and gals) are the absolute best when it comes to structure and story.  So read them and apply it to novel or memoir writing.

Have you used any of these methods to create character identification?  What are your favorite ways to make your character relatable?

4

Creating Characters: Compassion and Conflict

I was quite taken with this post from Sandra Pawula on compassion when I read it last weekend. (I'm actually quite often taken with admiration for Sandra's posts.  If you haven't discovered her blog, go read it now.) Paper-pink-texture-64137-l

In the post, Sandra writes about how compassion is linked to boundless, deep love and then, and this is what really blew me away,  she defines love. "This is one truth I have come to know with certainty: When you love completely from the depth of your heart, your wish for another person’s happiness becomes greater than your own perceived needs, wants, and desires."

So, because anything I read or think about eventually gets connected to my writing, I started to think about how we authors feel deep compassion for our characters.  We fall in love with them, and want the best for them.  We want them to be happy.

But, then we have the other C word.  You know what I'm going to say: conflict.

The basis of all story is conflict (or tension, if you prefer).  In order to create a story, be it short story, memoir, or novel, there must be conflict.  And lots of it.  The more the better.

But we love our characters!  How can we show them the compassion they deserve (and in my mind, need if we're going to write them) and still create the conflict the story requires?

There's actually conflict in that there dilemma, which is a bit of a starting point.  And, I think for me it helps to remind myself that conflict is the crucible through which we deepen ourselves, our lives, and our capacity to love.  And if it's true for humans, it's true for the human characters about which we write.

In order to write multi-dimensional characters (and I just finished a novel with one-dimensional characters that ultimately disappointed me) we, their creators, must approach them with equal thought given to both conflict and compassion.

As always, I'm feeling my way through this topic as I write it, and the really juicy development of it will happen in the comments.  So, please chime in!  Do you feel compassion for your characters?  How do you bring yourself to torture them with conflict?

Photo by MeHere.

10

7 Ways to Get to Know Your Character

Iceland-160976-hNo matter what you're writing, memoir, fiction or even web copy, character is everything. You've got to know your character through and through in order to write successfully. This was brought home to me all over again last week, when I spent the week with my daughter and her baby and learned, first hand, what their life is like together.

It is worth it to take the time to learn more about your character.  Otherwise, you'll get midway through your novel and realize you don't understand your character's backstory and hence, her motivation.  Or you'll be rolling along on your memoir and realize there are holes where you don't know some crucial bit of a character's timeline.

So here are some of my favorite ways to advance your understanding of your characters.

1. The Basics.  You gotta know this stuff.  You know, height, weight, hair color, eyes, age, astrological sign, etc.  The absolute bedrock basics you'd know about, say, someone in your family.  Write this stuff down and keep it somewhere you can access it so your character's eyes don't change color from page 5 to page 128, when her new love is gazing into them.

2.  Timeline.  What are the big events in your character's life, and the dates of them?  Things like birth, graduation, marriage, birth of babies, and so on.  You can also do an emotional timeline of important events and put the two together.

3. Ordinary Day.  I'm big on this one, because it is deceptively helpful.  From the time your character gets up in the morning, what does he do?  Start with getting out of bed and proceed in as much detail as you can muster.  You'll learn all kinds of interesting things, because how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, as Annie Dillard says.

4.  The Interview.  Ask your character questions about her life, the way you would if you were a journalist interviewing her for an article.  This can be especially helpful to jar loose secrets, conflict, and motivation.

5.  The Dream.  Author Robert J. Ray recommends this exercise, and its a doozy.  Doesn't seem like it would be worth much, but it can help a lot.  Start by writing, in the dream…..and then keep repeating the words in the dream as you write.  It gets you into a meditative state that will reveal depths.

6.  Look at Yourself.  You can find a lot of inspiration for your characters in how you approach life.  Write a journal entry and then rewrite it in the viewpoint of your character.  See how things change or remain the same. 

7.  Examine Setting.  Landscape shapes who we are.   A character who lives in rural South Dakota has different ideas and opinions than one who lives in Manhattan.  And yet, as Janet Burroway says, setting is so much more than just landscape.  It is the house you live in, the books on your coffee table, the mug you drink coffee from.  All of these things influence our character.

So there you have it, 7 ways to look at character.  Please comment and tell me your favorite ways to uncover the secrets of your characters!

Create a successful, inspired writing life:  Take the time to get to know each of your main characters as intimately as possible.  It will save you time in the long run!

