Know The Novel: It is Written

I did it, guys! I won my first NaNo! While this year’s writing didn’t always go quite the way I expected, I learned so much about my story, even if I doubt a whole lot of what I wrote will actually end up in the finished novel. But still, every word written was worth it because if I hadn’t done this, I have a feeling this story would NEVER have gotten written.

And now, on to Christine’s questions!

1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around?

It was rocky at first, got a little better, went downhill, and then picked up spectacularly the very last week.

2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?

Oh, that’s a hard question! A little of both. However, actually writing through the story really made me see what is going to work plotwise, and what won’t. In a way, this draft became an epic brainstorming session on how to fix some very big plot holes and issues that I was struggling with in my outline. (I solved so many of them this month! The last week went so well because it seemed like I was FINALLY fixing all of the issues and uncertainties that have been plaguing this story from the beginning.)

3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)

All of Sebastian and Helena’s scenes were outrageously fun to write. Throwing them into situations where they have to work together despite all of their issues was immensely satisfying to me. Also, this novel gave me the opportunity to really pile on some Angst™ in certain scenes, and I’m a little concerned about how much I enjoyed that.

4. How about your least favorite part?

Oh boy. The hard part about writing characters who know the future is that I, in fact, do NOT know the future. Trying to brainstorm future gadgets, events, tragedies, politics, etc. is Not Fun for me. Also, writing accurately about current technology and realistic ways to say, break in to a house and steal something out of a safe, is frustrating because I want it to be plausible and people really will know if I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Also, I wrote this story in dual first-person perspectives, which MAY have been a mistake. While I love writing in my characters’ heads like that, I’m honestly not sure if it’s best for the story (and making their voices distinct is hard) so I don’t know if that’s going to be the final perspective that makes it into the novel.

5. What do you feel like needs the most work?

See above.

6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!

They are all dorks and I love them. So far, my antagonist has still been the most problematic, because even though I  have his motivation down, he doesn’t have much personality, at least not in this draft. He just sort of says and does the things the plot needs him to do without any personal flair.

The most surprising has probably been Sebastian? Poor guy just really wants to think the best of everyone, and sometimes that really bites him.

The last week I wasn’t sure where the story was going to go (I’d written the last third, but the middle was still a mess) so I began writing flashback scenes and it revealed so much about the characters. Even if these flashbacks don’t make it into the final book, writing them was without a doubt the most productive thing that happened this NaNo.

7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?

I’m letting it rest until after I publish January Snow, but I would LOVE to work towards its publication within the next year or two (the book tentatively takes place in late 2020/early 2021, so that’s kind of the year I’m shooting for). However, it really does need almost an entirely new 1st draft, so I have a lot of work to do.

8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?

If anyone wants to turn this into a Netflix series, I would not complain….

9. Share some of your favorite snippets!

“Besides, how do you know their ultimate collapse isn’t part of my plan?”
My father’s guffaw was louder than I’d heard it recently; I’d have been gratified if he hadn’t been laughing at me.
“Sebastian,” he said, his laugh subsidizing into a rumbling cough before halting, “you’re honorable down to your bones. You’d die for Helena Moran before you’d betray her.”
I was offended “That is the most ridiculous exaggeration I’ve ever heard,” I said, flicking a crumb off of my sleeve. “I wouldn’t change a tire for Helena Moran, much less take a bullet for her.”

Moran started to walk towards it, but I flung my arm out and stopped her.
“There could be traps,” I said.
She shined her flashlight in my face in annoyance. “This isn’t the mummy’s tomb, Finch.”
Maintaining eye contact, I threw my glove across the room and it landed on the floor, shredded.
“Look at that,” I said. “Lasers.”

10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?

It’s always really encouraging to me to know that I can write this much this quickly. Sometimes I get bogged down in the “I must have INSPIRATION to wriiiite” mindset that pretty much just stops me from writing anything at all. Sometimes you just have to make yourself put down words before the inspiration gets there.

So there we go: another NaNo, closed. Once I reached that 50,000 mark, I told myself I’d give myself a week off of writing so I wouldn’t burn out. How long did that last before I started writing again?

(1) day

Know the Novel: Within the WIP

It’s time for a NaNo update! I’m once again linking up with Christine’s Know the Novel now that it’s about halfway through the month.

