Saturday, September 24, 2022

Character yes and nos.

This month's topic is how characters are defined in writing and what do I leave to the reader’s intuition? Is there anything I never tell about a character?

Well, writing is all about the story's purpose, and the characters must work to carry out that purpose. So, of course, the reader needs to understand the characters and think of them as real people, either good or bad, for them to carry out that purpose.  At the same time, readers pick up hints about the character's personality from their own experiences. They also get hints from what the character wears, does, and says. While some traits of a character must be made, such as appearance, manner of speaking, and tone of voice, often the reader has their own perspective on a character’s behaviors that develop as they read which makes the reader part of the writing process.

Characters fall into categories. The main characters are those the reader needs to know intimately as they are most important in the story. Supporting characters help or hinder the main characters in some way the reader can relate to, and placement characters, who often remain unnamed, just help create the fictional world as a real place.

Is there anything I never tell about a character? Absolutely. The character doesn't need a biography. The reader doesn't need to know everything, only the pertinent information for developing the character as a real person and supporting the story's purpose

Please visit these authors' blogs for their views
on this topic:

Skye Taylor 

ConnieVines 

Dr.Bob

A.J.Maguire 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Developing Characters As Individuals

This month's topic is how do you create your characters--their quirks, habits, values, and what part they will play in the story, etc.? Do you have a process, or do they come to you instinctively?


Generally, ideas about my characters start when I'm just thinking about a new
 story's plot. Once the story's idea is in place, then only the main characters get established with backgrounds, although sometimes they just appear. Being developed from my mind means my process may have an instinctive basis. Yet, based on the plot, many of the problems they will face have already evolved. Once this background is established, I start looking at the characters and try to add the essences that make them different.


We all have different quirks, habits, and values. Some are due to our genetics, and some come from how we were raised and the many different experiences we have enjoyed or endured. With each of my characters, I develop a background based on both the good and bad experiences in their past and how these have affected them.

This doesn’t seem to be a set-in-stone process. Stories change, and as they evolve this often changes the characters, too.

Most writers have a good understanding of people and how they differ, but creating a character also involves much imagination. However, keeping our knowledge of the real people in our lives out of our stories is an important principle in writing. So is borrowing characters from stories we’ve read

Of course, the pleasure of a series of novels is that the characters are already somewhat developed, but that doesn't mean they can't change somewhat in attitude, beliefs, and commitments. For me, they seem like friends.

Check out more posts on this topic with the following writers:

Skye Taylo 

Connie Vines 

Fiona McGier 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Anne Stenhouse

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Where Do Characters Come From? What Happens to Them?

We have a number of related topics to choose from this month: the inspiration behind our characters, characters we have just killed off, our characters' names, or aspects about our characters that were cut from the story. Also included were deleted scenes and characters who didn't make it into the story.

Ideas on Characters:

All stories have to have characters, human or not, or there can be no story as dialogue and action have to come from someone's viewpoint. Many books have had animals as characters, like the story of Bambi (not the 1942 movie versions, but the original 1928 translation of the Austrian version written by Felix Salten), or the story of Black Beauty. And, of course, many fantasy and science fiction novels have non-human, human-like characters.

But where do my characters come from? I'd have to say my imagination, although I will admit my mind sometimes works behind closed doors. I remember a long-time ago, before I started writing, I was having repeated dreams about someone I'd never met in real life. She inspired me to begin a story. During the writing, she changed and evolved into a somewhat different person-character than the dream one, who has never visited me again. 

Sometimes ideas for stories occur first, either from imagination or occasional contemplation of problems. I might understand what I want a character to be like in a story, but before they can come into being, they have to have a name, which I imagine makes them individuals in my mind. So in those instances, I know a character's personality before I met them, but once I know them by name, they often change. I've written about character names before and where they come from, and why some names can never be used--which is part of the selection process. I've also written a post about evil characters and how I name them.  

Character's death:

I've never had a major character die, but some minor ones have; mostly this shows the effect on the main character. The story often continues with how the main character moves on from this devastation. I've also read stories where the ghost of a previous character haunts the main character. That also can prove interesting. I will say that in one of my books a minor character who died is shown alive in another time warp of the story's universe. 

