Do you love cooking?
Or do you prefer baking?
Personally I love cooking. In baking you have to be very careful to follow a recipe to the letter. You have to be precise with times, temperatures and measurements. The smallest variation could be disastrous. Frankly the thought of baking leaves me cold. I tend to leave that to the experts like my clever CP who is a baker extraordinaire and my amazing mother who is the world’s best baker. Cooking however, is something I love and something I thrive at: especially when it comes to making my own tasty recipes where the only rules and limits I need to stick to are the boundless limits of my creative imagination.
The art of creating a memorable character has more in common with cooking than baking. You have your standard ingredients as your base but the rest is up to your creative skills as a writer: you are the chef in your own Character Recipe. So what’s my Character Recipe? What spices do I use to flavour? What secret ingredients do I use to make the character breathe with depth and emotion? What is my inspiration for the recipe? This brings me to the topic for this month’s Tuesday Blog Hop.
Topic for Tuesday August 9th: Character Recipe
Alphas, betas, helpless Hannas we all have characters we love and those we hate.
But how did we create them? What’s your character recipe?
The best cooking is rich with spices, sauces and exotic flavours. The best dishes are when you, the cook & chef extraordinaire, can come up with a new twist on a well-known dish. Writing a story is very much like this. Just by changing the spices in a dish you can create a whole new flavour explosion. Characters are the spices that writers use to flavor their own dishes: the stories.
Very few plots are completely original. I read a quote this week that your story is either a Romeo & Juliet or a David & Goliath but just in different variations. In just the same way most cookery dishes are just new twists or different variations on the old tried and true favourites. But the difference between each dish is the combination of spices, herbs and sauces that add the final WOW touches that create an EXPLOSION of taste-bud orgasm that leaves you breathless and wanting more. We have all had those moments where we have had a plate of food put in front of us that may have looked similar to a well-known dish but the moment a forkful is put in your mouth: Your tastebuds just melt in submission of a flavor EXPLOSION that is happening in your mouth.
Creating characters is like adding my favourite spices, herbs and sauces to a dish. They are the WOW factor in a dish that will make you begging for seconds, thirds and fourth helpings. For me characters are what I love or hate about a story. Sometimes it is even a question about loving to hate the bad guy/girl in the story. They often are the most memorable. Just like a great spice they might be sharp, spicy-hot or colourful. I have always had a soft spot for the villains in the piece. Maybe it is because they are limitless and in-your-face with their attitude and their lack of moral or ethical restraints. They do what we may in our deepest parts dream to do but dare not.
In my current story I have two Main Characters and a shadow character that binds them together. I have quite a few beta characters and secondary characters but these three characters that I mentioned are the heart, gut and backbone of this story. I am going to write an individual post for each of these three characters. So let me start today by introducing you to the character who started it all.
My favourite character in the story is actually my antagonist or villain. Her name is Eliza Chambers. She is also the inspiration for the whole story. The story is really her story and all its complications. She isn’t the easiest of characters to work with and in the beginning she was quite stubborn and reticient in sharing with me. But I am equally as stubborn and with a lot of persistence I managed to tease the story out of her. She lives in Victorian London in the suburbs. She is the eldest daughter of a very well known and high society family. But she does not fit the mould of either her society’s view of a woman nor her family’s. She is feisty, headstrong and incredibly independent. Her heroes of the day are the many inventors of the Victorian age, starting with her father. She also sees and communicates with spirits. This starts getting her in all sorts of trouble and soon trouble is brought to her own doorstep in the form of deadly family secrets & skeletons that force her to face her own capacity for rage and scorn. The twist is that she ends up confronting her worst self and she becomes the family skeleton & secret.