1. How’s the writing going overall?

…meh? Actually, it’s going a LOT better than it was a first. I am definitely NOT a pantster, guys. I know where I’m beginning and where I’m going to end, but the middle is the void of the unknown, even here at 25,000 words. I don’t normally make a habit of actually writing a novel when I don’t have a full outline, so…this is hard.

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

Seeing my characters personalities develop as they interact with each other. And sometimes they say funny things, much to my surprise and satisfaction.

3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

My characters aren’t matching up with what they originally were going to be in my head, and I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing or not. Also, I realized there’s kind of a vacuum space in my character dynamics, which means I’m going to have to create an entirely NEW character to fill that space and then figure out how that changes everything. None of my characters are behaving–they are either acting in ways I never intended, or refuse to let me develop their personalities at all. My revisions are probably going to be spent forcing them to do things that don’t particularly want to.

Screaming internally

If I was to pick a favorite, I’d say that I am really enjoying writing Helena and Sebastian, especially when they’re together.

4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

My characters were supposed to be Mature Adults™. They are not.

5. Have you come across any problem areas?

Guess who doesn’t know what’s going to happen in Act 2?

Also, as I mentioned before, I need to create at least (1) new character from scratch and insert into places I’ve ALREADY written. asdjghfkjgjn

Another issue is making my characters’ voices distinct. At this point, they all sound like the same snarky person, just in different moods.

6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

Just getting the words down. The first week, I really had NO IDEA how the novel was going to go (I already had about 10,000 words written, which meant I was about to start That Part that was being so elusive.) Actually getting through the next arc of the plot has been something of a miracle. And now I need another miracle for the next one.

7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

I would probably be Annie, who is constantly chained to her desk typing away on her computer with coffee while debating her favorite conspiracy theories.

8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

I’m actually not going to post the first line (because I’m not very happy with it) but here are some other excerpts:

“It was Helena Moran.” I stared at the phone, brows furrowed.
“Oh.” She stopped her dusting and looked at me. “What did she want? Your head on a platter? Our hearts in jars? I think we might have a magic mirror she’d be interested in.”

***

“We’re meeting together tomorrow. I promised I’d bring the algorithm, and you and Samantha Casaubon can go over it together. See? It’ll be like a little family reunion.”
She opened one eye. “I bet that’s what they said to Mary, Queen of Scots before her cousin chopped off her head.”

***

“You keep this place stocked?” I asked, sitting at the bar.
“Not really. I stopped by the store.” He glanced at me. “Don’t worry, I kept a low profile.”
“I didn’t say anything,” I said, my elbows resting on the counter. “Need any help?”
“You can wash the strawberries.”
I did so while he used the waffle-maker. Neither of us said anything, but it was a companionable silence borne of mutual exhaustion. The silence continued as we ate, and Sebastian didn’t comment as I swirled a mountain of whipped cream on my waffles high enough to change altitudes. He just looked at it a moment before grabbing the whipped cream and following suit. We silently clinked our glasses of milk together in solidarity and went back to our food.

9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

Back when I starting planning this one months and months ago, I had an idea to just *mention* a particular art theft. In the middle of writing a scene, I was able to insert it so smoothly and organically that it’s been almost the only thing that’s gone according to plan. The fun thing about a novel with time travelers is that you can take weird historical events that have happened and blame it on time interference. That suggests all sorts of fun possibilities and is. very fun!

Cary Grant and Shirley Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, 1947. tumblr_n0lx3vR6GW1qiltfko1_400.gif (300×220)

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all! 

Another thing that’s very different for me for this novel is that I haven’t been keeping as much to a schedule as I normally do–or rather, instead of writing in the mid-morning, as usual, I keep finding myself writing in the afternoon and evening. There’s definitely a lot of coffee, and I do light candles!

This is also the first time I’ve written a draft ENTIRELY in comic sans, so that’s going well.

How’s your NaNo going?

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Me reading the first third of my book before remembering that I’m the one who has to write the rest of it.

Know the Novel: Timeworn

NANO IS IN TWO DAYS

Of course, that’s a really bad time to be struck with a story idea that is NOT your NaNo novel, but of course that’s what happened to me :/ (Luckily it’s a short story, so I’ve been working on that this week in an effort to finish a first draft before November begins.)

But, in preparing for NaNo, I’m participating in Christine’s Know the Novel link-up!

