Writing Meme: Day 11- Favorite Characters

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

These questions are almost impossible to answer!

Presently, I would have to choose my mysterious witch, Beth.  The dark sphinx.   She was one of those characters who I knew inside and out from the very beginning, and our relationship only deepened through various drafts.  But I also had found such joy in writing of the exploits of Mr. Raferat and Mrs. Brent.   Most of all the sardonic banter between the two.

I don’t have a least favorite character.   All characters are in a story for a reason.  There are some that are certainly more challenging because they reveal themselves slowly, displaying more aspects of their personality through each draft.    But if they didn’t belong, I’d cut them out and wait for their correct story to come along.

How about you?

Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 11:18 am  Comments (5)  
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Writing Meme: Day 10- Weird Situations

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

Oh,  murdering folk.  Talking to dead people.  (not necessarily their victims).  Participating in black masses.  

Have I mentioned how much I love writing horror?

`*sweet smile*

Uh, your characters? 

Published in: on October 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm  Comments (6)  
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Writing Meme: Day 9- Creating Characters

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

Oh, Isis in heaven- how do I describe this?   It’s such a long process of discovery.    It often begins with images of a person and lines of dialogue popping into my head.   Other times, the story idea will come first, and I will think- who would be the best characters to create, to invite to take part in this particular tale?

Once I have an idea of a character, I often like to create an astrological profile of them.  Not a full chart, but their sun, moon, and rising signs, so I have a clear picture of their outer mask (how they perceive the world and are perceived by others), their general personality, and their more hidden wants, desires, and fears.

But as I said, it’s a long (very) long process, because my characters will change (and hopefully deepen even further) through each subsequent draft.   Sometimes their original essence that I envisioned remains, and other times they are so utterly changed by the end that it is hard to believe they came from me.

Not being a parent,  I imagine it’s like one passes on their DNA and some characteristic traits to their offspring.  But then as the child grows, it becomes quickly apparent that they are their own being.  And then come the fights.  “I won’t do that!  You can’t make me!!!”  Feet stomp down the hall, door slams.   And you sigh and realize you have to revise your manuscript again.

Published in: on October 2, 2010 at 9:16 am  Comments (2)  
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Writing Meme: Day 5- Age of Characters

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest?

Hmm…if you want to count my earlier works (which shall never see the light of day since they’ve long been mercifully destroyed), my youngest characters were roughly 12 to 15 years of age.

In PORTRAITS, my youngest character is Anne, the 19 year-old protagonist.  The oldest are Mr. Raferat and Mrs. Brent- two eccentric Occultists in their sixties.  Had a total blast writing them.

The average age of my characters in my current WIPs are in their thirties.

What’s the average age of your characters?  Do you prefer writing about children, young adults, or grownups?  Or does it simply depend  on the particular  story?

Published in: on September 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm  Comments (2)  
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Writing Meme: Day 4- First Stories/Characters

4.Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Egads!   My first novels (penned in a lined notebook while scrawled on my bed) involved four sisters : a ladylike one, a tomboyish bookwarm, a shy sweet thing, and a slightly full-of-herself artist.  They were rather poor (no presents for Christmas), but their loving mother tried to make up for that while their father was away fighting in the Civil War. 

*cough cough*

Really.  They weren’t influenced by Little Women at all.  Really.


Oh, what can I say?  I was about ten years-old.  And shameless copier or not,  the writing obsession, the desire to create characters who’d come alive on the pages and take me along with them on their journey, had begun.

What were some of your first stories?

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 9:35 am  Comments (8)  
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A Mad Tea Party of Characters

Not so very long ago, I begged the question of which authors you’d invite to a tea party.  Now inspired by a discussion over at the fabulous Filling Spaces blog, I present the ten characters from novels that I’d invite to a tea party.

As with any list, this proved to be a challenge.  One, it’s hard to narrow down thousands of great fictional characters. Two, while I may love to read about a certain character, it doesn’t mean that I would want, let’s say Cathy or  Heathcliffe over for Earl Grey and scones.