Deleting Characters and Scenes:

Writing is time-consuming and sometimes arduous. Cutting a scene is difficult, but I've done it because the scene did nothing for the story. I cannot remember ever cutting a character from a story. 

Visit the following sites for more perspectives on these topics.

·         Skye Taylor 

·         Marci Baun  

·         Helena Fairfax 

·         Dr. Bob Rich 

·         Anne Stenhouse   

·          Judith Copek 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Do I use current issues in my writing?


This month’s topic is about using current social, political, or environmental problems in any of your stories or if you have ever thought about doing so? Why or why not? Such as:

  • Do you ever include politics in your stories (why and how?)
  • Do you ever address topics like discrimination or race relations?
  • After your characters with or against law enforcement and do you include the current climate of anti-law enforcement in your writing
  • have you incorporated gay/lesbian characters? 
  • how does the current economic climate feature in your books?
  • Have you ever included current wars in your books?
  • Has terrorism ever appeared in any of your stories?
  • Do any of your characters address going green/global warming?

I thought I would say no to all of the above because most of my stories are fantasy or science fiction; but then, after some thought, I realized I did deal with some of these issues but in very minor ways. For instance, in Dragoons Journey the setting has humans living within enclosed habitats on a planet still developing an inhabitable climate. While starting their expanse into the outdoors world, it is mentioned that they should avoid the problems of human contamination of Earth and continue to live in habitats. From another perspective, future humans might have to adjust to living in constructed habitats if the projected dire consequences predicted for Earth’s changes come true. So perhaps I was forecasting changes to come?

Then I realized that both my Black Angel and Homeworld series are filled with politics. Yet these are not today’s politics. The Homeworld series also shows the female gender losing the equality they’ve worked so hard to gain in our cultures. The conflict between those who rule and those who must follow the rulers’ edicts seems to be prevalent in all societies.

Overcoming problems is one feature that makes writing and reading interesting. Readers have their concepts of what life is like in the contemporary world and what types of problems there are, so they can relate to almost any issue. (Which is probably a good thing.)

So yes, I’ve dealt with politics, global warming (future), and other current issues in an incidental manner, but not as a direct issue in any story.

Visit these authors to see their answers to this question:

Skye Taylor 

A.J. Maguire 

Diane Bator 

Connie Vines 

Marci Baun 

Anne Stenhouse

Dr. Bob Rich 

Judith Copek 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Stalled Writing. What do I do?


Writing is enjoyable but can be difficult, and making each story and each character different can be challenging. I imagine all writers run into writing blocks where they can't decide which direction the story should take next. Sometimes  I know that I have to take a break from my writing and clear my mind before I take a story further...or even start a new story. 
Matter of fact, I've been on a bit of a hiatus from writing for a while as other important projects have been interrupting my story imagination.

One of my favorite projects to start when my writing is stalled is painting, whether a  piece of art, a craft project, or even painting a room. Sometimes these projects take precedence over writing. My granddaughter recently graduated and my daughter asked me to paint her a box. I've painted many boxes. Why boxes? I don't know, but I still have a few more to paint. My granddaughter called hers a keep-sake box for her odds and end. I also have a few rooms that need painting and updating.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

How Much and What Do I Read?

This month's round-robin question is about how much reading I do, both for pleasure and for a work in progress.

I love to read and love my Kindle! My Kindle has more than 40 books on it, and I carry it with me all the time, along with a recharging cord and adaptor for electric outlets. I read during breaks at work, or while traveling (if not driving), and while in bed before sleeping. I've already worn out two Kindles. 

I also read a lot of non-fiction, mostly in historical or science genres, but some are on various other topics like gardening, art, writing, psychology, and more. When  I'm gone, I sometimes wonder what will happen to my 1000 or so books. 

In the novel category, I love to read fantasy, contemporary romance, historical romance, or just historical stories, mysteries, and even general fiction. Becoming immersed in a story is satisfying as it generates all types of emotions, and becomes relaxing at the end when all (or most) problems are resolved. Stories I love I read multiple times.