I’ve done NaNo before, but I’d say I really only fully participated once, and I got to a little over 40,000 words before Thanksgiving happened and the rest of the month completely got away from me. I normally don’t post much about my stories this early in the game, but I’m hoping doing so will give me the accountability I need to stick with it.

I know I said I wasn’t going to post about this story yet, but I have decided to push it up on my priorities list and make it my NaNo novel. Yes…it’s the time travel one.

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel? 

When it comes to plotting stories, my ideas generally resemble bumper cars speeding around the track of my mind. And sometimes, those bumper-car ideas slam into each other and wham! a new idea is formed. This is what happened in Timeworn, which is the result of a three car collision involving:

-a story idea about secret societies

-a story about stranded time travelers

-a story idea about two people who have been trained since childhood to thwart the other…only for them to have to work together and in the process realize that they work insanely well together. If that wasn’t enough, they realize that they might actually like each other, too??? #disgusting

2. Share a blurb!

I don’t want to share too much yet, but it involves two feuding secret societies, the betrayal that forces them to work together, and a big “enemies-to-friends (and maybe more???)” relationship arc. Tonally and aesthetically, it’s taking a lot of inspiration from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (the movie), Inception, black-and-white romantic comedies, and…Carmen Sandiego. (I also recently realized there’s definitely some Person of Interest influence too)

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

It’s the first novel I’ve EVER written that takes place in the present day (which is ironic because the whole premise involves…well…time travel). It’s also going to involve a bit of globe-trotting, which will be fun. The thing is, one of the main reasons I find that I myself don’t normally enjoy contemporary novels is because the style of writing isn’t my favorite, and I don’t usually find the characters as likable/relatable as in historical fiction or fantasy. Ergo, trying to mesh a more historical/classics style of writing and characterizations with a modern setting without going overboard might be an interesting balance. However, I think it fits well with Timeworn‘s premise, since it has so much to do with the intersection of futuristic technology with historical events.

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

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Helena

A down-to-earth, take-no-nonsense, solid type, with a good sense of humor that saves her from being too overbearing or dull. Surprisingly terrible at thinking well under pressure and is constantly forgetting to put things back in the refrigerator.

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Sebastian

Would be much too suave and smooth for trustworthiness, except for his unwavering optimism in believing the best of his comrades. Is especially talented at charming grumpy old ladies. Is probably wearing hot topic Superman socks with his fancy three-piece suit.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

A defected member of one of the societies, who’s now putting both sides–and maybe the entire world–at risk.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

There’s so much in here I haven’t written before: main characters older than my normal age bracket (30s instead of 20s), present day setting, and lots of opportunities for spy stuff and secret agent shenanigans. It’s making me really nervous, but also excited.

Can we safely use time travel to explore our cultural folk tales? The past is a foreign place - inseparable from fact and fiction - it is all memory? Does time exist? Can we talk about time and myth or do we insult?

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

It wasn’t originally planned to be a series, but I do think I may leave it open for other books in the future. I’m still figuring that out, because if I do that, I may have to change some plot elements and the point where the character arc in this story ends.

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Plotting, plotting, plotting. And yet….there are still so many sections of my outline that consist of question marks. We’re just going to see where the first half of the outline takes me, I guess. The middle is pretty much just one big ???? right now.

9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.

It’s a story more about the consequences of time travel rather than time travel itself. The two societies are made up of the descendants of time travelers who got stranded in the 1800s, but who left their futuristic knowledge to be used by their successors. Just how that knowledge is to be used is what precipitated the break in the original travelers, and plays a huge part of the current conflict between the two groups.

10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

Here’s a peek at my secret Pinterest board:

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And now I guess I have just enough time to take a deep breath before preparing to dive in on Friday!

(and of course I’ve also got to finish that short story in two days so that deep breath is really all I’ve got time for!)

January Snow Snippets

Digby pulled out a chair for her at the end of the table, and she sat stiffly down.

“I don’t really know where to begin…” she said a little awkwardly. “I’m not sure….I don’t usually like sharing,” Oh, why couldn’t she think of the right things to say? She’d used her words to get out of any number of scrapes before, so why was it so hard now? She wondered if she’d hit her head a little harder than she’d thought.

“Then you can leave,” George said. Simon smacked him on the back of the head.

Digby gave Jan an encouraging nod, and she sighed. “I’m trying to escape the mob,” she said, choosing her words carefully. “My father was involved, but he died and now they’re after me. I was trying to get out of New York when Digby found me.”

