Archive for June, 2017

People… from my head

Blog Circle topic for this month… I wrote and re-wrote this one, trying to get an answer that I was pleased with.

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Characters: How do you come up with your characters? Do you pull from real life and people you know or someplace else? Do you have a hard time with characterization or find it a breeze?

Characters are one of the three things that needs to be present to tell a story (the other two are conflict and setting).  At least, that’s what I was always taught in school.  Any story I can think of has at least one character – even if the reader never learns that character’s name.

So, how do I come up with characters in my own stories?  I usually start with some vague idea of what I’d like to write about.  Then, I’ll look for an image – a face that will fit in with what I’m trying to write about.  That person might be a person I know in real life or it might be an actor.

Once I have an image of the character firmly fixed in my mind, I can begin writing about them.  Characterization seems to come as a natural extension of my writing style.  I don’t have too much trouble filling in the background and history that gives a character life and personality.  I try to make all of my characters only as rich as I need them to be for their role in the story.

A background character might get a name and a face and little else.  The main character will have all the little details filled in – at least for my own use.  However, I never get bogged down with tiny details that never come into the story.  If I think of a detail, it is to build the character or the story.

 

Bonus:

Names: How do you come up with names?

Names seem like the bane of a writer’s existence.  I’ve seen people agonize over finding the perfect name for a character.  I don’t tend to do that.  Names are things that I, generally, just pluck out of the air and attach to characters.  I’ve scanned the phonebook for good names.  I’ve stolen them from people I know in real life.  I’ve stolen them from the covers of books.

I’ve had a few characters that I had trouble naming over the years.  Sometimes, it’s the given name that gives me trouble; other times the surname does.  However, by and large, names are the least of my worries where characters are concerned.

A Review of “Knit, Purl, Pray”

Knit, Purl, Pray: 52 Devotions for the Creative SoulKnit, Purl, Pray: 52 Devotions for the Creative Soul by Lisa Bogart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My sister – who is not a knitter, but does crochet – read this book and then lent it to me to read. I do both knitting and crochet. There are certain things in this book that speak directly to any creative person, whether you knit or not. There are a couple of little typos scatter through the book. If you’re the sort of person to be bothered/distracted by that, there’s your warning.

There were so many times over the last two months where the devotion just worked out perfectly for that particular day. My favorite was from May 30th. The reading related to 1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” It was just what I needed to read on that particular day.

There are also so many ideas for how to share your gift of crafting with others. I don’t just mean by making presents either. Some of them were ones I’d already heard of – making blankets or winter woolens for people in need, tiny hats for premies, etc. I loved the idea of making little cat blankets, though. That’s something I’m going to contact my local shelters about – just to see if there’s a need there that I can fulfill.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book and would totally recommend it to anyone who does fiber crafts (either knitting or crochet). There are a few knitting patterns at the end (one for a beehive slouchy beanie and three for cabled cup cozies) that I’m really looking forward to trying out. I have the perfect yarn for the beanie!

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A Review of “The Shining Ones”

The Shining Ones (The Tamuli, #2)The Shining Ones by David Eddings

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a long time to read this one – just over four months. Some of that is simply that I’ve been really busy and haven’t had a lot of time to devote to reading. Some of that is the fact that my copy is serious damaged – pages are falling out of it – so I couldn’t bring it anywhere. Some of it is… my favorite characters were not seen as much in this book. Talen’s role in this sequence is much reduced and, while I like Stragen… he’s just not the same. Tynian (my favorite of the Elene knights) was nearly absent. That, coupled with how annoyed I was with Sephrenia just… wow! I had to fight to get through the book.

That said: this book has the same wit and action as the other books in the series. For people who aren’t quite such fans of Talen and Tynian, it will be a much more enjoyable read than it was for me. Tyhian makes a reappearance towards the end (and that’s when it picked up for me). There are some really good points that fans of this writer will enjoy. I was a little… frustrated at the ending of the book. Without spoiling the book for someone who hasn’t read it: it’s a little contrived that a certain someone leaves just before the final scene.

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Planning July Camp NaNo

Camp NaNoWriMo is a challenge that was created by the same people who created National Novel Writing Month.  The difference is, rather than giving you a hard and fixed goal (50K words of a single piece of fiction), they give you a flexible goal – one that you have the opportunity to choose to suit your needs or desires or lifestyle.

I’ve been doing Camp NaNo from its inception.  In past years, I’ve typically done a simple writing challenge – writing a short story/novella length piece that is somewhere between 25K to 35K words.  However, this year they introduced other ways of counting and tracking your progress.  You can track your progress based on page count or time spent, rather than simply words written.  This opens the door to things like editing, script writing and comics – which have always been accepted for Camp NaNo, but weren’t really counted in words.

Because this simple change, I decided that I would do something different with my July Camp NaNo experience.  I’m going to commit to spending two hours (120 minutes) each day on world building with my sister.  By the end of the month of July we are going to know everything we need to know about our shared world, Alterra.  We have quite a number of stories written in this world – characters and countries created, different eras in the history of the place, organizations and all manner of other things.  However, we’ve never sat down and organized it.  Some things in our stories contradict each other or simply don’t fit together.  So… yes, world building.

Because we aren’t going by page or word count, we can even work cooperatively on the project!  It won’t be a matter of asking who wrote a section of the story or script.  We can work separately or together and just count the minutes.  Even if all we do is talk and only get one or two small things decided, that is time spent world building and will count towards our goal!

Needless to say, because I love working on writing projects with my sister, I’m really looking forward to July.

What about you?  Would you like to try your hand at this fun, really open writing challenge?