Random Wednesday: How I Create/Build My Characters

-Looks at title-

-Scratches head-

I don’t know exactly know what to talk about when it comes to how I create/build my characters.

I just create them because, to be honest, character building is one of the easiest parts of writing.

First, I create a spreadsheet and just brain storm different people. Give them a name, an age, and a purpose. “He feels stuck in his career and often too pessimistic enough to notice positive changes in his surroundings.” or “She is a gogetter but also thinks this other character is a total asshole and enjoys making his life miserable for her own amusement.”

Developing characters can  be a lot of fun and as I have found, can lead to a story just in itself. Character A is unhappy, why? Who made this person unhappy? Why did they do that action? What is character A going to do to fix it?

Also, google is your friend. There are a ton of character sheets out there to help build a character from, what is their favorite color to – if they went to college, what would they have studied?

Recently I’ve watched my husband assist people in building D&D characters. I noticed this is the same process. SPOILER: Titty Sprinkles from my “How to Name Characters” post and my song prompt serial is making an appearance. My offer to cosplay by wearing leather heart shape pasties was met with mixed reviews.

Here is the most difficult part of character building in writing: CONSISTENCY!

What ever you name your character, what ever they look like, they must be consistent through the story. Yes, characters can grow and change but it must be gradual and the reader must be able to follow along with these emotional changes. Happiness, anger, depression, hope – these are normal emotions and your character should show emotions through the story as the story unfolds. But your character should not go from wallflower to life of the party for no explained reason. Also if they have a talking pattern, they need to keep this pattern throughout the story. No, “I always enjoyed the theatre.” in chapter 1 to “Yup, love them shows.” in chapter 10.

Recently I read a series and one of the characters changed suddenly. From the last book to the newest installment, the character all of a sudden began cracking jokes while others commented how this was normal with an “oh, you” slap on the knee, “aren’t they funny?” But, this character isn’t funny in the previous books. I don’t think this person cracked a single joke. To be told in chapter 1 as characters are reintroduced “remember, this guy is funny!” it was jarring. I wanted to reach through the book and smack the author upside the head with their previous. Did you forget? You created this character, he was never funny.

In summary, characters are fun and easy to create. Have fun, be free, and make them however you want. But, when it comes to the story, stick with the character you created and don’t change them. When you edit, ask yourself “Should my character act this way in this situation? Is this consistent from earlier chapters?” If someone read a paragraph or dialogue to you omitting the names, could you pick out which character is which just by their actions and the words they said? If the characters are consistent, you should be able to.

Thanks for reading as always. Check in with the ladies to see their take on this topic:

Bronwyn Green

Torrance Sené

 

 

 

 

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Random Wednesday: Behind The Scenes…

I’ve been working on my second manuscript and if you are a regular reader of my blog, this really isn’t news. However, this week’s topic is “behind the scenes of my current project” which brings us to, well, my current project.

Let’s reel it in a bit more and answer the question, what goes into inventing a story?

Answer: A BILLION THINGS!

For one, no one’s full time job is writing. Okay, I can think of a few lucky bugs but those people are not living posh lives using mother of pearl spoons to serve caviar on ritzy crackers. No. They just sit around eating store brand Ritz crackers. Or, a pound of peanut M&M’s with a suspicious amount of M&M’s missing peanuts. That writer knows who she is. But realistically, we all have a lot to juggle to make this writing thing happen. And even when we have a good thing going, it doesn’t take much to fall off the wagon. Before you know it, a month has passed and you have missed more than one scheduled blog. Forget working on your manuscript, you probably haven’t even looked at it.

But you thought about it.

And that’s a start.

And that’s exactly how mine started. I thought about the characters and I started to outline them and build dynamics between them. Even with characters as a start I had to build a story around them. What were they doing? What were they going to do? Most importantly, what happened to them to make them who they are?

This is where I searched, not “researched” but just simply searched. What did I find while working through my day that caught my attention and held it? Why? How can I use this in a story?

For example, I had in my possession a VHS tape from my Dad. The tape was titled “Challenger.” Back in the day my Dad would set our VHS player to record events whether it be a sports game he didn’t want to miss or copying a movie off TV to watch again later. On this day he decided to record the Challenger lift off and caught the explosion. The rest of the tape were clips of news reports from that evening and any report he could catch the following days, weeks, and even months. He had hours of footage. Many news anchors and so many mustaches. I watched it all again recently, sitting in front of my TV, like a little kid watching the Saturday morning cartoons. I could not get enough of it. Of course, we know now what happened but after watching the hours and hours of footage my Dad had captured, they still only speculated. The tape ends as the news reports get shorter and shorter. Leaving off with more questions than answers. 

I wanted so much to incorporate this into my story but, I couldn’t find a way to fit this with my characters that made it feel right. I moved on to the next thing that caught my attention. Just ends up this was story I went with…

Sue Klebold. Sue Klebold is the mother of one of the Columbine shooters and I read an article about her and her life after Columbine. This gave me an idea…

My current story which is work-in-progress titled The Guilty Ones is about a sister and brother living their life in the shadow of their older sister who died, but not before she attacked her own high school. The story takes place several years later when the siblings are now adults. They begin to question their feelings of guilt, their life choices, and who their sister was and why they feel she did the things she did. What they discover about her, and their family, is more than what they expect.