One of my betas told me they found her creepy. I loved that reaction and that description. It meant that I had interpreted Eliza correctly and done her justice even though justice is the last thing she has coming. The story is about ghosts, family secrets, cursed love affairs, revenge and redemption. Without Eliza Chambers there would be no story. She will give you the creeps but she will also fascinate you as she has me. I love writing all her chapters because it stretches my skills and my imagination. Because she lives in a Victorian time I had to think, speak and act like a Victorian woman. She starts off very stubborn, secretive and austere, even cold at times. But as the complications ensue, passion and scorn transform her into a woman bent on revenge and seething with rage. Hell hath no fury like Eliza Chambers being scorned. In the end this is a woman who even ghosts & spirits fear to tread with. I think women will understand her even though they will swear they have nothing in common with her and men will fear her. She has given me sleepless nights many a time since I first met her last year in October.
Where did she come from? I really don’t know. One day she just appeared and started telling me her story. It was all I could do to grab a pen and start writing down the bones of this story. Perhaps she came from my fascination with ghosts & the afterlife which usually co-exist with family secrets & skeletons, both literal and figurative. I am also in love with the Victorian era and often believe that is my true era. I also like strong women who don’t always fit the mould. Are there elements of me written into the character? That is a difficult one because when you create a character there is a fine line between yourself and a created personality. Would I behave in the ways Eliza does? I would hope that I didn’t. But in the same manner, I can sympathize with her. The fun part of a mean & vengeful character is that you get to act out without actually acting out.
Eliza Chambers will remain with me for a long time even after this story is finally put to bed. She is a complex individual who chooses the wrong turns. Her story is an extreme story of cursed love, taboo relationships, betrayed secrets, broken hearts, revenge and thrown together with large helpings of the supernatural. But the one reason why I do respect her is that she never apologizes for who she is and above all she stands up for her views of right and wrong, good and evil: even though her views may be slightly skewed and twisted. Do I like her? Yes, there are many parts of her I like. Do I like her actions? No, although understandable, they are extreme and usually bent to her own agenda which is tinged with revenge, scorn and rage. But all of these same characteristics make a great story and create a multi-faceted person who you will either love to hate or hate to love.
is the spicy pepper,too hot chilli and pungent garlic to my, or should that be her, story: The Raven’s Court.
- Horror & What Scares Us | C.W. LaSart (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
- Puzzled by Plotting? | #1 (kimkoning.wordpress.com)
- Character Development (diamondpublicationz.wordpress.com)
- “7 Books to Understand Your Characters Psychology” (gointothestory.com)
- 10 Basic Ingredients (Plus 8 More) of a Successful Thriller (worddreams.wordpress.com)
- Hellfire? Hell Yeah!: Why Are Villians Better Than Heroes? (gbindahouse.wordpress.com)
- Outlining the Plot (aplaceforwriters.wordpress.com)
- Myers-Briggs character tests (scyh.wordpress.com)
- Writing Believable Characters – 2. The Human Approach (bardicblogger.wordpress.com)
- The Writer’s Toolbox: Essentials of character (madgeniusclub.com)
Where has the time flown? The eight month of 2011 is here. August is the waning of Winter in my Southern Hemisphere and the waning of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. I don’t know about you but August and April tend to be times of planning for me. Perhaps it is because they are both “in-between” months – neither are quite Summer or Winter. But this year I have decided that August is going to be my Attitude Month.
What does this mean? An Attitude Month?
An Attitude Month is a month where no excuses or procrastination is allowed to rear their heads. An Attitude Month is a month when I get real with my writing. If self-doubt, perfectionism or procrastination come looking I am going to rebel with Attitude.
So for August I have decided to submit the current WIP that has been holding me ransom these last few months. Then the plan is to start on Book 2 of the series. I have given myself deadlines until December 2011.
Deadlines are only effective if they are met and if someone holds you accountable.
So over the next few months I will be working on and finishing:
The Black Prince (15/09) – Book 2 in the Raven Chronicles (Supernatural Horror)
The Ring of Fire (15/10) – YA Dystopian
The Gemini – Mythological Fantasy (15/11)
The Dream Catcher – Fantasy (15/12)
At the same time I am going to be forging ahead with Shadows, my suspense thriller with an end date of 01/12.
