writing

Creating characters

July 3rd, 2018

Hello, lovelies! I hope you are having a good week so far. Happy Camp NaNoWriMo for those of you who are participating, whether you’re editing, writing, or outlining. I hope to write a novella set in the world of THE LOST SAGES, and explore one of my secondary characters, Tsura. I’m excited to learn more about her 🙂

I’ve decided to start blogging about the craft of writing, with the hope of better understanding it. In my own search to understand various techniques, I’ve found some neat books and informational videos.

The wonderful thing about being part of a writing community is getting to share information and tips with one another. After you read this blog, I would love to hear your own thoughts on how to create compelling and real characters 🙂

Writing video notes 

I stumbled upon Kim Chance’s writing videos on YouTube. I really enjoyed listening to her break down some of the various craft elements. In this video, she shared how she creates well-rounded characters. Kim kindly provides a character profile questionnaire that can be found on her website.

She discussed these key points: cultural influences, mannerisms, occupation and socioeconomic status, family relationships, spirituality, and education. Life experience is a big one. What have the characters gone through or what has happened to them before we meet them on page one.

In my book, THE LOST SAGES, Evren is poor and alone at the beginning. This really influences her decision making when Captain Sa’av, infamous pirate, arrives on Ionoke Island, seeking a navigator to bring him to the sinister Sea Queen’s lair.

Personality, of course, is a huge one. How does a character view themselves and how do other characters see them? I loved these two questions!! Oftentimes, we can see ourselves in a different light than those around us 😉

Growth

To become three dimensional, the character must experience some change over the course of the novel and journey.

What is the character’s goal? What is the motivation behind the goal and what is at stake if the character fails? For example, if Evren does not find the sinister Sea Queen’s lair, then her and Captain Sa’av won’t be able to retrieve an antidote to an epidemic that is claiming the air from thousands of lungs across Tarkais.

Question Time

Do you brainstorm all the details of a character before writing them? Do you have an image of the person or perhaps a feeling or situation they are involved with?

When I received an edit letter from a manuscript critique I won, the editor kindly suggested I begin to think about how Evren moves, talks, and interacts with others.

There were some things I knew from the beginning when I drafted THE LOST SAGES. But as always in revisions and rewriting, I learn MORE about my characters. A bit of backstory sheds new light. It’s amazing, the continual unfolding and learning that goes on.

Building Character 

With the help of the questionnaire and a character profile sheet an editor sent me, I found I had plenty of questions to answer when it came time to brainstorm Evren.

I also like to listen to music and let my brain wander, imagining Evren in certain scenarios and wondering how she would react. Free-writing also helps a ton before drafting a novel. I write a random scene with Evren in it. This allows me to see how she would handle a confrontation with a character or a dangerous situation.

Finding their voice 

I find voice a bit tricky and elusive. However, each draft I write or re-write, brings me that much closer to capturing the voice of the character. I think details in the book revealing how they walk (do they slouch, stride, or saunter) and talk (do they have a lisp, accent, or use certain words repeatedly) for example, help with capturing the unique voice of the character. Everything that makes them unique and different, will stand out.

Captain Sa’av, in the first draft of this book, was ice cold and arrogant. I realized early on that wasn’t really him. In fact, he was more goofy and eccentric. Evren appears to be uptight at the beginning, but she really relaxes once she is around people whom she feels safe with. All of this I discovered as I re-wrote.

What do you do?

How do you create characters? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Until next time,

Loie xo

Book Reviews

Friday Book Review: The Fix

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Published in 2015 by SkyPony Press

Young Adult Contemporary

Standalone

Goodreads

“One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.”

General Gushing

So, I mainly read young adult fantasy or adult fantasy so this was a change. Did I ever love it! I went to my local bookstore and was browsing through the teen fiction section and my gaze landed on that beautiful cover with the shiny gold sticker 😉 After picking it up and reading the first chapter, I decided that I wanted it. It was raw and real and tugged my heart strings. I related to it so much, about meeting someone in your youth that truly saw you, not the image you had created but rather the hurts and secret dreams that you cradled within.

I read it in one sitting. I was supposed to be working on a project but I couldn’t put this book down. I cried and laughed and cheered Macy on. Thank you Natasha, for writing such a moving and real story.

Characters I loved

I loved Macy. I loved her with all of her imperfections and could understand why she acted the way she did with guys. Sebastian was swoonworthy and so intriguing. I loved how honest and open he was with Macy, where she felt comfortable enough in his company to share her darkest secret.

Moments I loved 

There were a few scenes from the beginning that came full circle by the end of the book. The swimming pool scene at the END of the book was my favorite ❤ Powerful way to end the book and I cried again 🙂

Upcoming books by Natasha Sinel: 

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Woohoo! This book came out on Tuesday, June 12th. I will definitely be heading to the bookstore to pick up Natasha’s latest book.

Writer Thoughts 

As I writer, a goal I hope to accomplish in my writing is to create real characters that people can connect with, love, cheer for, and maybe even cry with. I loved Natasha’s book for this reason – I fell in love with the cast of characters and felt the heart in each and every one of them. They were complicated and messy and broken. But they also had hope.

