Tag Archives: fiction

Creating Characters

“Stories have a power, a magic all their own. Consider the fact that the actions, thoughts and feelings of people who have no existence in reality can make you laugh, make you weep. That’s the art and that’s the magic.”
―Denise Rossetti

My favorite books are not those with crazy plots or dramatic scenes.  While those don’t hurt, I love them because I love the characters.  They were written so that it made me care about what happened to them.  A connection was made, and I was hooked.

To be able to connect with characters, a writer must be able to express their complex emotional side.  Boring characters will make even the best plot fail.  If you want to create a memorable to story, you have to create memorable characters.  No way around it.

Most of my ideas for a story begin with a character.  They are born in my imagination and slowly begin to grow.  I begin to question who they are, where they’re from, and what they need.  From that, a story forms and my words breathe life into them.

Sounds easier than it actually is.  For me, it’s a long process to get from character to story. Some people help build their character by creating a profile or conducting an interview with their fictional friend.  I’ve never been a huge fan of doing that.

I ask myself a few simple questions to get started and build from there.  

  • How old are they?
  • Where are they from?
  • What is their home life?
  • What personality type are they?

 

Once I figure out the answers to those questions, I move on to my favorite part.  Research.  Age, setting, family and different personality types all contribute to building a believable character that readers can connect to.  After I have the building blocks of my character laid out, I know how they will act and where to take their story.

I have a notebook FILLED with different character sketches, personality types, body language… You name it, I’ve researched it!  If you’d like a copy of any of them, let me know.  I’d be happy to send them to you or post them here!

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Deadline…PAST DUE!

After a brief lack of motivation at the beginning of January, and taking care of a sick baby for the last week and a half, I am so far behind on my novel.

In most areas of my life, I have to set deadlines or else nothing would get done.  Seriously.  My mind is usually buzzing a million miles a minute so it helps me prioritize and actually cross items of off my ever-growing to-do list.

I knew I would either have to stick a deadline on my writing or watch it end up in a pile with the rest of my half-assed, unfinished project.  After sadly realizing how much work I still need to do to turn a messy rough draft into an even coherent story had me bowing my head in shame and questioning my approach.  Luckily, I didn’t let it get me down for too long.  I am so determined to turn this dream into a reality, that I had to come up with a better game plan.

I originally dove into this novel head first and naively believed that my passion for writing would carry me through.  Right now you are probably laughing at my stupidity or giving an acknowledging nod, because you too thought it would be a piece of cake.

“Sure, I can get the revisions done in a month and off for reviews and onto an agent right after that!  I wrote it in a month, why not right?”  I can’t believe I ever thought that was a “realistic deadline!”  It was insane.

I instantly whipped out my trusty planner, favorite pen and started jotting down an ACTUAL plan that won’t leave me feeling like a failure, totally overwhelmed, or submitting a horrible novel just because I want to meet a “deadline.”  … hopefully 😉

I thought I would share a couple of key points I came up with in case anyone else was in the same sinking boat:

  1. Set realistic, SMALLER goals that are attainable. –  After admitting to myself that writing isn’t always fun and it certainly isn’t always easy, I have a better idea what kind of time I need to create something that I’m proud of.  It’s important to know your own personal limits to avoid getting burned out and discouraged.  
  2. Schedule, schedule, schedule –  Plopping down at my computer or notes when ever I felt like it, clearly wasn’t getting me very far.  After work, taking care of a very energetic baby boy, cleaning the house (this is where my husband would laugh), and what ever shenanigans is going on at the moment, the only thing I want to do at the end of the day is relax… Solution?  Write in the morning when I have energy and focus.  I also have to write every day or I fall into the habit of saying, “Oh, I’ll write tomorrow…”  Try to find time that fits naturally into your schedule, whether that means writing daily or every Tuesday at 3:00 am.
  3. Measurable accountability – People always say if you want to accomplish a goal, tell others about it.  I am new to the writing and blogging world, so I don’t have many write buddies (yet!) so for now, I have given my husband a general idea of my goals so he can help motivate me to keep going.  We usually sit down every Sunday and talk about what we have coming up in the week, so I decided to add a “novel update” to review my progress.  He’s not a writer, so I expect some interesting conversations.  The more people you have in your cheering section, the better so reach out to people you know will help you to keep reaching for the finish line.
  4. Remember why you write –  There have been so many occasions when I have stared at the computer screen  and wondered what the hell made me think I could write a book!  With out fail, as soon as I pick up a brilliant novel, I’m reminded how much I love writing.  It sounds cheesy, but isn’t reading a really great book the best magic trick around?  I love being about to care so deeply for a character or story that I’m instantly lost in another world.  That is what brings me back with renewed faith in myself.  I want to spread a little of that magic!

If you have any other tips that keep you self motivated  or if you could use some writerly support- I would love to hear!

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Voices in my head…

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This sums up how I’m feeling today. My characters are shouting all at once while I try to capture everything they are telling me before it’s lost. It’s left me feeling a little crazy…and tired.

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A taste of my novel…

I keep waiting for the day when I no longer see her. Fifteen years after her death and my mother is still as easy to find now as she was then.

I close my eyes, and there she is; dead, wrist perfectly slit, soaking in a tub of her own blood.

Red.

I feel her  buzz relentlessly around my head, like gnats on a sticky, hot summer day.  She’s there, happily swarming aggressively around me until I can no longer breathe.

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I am a…..writer?

I’ve struggled with labeling myself as a “writer” for a long time.  Sure, I’ve written stories, essays, journal entries etc. for most of my life – but does that really qualify me as a writer?  I didn’t think so. 

I’ve always told myself that someday I would be a “real writer.”  Like when Pinocchio was magically turned into a real boy, someone would wave their wand and ta-da!   

Until recently, I felt stuck as a wanna be – nothing more than a silly puppet with big dreams. 

I’m not sure where the thought came from, but I woke up one morning  and realized that if I ever expected to turn my dreams into reality, I had to start acting and thinking like a writer.  The first step:  calling myself a writer.  It sounds so simple that it’s almost silly. 

As scary as it felt to put myself out there, I trusted my gut and abilities.  I started this blog and a twitter account.  I remind myself daily what my goals are and have a clear plan to accomplish them. 

I may not be published (yet!), but I now proudly call myself a writer

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