First task at hand is to finish polishing The Raven’s Court (Book 1 in The Raven’s Chronicles) and submit by 18/08. My betas are chomping at the bit to get their claws on Raven’s Court so I dare not leave them waiting.
How will I be attaining these goals? Word Count! Word Count! Word Count! I am going to aim for 6 days writing per week with a minimum goal of 4000 words per writing day. Another way that I am going to forge ahead is by taking up my Morning Pages again. I have been very lax this year with Morning Pages and after the very strange dreams I have been having lately I realised that I really need to get into that daily habit again of “stream-of-consciousness” writing. But this month I am going to be doing it longhand with the old fashioned pen and moleskin method. Tried, tested and true. There is something magical that happens when your pen scratches away on a blank page.
As for procrastination I am going to employ Anti-Social. This is a nifty little download (unfortunately only available to Mac users at the moment) that shuts off Twitter and Facebook for a solid 8 hours. Four of my projects require intensive research so I will be leaving the internet on but will not be able to access the social networks for at least 8 hours every day. During which time I will be working on my writing goals.
Then on the third weekend of the month I will be attending my second writers’ conference. I am looking forward to this year’s conference because of the focus it has. Both the three authors attending and all the workshops are geared towards suspense writing, fantasy, paranormal and YA dystopian fiction. I am also looking forward to this year’s conference because I am not the newbie. I know what to expect and I know what to look forward to. On top of that I get to attend with one of my favourite people and dear friend. Conferences are so much more fun when you get to share the experience.
So that is what my August looks like so far.
We all have the same 44,640 minutes this month. We can choose to waste away or procrastinate the time away. Or we can choose to use the best of that time to run for our goals, achieve our dreams and form our own path to success.
What are your goals for August?
What are you going to do with your 44,640 minutes?
What is your August Attitude?
Today’s thought ~
Attitude sealed with concrete determination is the brick that lies in the foundations of success.
Time Saving Steps for your WIP (kimkoning.wordpress.com)
Forgiveness and Procrastination (colleensharen.wordpress.com)
Common causes of unhappiness and smart ways to cure them #4 (dialoguewithyou.wordpress.com)
Three Ways to Overcome Procrastination (divamm.wordpress.com)
Creating Bite-sized Life Goals (marcia-richards.com)
July Writing Goals: End of July (shannagermain2.wordpress.com)
Note to Self: Get Serious About Your Writing (donweston.wordpress.com)
Picking up the Pace (ericswett.wordpress.com)
New Attitudes; New Altitudes! (montagprint.wordpress.com)
The Challenge (anotherpieceofpie.wordpress.com)
August Theme for NaBloPoMo and a Writing Contest (blogher.com)
Why I’m Dragging My Feet (kimberlyabettes.wordpress.com)
The Power Of Writing And Why I Write At Least 750 Words Every Morning (healthmoneysuccess.com)
When Willpower is Trumped by Bad Habits (zenhabits.net)
This evening, I received one of my daily emails called: Thought for Today. This is an email sent by the Oprah website and which I get every day. It has a mesh of little tidbits of advice, ranging from physical to mental tips, along with a daily quotation. I have realised that today’s one could be reworked and adapted to a writing-focused tips post. The original post, 4 Time-Saving tips to Start your day, is from a series called: How to have more productive mornings.
So this is my adaptation to – 4 Time Saving Steps for your W(ork)I(n)P(rogess)
- Work before Networking/Marketing
- Get Publishing focused
- Prep your Manuscript
- Buddy up with Writing Partners
Work before Networking/Marketing
Your actual writing and editing must come before everything else. Anything else is procrastination. This means that updating your Facebook/twitter is procrastination. This also includes chatting in your numerous online writer groups. Yes – this is harsh – but if you are not going to hold yourself accountable to being a producing writer, who else is going to?