I also read a lot of non-fiction. (Why do we call in non-fiction? Isn't there a better name, like factual or informative books? Something without the 'non' moniker.)

In history, I love reading about the earliest civilizations. In this category, I've read the Sumerians: A History From Begining to End, and I was fascinated by all the knowledge provided about a civilization existing from 5000 to 2000 BCE. I learned they came up with the concept of a 24 hour day, a 360-degree circle (a sexagesimal system which we still use today in our timekeeping), the year was split into 12 segments, they had a written language (cuneiform), they identified all the planets although the Greeks and Romans named them, and developed the zodiac. They had mathematical calculations to predict the future position of planets, multiplication and division tables, square roots, geometrical exercises, financial and loan contracts, and much more! I was so surprised to learn what humans knew over 4000 years ago and at the very beginning of humans living off the land in one location rather than roaming! Learning is one of the pleasures of reading!

I've read many non-fiction books for background information on stories I have had in progress.  For instance, for my novel Constantine's Legacy, I read numerous books on the Roman Empire, the Carolingian dynasty, and the dark ages that are now known as the early middle ages. While the novel is fiction, many facts about the era were needed. Not much fiction is written about this era, but like the Sumeria, I think much more information is now available.

Because I like to write science fiction, I also need some groundwork for basic science in those novels. While some science can be fictional, it cannot be science from this age, or else the book turns into fantasy. Admittedly, I've written fantasy, but sci-fi is different (or should be—I've read a few that were based more on fantasy than science—but that's writing for you). So I've also read information for story background data on how to bioform a planet for future inhabitation, how different police departments work (for books in a contemporary settingalthough policing has changed with time, too), and about various military ranks, and more on other various story topics.

I have to admit reading for me is more than a hobby—more like a passion.

Read more on this topic at the following author's sites:

Marci Baun 

Connie Vines 

Helena Fairfax 

Diane Bator 

Skye Taylor 

Dr. Bob Rich  

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Message Within the Story


The tension in all stories is achieved by the adversity the characters must overcome. This is what keeps the reader's attention and keeps them reading. This tension delivers messages about facing challenges, overcoming difficulties and differences, discovering love, and how to become an ethical and understanding person. The plot will also contain a message about how the characters reach a final resolution. 

Can a book have other messages? Messages that the reader must intuit? I think so, and in part, those messages might be what attracts the reader. What is amazing is that different readers can comprehend these messages differently.

Stories tell readers so much about humans, their characteristics, faults, and virtues. We are all different but all alike. A story can also reveal why individuals act the way they do. So reading might teach the reader understanding and how to deal with certain situations and people. 

I think all of my books have these messages. The funny thing is that I probably didn't plan or recognize all the messages, not even as the author. In the Black Angel series, it is about the heroine finding herself after her mind has been destroyed. In the Homeworld series, it is about finding a home. In the Aegis series, it is about belonging and acceptance as the person you are.  In Constantine's Legacy, it is about discovering a world-changing lie that cannot be stopped.

For other author viewpoints on this topic, visit the following posts:

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Clandestine -- Arcane Revenge

This month's Round Robin is to describe a flawed character you might use as a heroine or hero in a story. How did they become so flawed? How might their flaws affect the story and what will happen to them?

Arcane Revenge's anti-hero was once a good man, but what he has endured changes him into a conniving, hate-filled person who wants revenge.

I've been working on the Arcane Revenge story for a while. It has been a slow stop-and-go process with long hiatuses between writing episodes. This is a science fiction story about a rich man who was attacked, his well-known handsome face destroyed with acid, and declared an escaped prisoner. He ends up as a slave crewman on a spaceship. Much illegal finagling went on for this to happen. The ship, the Klester, was later damaged and abandoned with the ship headed for a collision course with the moon. The prison crew (more like slave), whose use by non-government ships had become illegal, was left aboard.  