 

Photo by cogdogblog.

0

Do Characters (And Sentences) Belong Only To One Story?

I was writing away on my new novel when suddenly the ex-husband from a novel I'd started and abandoned walked on.

He's my new favorite character, ever, and his insistent good cheer is going to make a great counterpoint to my confused, grieving heroine.  I adore this guy.  But how weird is it that he came over from the other novel?

It felt somehow wrong at first.  Like he belonged only to the other story.  But then I started thinking about it and realized, maybe he's been lying in wait all this time for the perfect place to insert himself.  He's been waiting for his cue.

Is this weird?

Then I was sorting through old journals and found a sentence from a novel I wrote long ago, that has been lost to the sands of time: And then I watched him walk away from me one last time.  I love that line.  I know, I know, its pretty simple.  But I still love it.  And I may want to use it some day instead of burying it in a journal.

Weird?

Or normal?

Or is there a normal for writers?  Probably not.

This post is uncharacteristically short, without the usual "create a  successful, inspired writing life" tagline because I want to hear from you.  Have you had this experience?  What do you think about transferring characters or lines from story to story?  I'm all ears.

I'm hoping your responses will convince me I'm not crazy.

6

How to Prep To Write A Novel

So, you've decided to take the plunge and write a novel.  Perhaps you might be wondering where to begin. Or if you are taking the plunge for a second or third or fourth time, maybe this time you've vowed to get organized ahead of time so you don't spend weeks going down fruitless plot paths. 

On Monday, I wrote about my own path, at times slightly tortuous, to starting another novel.  Today, I'm going to share some prep tips that have worked for me when beginning a novel.

But first, we have to do it.  We have to face the age-old debate–is it better to actually plan a novel ahead or just plunge in and allow it to reveal itself to you, the writer?  I have firm ideas about that.  Yes, it is wonderful to allow your creativity full range and just write what you feel like.  Wonderful until you realize you've written 100 pages that have nothing to do with your main storyline.  Honestly, we all need a container to put our creative into, novel writers included. You're going to do much better if you have some idea where you're going.  I'm the first to say it can be a loose idea, but you need to have an idea. 

Okay, so are you with me?  Great. Today we'll discuss the things you need in your life to write a novel, and on Friday we will talk about the things you need in your brain (and on the page) to write a novel.

Tools. First off, gather you up some tools.  Besides the obvious computer, I like to use a spiral of some sort, smallish so you can carry it with you, as a dedicated notebook for the novel.  Brilliant flashes of insight go in here, as do random notes about the topics we'll discuss below. You might also want to get a 3-ring binder, for printed manuscript pages and completed forms. And if you put things in file folders, grab a bunch of them.  Accordion files can work well also.  Oh yeah, and dictionaries.  Or a word notebook, if you have one.

The Habit of Cultivation.  Novels are long.  200-300 pages long.  That's a lot of pages to fill.  A lot of words to write.  You've got to come up with things that happen, details to make the world come alive, dialogue and thoughts for your characters.  What are you going to do when you need to describe a coffee shop and your mind goes blank?  This is when a habit of cultivating comes in handy.  Writers need to be out in the world observing, writing down their observations or committing them to memory (bad idea, if you ask me) so that there's water to draw out of the well when you need it.

Space.  My first office was a desk shoved into the corner of the bedroom.  That room has long since been converted to the family room, and sometimes I look at that corner and marvel at how I ever wrote there.  But I did.  I wrote articles for art magazines and a couple of coffee table books in that space.  Doesn't matter if you write in a closet, or a corner of the kitchen.  Makes a place for yourself.  You'll need room to store your spiral, your binder, and your file folders and more importantly, you need the psychic space that your own place provides.

Time.  When are you going to write this baby?  Are you going to get up early or stay up late? Are you going to write it at lunchtime or during coffee breaks?  When the baby is napping?  Doesn't matter when you do it, as long as you make a plan for it.  Because, otherwise, it won't happen.  Period.

Vision Board.  You can make this now or after you've done more planning of the type I'm going to discuss in the next post.  But do consider making one.  A vision board for your book can get ideas and juices running like nothing else.  Download my free Ebook on this topic in the right-hand column if you feel so inclined.

That's it for now.  Come back Friday for the last post in this series, in which we'll discuss planning for character, setting and plot.  In the meantime, what are  your essential prep tools for writing a novel?