Now all the men looked to Digby. He shrugged. “Wasn’t just gonna leave her there.”

“She can stay here, of course,” Simon said.

“Where?” Harold asked. “The attic?”

“She can’t stay there, she’ll freeze!”

“She can have my room. I’ll take the attic.”

“I don’t think so! I bunk with you, and I sure as heck ain’t gonna move to the attic!”

“She’s not our problem,” George growled. “I’m agin it.”

“Remember what our Lord has said! ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’ ” Preacher quoted.

Harold snorted. “If she’s an angel, then I’m Rudolph Valentino.”

Cold Wind & Iron
from pinterest

As they danced, a girl across the room caught his eye, if only because she was the only person in the party who seemed immobile. Everyone around her was laughing or drinking or dancing, but she—

She just stood there.

She would have looked bored, except that she seemed to be waiting for someone, or something.

“Are you listening to me?” Peaches complained, jolting David’s attention back to his dance partner.

“You said you were going to see the new John Barrymore picture and did I want to go?”

“Oh. You were listening, I guess.” She seemed disappointed, as if she would have liked an excuse to berate him. It was Peaches’s preferred form of flirting.

How To Disappear
from pinterest

She pulled up the window frame and climbed through the open window, her foot landing on the closed head of the toilet. She stepped down onto the tiled floor carefully before turning and closing the window. As she stepped into her carpeted bedroom, she saw the room was in disarray, half of her things packed into boxes, and cans of paint unopened by the door. It sent a shot of anger through her, though she knew she should have expected it.

Maria was redecorating already.

She slipped out of her shoes and placed them just inside the bathroom next to the door, out of view from the room outside but convenient for her getaway. The outside hallway was quiet, and she leaned out of the doorway, glancing down both sides of the hall. The staircase by the front hall would be the most difficult, and though she was assuming that Maroni would be at the trial, he’d always had a habit of lurking between the door and her father’s study, and she couldn’t quite shake the fear he was just around the corner.

But he wasn’t.

January slid into the room and gently removed the vase that decorated one of the bottom shelves of her father’s massive bookcase that stretched along the entire length of its right wall. She slid the end of the letter opener from his desk in between the back corner of the shelf and its dividing support. The wood panel clicked, revealing a crack, and she easily slid the back panel sideways to reveal the front of her father’s safe. An uneasy breath shuddered out of her as she slowly turned its knob. Her stomach dropped when nothing happened, and she tried to steady herself. Of course Maria had changed the combination; she’d been aware that January had known the old one. Besides, Maria was unlikely to take the chance that anyone else might have known it.

January let her fingers rest gently on the knob; she knew Maria would never pick random numbers. She liked things to have meaning, to have symbolism. January didn’t have to crack the safe, she just needed to crack Maria.

Am I the only one who has a hard time formatting quotes on WordPress? Everything’s so huge and it drives me craaaazy.

Recently Read

2391352Birds of Prey, Volume 1

I’ve been wanting to read these comics for a really long time now, and finally after being horrifically disappointed with the direction the new movie is taking (don’t get me started on it–if you want to make a movie about Harley Quinn, do it. But don’t call it Birds of Prey and have the gall to leave Barbara Gordon herself out of it) I finally decided to do so. I did enjoy it! The art wasn’t always my favorite, but the stories were refreshingly linear and made me realize again how needlessly confusing some of DC’s more recent comic runs been. I particularly liked the arc where Oracle and Black Canary have to work with Huntress and Catwoman. I was also surprised to realize just how recent Birds of Prey, first published in the late 90s, is. And then I realized…that was over twenty years ago.

Image result for the island of doctor moreau book coverThe Island of Doctor Moreau

So I was reading this, minding my own business, when suddenly in the middle of chapter 18, the book just stopped halfway through a sentence.

The next page? Chapter one all over again.

MY COPY WAS A DANG MISPRINT.

Anyway, I ended up finishing it through Project Gutenberg. Ultimately, It wasn’t my favorite. I always think I like H.G. Wells, because Victorian Sci-fi, but…I don’t. After reading through The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man…maybe I should have figured that out a bit sooner? (That being said, anybody else curious about the new War of the Worlds adaptation coming out? I mean, since they’s actually sticking with the book and setting it in the Victorian Era? I’m cautiously optimistic.)