But anyhow, without further ado:

1. Miss Jane Marple:  the white-haired,  perceptive, ever-knitting spinster.   She could relate firsthand her experiences at the Caribbean, Bertram’s Hotel, or how she discovered who killed the body that was found in the library.

2. Hercule Poirot:  I would love to watch the fussy, eccentric man with the “little grey cells” trade stories with the quiet yet sharp Marple.

3.  Nanny Ogg- she can bring something she baked from her The Joye of Snackes.  And can regale us with her infamous rendition of, The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All. 

4. Granny Weatherwax:  Nanny’s best friend.   Nanny, is by the way, probably the only friend Granny has.

Modern,” said Granny Weatherwax, with a sniff. “When I was a gel, we had a lump of wax and a couple of pins and had to be content. We had to make our own enchantment in them days. — from Wyrd Sisters

5.  Frankenstein’s Monster- yes, that poor soul who was cast out into the world alone, who taught himself how to read, who was continuously spurned by everyone- would have a welcome seat at my table.

6. The Crow Girls from the Newford novels by Charles de Lint.  The twins live in trees, eat candy for breakfast, love the scent of bacon, and wield switchblades.  Sure, I’d have to keep an ever present eye on them as they don’t understand the concept of stealing, but they are so full of utter joy that they’d be a must.

7.  Count Fosco- the tea party would require at least one villian. This cultured and  refined mastermind, with his love of bonbons, and a total devotion to his  pet mice, would definitely spice things up.

8. Allan Quartermain- to hear of all his magnificent adventures.  And to invite myself on his next trip.

9.  Marian Halcombe- before Mina Harker,  there was the brilliant and collected Marian who helped solve the mystery of The Woman in White.  And since Count Fosco was not-so-secretly in love with her…

10.  Carrot Ironfoundersson- the six-foot adopted dwarf from Disc World.   Utterly sweet and helpful to anyone in need, the always naive Carrot is hilarious in his proclivity of taking everything literally.

Who would you invite to your mad tea party?

Writing Update and Faeries

 “The Singer of the Chalice:

This Singer holds the Chalice from which a rainbow of energies pours like the richest wine…

Patience…is a joyful, loving willingness to wait for a process to bring us to where we want to be.  It contains trust and love and a special quality of expectant gratitude within it.” from The Faeries Oracle by Brian Froud.

It has not gone unnoticed by me that I haven’t mentioned how my WIP has been coming along.  There is a very good reason for my silence.  Namely, discussing anything positive regarding my writing process  tends to be as curse-inducing as walking under ladders,  breaking mirrors,  opening umbrellas inside, or muttering the name of that Scottish Play.

But as I start the third draft, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully safe) to mention what has changed along the way.

1. the title:  Unfortunately, “I Remember Jacqueline” had to go because my main character simply is not a Jacqueline.  Jackie exists…just not in this story.  So that title is being put on hold for now.

2. time period:  At first my murder/reincarnation story was going to take place in the early 19th century New England and the Jazz Age.   The 1920s didn’t fit for this story- that’s Jacqueline’s time.  So now the story is taking place in the early 19th century and modern day Berlin.  (the fact that the author is also living in Berlin is surely a coincidence)

3. the killer’s identity in modern day Berlin.  The person who I thought dunnit- most certainly did not!

4. my characters’ names.  Heroine of 19th century has changed her name at least eight times.  I have honestly lost count.   Surprisingly, heroine of today-Berlin has only changed her name four times.  Thus far.

5.  Berlin love interest dude still does not know what his name is.  Poor guy.

But like the faery card I chose today (or which chose me), I am being open to these changes.  It is in their very unwillingness to be captured- that my characters become real to me. 

So today I vow trust on my characters.  A belief that they’re not just sending me on a wild goose chase and giggling at my expense.  That if I listen to them very carefully, I’ll at some point reach The End of their story.

How has your WIP changed?

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm  Comments (19)  
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On Characters: Male and Female

Recently on the popular, “Absolute Write” website, there have been threads dealing with male and female characters.  On these, some people (including females) have stated they find writing three dimensional females much more difficult than males.  This baffled me, so I did some thinking.

