About me, Book Process, Writing Tips

Character Interviews

This week’s blog post on how to keep your ideas fresh and exciting to you is all about character interviews. Character interviews seem like a no-brainer. Write out some questions, get some answers, and viola! Or perhaps it’s something that you haven’t thought about before. It’s your character so why should you need to interview them? Everything is already in your mind, right? Trust me, having an in depth conversation with them will enlighten you. In fact, you might be surprised to find your hero has a crippling fear of water fowl because he was almost smothered once by a duck. Don’t ask me what happened, he’s your hero! 😉

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When I’m stuck with a plot and the character’s motivation, or the character has lost some of their luster, I like to do an interview with them.  There are so many questions to ask, like what’s their motivation for saving the world’s tomato supply, what would they do if they had to unload a plane full of jelly beans, or even what their childhood was like. It’s amazing how much information you can fill in when you do this.  I even spend time creating scenarios for them that won’t ever make it into the books, but it fleshes out the character. For instance, one of my characters enjoys annoying others, so it amuses me to think up ways he would irritate his friends.

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And don’t forget about your villains. No one wants a one-dimensional, mustache twirling villain who’s nothing more than a cliché. Speak to them, spend time with your evil side and find out why your villain wants to commit genocide, subjugate his neighbours, rule the universe, or steal all the puppies in the world. Your villain isn’t there to prop up the hero. In fact, your villain thinks they are the hero of the story, so find out why!

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So go, talk to your characters, hear what they have to say outside of the story’s plot and be amazed at all the crazy ingenious stuff in your head. 😉

Next week we’ll discuss what kind of questions need answers regarding your characters. And if you missed last week’s post about pictures for inspiration, you can find it here. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to share.

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About me, Book Process, Writing Tips

Pictures for Inspiration

This month we’re going to talk about how to keep things fresh in your mind when it comes to writing. Right now, you’re either thinking “I love this story. I’ll never get bored with it!” or you’re at the “I hate this story and I can’t figure out what’s going on!” stage. Hmm, maybe the latter is just me. I waffle between absolutely loving or hating what I’m writing. Good news is, just because you hate it one day, doesn’t mean you’ll feel that way forever. Sometimes it’s the lack of freshness, the whole “familiarity breeds contempt” dragging you down. So the question is, how can you shake the funk?

It’s always a learning process for me. What worked for one book might not work for the next, but I always keep an open mind, since I never know what will give me my ah-ha moment. With my latest book, I spent months hating everything I wrote. The beginning had been rewritten at least five times, and couldn’t figure out how to get past the “Ugh!” feeling every time I opened the word doc.

On a whim, I decided to try Scrivener. It took a little bit of fiddling because it’s not a newbie friendly program, but after about a day I figured out how to create a corkboard with pictures. Now that I have it somewhat sorted, it’s been invaluable. I can see how my characters look–at least those who’ve inspired me–as well as read tidbits of their personality. I’ve learned I’ve created around a hundred characters and trust me, after a while, it gets confusing! As you can see, I haven’t entered all of them yet. Plus this is only a small snippet of the actual page. character-inspirations

I broke the story itself down by its major plot points. Now I’m the first to admit I’m not a plotter by any means, hell, half the time I have no idea where the story is going while I’m writing it, but I always know the big conflicts/resolutions. Seeing the major highlights helped solidify the story in my mind, however, I still got bogged down in the words.

This is where an inspirational picture for the setting comes in. Whatever scene I’m working on-a Fay forest, a beach pier, or a Russian village-I glance at the picture, insert my characters into the scene, and type. It’s shocking how much it’s helped me, like I’ve freed up some brain power or something. *laughs* I no longer have to visualize everything, just the slivers I find important while still maintaining the whole setting.

I’m also the same person who needs to create floor plans and see pictures of houses in order to describe what it looks like and etc. I need to block out fight scenes in my mind before I can fully write them and sometimes I’ll act them out. Ah, the crazy life of a writer.

And isn’t this just gorgeous? It transports me to the world I’m writing about and allows my mind to wander.

fae_forests_redux_by_artessan-d4x5un1 Fae Forests Fedux by Artessan

As one of my fellow authors mentioned to me, it can be problematic staring at places you want to visit. Her bucket list keeps increasing each time she searches for a new location. 😉

That’s it for today. My next blog post will be about using character interviews to help keep the story fresh and interesting while you write it. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to share.

