Welcome to our Agonist Aunt’s desk. She’s here to help out all creatives who may be struggling with getting started, finding inspiration, dealing with blocks and whatnots in the whole creative process or getting a project complete. Agonist Aunt does not currently answer career— or love—themed letters.
This week, we have two channeled letters: one from a writer who’s also experiencing problems with a silent character, and one from a photographer putting their work ‘out there’.
To write to Agonist Aunt, fill out this form. Only three letters at most will be chosen each week. If no letters are received, Agonist Aunt will channel a letter. If your letter is not chosen, Agonist Aunt may have answered a very similar query in a previous letter. Find archived letters below the form.
Disclaimer: Agonist Aunt is only a sounding board. Her reply is for your entertainment and enlightenment only. Follow any suggestion at your own discretion and own it for yourself. Agonist Aunt accepts no liability and no credit in any event.
Dear Agonist Aunt,
My character won’t talk to me. I’m stuck. How do I get their voice and the story going again?
Dear Muted Author
Listen to their accent and needs.
This can be a tricky one. Perhaps, you’re not writing in the character’s voice but your own or another character’s. Perhaps, the character’s accent isn’t congruent with their experiences or geographical location. Does your character use one word answers or give long and unnecessary soliloquy? Experiment with different accents and rhythms and word-ticks. If you’re still having difficulty, read my response to fleshing out a character here.
Another reason could be that the character ‘feels betrayed’ by the way you’re bending them to fit a plot. Ask yourself if you’re doing justice to your character within the plot. You might want to tweak your plot if this is so.
Yet another reason, one that tripped me up and almost threw me overboard once, is that a character really wants to express an emotion or other facet of themselves before the story continues. If you’re like me, you would have resisted this ‘character taking over the story’, but once I gave in and let them have their say, the story flowed much easier and the character ended up being much better portrayed. Just don’t let these characters run their mouths off too much! You still want to show their actions, too! Remember, you’re doing this to get the flow of the story again. When editing, you can cut too long soliloquy and information that’s too repetitive, as well as refine your character’s chosen words without losing their voice and the conveyed message.
I pulled a card for you and you’ve got: Risk.
I interpret this as a confirmation that it’s part of your growth as an author to let your characters show more of themselves in an organic and more personal way, perhaps. It’s risky as you’re not going to be as in control of the story according to your plan, but it could reward you with a better, more authentic story and diverse rich personalities within one work.
Wishing you and your characters clear and spirited communication!
Dear Agonist Aunt,
I’m planning on uploading some of my favourite photos to a stock photo site to earn some extra cash, but I’m having some doubts…Once it’s out there, it’s out there, right? And then what?
Dear Doubting TooMass
Yes, when it’s out there, it’s out there but it will all come down to research.
You’re right, Doubting Toomass, there’s a mass of photos out there, an awful lot of which are free-to-use without attribution. And once you allow a photo to appear under those and creative commons license, the possibility of it earning you anything are fractionally close to zero. That said, there are sites that allow for contributors to receive donations or other voluntary monetary thank-you’s. But this seldom generates income you can count on, if any, as these contributors are often few and far between.
There are other professional stock photo sites catering to businesses and advertising agencies that do allow you to earn better. They generally have higher specifications to fulfil and it can be a long process getting a decent portfolio approved by them. These sites also won’t accept subject matter they feel they’re over-stocked in, so it’s unlikely they’ll accept your holiday pics unless it’s from Antarctica or some other little photographed area. So, do your research. With these sites, it can take a long time to receive any earnings as they pay by thresholds and often (for their package deals to companies) you might only earn a few cents on each photo downloaded. I was with one site for over three years and never had a download, apparently.
So, while it’s possible to earn by having your photography available on stock photo sites, it’s a lot of work and takes a while. Many professional photographers have some photos available as free downloads on one site and more unique or higher resolution photos suitable for print on the more business-user focused sites or affiliate sites.
Whichever way you decide to go, sort through your collection carefully. It’s vital that you ensure you hold legal releases for models and other individuals or landmark/private property depicted in any form, and that you’re comfortable letting chosen photos be downloaded for free. Most photographers mask or edit out trademarked products.
I chose a card for you and it’s: Manipulation.
Interesting. I’d say to be gentle with the manipulation of your contributions if you’re going towards the ‘real-world’ feel. On the other hand, if you’re great at image manipulation and compositing, you might also consider contributing more fantastical or obviously manipulated images for effect or illustration. It may take you a little longer to find sites to offer them to customers and users, but it could work very well for you. Alternatively, you could perhaps offer these photo-manipulations of your photos on various print-on-demand sites or other outlets that print them on merchandising.
Do your research and see what appeals to you the most and what you feel most comfortable offering users.
Wishing you a snappy, happy future!