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The Maltese Falcon

Another genre I’m constantly thinking I like more than I do: hardboiled detective fiction. I didn’t dislike this one (though I knew the main story from the movie, so I wasn’t surprised by any of the plot twists) but it’s not going to end up on any of my favorite’s list. That being said,  there was some really good writing in here. There were a few lines I might have even underlined, had I a pen at the time.

However, there’s also something in the style of this sort of book that I don’t like, but can’t put my finger on.

T1409159he Long Halloween

I had heard somewhere that these comics were part of the inspiration behind the Dark Knight Trilogy, so they’ve been on my to-read list for quite some time. I have mixed feelings: on one hand, I loved the story and its dark aesthetic (it reminded me of the 90s Batman animated series a little bit) but the art was also…kind of ugly? Or at least, it wasn’t my style at all. The faces were pretty unappealing, and also Catwoman’s outfit was SCARRINGLY ugly. Those ears. *shudders*

BUT aside from that, I actually loved this one. I’m particularly looking forward to reading the sequel, Dark Victory. (also, if you’re reasonably familiar with Batman but new to comics and looking for a place to start, I’d say The Long Halloween is good option. It’s not an origin story (for Batman, anyway) but the story is pretty easy to follow and jump into)

Are any of these on your TBR list? Or have you read some of them already? What did you think?

 

A World Where There Are Octobers

I have always passionately loved Octobers. Fall is my favorite season, and October is the month where here in South Carolina the heat starts to FINALLY drop (our highs are supposed to be in the 70s and 80s this week, yay). It’s also when I love to light some candles and hunker down with some good mysteries and spooky (but not scary) stories.

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my October TBR list

I’m tidying up January Snow right now, and next month I’m hoping to give you all a cover reveal!  I’ll be making an official announcement a bit closer to reveal time if you’d like to participate, but for now rest assured I’m working on it 😀

Her stockings were soaked to the knees.
Strangely enough, after all she had been through, that was the uppermost thought in her mind. Not the running, not Chase’s desperate actions as he pushed her out of the crossfire. It wasn’t even the repercussions of her actions that plagued her.
It was those darned stockings, wet and clinging to her legs. 

I’m also prepping for NaNoWriMo! I was wavering between working on my “Little Mermaid” retelling or my time travel story; the time travel story won out in the end. (the TLM story is going to be a novella, and it’s already halfway written, so it probably wasn’t the most fitting choice). It’s been years since I’ve attempted NaNo, so I’m hoping I can pull myself together and write 50,000 words in a month!

Image result for i'm working hard gif

Also, later this month I’m planning on sharing some excerpts from January Snow (as well as the book’s Spotify playlist) so stay tuned 😀

What’s on your October Reads list?

Writing Update

While I begin the nerve-wracking beta process for January Snow, I’ve leapt head-first into my next projects.

Back in July 2017, I wrote the first draft of my first science fiction novel, Earthbound, which was basically borne of wondering what would happen if a superhero failed to save the world from destruction. While that premise is still very much a part of the story, it’s not a superhero story. (Then again, I’m also writing a time-travel novel that contains no actual time travel within its pages, so maybe I’m just a super contrary author)

parkour2
look, I made a meme

Instead, this story became a space adventure with some of my favorite characters I’ve ever created–think “retired and bitter superhero becomes a father figure to four unpredictable (and also a little bitter) space kids.”

It’s also basically the “bickering group of diverse individuals have to work together for a common goal and become a family in the process” trope that I would live and die for. So I’m very invested.

just right
I know I overuse this meme, please don’t come @ me for it.
via ArtStation

Said story also decided to take a page from its characters’ misbehavior and refuse to be a single book. It’s going to be a duology (!) BUT it’s also screaming for a prequel novella that you all will probably get for free. Right now I’ve split the first draft in half, and I’m re-writing and expanding each part into its own book.  I should have that done by the end of the year. (I’m shooting to have the draft of book #1 finished this month, but we’ll see). I’d like to finish both books around the same time–more as two halves to the same story rather than two separate novels–and then release them close together. Mainly because I know I’m very bad at waiting for books in series to come out, and so I’ve always had the idea if I wrote a (short-ish) series I’d want to publish the books close together.

