Tag Archives: characters

Random Update

No featured blog this week, but I will let you all in on some nonsense.

The blogging tribe idea has gotten a very slow start.  We’re all trying to hold onto our enthusiasm, I think.  My work schedule has included far too many 10-our shifts for my liking, so it’s been hard to really kick things into high gear on my end.  In all straight up honesty, I can’t wait to move back to MA.  Firehouse is draining me of anything that brings me even the faintest bit of joy.

On the up side, I plan to be back in Massachusetts by March.  I’m either taking up bartending or hairdressing, I haven’t decided which, but both look like some measure of fun, even if it’s only to find out I’m terrible at one or both.  I need to keep writing, and that’s been a bit of an issue lately.  I’ve been working at some flash fiction pieces that I’ll share soon, as well as some character creation.  In another realm of things, I’m getting myself situated with making candles and beauty products.  My new shop, The Midnight Magpie, will be open online hopefully within the month.

I know, I’ve got my hands in a lot of different pots right now, but I really need to find some measure of happiness in my life before I go completely insane.

On that note, expect a Flash Fiction piece on Wednesday, featuring a new character.  In fact, the next two weeks will feature brand new characters!    Yay!

Okay, enjoy your Monday.

–KM

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Writing Prompt: The First Lie

Salut!  So, some of you must be wondering what happened to my posts for the last week and a half.  WordPress decided that it won’t post my scheduled posts in full.  The post text is deleted and replaced with my initial draft line, like the post was never saved.  So, I apologize for any emails that didn’t link to posts.  I think I have it under control.  To rectify the situation, both of the last two Writing Life posts will be posted this weekend.

LfBH will now be posted bi-weekly.  I can’t keep up with the volume and quality, and if I want to have less editing work later, I need to put the time in to make sure each post is up to standard.  The next LfBH installment will go up on Monday, October 24.  I know, it’s a long time from now, but I’m plotting a NaNo novel, and editing the hell out of the first 13 chapters of LfBH.  So, wish me luck.  =]

Now, for the writing prompt!

Write a scene in which a lie lands yourself or your character into a pot of hot water!

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Prompt: Familiar

Gwin © Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

This is vague.  I want you to really reach here, because this concept has been done a thousand times five times over.  I want you to… *drumroll*  ….. tell me about your animal companion/familiar!  Or a character’s animal companion/familiar.  How did you/they come to be together?  How do you/they communicate?   Tell me the story. <3

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Writing Life: Clustering

How many of my loves use clustering as an initial plotting technique?  Anyone?  Well, I’m here to give you as many reasons as I can why you should.

Let’s start with this: clustering empties your brain.  The rules of clustering state that you need to write down ANYTHING that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t connect to anything else.  Write it down, no matter how ridiculous, because you never know when you’ll find that gem that connects points A and C with the ever-elusive B.  It’s like really messy, bullet-point free-writing.

My good friend Coffee over at The Land of Man-Eating Pixies recently posted about something her shop teacher said, and it’s really brilliant.  It’s the ENTIRE reason I swear by clustering (even if he wasn’t talking about clustering =P).

“Your brain is filled with stupid. There’s layers and layers and layers of stupid in your brain. So you have to give yourself fifteen minutes and a couple sheets of paper, and you have to write down every idea that pops into your mind. Even the ones that suck. Because you have to empty out all that stupid and maybe something halfway decent will trickle out. And you’ll be like, ‘WHOA WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? THAT’S ACTUALLY KIND OF GOOD.’ And the only reason you’ll have that halfway decent idea is because you emptied out all the stupid.”

I adore her for sharing this.  You guys need to visit her blog.  MOVING ON.  Yes, you need to empty out all the crappy ideas, because you never know when one crappy idea winds up as an integral part of your hook.

What is clustering?  Let me illustrate.

Messy photography, I apologize.

1.  Color-coded legend!  You don’t have to use highlighter, but I do.  Yellow for settings and locations, pink for characters and character relationships, and orange for groups and organizations.

2.  The actual cluster.  You start by writing a name, an event, a setting, plot point, etc. in the center.  From that center point, you write any connection you can make to it, then you branch off by making connections to the connections.  On the lines that connect them, you can write why their connected, catalysts, necessary information, etc.  Seriously, write ANYTHING that comes to mind.  If it doesn’t connect, don’t connect it.  If you don’t like it later, take it out.  In this way, clustering functions like free-writing; removing any mental blocks you may have between A and B and giving you deeper insight into the connections between characters and events in your story.

3.  Bullet points that detail this and that within the cluster.  If I hit on a point I like, I toss it up in the bullet points.  Sometimes it even turns into a faint starter outline.  It’s handy.

4.  Believe it or not, this is actually part of the original cluster.  It erupted into a detailed plan and layout of the city in which this all takes place.  All I’m missing is the drawing.  It’s easy to get carried away in clustering, after all, and that’s encouraged!  Anything that propels you forward.