Get Publishing Focused
Work out a progression plan for your writing. Even if you are only writing part-time, you still need to have a progression plan for the future. Work out your goals. You can break them up into small goal increments, I am not talking a 10 year plan here. But write from where you are right now to where you want to be in 3 months time, then where you want to go from there in another 3 months ect. The most important part of this plan is to Write It Down. A plan that is written down has far more chance of success than one that is just spoken aloud. Then once you have written down your plan of attack, print three copies. Tack one to an area that you will see at most times while working. Then give one copy to your writing partner and another copy to a non-writer who is very close to you: this may be a best friend, a spouse, a sibling, a child. That way you know that they have your goals and can hold and will hold you accountable to accomplishing them.
Prep your Manuscript
Do all the prepping you need before you start writing. Whether this be research, lucky charms, muses aligned, negative thoughts released; do it all before you start writing. That way you will not need to procrastinate by suddenly remembering you forgot a key element of research and then get sucked into the vortex of browsing in your local library or online. If you are like me, this could save you hours.
Prepping your manuscript also includes a backup plan. If you don’t know what I am talking about here, take notes and follow instructions post-haste. There is no point in getting all this lovely writing done and then losing it all because of a computer glitch or a finger-error. This is where you need to take Backing up into your prepping list. Dropbox comes in very handy for this part of prepping. In Dropbox you can create an account then backup your writing files to this online account that then syncs to all your systems: laptop/desktop/phone/pda/iPod. It is also worthwhile investing in a portable hard-drive at this point where you can also store and backup your writing.
Buddy up with Writing Partners
Whether you are writing part-time or full-time, it is vital that you have a writing buddy/partner. This person is there to hold you accountable, to be harsh with you when you need it, to be encouraging when self-doubt wants you to butcher your WIP, to give you a second pair of trusted eyes on your WIP and to word war with. So if you don’t already have a writing partner/buddy, get one and fast! These gems of critters will save your butt countless times from throwing yourself out the window or throwing yourself into a vortex of procrastination.
You may be asking what the prerequisites are for a writing partner/buddy. First, they must be willing to be one. Second, think of them like a sponsor in procrastinators’ anonymous. Third, they must be a writer. This is for your own safety. A non-writer may want to commit you to a therapist’s couch after the first week. Fourth, you must trust them implicitly and vice versa. Fifth, you must ensure they realise their role is not a cheer-leader. At times you are going to need, you will not want it but you will need it, them to be brutally honest with you. They need to be comfortable with that and you need to comfortable enough with them to accept that honesty. Do not fear if your writing partner lives in a different city, country or continent. I use Skype with my writing partners and find it works tremendously. You can also have more than one writing partner/buddy. In fact sometimes it is even better to have a couple or so. The more people to kick your butt into writing gear, the better!
So now: Go forth!
B(utt) I(n) C(hair)
- Thursday Tip ~ Stop Time Takers (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
- Thursday Thoughts on the WIP (lizakane.wordpress.com)
- Writing for the future. (dwwriter.wordpress.com)
- Cast Away! or Silencing your Inner Whiny Child (annstephensromance.com)
- The Girl Who Couldn’t Commit (copywrite1985.wordpress.com)
- My Ten Commandments of Authorship (marcia-richards.com)
- BackUp Your Life (susansheehey.wordpress.com)
- Stuck, Redux (lizakane.wordpress.com)
I am often asked two questions:
- Why do I blog?
- How and where do I find the inspiration for my blog posts?
A year ago I would have answered that I blog because I want to build a network and get my name out there on the world wide web. It was a way to build a readership and to connect with potential readers. It seemed to be the thing to do as a new writer. It was what more experienced writers advised me to do.
Six months ago I would have answered that it was to connect with other writers and other bloggers. Share and learn in experiences.
Now my answer is still both of the above but I also blog for my own benefit now. Yes I blog to connect with readers. Yes I blog to connect with other writers and bloggers. But more than ever I find that I am blogging for myself. As for the inspiration part of the question: I blog about the topics closest to my own writing, being either quandaries or difficulties I am facing and moments of epiphanies.