Unexpectedly a solar patrol ship investigated the Klester's problem as it was on its destruction course. It was an unfortunate procedure, but companies were responsible for the deconstruction of their unstable ships, but it was cheaper to have the space police destroy them. If the Klester was purposely disabled, the company would still pay. Plus they could not let the ship crash into the moon. By chance, this patrol found the prisoners and saved them.  The legal crew had already safely shuttled to another ship and their names shortly disappeared from all records. Two of the nine found prisoners aboard the Kester were dead, six were supposed to be in a prison facility for minor crimes, but the seventh was a person missing for seven years—Carson Riese—the very wealthy owner of the now-defunct Riese Shipping.

Riese wakes in a hospital feeling depressed, hopeless, and detached from everyone and everything. Then he learns his family will visit him, and thinks, Oh God. His family? They wanted to visit him? Probably to tell him Riese Shipping no longer existed and his wealth was gone. His detachment turns to anger as he knows they have consumed his wealth although none had been named in his will. Plus, he knew that just before the attack on him, he had sold the ship that became the Klester. He had recognized it, so whoever trapped him knew exactly who he was. Now he doesn't want anyone to see him, not with his destroyed face. While his anger increases he thinks of ways to destroy those who destroyed him. He would make them pay somehow.

The problem I've run into is how to allow Carson to take revenge but remain, or return to, a basically good person, or at least one an audience can relate to without disgust or hatred. I still have not decided how the story will end, but want to have as many devious revenge and hopeful redemptive twists and turns within the plot as possible.

However, writing this post has made me reread what I have done and maybe even inspired me to finish it

Please read these author's post on this topic:

Connie Vines 

Skye Taylor 

Anne Stenhouse 

Marci Baun 

Diane Bator 

Dr. Bob Rich   

Judith Copek 

.


Saturday, January 22, 2022

COVID and Writing


This month's topic is how I am dealing with this COVID pandemic in my writing. My problem is I'm not...writing that is. Although fully vaccinated, for most of late 2020 through June of 2021, I've been at home.
While I've got books in progress, I have not made much writing headway. Generally speaking, I had been home in front of my computer most of the time during the last decade, even teaching online, but somehow it now felt different, isolating. 

Then a Dollar General opened up a mile down the road. I applied for part-time on the weekends, and because few want that time, I got the job. For the first time in two decades of living in Luther, I'm meeting many of my local neighbors, people I never knew. And I enjoy talking with them although I'm having a terrible time remembering all their names. As an added benefit, I'm walking two, three, or four miles within the store whenever I work. Since my local road is too icy to walk and the weather way too cold, I'm still staying in good walking condition...plus it gets me out of the house!

With the suggested topic for this post, I began thinking about the idea of writing a story with COVID as part of the setting or topic. This led to some convoluted ideas, and I concluded that I don't think I would write a novel with COVID in the background as so many are dealing with the issue day-to-day and might be reading to escape the reality of COVID. As I wrote that down, I thought, but then again, maybe it would help them deal with this new world, its COVID threat, and the resulting social issues of the illness: limited healthcare availability, death of family and friends, isolation, vaccination, masks, and other disease-induced pandemonium. 

Any contemporary story would be marked historically by the mention of the pandemic, yet all contemporary stories are marked by time. Jane Austen's novels were contemporary romance stories (maybe the first?) as were Betty Neels, but today those stories are historical romances, so any contemporary story should mention COVID, right? Any mainstream story would probably be dealing with COVID, and the resulting social defiance and unrest. I couldn't do it as a historical novel yet, because the ultimate effects are not yet known. Then again, maybe a setting using the 1918 pandemic might work. What other genre might work? Horror? Mystery? Those are both out of my writing realm. Maybe I could translate the pandemic into a science fiction story? 

As you might note, I'm a little confounded by current times and issues. I hope this pandemic ends soon. Maybe I can return to normality, but I'm thinking a different normality lies ahead. So maybe just a short story...or two...or three?

Please visit these authors and read how they would deal with this topic in their writing:

Connie Vines

Skye Taylor

Anne Stenhouse

Marci Baun

Diane Bator

Dr. Bob Rich

Judith Copek