At this point I’m about 75% through and I’ll be honest with you…I killed off a few people when I got bored and I have zero clue where this story is going. It’s a rough draft. Those people might live in the final edit. Or they might not exist at all by then. This is the fun thing about writing.

While I like my first manuscript, I see so many mistakes now once I’ve started to work on a new story. I realize I have grown as a writer but at the same time, this is only my second attempt and I’m still finding my personal formula for what works and what doesn’t. This is where many writers would say “read.” Read to learn what you like and want to write. Read to get ideas for a story. Read and educate yourself on writing techniques and editing. Then read more, just to take a break and fall into another world for a little while.

Behind the scenes of any writer is a laptop and a mess.  Piles of crap everywhere. But our goal is by the time it gets to you, our crap makes sense and most of all…you enjoy it.

Thank you for reading. We, and I personally, hope you enjoy the work we do. Because while it’s for our happiness and feeling of fulfillment to create something new, we do it for you and your entertainment.

You, the reader, are always on our mind.

Thank you.

TO THE LADIES!

Bronwyn Green

Jessica Jarman

Kayleigh Jones

Gwendolyn Cease

Kris Norris

Paige Prince

And our newest blog group member…

Torrance Sené

 

 

 

Random Wednesday: Nostalgic Movies

Nostalgic movies aways sound good in theory until you watch them again years later and realize, it’s best not to revisit your heroes. Here are my top 5″And I used to like this movie because…why?” Movies

Movie #1: The Last Unicorn

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Boob Tree and Jeff Bridges. This movie has a lot of weirdness but as a kid I loved this movie. For one, there is a unicorn. But a prince, a magician, a cat who has more personality than I do, and we can’t forget the drunk skeleton. Though my husband did until I yelled out “UUUNNN -IIIIIII- CCCOOORRRNNN!” To which he responded “OH YEAH! That part.” I’m not going to try to explain this movie. It’s best left at just knowing there is a boob tree without actually having to watch that scene. But the deal breaker when watching is as an adult is Jeff Bridges voices Prince Lir. As an adult I associate Jeff Bridges with The Dude.

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This guy, not as cool as The Dude.

I have issues. I realize this. I just can’t get over the voice acting. Also he sings and it’s just really uncomfortable.

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Sorry Mr. Bridges.

Movie #2: Little Shop of Horrors

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This movie is beyond ridiculous. Plant from outerspace is matched with a guy who is down on his luck. Together they change the world and eat a few people. The plant does, not the guy. Feel I should clarify that. I repeat  – the main character Seymour does not eat people. I want to also note that this movie is a musical and with enough alcohol…let’s just say I no longer drink and watch Little Shop of Horrors for reasons my husband won’t let me forget. Really that is the only reason this movie is on the list. I am embarrassed at how I can’t watch this movie without singing along. (Husband edit: I see no problem with this.)

Movie #3: Mac and Me

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I don’t even fucking know. We’re just going to keep moving.

Movie #4: Super Mario Bros.

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Do you have any idea how many hours I have invested in this video game?
Do you have any idea how excited I was for a movie version?
Do you have any idea what this thing is?
I DON’T EITHER! It sure is hell not from the video game. Google says it’s a goomba but I refuse to believe this because this is a goomba from the actual game…

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I hate the person who green light this. I’m still okay with you, John Leguizamo. You’re still cool.

Movie #5: Teen Witch

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Besides the fact that the guys face in this screen shot is priceless, Teen Witch was by all accounts a fun movie to watch when I was younger. Everyone had their John Hughes movies and while they are classics, nothing is as good as Teen Witch when it comes to coming of age movies. Then it was on Netflix not to long ago. I watched it and hid my face in shame. I use to love this movie but there is a particular rap song you just really need to see for yourself.

That’s all I’ve got for this post. And below are the other girls who I dare to top that.

Bronwyn Green

Paige Prince

Jessica Jarman (Who visited recently. It was nice seeing you!)

Gwendolyn Cease

Kris Norris

Random Wednesday: Promptly Penned

Okay, I’ve got business to attend to so lets write this bitch.

“Promptly penned” is where we pen a story that was prompted. Going for brevity on the explanation.

Enjoy.

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This would normally be where the story ends, if this were a story; the world has been saved, the prince found his bride, and there’s nothing left to do. Only this isn’t a story and the loose ends that are left belong to people that aren’t the prince, or the dragon, or the little goose girl. Fantasies lead you to believe there isn’t a story beyond the last page of the book. The bears come home and Goldilocks runs away but, what about the baby bear who no longer has porridge?  Do they go to bed hungry, having to portion what is left of their meal for them to eat? Do they eat at all? Losing their appetite after finding their home and sanctuary violated. Though to be honest, who goes out for a walk with uncovered food on the table? You’re just asking for ants.