About me, Book Process, Writing Tips

Writeometer and Aeon Timeline

I recently heard about two software programs, Aeon Timeline and an app called Writeometer. I wish I’d heard about Aeon ages ago! Holy crap, it’s fantastic. So far I’m only about an eighth done entering all the information about my Enforcers and Coterie series *cough* plus three more series *cough* and that’s taken me two days.

In a nutshell, Aeon is a timeline for characters and events. Enter in the characters name and their birthdate, then enter in the event, and you’ll know how old the character is and the time lapse between one event and the other.

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As you can see from the picture, I can see at a glance how much time has passed between Osiris and Isis meeting and when Horus was born. While it may seem simple at first, once you have over 20 characters, it gets a little difficult remembering who was doing what when. I’m seriously at a standstill in my last Enforcers and Coterie novel because I need to figure out the timeline. The damn thing has gotten way from me!

The beauty of this program is that you can also make adjustments quickly and easily. Say you realized an event was off by a month or a year, you can highlight and then shift the event. If you have child events, they get calculated for you. Admittedly, there is still a lot I need to learn about this program. But first, I need to enter in all my data. Anyone out there feel up to doing this for me? 😉

As for the Writeometer, well that sucker makes me feel so guilty when I haven’t written anything. You can set what your daily goal is for writing, create timed sessions, and earn little “treats” for when you complete your session. I prefer 25 mins, although sometimes when I only need a hundred or so more words to hit my goal, I bring it down to 15 mins. It’s enough time to motivate me to get stuff done.

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See those empty bars? It drives me crazy that I haven’t done any writing today. Yesterday, I was like “Oh, it’s okay, I can have one off day. I’m feeling mentally blah.” But it nagged me until I wrote. I’m happy to say that all except the short story hit their goal.

You can also set reminders, which is the little icon in the upper left. I missed my start time, so that reminder will go away when I either complete my goal or dismiss it. Myself, I prefer to not dismiss it since it defeats the purpose of nagging me. 😉

Now some people might not like the stress implied with the Writeometer. Me, I’m a procrastinator. Case in point, it’s 5 pm and I haven’t done any writing yet. I probably won’t write for another hour or two, but this app means that I won’t let the day finish without 600 words written in three different books.

Of course, it’s a little bit insane to write three books at the same time, but I’ve never claimed to be sane. Since the three books are in separate series but has interconnecting characters, I find it’s keeping my mind a little fresher. Except, you know, when the mental fatigue hits me and I want to whine like a child and say, “I don’t wanna write!”

Any programs that you find you just have to use for writing?

 

About me, Writing Tips

How to Deal with Writer’s Block

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Step one: stop staring at a blank screen hoping it’ll magically appear with some words.

Step two: umm, I have no idea. Damn it, I thought you knew how to fix this?

No, you don’t? That’s why you’re here, hoping for some words of wisdom? Oh. Me, too.

I have the worst case of writer’s block right now. After four novels, three novellas, and several short stories, you’d think I would’ve figured this sucker out by now. Instead, it seems harder to overcome. I’ve tried starting my new (and last in the series) novel three times now. Today will be the fourth beginning I’ve written. And I’m still stumped.

However, all is not lost. There are actually several good tips to try when faced with writer’s block. A few have even helped me in the past and it sounds like I need to revisit them.

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Take a walk. No, seriously, take a walk, get your blood pumping and let your mind drift. What you have to say is in there, somewhere, and maybe you just need some quiet contemplation. Make sure you have a pen and notebook to jot down notes.

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Free write. Let the words spill from your mind to paper. Don’t worry about the content or how beautiful it sounds. You’re looking to open up your creativity, not stifle it with rules. Turn off your internal editor and critic. Find out what is swirling around in your brain. Maybe it’s useful, maybe it’s not. Who cares? At this point, it’s all about finding the zone.

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Interview a character. When I was writing Dawn’s Keeper, I couldn’t fully understand the motivation behind one of my characters. Was he good, was he evil, was he in between? And because of that unknown, I was stumped. I couldn’t write the ending since I had no idea why he was acting the way he was. I pulled out my notebook and asked him questions. I was surprised by what he had to say and it cleared up a lot in my mind.