 

 

6

Deconstructing

I'm working on the final (ha!) rewrite of my novel, coming up on part two.  I did a lot of thinking and making notes before I started this rewrite, which included many Great Ideas, and most of that affected part one.  Why?  Because it was character stuff.  I worked on figuring out how characters reacted to each other so that their throughlines were nice and straight and sturdy, not weak and floppy.  I got really clear on character motivation.  And so I breezed right through the rewriting of part one. 

Its a damned good rewrite if I do say so myself.  At one point as I was working on it I thought, this is the rewrite where I actually know what I'm doing, what I'm trying to accomplish.  The previous four (yes, four, which is really not all that many) were more of the take a deep breath and dive in variety, which just speaks once again to the value of writing as a process.  Sometimes you just gotta go with it and trust.

Now I am to part two and the hard work begins.  I didn't take many notes or have many Great Ideas for this one.  Because this is where the set up is long over and the weaving in begins.  I-yi-yi.  I-yi-yi again.  I think everything is there it just needs to be rearranged some. 

Which is where the deconstructing begins.  This morning I took index cards and went through every chapter in question, five of them, and wrote down every scene.   By this I mean every little discreet event of action, ie Emma Jean calls Riley and they argue (which could cover two pages) or Aunt Cleo and Bob arrive from Portland.  I felt I needed to do this because in the dense chapters I couldn't remember what all happened.  Plus they've been rearranged a few times already.

Committing scenes to cards really helped me get in my head what I have and where, exactly, it is.  I've deconstructed part two and committed it to sepearate little pieces, like disassembling a puzzle.  Now my plan is to throw all the cards up in the air and put them in order according to where they land.

Kidding.  My plan is to lay them out on the bed or on the floor (if the Big Scary Beast Pug and the Demon Feline will stay away from them) and play with them, like that old kid's game Memory, where you match two like cards.  Being able to see how the scenes currently flow should give me some good ideas on how to make them flow better.  The truth is, I already got a lot of ideas as to how to do this just in the process of deconstructing.  So I have high hopes for the rest of the process.

0

Character or Plot Driven? and Other Between Holiday Thoughts

My screenwriting friend Marc sent me a link to an article by Lawrence Konner, writer for a gazillion projects including Planet of the Apes (!) and multiple upcoming movies that sound blockbuster-ish.   There's a lot of good bits in this article, so much so that you could take any one of Konner's pronouncements and expand into a longer article.  Remember, nearly everything he says applies to all kinds of storytelling, be it fiction, or creative non-fiction, or you latest short story.  It is helpful to study screenwriting no matter what genre you are writing in, because screenwriters focus on story.

The part of the article that I enjoyed most was his thoughts on character versus plot.  "If you try to get characters to do what the plot determines, then they're moving falsely," Konner says.  He goes on to explain that the first thing you should do is write a biography of your character because the number one thing you want to do is get your audience (or reader) involved in some way with the character.  You must know your character's background, upbringing, current status, dreams, goals and desires.  The last aspects are among the most important because a character wanting something is what will power the plot.

Go read the article, its worth a look.

In the department of other bits and pieces, here's a small round-up of recent interesting things that have crossed my desk:

Nobel Prize winner Le Clezio says that writing was actually his third choice of career.   Firsthe wanted to be an architect, but his math skills were poor.  Then he wanted to be a sailor, but his eyesight was bad.  So he became a writer.  Writing soon became an "uncontrollable impulse."  Le Clezio considers himself a storyteller above all else, and not someone who writes to espouse political views. 

Has anybody read any of his novels?  I'm intrigued by them, myself.  Read the article about him here.

Anne Wayman did a good post called Of Creativity at the beginning of the month.  She links to a couple good posts on the subject. All of them are worth checking out.

PhilosophersNotes is a really cool idea–they call it Cliff Notes for Self-Development books.  During this holiday season, you can download the top 25 titles for free–its an awesome deal.  Be sure to read the Meet the Philosopher page on the site, about Brian Johnson, the guy behind it all.  It's inspiring.

For those of you looking for freelance writing jobs, Anne Wayman lists the places she hunts for them (or just subscribe to her job listing).  Two links to Anne Wayman–clearly she's doing awesome work for writers!

And, finally, Obama's chief speechwriter is 27.  Honest.  This is a fascinating article about him and his relationship with the president-elect.

I think that clears up all the things I've been saving to post about in my Google notebook.  Now its time to return to the magnum opus I'm working on, my 2009 goals.

0