Character Consciousness

Writing Life

This is an example of one of the ways I think up characters:

Me: (recording poems for my audiobook)

Icharus: I want to be a character now.

Me: But you already are.

Icharus: In a book.

Me: …what?

Icharus: I want to be in a book. I didn’t die when I fell. And I love Orpheus.

Me: You do? Ok just hang on a–

Icharus: And I want my book to be like every James Baldwin novel but with more sex.

Me: I don’t know if I can be that brutal.

Icharus: And it’s going to be a trilogy.

Me: Really?

Icharus: Yep.

Me: Well you’ll have to get in line behind Regina, all the Echos, Helen, and everybody else.

Icharus: Did I mention I love Orpheus? And maybe one of the gods too. Apollo could be very metaphorical.

Me: Take a number and get in line!

Icharus: I really, really want a book-trilogy.

Me: You’ll get one just shut up and let me work!

Icharus: I don’t trust you.

Me: It’ll happen! You’re in the queue. I promise!

Icharus: You’re going to have to do a lot of research. Geography is really important.

Me: I know!

Icharus: …maybe Achilles…

Me: Don’t push it.

*

And on and on it went and that is how I made the decision to eventually write a gay romance. A character popped into my head that wouldn’t shut up. But really this character has been in my head since 2012 and didn’t find his voice until day before yesterday. Before that he was a shadowy idea floating around in my brain meat.

It happened during a writing exercise I did back in grad school (see how long ago). The exercise was to look at a book cover and write the synopsis on the back. No influence from the real synopsis or any other information from the book. Just write something based off the cover. You should try it, it’s super fun.

When I read my little blurb the girl sitting at the table directly across from me lit up with a smile and after class she told me I had to write that character, that his voice was so clear to her.

At the time I wasn’t writing fiction but I thought she was super nice to say so, so I put the suggestion away and now almost 7, count em, 7 years later here’s that voice again.

But this time I am writing fiction and I don’t want to tell him to go away. So I guess I’m adding another project to my publication schedule.

*

How do your characters come to you?

Or, if you’re a poet, how do poems happen?

Writing Advice #10

Writing Advice

LOVE ALL YOUR CHARACTERS

Much of my writing advice comes from years and years of poetry. My thoughts on imagery and diction are fueled by my medium. It is this lyrical perspective that gives my prose writing its unique voice. That and my brain is just weird.

But sometimes you have to learn and discover as you go along, otherwise what’s the point of doing anything. And, as a new writer to the world of genre fiction–specifically horror and the multi-omni-many-things-at-once-paranormal genres–there are things that I don’t actually see or realize until I mess them up and then I have the, “Oh, that’s where that went wrong,” moment.

One thing I learned while writing fiction is you have to love your characters. Not just like them and not just the main characters or even the side characters. You have to love all of them. Because if you don’t they won’t sound or look genuine on the page. They’ll look like cardboard stand-ins for real people and, most importantly, they won’t talk to you and tell you what they are doing in your story.

I learned the hard way that characters, much like poems, have minds of their own. Even though I made up those minds I have no control over what they do. That’s part of my creative process. In one of my works in progress, my protagonist’s love interest has changed 3 times. The first one didn’t really want to be with her. And then she didn’t want to be with the second one. And then the third didn’t want to be with her either. Meanwhile, her real love interest was sitting backstage (yeah, my mind is called backstage) with a cup of coffee and a newspaper saying, “I’ll be right here whenever you’re ready, and if you’ve gone to all the trouble of giving me a newspaper there’d better be comics.”

And just so you know, my protagonist’s lover loves Garfield. Garfield translates across time and space. So does Hagar the Horrible. He likes that one too.

But back to what I was saying; those characters didn’t work out because not only had I not properly fleshed them out, I didn’t listen to what they wanted. I tried to force round pegs into square holes.

And I surrounded them with minor characters that existed just to be in this or that part of the chapter. They didn’t work either. And whole chapters of this book have fallen to pieces because I didn’t care enough about the characters to get them where they needed to be.

So, to sum up:

If you don’t love them, chuck them.

You can always make more. Just make sure you love and listen to them.

Love them even if you’re going to kill them. Love them even if you’re going to break their hearts and destroy everything they love. Love them even if they’re the biggest piece of shit-horrible villain you’ve ever seen. Because they are yours. And they matter. Even if they show up in only one sentence, they matter.

Share any funny or frustrating character shenanigans with me in the comments 🙂

Nano 2018 Day 23

NaNoWriMo

So I took a couple days off. I needed some serious recovery time, not from the holiday, but from life. So I binge watched Netflix and indulged in napping. But yesterday and today I’ve made tremendous progress and I may very well reach 50,000 by the end of the month.

Word count: 2,270

Projects: Havoc’s Moon

Goals achieved/Notes: I got my antagonist more flushed out, made a few MAJOR character changes, and started on a scene that had me stumped for months, seriously months. Mr. J and I went shopping today and we had an hour drive to the stores and back and in that time I went over a couple crucial plot points with him and he helped me iron things out tremendously. Seriously, I am seriously grateful beyond words to have a spouse that is interested in my writing.

Total word count: 32,066 (no, its not the 38,341 that I want it to be but it’s getting there)

How are y’all doing?

DON’T GIVE UP AND KEEP ON KEEPING ON 🙂

Writing Advice #6

Writing Advice

When you’re stuck on the beginning of your story, or stuck somewhere in the middle and you have no idea what to do or where to go, write the end. Start from the back and work your way forward.

If you have even a vague, rough idea of how you want your book to end or even if you have just a gut feeling, write it down. If you have no feelings at all, no clue whatsoever, make something up and go from there. Start at the end and work your way back. You may come up with something that will surprise you.

When you’re afraid of/reluctant to writing THE END because you think it’s not good enough or if you’re worried that your end won’t be your REAL end and you’re wasting your time, don’t think about it. Force yourself not to think about it. Or tell yourself you don’t care if you write crap.

Think about where you want your characters to end up, who you want to kill off, who you want to give the happy ending to. Then switch it up, or don’t. Do all the thought experiments. But most importantly, don’t censor yourself.

WRITE ALL THE THINGS.

NaNo 2018 Day 11

NaNoWriMo

Word count: 4467 (Yes, I had a major brain wave today!)

Projects: All of the Echoes, a short story companion to Havoc’s Moon

Goals achieved/notes: I’m happy but I can’t make any coherent words to describe why. I haven’t had this good a day, meaning, all the words are good (for a first draft) and none of them were “I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write,” written over and over again.

I hope y’all had a great day too!

Total word count: 18536

KEEP WRITING 🙂

NaNo 2018 Day 10

NaNoWriMo

Word count: 2048

Project: All of the Echoes

Goals achieved/notes: I worked on a lot of structuring today, dividing what I had written over the last 10 days and organizing chapters out of all that mess. Also putting more flesh on those pieces to plug holes and make things make more sense. I confess I did do some editing and re-reading before I started writing the new words today but since this project has taken a massive direction shift I really needed to re-read and refresh myself so I could keep moving forward. I have to say that now that I made this project shift I am WAY more excited about my characters than I have been in a long time and the elements of the project that were the sequel to Past Life are really shaping up well. Even though I’m still behind on my word count I’m not too discouraged, only a little but not as much as I thought I would be. Because I’ve seriously been discouraged about not meeting my word count before.

I managed to write over 2000 words today and my goal is to write at least 3000 tomorrow so I can try to catch up. I think on day 15 we are supposed to have 25,000 words. Right now my total word count is:

14,069!

KEEP WRITING!