B&S 4 – Writing

I’m now past the halfway point on the first draft of Blood & Sex, Vol. 4. The last chapter almost put me into shock Sun, when Michael did something I had zero warning on. That has left me with a sense of dead because I have an ominous feeling about the end of the story.

Rewrites will abound on this one. I am getting only the main parts now. Lesser scenes and fine details will come in the next layer. Sometimes, I am amazed by how the story reveals itself.

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Updates…

Im sitting at my laptop typing up editing notes. During this book Ive figured out it’s absolutely necessary for me to print and edit at least once. I need it on paper…it’s just how I roll apparently.

This book has been a slight deviation from my normal routine. The characters are drawn more from real people and situations, and it’s taken longer to develop, but I think it’s going to be better for it. LeAnne, this heroine, is not as much like me as the others. I suppose I’m growing as a writer.

Get ready for the next round, beta readers (my pretties!). The kitchen remodel put me a week behind, but I’m back on the ball again now.

Zombies, Vampires, and Haiku

So, I stumbled upon the engenius and entertaining blog of Zombie haiku at Fix It Or Deal and thought this was a great way to get in the Halloween spirit. Since I am a novelist, notShaun of the Dead a poet, they’re bound to suck…but I figured I might as well go first since this is my blog. To acknowledge FIOD’s influence on today’s post , I turn to my favorite Zombie movie, Shaun of the Dead for a zombie haiku.

 

Shaun, oh, Shaun. It’s you!
Do what zombie killers do.
Bash ’em in the head.

Splat. Thunk. Oozing brains.
We’ll meet at the Winchester.
You’ve got red on you.

 

Then, for my own spin, I thought I’d write another atrocious haiku inspired by True Blood.

True Blood - Eric NorthmanBon Temps is my home.
No other place I’d soon roam,
Except maybe North

To club Fangtasia.
Viking nibbles with Eric
cause TruBlood is bland.

 

 

And finally a return to the classics with Nosferatu.

Creeping, gnarled little man,
you desperately need a tan.
A manicure, too!

 

Okay, so we know that my haiku couldn’t really get any worse. Now it’s your turn. Post one for us to see on the Halloween topic of your choice. Of course, I prefer to see vampire inspired works, but it’s up to you. Let’s just have fun with it.

Haiku format:
first line – Five syllables
second line – Seven syllables
third line – Five syllables

 

Imagination At Large…

For some reason, while I’ve been working on the samples for a non-fiction book, I’m suddenly bombarded with ideas for fiction. I generally have a fertile imagination, but this is ridiculous. I’m losing sleep over it because I can’t stop thinking about it. And it’s somewhat frustrating knowing that I can’t work on them and follow these characters where they’re trying to lead me until about July. For now, I’m jotting notes and hoping they stick around long enough for me to come play.

Great Quotes on Writing

“If you want to write, write it. That’s the first rule.” –Robert Parker

“If you are a genius, you’ll make your own rules, but if not–and the odds are against it–go to your desk, no matter what your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper–write. “–J. B. Priestly

“To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.” –-Gertrude Stein

“The writer’s duty is to keep on writing.”–William Styron

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” — Stephen King

“Good writing is essentially rewriting.” — Roald Dahl

“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” — Dorothy Parker

“When I say writing, O believe me, it is rewriting that I have chiefly in mind.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

The best writing is rewriting.” — E. B. White

Getting to Know Your Characters

I’m asked a lot of questions about characterization. That is (apparently) one of my strong points, but I’m not exactly sure how to explain it.  So, I’ll do my best.

It’s a feeling as simple as knowing whether you want chocolate or blueberry ice-cream. Sometimes, you just know the character. For me, I get to know the characters as I write and then they do what they want to. There is some plotting that I do in the beginning. I sit down with a legal pad or Microsoft One Note and sketch out the basics of the main characters as they are in my head. At this point, the story has already begun to form, though the end may not be clear. Or perhaps the beginning and end are defined, but not the middle, depending on the story.

In any case, I don’t learn every detail of the character in the beginning. They come out as the story develops. Most of the time, I’m writing along and suddenly I realize that I just wrote something about a character, whether it’s the way he speaks, a part of his history, or simply a trait that I never knew was there. The characters reveal themselves to me rather than me forcing a life upon them.

Characters have personalities, too!

Some of them are strong, like Jonas. When I wrote Blood & Sex, Vol. 2, he was almost like another person living with me. I’d be working on something else and start hearing his voice in my head or see images of him in my mind, trying to coax me back to writing his story. He was very demanding, and I loved him for it.

Other characters are harder to get to know. In Night’s Fall, James was dark and mysterious. His personality came out slowly, through edits and scenes that I wrote from his point of view simply to get inside his head. The differences between the two processes were as different as the characters themselves.

Confused yet?

If this explanation has been as clear as mud, that’s because it is to me, too. So, let’s look at the process I generally go through.

  1. First, write down any basic details on the characters in your mind.
    1. What does he look like?
    2. His name?
    3. How old is he?
  2. Focus on one of those characters, think about what he’s like. Is he wild and untamed? Or maybe he’s shy and reclusive? Now go to the net (I prefer YouTube) and start searching out music that fits this guy. What would he listen to? Make a list of five or six songs. That’s your playlist for working with this character.
  3. If anything comes to mind while you’re listening to this playlist, whether it’s a scene, wardrobe, or just his mode of transportation, JOT IT DOWN! He’s showing you things about himself.
  4. Fill in a little more detail. Imagine that you’re interviewing this guy. Write down the details of where you two are at and your initial impressions. Things you might notice are:
    1. Age
    2. Height
    3. Weight
    4. Hair Color
    5. Color of eyes
    6. What he’s wearing, drinking, eating, etc.
    7. Visible scars, tats, etc
  5.  Then, ask him about the following: (keeping in mind that he could be lying, jot down if you think he’s telling you something other than the truth)
    1. Scars, handicaps (physical, mental, emotional)
    2. Sense of humor
    3. Basic nature
    4.  Ambitions
    5.  Philosophy of life
    6.  Hobbies
    7.  Kinds of music, art, reading preferred
    8.  Favorite colors
    9. If it’s a woman, what does she carry in her purse? If it’s a man, what is in his pockets?
    10.  Education
    11. Occupation
    12.  Best friend
    13. Enemies and why
    14.  Parents
    15.  Family background (economic, social, nationality, religious)
    16. Description of home (physical, emotional atmosphere)
  6. By now, my characters are usually tired of answering questions unless they’re attention hogs. So, feel free to just watch them interact with other people in your setting. Note the following on your character notes:
    1. What are this character’s strengths. This could be trouble for them. (i.e. If he’s a financial wizard, maybe a jealous supervisor frames him in an embezzlement scheme.)
    2. What are this character’s weaknesses? The biggest weakness may be what changes in him by the story’s end. (i.e. Is he lonely but scared to be vulnerable? Maybe he has to be to win the heroines heart.)
    3.  Sees themselves as.
    4.  Seen by others as.
    5.  Most important thing to know about the character
    6. If it’s a villain, name something good about him. A hero? Name something negative in his character…a flaw.
  7. You’ve just met your character. Now, if you need a character photo, cruise the net to find one that you can tuck into your notes and refer to when you need to see him clearly.

 

That’s it.

If you don’t have all the answers to these questions, don’t worry. Just start writing your story. Sometimes you just have to watch and see what happens. And don’t be surprised if your character lied to you about something. That’s all a part of who they are.

Now, share your tips with me, if you have any. I’d love to hear how you work on characters.