Will I be writing any more fairy tale retellings? You bet! I’ve got a “The Little Mermaid” retelling coming next, followed by “Little Red Riding Hood.” (which, pssst….is this month’s featured fairy tale on FTC). I’m never entirely sure how long these novellas are going to take me to finish. Because each one is set in a completely different time period and location, it means my research pretty much starts from scratch for every book. The first draft of the LM retelling is about halfway done, but I haven’t even started on my research for RRH. (It’s also a lot more intimidating because it takes place in Japan, and I’ve never written a story with a non-European or non-American setting before. The amount of research, therefore, is going to be brutal).

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Historical fiction fans–I haven’t forgotten about you either! Like my fairy tale retellings, these take a lot longer because of the research. But my next historical novel is set in 1830s Cheshire. It’s heavily inspired by Cranford, Persuasion, North and South, and just a bit of Oliver Twist. It doesn’t have as much action as Hidden Pearls, but it does have some espionage, so maybe that makes up for it? The entire story (at this point) takes place in one village, and I think this may be the first time I’ve ever written anything that doesn’t involve travelling! That’s an odd thing to realize, but I guess it’s true.

“And what about that time travel novel, Hayden?”

Image result for what about it gif

 

(one day I’ll tell you about it, but today is not that day)

the end of july, 2019

So July turned out to be an incredibility busy month punctuated by a specific period of absolute inactivity.

To elaborate:

That month I started a wonderful freelance job that I’ve been driving to once a week. I’ve been interviewing and listening to the grandparents of some friends in order to write their biography, and though we’ve only had a handful of sessions, it’s been incredibly rewarding. Of course, it helps that they are genuinely wonderful people with great stories, and I love getting to spend time with them!

me settling in every week to hear stories of their childhood shenanigans

As I already mentioned, I started writing for Fairy Tale Central. Since I’ve been doing origins posts, it means that I get to research a new fairy tale every month, and I looove doing that. Research for fun is something I don’t want to give up now that I’m now longer in school.

Speaking of fairy tales, I’ve been troubleshooting a lot of scenes in January Snow. There are a handful of “necessary” scenes that are just plain uninteresting + boring, so I’ve been analyzing why that is and then rewriting them. I’ve also been working on upping the suspense in it, so we shall see how that turns out.

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Additionally, I went to my first con a little over a week ago. One of my local libraries had its own convention with local artists & vendors, and it had a good turnout, even though it’s only the second year that they’ve done it. I got to sell and sign some books, and I look forward to doing it again next year. I’ve never had an author table/booksigning before, and it was really a great experience!

HOWEVER (dun dun DUN)

The week of the con, I’d been having really bad headaches concentrated behind my right eye. When I looked up my symptoms, it seemed that I had a pretty classic case of cluster headaches. Except then the severity of the headaches went away…and the pain in my eye did not. After five days of redness, sensitivity to light, and soreness around my eyebrow and eye that felt a lot worse than it looked, I went to the eye doctor and found out that I had, not a headache problem, but anterior uveitis (inflammation of the iris & middle of the eye). I spent the first week basically spending my days with sunglasses on in a dark corner of the room, avoiding monitors and trying not to use my eyes. Thankfully, my eyes feel much better and the light doesn’t hurt anymore, but treatment lasts awhile. Currently, I’m still on eye drops two times a day. (I started out with eye drops six times that first day, then four the first week, three the second, and so on, so going down to two is kind of a relief)

ANYWAY…July wasn’t bad, but I am ready for the fresh start of a new month. That being said, I’m already itching for August and September to be over so we can get to MY FAVE TRIO.

(October, November, and December are the best months and no, this will not be up for debate at this time)

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Stealing Fiction (The Good Way)

Nothing is new under the sun.

This was written in the Bible thousands of years ago (when there was, presumably, less fiction in the world than there is now) and it’s certainly true today.

Sometimes that can be disheartening, because everyone wants to believe that they have something original to contribute to the world. But it’s also a gift: we don’t have to re-invent the wheel, do we? By utilizing other people’s research and ideas, we can come up with our own distinct creations. I like seeing how other people do things, because they can give me good ideas, too. Sharing ideas is a quick way to progress, and I think that’s especially true in writing. STEAL ALL THE IDEAS!

via pinterest

One thing I’ve noticed about my own writing is how I like to jump off of fiction -whether it’s movies, TV, books, or even songs- that I already enjoy. When I come up with a plot, characters are usually vaguely formed in my mind. I usually know what “feel” I’m going for in the story, but to sharpen my focus, I like to look at works that share something similar, and use that to further the goals in my own story.