Need a better view on each point?  I’m going to leave out number 1, since I think I can assume we all know how to work a legend.  I’ll also add another apology for the poor photography.

2.

3.  (Don’t you love my handwriting?  It’s like someone blindfolded a toddler and handed him a Bic pen.)

4. 

Whew.  There we go.  See in 4?  Above the mess of setting details, it’s linked to my cluster.  It all connects somehow or other.  I’m sort of grateful for my crappy photography in the first two pictures.  It keeps some of my details super-secret.  =P

In any case, that’s clustering!

Do you use clustering?  Are there other pre-outline development techniques you prefer?  How do you handle your initial ideas?

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Writing Life: On Muses and Writing

Salut, all!  Today’s Writing Life post comes from my fellow writer-friend, Jessi, over at A BA in BS.  We’ve been through a lot together, me and this chick!  We’ve been friends for 13 years, created, hosted, and nurtured a writing group together, and even served as Municipal Liaisons in Massachusetts for NaNoWriMo 2010!  So, enjoy!

+*+*+*+

Inspiration. The ever illusive and always floating around us phantom that seems to slip through our fingers whenever we’re searching for it in earnest. I’m not sure about you, but my muse is a bit of a nudge. She shows herself when she feels it’s appropriate and no other time. I’ve tried coaxing her out. Leave some cookies and a mug of coffee by her door and hope she’ll want to play. I even made the cookies myself… No dice. ‘Fine. I’ll write this without her’, I convince myself and crack my knuckles to sit back and write.

It was a dark and stereotypical night when our hero found himself caught in a rain storm

“Really?” I sigh, delete and try again for the perfect first set of sentences. The truth of the matter is however, it’s not happening. Whether it’s a lack of inspiration or the lack of perfect, non-cliched writing ; the truth is, no quality writing is happening. So what do you or I do in that case?

Take a break

Maybe you’ve been starring at the computer screen for just about as long as you can remember. The hours have ticked by and your poor eyes are weary, dry and less than welcoming to the bright white of the empty page of text. Time to get up. Let the dog out, get a fresh cup of coffee, or go outside to smoke a cigarette. Whatever it is that you do to take your mind and eyes off the computer screen for a five minute break, do it. Sometimes all it takes is a momentary change of environment.

Try a writing exercise

It sounds silly. You’re working on your masterpiece, why would you stray from that? Well for starters, it may give you a new perspective on your hero/heroines current predicament. Also it could give you a new idea for a setting or character design. The point is to get your mind working on something else, and potentially, allowing it to then tangent back to your original, with something completely unexpected in tow.

Music

Ok. I’ll admit. This sounds a little stereotypical but at the same time, stop and give it a thought. How is your character reacting in the scene you’re imagining. Is it high stress? Are they about to valiantly save the love of their life? Are they relaxing by a stream? Where are they located?

Having some sort of soundtrack to your writing can save you in more than one instance. Sometimes listening to your characters theme song (assuming they have one) can trigger memories that you haven’t yet created for them, giving them purpose for being in the scene. Give it a shot, worse comes to worse, it doesn’t work and you’re still here.

Your inspiration comes from…

So where does your inspiration come from? Did you get the idea for the novel through a conversation? A walk in the park? Or did it pop up and become a pile of notes at a coffee shop, scribbled all over napkins? It may sound simple, but revisit that moment. Have a conversation with someone that understands the writing process and it’s inherent quirks. We all have writer friends that see how our brains work even if they don’t quite see through all our gauzy thought processes. Try to relive that moment, or go back through those piles of notes, seeing if something comes back to you, or even spurs on your muse.

So your muse is back or at least on speaking terms with you. Huzzah! The point however, of all of this is to try to gather on the inspiring moments in your life. Try something different and see what happens. I’ve always been a fan of writing to write, even when you’re in the middle of a project. Sometimes those bits of tangent lead you in a direction you never imagined and bring you to brand new conclusions. Even if it’s something you don’t want to use, you’re thinking and bringing your storyline forward.

And then again… there’s always the backspace and delete keys. Nothing is forever, and you can change it all as much as you want. You are all my biggest inspiration. You who keep writing, even knowing that this may all lead to nothing.

Keep it up and tell your muse to stop being such a pain in the tush.

+*+*+*+

Jessica is a tenacious, twenty something with big dreams of becoming a published novelist. She enjoys sitting in between the stacks at libraries, pulling inspiration from texts there in. She is a Municipal Liason for National Novel Writing Month (Worcester, MA) and the co-founder of Inkwell Imaginings, a writing group settled in Southbridge,MA at the Jacob Edwards Library.  Visit A BA in BS.

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Zombie Apocalypse!