Until next time,

Loie xo

writing

Writing is re-writing

May 2nd, 2018

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Good afternoon all!

Some of you may have heard this phrase before: writing is re-writing. A lot of the time, we look at the finished book in our hands and don’t realize the amount of drafts it took to get to the final copy. As a reader, I certainly didn’t know much about the process of writing a book.

When I first began writing more seriously in 2012, I was a newbie and didn’t know much about drafting and revising. I finished my first complete novel during NanoWrimo that fall and then in January took a look at the manuscript. It was awful. There were plot holes and two dimensional characters and hardly any description. The bits I did like I saved and then decided a re-write was in order. That was when I began researching how to re-write and revise.

Marissa Meyer has a great series about how she brings her story idea to a complete novel. She outlines what she does in each stage from brainstorming, research, first, second, third drafts, etc. I found that to be quite helpful when tackling my own first re-write.

Presently: the continual learning curve 

I received feedback on my current fantasy WIP, THE LOST SAGES (formally titled EVREN) and am working on it now. There was so much helpful feedback that I’ve created a TO DO list and am tackling each one separately. Even though it feels like I have to climb a mountain, I know in my heart of hearts that I will be so proud of this book when I’m done.

The thing I am realizing too is, this book is one of the first projects I’ve taken on and I am learning SO much. I am receiving insight into myself as a writer and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I am learning a lot about grammar and proper punctuation and the age old, show don’t tell rule as well as the infamous info dumping in fantasy novels 🙂 It is all good and encouraging. I know this is the path I need to take to grow as a writer. I want to feel confident in my ability to pen a story and have the proper tools in my toolbox, as Stephen King explains craft.

I am at the point in my writing career where I can sense a few things coming down the road. I want to write stories I am proud of and that have heart in them. I want people to to resonate with them and perhaps see themselves in the characters. I also want to write the best story possible. I don’t want to settle.

This week I have been thinking a lot about creativity and projects we take on. Sometimes if we take on too much, our writing suffers because of it. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been able to focus as much and find it hard to return and work on THE LOST SAGES. I sat down and wrote in my journal, trying to discern what was keeping me distracted. Too many projects on the go. I needed to narrow my focus and so I have. Now, I set myself a reachable goal for each week and hope to have this latest draft done by June.

What are you all working on? How many drafts do you write? I would love to hear below.

Until next time,

Loie xo

writing

Staying motivated

April 18th, 2018

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Hi all *waves* How are you all making out? We are well over the halfway mark of April 😀 Today I am working on an edit letter for my critique partner and then plan to add some words to my Camp NaNoWriMo project later. After, household errands: clean the fridge, give Maggie May a bath, bake blueberry-banana muffins, and buy groceries.

Motivation and finishing projects 

Today, I thought I would talk about motivation. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. The never-ending energy I seemed to crackle with in November during National Novel Writing Month seems to have disappeared as of late.

I do notice a cycle with my creativity where in the fall, I find I can write thousands of words and my mind is simmering with new ideas. For some reason, the spring brings a new wave. I focus on edits and blog posts and research.

But I know that perhaps someday – if I am on a publishing schedule – I will need to switch the writing and editing hats effortlessly. So, how does one stay motivated? How does one focus on a project? Even if it may be the last thing you want to do?

1. Go for a walk 

Fresh air and pretty nature scenery tends to clear my mind and allow me to refocus. I can then usually come home and get to work.

2. Do something creative and different other than writing 

I like to bake or sew or make candles. My Mum is teaching me how to sew and it is a lot of fun to flex new creative muscles.

3. Magical cookies (from Susan Dennard) 

Write a list of the magical things or what Susan Dennard calls ‘magical cookies’ about your book, to try and generate that excitement again about WHY you wanted to write this particular story in the first place. Check out this link for more info about magical cookies.

4. Music

Listen to music that inspires you. Just breathe and be present with your project. Turn off Twitter, Facebook, and your phone. In this day and age, it is SO easy to get distracted. Try to have some quiet time with yourself and your story. Have a notebook nearby or your laptop so you can jot down any ideas that pop into your head!

5. Reward yourself

By making plans or marking events on my cute doggy calendar, I have a visual reminder of what is happening during the week. For instance, today I will be meeting a friend for lunch. That is something I am excited about so I will work extra hard this morning.

What motivates you and helps you stay on track? I would love to hear below in the comments 🙂

Until next time,

Loie xo

 

Uncategorized

Spring cleaning and making space to create

April 12th, 2018 6:54 am

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Good morning, lovely people! How is your week going? I always find myself surprised when it is the middle of the month. I can’t seem to grasp where the first two weeks have gone and then begin realizing how much I need to get done before the end of the month. Alas, deep breathes. We will get there 🙂

Today I am embarking on a spring cleaning AKA decluttering of my little apartment. I have an attack plan: clean each room one by one and set aside items to donate and items to give to friends or family. Last night, my boyfriend and I gave the car a much needed cleaning and all of this got me thinking about cleaning and decluttering and the effects it has on creating.