When it comes to characters, I usually use this method as a learning tool when I want to take a specific characteristic and figure out what makes it *work* in other fictional characters that already exist. (For instance, say I want character #1 to be sarcastic- but still likable. What are some characters who already exist who use sarcasm, and use it well? What makes it work within their character? On the other hand, which characters don’t use sarcasm well, and what should I avoid?) Taking bits and pieces of different fictional characters (or even real people!) who already exist, you can use it as a framework to create your own character. By taking specific aspects of different individuals–even hugely well-known ones–you can still come up with a distinct character that stands completely on his own two feet. I tend to get into conversations analyzing characters and movies anyway, and those have always helped me in understanding the art of story and what makes good stories work.

For instance, here’s a handy-dandy chart that shows you one example. Would you ever believe that such an iconic, distinct character could be such an obvious mix of three other iconic characters?

Badass of all Badasses fromnerdsfornerds
via pinterest

Like Sherlock Holmes, Batman is brilliant, and has honed his skills for his specific calling in life. He’s not just decent at what he undertakes- he is the best. Both characters are known as the World’s Greatest Detective for good reason. You could also argue that Bruce’s small army of children is his version of the Baker Street irregulars. He even has a “Watson” character (Robin was actually created so kids could see themselves fighting alongside the caped crusader, in the same way Dr. Watson serves as an “everyman” for Holmes readers). You could even argue that he has a Mrs. Hudson in Alfred Pennyworth (although Alfred is by far the better developed, well-rounded character. And depending on the version of Batman, sometimes Alfred takes on a more Watson-like role).

Meanwhile, Batman is also clearly influenced by Zorro. Now, I could go on to how you can really trace this back to The Scarlet Pimpernel (since Zorro has basically the same premise, just set in a different time, location, and culture) but since canonically Batman is actually inspired by Zorro, I’ll let it slide. Both Zorro and Batman are rich, with flippant personas that hide their identities as masked heroes. They’re in it for the justice, not fame, glory, or money.

Like Dracula, Batman is mysterious. When we think of Dracula, we think words like dark, reclusive, frightening. We think of bats and blood and old money. In some ways Dracula is an entirely different case than the previous two characters. Unlike with Sherlock Holmes and Zorro, Bruce Wayne doesn’t resemble Dracula in personality or situation. Yet this is a good example of taking an abstract idea, mood, or look of another character and modifying it into something new. This inspiration is more superficial, but it’s no less important: after all, what would Batman be without the bat?

It’s no surprise that I love all three of these characters. (Okay, maybe not Dracula himself, but I love the book) So then, is it really a surprise that Batman happens to be one of my all-time favorite fictional characters? We like things for a reason…and if you study what you like, why you like it, and what makes it memorable, it makes it easier to capture that same feeling in your own work.

One thing you’ll notice when you combine character traits like this is that you don’t usually need to worry about creating something original, because it will come. If you create a character with the roguish charm of Flynn Rider but the backstory of Hamlet, and then add in the insane brilliance of Victor Frankenstein, you’ve already got an intriguing combination ripe for exploration. And then set the story in a Lost World-type island with dinosaurs and, well, my friend, I would want to read that, because it sounds awesome. The possibilities are endless. By mixing and matching to create a basic skeletal structure, you can then fill in the gaps to create a well-rounded, solid figure. It sort of is playing Frankenstein.

Don’t be afraid to analyze what you like and why you like it. I think one of the easiest and most efficient ways to craft a good story is to take those things and make them your own.

What are some of your inspirations for your characters?

 

i am obsessed with fairy tales. obviously.

…I say obviously because I have some exciting news for you guys: I’ve joined the Fairy Tale Central team! Starting this month, I’ll be doing some guest posting. If you’ve hung around this blog (or any of my previous blogs) for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve probably noticed how dear to my heart fairy tales and their history are to me.

Speaking of history…my first post tackles the origins of this month’s featured fairy tale, “Snow White and Rose Red!” This story stands out from the other Grimm’s fairy tales for a very specific reason, so it was a lot of fun to delve into its history a little more.

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This story is one I find that people are either very familiar with, or haven’t heard of at all. Though it’s a “newer” tale, it incorporates a lot of classic and traditional fairy tale motifs and elements. But of course, I won’t go too much into that here 🙂 You can find my post up now on the Fairy Tale Central blog.