FIRST! I have big news!  G&L was chosen as an “Editors’ Pick” on Bloggers.com!  Super exciting!

I’m super excited!!  <3

But, now, onto the writing prompt for today, which I borrowed from Build Creative Writing Ideas.  I’m not a huge fan of zombie apocalypse stuff, but since I evacuated and destroyed Earth last week… I figured I might as well. =P  Have fun!

 The zombie apocalypse has begun! Several people you know have already become zombies and now it’s a game of survival. What do you do to make sure that you are one of the people left at the end of the movie?

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Operation: Evac Earth

Your family, friends, and life might be a lot different…if they were in space! Imagine that everything you knew was transported to a traveling space ship or space station. How would your day to day life change?  What led up to the move to space?

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Scrivener for Windows

So, I’m using the beta trial of Scrivener for Windows to set up Glass Dragons, my Camp NaNoWriMo project.  I’ve only had it a couple of days, and I think that it’s going to expire tomorrow (and that’s probably going to kill me), but HOLY COW, HOW did I get along without this software?  It’s so organized and streamlined.  I love it.  I have my character sheets, my setting sketches, my researched webpages, my basic outline, EVERYTHING, all neat and tidy in these folders, under documents.

It has a full screen mode to eliminate distractions!

*Deep breath.*

Okay, I’ve always been against using software as a crutch, but I’m a scatterbrained person.  I’ve tried yWriter and Storybook, but nothing compares to Scrivener.  If you’re working on a long project that requires a lot of organization (and too much crap to remember), this software is invaluable.

Wholly recommended.  Check out Scrivener for Windows!

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Supernatural Activity

It’s Friday!  You know what that means, kids!  A fresh and shiny writing prompt for the week. <3

Ready?  Good.  I want you to imagine you’re a paranormal investigator, and you’re in a haunted location of your choice (do a Google search if you want a real place, or just make one up!) investigating any paranormal activity that’s been reported there.  You’re welcome to include any “ghost hunting technology” you know of, or just wing it old school, tape-recorder-and-a-Polaroid-camera style. <3  Here, I’ll give you a few minutes to go on imagining that.

… Done?  Good.  Now, I want you to write a piece of fiction from your perspective, or the perspective of a character who’s ghost hunting.  Fun, right?  Yes, I know.

Enjoy!

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Writing Life: It’s Okay to Take the Stairs

I have a beef with elevators.  Ever since I got stuck in one with my AFJROTC group in a museum in Washington, DC, my relationship with elevators has been love/hate.  On the one hand, you can get to the 15th floor with your legs in tact, without sweat stains, and without your lungs begging you never to put them through that again.  On the other… I got stuck in an elevator.  I don’t think I can be any more clear on that.  Elevators are mechanical, they lurch, and whirr, and when you step off of them, you have this weird, weak-legged feeling.

You’re thinking:  “This is a writing blog, Kit, what’s your point?”

My point is: It’s okay to take the stairs.  The scenic route, the back roads, the winding paths that take you away from the mechanical “gets-you-from-a-to-b” elevators and freeways of writing.

In an elevator, it takes you from the ground floor, to the fifteenth floor.  It doesn’t matter how you’re getting there.  You don’t question what might be on the floors in between…. but those floors between the ground and fifteenth floor are a necessary part of the building’s structure.  They house the elevator shaft that pulls you “from a-to-b.”

There's your destination... don't you care what's between here and there? What if there's a floor housing zombies? Or unicorns?

In your story, the journey is half the fun.  Each leg of your character’s journey should be essential to the plot, like each floor is essential to the building.  The stairs let you peek through doors, explore different floors, give your character the strength and personal growth to be ready for whatever the fifteenth floor holds.  Would you deny him the experience by sticking him in an elevator, passing all kinds of fun things the other floors may contain?  MAYBE HIS DEAD WIFE IS ON THE FIFTH FLOOR!  He’d want to know that, right?  Poor guy.  He really loved her, now he’ll never know, and never grow through his grief.

Let him wonder what's around the next bend... Also, the climb will be great for his thighs.

I got a little off track, I think.  What I’m trying to say is, taking your character from A-to-B is great.  You want him to get there, but not without the trials and tribulations of pulling himself up a long flight of stairs.  Stairs give him doors, which give him choices, which lead to growth, and that growth will give him the means of defeating his greatest obstacle: whatever lies on the fifteenth floor.

So, to recap:

  • Trials and tribulations are important.
  • Sticking your hero on the fifteenth floor from the first will only get him killed.
  • Reading about a character who hasn’t had the time or pain to grow and overcome is a character too boring to invest time in.
  • Stairs are good for the thighs.

Are you pro-stairs or pro-elevator?  What’s your favorite part of your protagonist’s journey?

Flickr photo: Elevator Buttons © iseethelight

Flickr photo: Stairs © Caucas

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