For me, as a creative type, I find that when the space around me is chaotic, it is harder to write. I find my eyes wandering and thinking that I should put that item or away or wow, I have too many shoes that I don’t wear or look at all the dust on those book spines.

Whereas, when the space smells fresh like lavender or balsam fir, everything is put away in its proper space, and I have a cup of coffee nearby, then I find it easier to focus and write. This month is Camp National Novel Writing Month, so I have been attempting to write roughly 2500 words a day for my goal: 70,000 by the end of the month.

If there is something I have discovered this month, it is this: I would love to get in the flow of regular decluttering and keeping my space clear and minimal. I now know this goes hand in hand with my ability to create. I feel calmer and less anxious and find myself able to sync into the flow of writing more easily. Interesting, the different things we might need to help us create.

Do you have any thoughts on this? What do you need in your environment to help you create or focus on your work? Love to hear in the comments below.

Wish me luck 😉

Until next time,

Loie xo

Uncategorized

Trust the process

April 7th, 2018 7:09 pm

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Hey guys!

I decided to participate in Camp National Novel Writing Month. If you can tell from the title, yes, you attempt to write a novel in ONE month 🙂 I decided to take a break from EVREN and KING BLUEBEARD, while they are with beta readers and editors, and instead write a new story about dragons and a young woman who has been imprisoned in a tower for the majority of her life. So far, I have about 10,000 words, and am enjoying this process. I am completely pantsing the project, meaning, I have no outline or previous brainstorming for it. I am literally opening the document and writing what comes in my head at the time.

I thought today I would talk a little bit about trusting the process. Trusting the process of drafting a new novel, brainstorming a new novel, or editing said novel, whatever spot you are at in this journey.

Trust 

Before I began pantsing this project, I’ll be honest, I was nervous. What if I couldn’t come up with characters that readers would follow for a novel? What if I just stared and nothing came together? What if the plot did a face plant?

I am happy to report that as I’ve begun drafting, the characters and world have revealed themselves to me. There have been parts where they have surprised me and made me laugh. This for me, is part of the joy of writing, when you are surprised by your own characters. It feels so magical.

However, if there is a part where you get stuck, there are some things you can do to unstick yourself 😉

-With a notepad and pen just scribble scene ideas down and circle some of your favorites to pen later

-Go for a walk or hike in nature and try to give your brain a chance to float and be quiet. Sometimes my best ideas pop up during these times.

-Research! Research often sparks plenty of ideas for me that gets me rolling again

Writing freely

Many better writers before me have spoken about this but they really recommend that the first draft of anything, to try and write freely without having that inner editor speaking too loudly in the background. The first draft tends to help you get a feel for your characters, world, and plot, but it does not have to be perfect! Try and silence that inner editor and write this draft for fun. That’s what I have been doing and its a liberating experience. I know oftentimes in rewriting and revising, that the magic occurs. That is where I can fix sentences and deepen character motivations, fix the plot and subplots if there are any gaping holes.

So, enjoy writing! Trust yourself that you can finish this draft. Give yourself permission to write a messy first draft, but have fun while doing so! Another note, everyone’s process is different. This is what works for me. 🙂 What may work for me, might not for you. I just hope you feel encouraged and excited with whatever you are working on.

What are you working on at the moment?

Until next time,

Loie xo

Uncategorized

Encouragement is life giving

March 31st, 2018 10:33 am

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Good morning, all!

How are you making out? It’s been a little while since I last blogged. There was a picture book contest on Tuesday that I participated in. Turns out, picture books are a lot of fun to write but also super hard! I wrote an article for Wow Women that is going to be published on April 6th 🙂 Just found out two days ago and am so thrilled. I will post the link when it goes live.

Today I would like to talk about encouragement. Why encouraging others is so important and why receiving that encouragement is incredibly life giving, even when you have just received a rejection, slipped up, or have received terrible news.

Don’t give up.

I’m serious, please don’t let the darkness creep in and steal the light. Hold onto the promise that you will be okay, that there will be another opportunity coming your way. That even if you slipped up with whatever you are struggling with, it doesn’t mean the end for you, and it certainly does not define you. There is a new day. You will get through this.

I wanted to talk about encouragement because there have been so many contests lately and opportunities in the writing world. Some, I have managed to succeed in, and others, I was not chosen. The thing is – in writing and in life – this is going to happen all the time. What’s important is not letting this steal the joy of writing from you or knock the confidence from your core, but instead, you can learn how to gracefully accept the rejection and keep your head above the water. Allow yourself a moment to grieve or feel frustrated, but don’t stew in it.

My Mum always said, when one door closes, another will open.

Encourage others. In these moments when we feel dismay, a word of encouragement can mean the world to someone. I myself was on the receiving end of a word and it really lifted my spirits. I didn’t settle into a cloud of doubt and worry that I wasn’t good enough at writing and would never succeed.

You can do this ❤

What are you all doing this weekend? I can’t believe we are at the end of the month!

Also, just discovered a fun activity happening this April, for writers, if you would like to join, check this out:)

Until next time,

Loie xo