But here I am, sitting at a round table with a real cloth, table cloth. Not the sticky and scratchy vinyl stuff. Watching the wedding party dancing on thickly lacquered wood floors, lost in deep thoughts. Thoughts about where stories really end with a few tangent thoughts about what the bartender over in the corner has on his mind. Doubtful it’s the porridge he left cooling on his dinning room table. His eyes glance up to the bride and groom dancing the night away, enjoying a dream come true and I helped them. I threw the party where they met, I encouraged them to court when both asked me about the other, I invited them to my house for events where they could attend as a couple, I listened and counseled them when they fought,  and encouraged them to work through the rough patches. I’m also pretty sure they banged on my couch. I’m not exactly thrilled about that last part but my dog also puked on the same couch so the defiled rating for that piece of furniture is pretty high.

Their story as husband and wife will continue to a two part movie sequel involving buying a house (part one) and having kids (part two). My story was part of the script until it was cut out and left on the writer’s floor. An important detail but not necessary to the fantasy anymore. I’m just a loose end to someone else’s fantasy and my story is unfinished. Today, I think I am going to write the rest of my story. I will be the Frasier to their Cheers, the Mork and Mindy to their Happy Day’s, and the Torchwood to their Dr. Who. Sure, it’s a spin off story at best but, the bartender is smiling at me and for the record; Penguins of Madagascar is still a better movie than Madagascar. By all accounts, I still have a good chance my story can be the fantasy I dreamed of.

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Thank you for reading. Here are the other participants:

Bronwyn Green

Jessica Jarman

 

 

Random Wednesday: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

I’m back! And I failed Nano!

Life got in the way of writing. However, the goals are simple and I know I can finish my manuscript before November. I can’t say nothing was accomplished, I still wrote a large amount. I just have a little more to go. Then I can pack that mound of word vomit away and edit it another day. Like the fact that after 50,000 words in I realized two characters are named after my mom’s dogs.

It was completely unintentional and I plan to fix that in the future.

Any rate, this installment of Random Wednesday asks the question, if you could rewrite any book, what book would it be and why?

Good question, here is the story:

Many years ago we were at a friends house, doing what friends do, hanging out. A guy in our group came up to me and my future husband to tell us about this amazing book he recently read. He’s not the smartest cat in the clowder and he’s named after a car so, for the sake of this story, his name is PT Cruiser.

PT Cruiser is the kind of guy that hops jobs not looking for a career but just to find that job he can make the most money at without it being too demanding and inconvenient. His full time dream is to be in a band that has some level of success while this pasty tattooed guy screams inaudible nonsense into a microphone. The fact that he picked up a book in the first place was overly impressive and that he liked it so much he was recommending it to his book-ish friends was something both my future husband and I took note of.

Whatever this book was, it was serious business. Very metal indeed. “It’s got vampires. You’ll fucking love it.”

The book was purchased and sat on a shelf in the “need to read” pile for sometime. My now husband had a busy hobby schedule and I found some free time before he did so I decided to pick up the book and read it first. I don’t like vampire books and was only reading because PT Cruiser talked it up. If this book captivated a non-reader so much, it has to be good.

Chapter 1 was completely awful. I sat on my couch arguing that I didn’t buy a word of what this teenage girl was saying, feeling, and whining about. Chapter 2 didn’t get any better. Chapter 3 – Game Over. That bitch went right back on the shelf and was used to hold the better books up.

Then it happened.

This book quickly became a best selling phenomenon. It took months of me hearing about Twilight that I finally made the connection, “Holy shit. That’s the shitty vampire book! We own that!” It was so popular my niece carried a copy in her purse at all times and my mom, who also isn’t a dedicated reader, picked it up and asked me if I had read this book yet because it was “amazing.”

At this point I felt like a cult was pushing me to join them in a suicide mission. How could these people love this book? Why don’t they see what I see. To this day, I still don’t understand.

My husband did eventually read it in it’s entirety. But only as part of an agreement with another friend who also recommended Twilight, that she would read Harry Potter. He was not persuaded to finish the Twilight series, she did read all of the Harry Potter books.

I get it. People make fun of Twilight for one reason or another because that is the fun thing to do. I’m not doing that here. I read the book all hipster style, before it was cool, and determined it was not worthy to push forward. I can honestly say without prejudice, I did not like the book and felt it was poorly written. I could not connect with the main character and found the writing lacking. Twilight was not able to hook me into the story and for that reason, I shelved it.

If there was a book I would rewrite, it would be this one. Problem though…I still don’t like vampires and while I wouldn’t mind reading a book that might convince me differently, the market is saturated with vampire books. While working through agent profiles I have actually seen the words, “Please, no vampires” more than once. To find the one book I might enjoy is a needle in a haystack.

Maybe one day, I’ll take a stab at vampires. Pun intended. If there is a story out there I want to read, maybe I just need to write it myself. Until then, I’ll write poorly written literary fiction with characters accidentally named after a couple of boxers.

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Stolen from Google Images. I do not know these dogs. Boxers are stupid dogs. CORGIS FOR LIFE!

Glad to be back and as always, the ladies…

Gwendolyn Cease

Bronwyn Green

Paige Prince