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! 😉

alone-friends-imaginary-friends-favim-com-171149

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.

character-interview

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!

snidely-whiplash_rocky-and-bullwinkle

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.

Advertisements
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, Writing Tips

How to Deal with Writer’s Block

writers-block.jpg

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.

20130525_121235

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.

freewriting.jpg

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.

Interview.png

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.

20160507_112905

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.