When I blog, it is like first having a conversation with myself trying to work things out and then I invite in others to the conversation and hear their points of view. I also blog to create inspiration for myself. We all have those moments and those days when for whatever reason, we battle to drag ourselves to the computer to finish that next scene or untangle a plot element. Sometimes we just need a break from the current WIP. That is when I blog. Blogging still means I am writing. It is a way of “getting back on that horse” inspirationally and creatively speaking. The most important part of committing to writing is doing the actual writing: inspiration can be a fickle mistress and can come and go as the wind direction changes. It is in these times of inspirational lows that I like to blog. It keeps the thoughts churning and strangely enough blogging usually unlocks a hidden kernel of inspiration which leads me hand in hand back to my WIP.
Of course it could be argued that there are other forms of writing like journalling. I still journal. I also write Morning Pages, inspired by Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way. But because blogging is in a public arena, one si held to a higher standard of writing. So blogging can be a teacher for your other forms of writing.
Blogging is also a reward system in of itself. When you write a post that connects in some way with at least one person and they are kind enough to comment, there is an automatic uplifting encouragement for the Blogger. One favour: If you do read a blog post that you connect with, comment on it. Let the blogger in question know that their post made you think or feel or just made you smile. It is also a great way to build online friendships and connections with like-minded individuals.
Blogging can also be a challenge tool. You can challenge your own beliefs, practices or thoughts by posting about different topics. Don’t limit yourself to just one rule of topic. Expand your horizons. Do research by reading other blogs. You may be surprised by what you learn from other bloggers and what you may be able to share and thus teach someone else. I have found the most useful resources through reading someone else’s blog. Blogging can be great research.
Words are powerful tools. They can be wielded for both good and bad. When we publicise our thoughts and share our experiences we cannot but help to touch another person either through informing them, inspiring them or finding points of empathy. It is up to us how we choose to wield this powerful tool. These are the questions we should be asking ourselves before we voice our thoughts whether it be in blogging or whether be in our own works…
- Will we turn it into a positive or a negative?
- Will we use our words to inform or hide?
- Will we use our words to entertain or insulate?
- Will we use our words to inspire or alienate?
- Will we use our words to create or destroy?
So why do you blog? If you don’t, why do you read/follow blogs?
Blog responsibly knowing that what you write will be read and remarked on by other writers and readers. Be honest but remember to stand by what you blog. Even if it feels like nobody is reading your posts, people are. It is in the eye of the public. Your posts will be judged. But learn from each post, each comment whether the commentator agrees or disagrees. Reply to your comments and do the courteous thing by linking back to others’ posts. In this way you become part of building a community.
Now: I blog for myself as well as connecting with readers and writers. I blog to understand my own thought processes when they have entangled me in a web of chaos. I blog to create inspiration for myself when inspiration seems veiled in the fogs of moods and emotions. I blog to inform and entertain. I blog to learn and share about the craft of writing. I blog to share my epiphanies and my Eureka moments. There is one rule I follow through on every time and that is to be transparent in honesty and truth. For me, a writer without truth is a fraud and a con-artist. For me words are art. Art is about finding the truth in life. Art is about creating simplicity from the complexity that is Life. For me, to be a writer is to be a seeker of truth.
What is writing for you? Why do you write at all?
The better question is: Why not?
- More Inspiration For Readers And Writers (russelllindsey.wordpress.com)
- My Favourite Blogging Tools (benclapton.id.au)
- Seven Super Tips for Creating Quality Blog Content (basekit.com)
- Writing Tidbits (russelllindsey.wordpress.com)
- Guest Posting 101: Penning the Perfect Post (blogworld.com)
- The Author’s Blog (frootbat31.wordpress.com)
- The Blog of Art (problogger.net)
- 5 Questions You Got Answer Before Blogging Full Time (tjantunen.com)
- To Outline, or Not to Outline (aplaceforwriters.wordpress.com)
- Blog Entry – New Tips (ronmedlin.com)
- Writing for the future. (dwwriter.wordpress.com)
- Hello! Mr. Blog? Can You Hear Me? (thedailywoman.wordpress.com)
- Getting to know the Blogger Community (buzz.blogger.com)
- Why do you Blog? (kleenexmums.com.au)
- Emily Carlisle – Blogging for writers (witneybookfestival.wordpress.com)
- What is a blog and why is it important? (theleakingquill.wordpress.com)
- Hello World (louisedementhon.wordpress.com)
- Linkswitch #74, Creative Blogging, Guide to Google+, Inspirational Writing (freelanceswitch.com)
- Top 10 female expert bloggers to follow on twitter (genuineseo.net)
- Corporate Blogging: Build the Blog or The Blogger? (outspokenmedia.com)
Distraction and Procrastination are 2 of the largest bug-bears in the Writer’s World. Procrastination is a daily battle that needs to be fought aggressively but is purely up to the Writer for success. Distraction however is something that can happen if you use the computer for your writing.
Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by a compelling distraction. ~ Robert Bloch
Thankfully there are some amazing programs out there that allow us writers to work in a distraction free focus environment.
If you are a WordPress user, you will now see that the lovely developers at WP have made our blogging environment distraction free too. They have now added a full-screen option to both HTML and VISUAL writing modes. I am busy writing in the full-screen right now. I love it. It is clean: Just my words and I on a pale gray background which is uncluttered and distraction free.
I have been using WP for just short of a year now. It is my blogging environment of choice. I have had very few instances of problems. When I started blogging, I had no clue as to what environment was the best so I trialled a couple. Of all the ones I tried, which included Blogger, WP covered all the options I needed. It catches all my spam with Akismet. It is easy to post a page/post. My 2 favourite options is: 1) that it keeps a subscription page of all my favourite WP sites so that my inbox does not need to be cluttered up with subscriptions. 2) it is simple for readers to comment on any part of my blog, no annoying hieroglyphics Capture phrases to enter in, unlike many other blogging platforms. Now I can add a 3rd favourite option: The Full-Screen Option. If you don’t use WP already, it might be time to make the change.
What programs do you use for a better focused, distraction free writing environment?
My favourite is OmmWriter Dana II. I have been using this amazing program for about 6 months and can sum up my experience with two words: LOVE and ZEN.
“Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind” ~ Zen Proverb
OmmWriter is software that was initially designed for Mac users and then adapted for PC users. It is a simple txt edit program that allows you to write in a full-screen mode. Mmmhhh… Sounds like a lot of other software out there, doesn’t it? What makes OmmWriter unique is that the developers have put the focus on creativity. There are 8 different full screen backgrounds you can choose from. All of them either improve your creative focus with colours that are easy on the eyes and decrease eye-strain or they boost your focus with subliminal creative messages that are put there to inspire you. Another great tool in OmmWriter is the 8 different soundtracks. These range from classical music to the sound of a simulated womb environment with added heart beat. Prefer working around the sound of people. Try the library environment option: this simulates the sounds of a library. Now you can write in whatever room you want in your own house/office but Omm puts you in a library. If you still need convincing, the best advice I can give you: Try it for yourself!
What helps you keep a distraction free writing environment?
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” ~Mark Twain
Now as for the other bug-bear: Procrastination. The best advice I can give you here is the simplest.
B.I.C (Butt in Chair)
Just Write“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”
~ Mary Heaton Vorse
Overcoming procrastination in your professional life (agentgenius.com)
The Really Simple Way to Get Work Done (zenhabits.net)
Your Ideas for Writing with More Focus (lisarivero.com)
The Little Guide to Un-Procrastination (zenhabits.net)
6 Minimal, Full-Screen Writing Apps for Mac (appreaders.com)
WPCandy previews WordPress distraction-free editor (thenextweb.com)
Writer’s block (tiaden.wordpress.com)
How to cure writer’s distractions… (mjtwrites.wordpress.com)
Six Useful Tools To Create Distraction Free Writing Environment (mt-soft.com.ar)
Now More Than Ever: Just Write – WordPress.com (en.blog.wordpress.com)
Thursday Tip ~ Stop Time Takers (dragonflyscrolls.wordpress.com)
Distraction-free writing? I didn’t think that was possible! (6ftover.wordpress.com)