This is what I came up with.  It all comes down to fear.  A lot of writers worry needlessly about whether their character is likeable or not.  My hunch tells me that these same writers worry even more about making their female character likeable.

Such concern is pointless.   One, you can’t please everyone.  Just as not everyone is going to like your novel in general, not everyone is going to like your character.  The vital thing is creating an interesting character that people want to read about.

Another concern I’ve heard has been along the lines of, “I have trouble creating a believable female character”.  Believable, being the key word.    Well, guess what.   There’s no such thing as a believable female character.   That makes it sound like all women are alike.  No.  We’re not.  There is absolutely no such thing as A female character any more than there is A male character.   Personality types, hopes, fears, wants, and behaviors run the full spectrum in both genders.

C.S. Lewis said, “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

I believe the same applies to making a character “believable”.  If one sits down and thinks, “Okay.  I need to create a believable female character”, they’ll stress  too much on what they think a female character is supposed to be like, rather than creating a real, individual character.

Your characters, regardless of gender, become real, thus believable, when you give them hopes and fears, good traits and flaws.  Who is your character?  What do they want out of life?  What are their dreams and nightmares? 

Ask your character such questions and let them come forth.    Let them simply be who they are, for good or bad. Let them breathe on the page.  They will be real.  And believable.

Published in: on August 9, 2009 at 11:13 pm  Comments (38)  
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Of Writing and Swamps

My writing process is not pretty.  

 This current WIP is beginning the same way PORTRAITS  did.  In utter madness.   My stories begin with me diving into a mental swamp.  It’s dark and murky, but I know something is down there.  My first drafts are never really true drafts in the sense they aren’t a narrative at all.  Rather, they are pages and pages of discovery.  Random images, dialogue, scenes.  I write it all down as it comes, in all its nonsensical glory.

Seventy five pages in and I’m learning about my main character.   Her loves and fears.  Why she was placed in the asylum. . .

And then there’s the murder.  I’m combining my love of the Victorian era with my love of  Agatha Christie whodunnits.  I have my victim and the culprit.   The end scene is clear.

This swamp is fun to play in.

How is everyone else’s writing coming along?

Portraits of the Living: A Ghost Tale- characters

music playing:  Stevie Nicks,  Nightbird

Things are very exciting right now.  I have a full out on POTL (whispers this as not to upset the Fates), and have started researching and taking notes on my next supernatural suspense novel.  Before blogging about the new novel,  I wanted to write a couple of posts regarding Portraits, which will then be put together in a separate page.

The first is the novel’s cast of characters:

1.  Anne Durrant:  fifteen-years-old, imaginative, clever,  intelligent, yet often foolish.   Definitely not as sensible as she believes.   Booksmart, but has a lot to learn about the dangers of real life. Her insatiable curiosity is both her greatest asset and her worst, for it might get her killed. . .

2. Daphne Hoffman Stowe: thirty two- years-old, married, highly intelligent, poised, and stoic.  Loves science, history, and linguistics.   Despite her scientific leanings,  she is addicted to having her fortune read.  Fears an ominous reading from a Gypsy. . .

3.  Beth Hoffman:  Daphne’s younger sister.   The reticent spinster loves art, poetry, tarot cards, and waxen dolls. . .

4.  Gerard Hoffman:  Anne’s uncle.  Father to Daphne and Beth.  Scholar of the Occult.  What does he do in his study?

5.  Sheridan Stowe:  Daphne’s husband.   Uses his charm to get away with his drinking and gambling.  What does he feel guilty about?

6.  Grace Cullwick: the utterly devoted house maid.  The only servant who remained after an exorcism went frighteningly wrong.   Tender to her “family”, she is cold to all outsiders.

7.  Mr. Raferat:   Family friend.  Retired anthropologist.  Studies the occult.  Larger-than-life world traveler who relishes good stories and obscure facts.

8.  Mrs. Brent:  Widow.  Not-so-discreet lover of Mr. Raferat.  Devoted Spiritualist.  Overbearing and a bit daft, but with a great heart.

9.  Mary- the young servant girl who haunts the Hoffmans’ house.

Who are the characters in your novel?