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Use pen and paper. Have you noticed a reoccurring theme? Pen and paper, not computer, tablet, or phone. No electronics. I’ve had more success with overcoming writer’s block by writing it down instead of typing. When I’m stuck for the next words and staring at the computer screen gives me anxiety, I pull out one of my notebooks and write the next scene. It’s never perfect. In fact, most times it’s downright ugly, but it sets the scene.

Remember, you don’t need perfection on your first draft, or heck, not even on your fifth draft. Perfection is for after the story is written.

And never be afraid to remove what doesn’t work. I’ve ripped out chunk of my book. The last one, I removed several chapters, rearranged scenes, and wrote new ones. However, I don’t delete. I have another word file that is for removed scenes from each book. You never know when it might give you inspiration for another story.

Strolling through the internet, Writing Tips

Deep Point of View

I’ve been struggling a bit with digging deeper into my character, really getting under the skin of the two main ones. This past month, I’ve scrapped almost three full chapters and over 9,000 words. It hurt to realize how much was either filler or just not that interesting. Characters didn’t make the cut, timelines were off and whole scenes added nothing to the book.

Always looking to improve myself and my craft, I read an article recently about Deep Point of View. Another author shared it in a group I’m part of. It opened my eyes as to what was missing in my writing. I’m barely scratching the veneer when it comes to who my characters are. There is so much more I can show with them and the struggles they are going through. The fear, pain, hatred and love.

In short, these are the four tips:

1. Make your tags disappear.

2. Make your thought words/sense words disappear.

3. Understand your POV character.

4. Understand your POV character’s worldview.

I highly recommend reading this blog post for a better understanding. It’s well worth the read.

http://writersinthestormblog.com/2014/10/diving-deep-into-deep-point-of-view/

Rambling about life, Writing Tips

Snipping and cutting

Now that NaNoWriMo is done it’s time to focus on the third book in the series (Bound by Fae will be the fourth book). Most of the third book, Dawn’s Keeper, is written except for the ending. Sadly I need to do a massive hack and slash to it. There is a plot point I need to remove as it no longer works for me. And that means removing all instances of it. Overall I’ll lose around a thousand words. *cry* So hard to see the words disappear but in the end I know the story will be better for it.
Sylvia’s Torment is still in the final stages of editing and having the cover created. Once I receive the cover, I’ll post it here. I can’t wait to see it. I simply adore Rio’s work. Such talent!
Well, time to return to the cruel mistresses that is writing.  😉

My Books, Rambling about life, Writing Tips

NaNoWriMo

I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo. Last year wasn’t possible as I had no clue what to do. This year I’m more prepared. I have a  outline. I know my characters. And I have a daily goal to meet.
Now I just need life to follow my desires so I have the time to write. 😉
Writing with an outline is a new concept to me. Not that I hadn’t heard of it before but I’ve never used one. An idea would come to me for a story and I’d start writing. Since I’m doing a series, I do have a clue about where it’s heading but not all the little side trips along the way.
Most times I stare at the ceiling and wait for inspiration to hit. Usually I just get dust in my eye. With a tight schedule I don’t have time to twiddle my thumbs which means making an outline.
True to my myself,  the outline is very sparse.
M meets with S.
R follows S.
and etc. until I’m at the end of the book. I’ve put all the major points I want to hit. Goodness knows with my memory I’ll forget something.
I’ve also good a breakdown for the important problems and the difficulty in solving said problems.
I have to say, it feels great having it written down for me to refresh my mind.
Next up, create a character outline to ferret out any secrets they’re hiding from me. I do know the characters as this is the fourth book in the series and each one has appeared multiple times, but you never know what they might be hiding.

My Books, Writing Tips

Street Team

I found out an interesting concept today called Street Team. Basically it’s a group of people who enjoy an author and do what they can to spread the word about their writing. They post reviews, talk to other people about the book(s), discuss them on blogs and other social media sites and help promote the books.

The author, in turn, can do bookmarks, book giveaways and raffles as a thank you to the street team.

It also allows the street team to have access to the author, discussing upcoming books, characters and perhaps getting an early copy. Of course, the main point is to have a place where the author can connect with some of their readership, those passionate for their books.

The best part, it’s like a secret society where only a select few are in the know. And it’s not just for the author to discuss their books, but also to become a community.

I’d love to create something like this.