11.18.2008

Creative Writing 101 :: Character Creation, Part II

Delving a little bit deeper into the characters here, just a few more points I wanted to add to the previous character-based entry.

Understand your characters. If you write characters alien to you, they aren't deep enough to hold a reader's interest. They become flat, unchanging, and too shallow for anyone to understand. Make sure that your main characters (at least) contain a part of you, you can relate to, make sure you spend time trying to put yourself into the mind frame of your creation. Flat characters are all right in short stories sometimes, because they're too short to actually develop them properly. But in a novel's case, you have to be able to know who they are.

Remember, there's always a motive. The main motives are love, power, safety, and revenge. Does your hero seek power for himself, to rule in wisdom and justice and the American Way? Or perhaps to set himself up as an evil overlord? (For once, I'd like to see a smart bad guy. They all seem to be the most inept dolts.) Is his (or her) love being held hostage, or does she (or he) demand that the hero accomplish some feat before they wed? Do raiders regularly descend on his village and carry off random people? Give the bad guys motives, too. Simply being evil doesn't cover everything.

Killing off Characters: Don’t do it unless crucial to the plot!! Even though death is natural, Don’t do it for shock value. That’s basically telling us that you didn’t have anything interesting to say. You could akin it to adding cursing into music. If a song is all foul language the general public takes it as the artist not having any originality to express their emotions. With prose, and killing off characters, it's the same, it's letting your reader know, if there is not a solid reason behind it, that you don't have an original way in taking the character away for a while, or out of the story all together, without their death. Definitely don’t do it if you’re telling the story in first person. It leaves the reader confused.

Here's a list of a few things to consider when you are creating your characters (Possibly to add to your Character 'sheets':

  1. Name (You have 26 letters of the alphabet to work with here and a myriad of possibilities. Don't stick with standard names like Bob, Tom, Dick and Jane. It's BORING)
  2. Gender
  3. Nationality (How many nationalities are there on the planet? find one that fits the character!)
  4. Parents names/occupations
  5. Brief description (height, weight, blood type, hair/eye/skin color... prominent features? Scars? Tattoos?)
  6. Education
  7. Major illnesses in history?
  8. Major family tragedies?
  9. Has/had pets? What animals? What names?
  10. What does the character do for a living?
  11. Favorite food/music/TV Show/Colors
  12. Where do they live? How nice a place is it? Where is it?
  13. Do they have a life goal? if so, what is it? if not, find them one.
  14. Religion?
  15. Brief Background Overview.
  16. ETC . . .

Considering I feel characters are the driving force to any good Novel, I will probably add additional revelations as they come about to me. For now . . .

Cheers!

~Hoshi

11.15.2008

Desperate Times . . .

Prior to today, I was the proud owner of a shiny red Volvo. Vera was my very first car. I got her from my uncle a little while after receiving my license in high school. She was a REAL Volvo. A ’92 Volvo. A Tank. And she was my baby. Everyone who has known me since I got that car has known that I love that car. Everyone who knew me in high school has been able to enjoy the cool, black leather seats and open sunroof; windows down as we blasted the best music in the world while traveling down the I-35 corridor in Austin’s rush hour traffic.

Sure, she didn’t have Air conditioning in the Texas summers.

Sure, the sunroof stuck on occasion and wouldn’t always close properly.

And sure, the speakers crackled whenever we went under power lines.

But the bumper stickers made up for it.

Today is a solemn day. I sold my baby today. I didn’t think it would affect me this much, but being that I haven’t been able to drive her for about 6 months, it was time for her to move onto a person who would be ABLE to take care of a car with high mileage. With the economy is such a downswing the repair bills were just something I couldn’t keep up with. So she sat in the parking lot of my apartment complex for six months, until I finally got up enough courage (and into enough of an economic hole) that I looked out at her one Monday morning and resolved myself to finally let go.

She deserved more than just a parking spot next to the highway. She deserves the highway itself. Full tires, full seats and a full trunk on the way to . . . wherever. That car gave me a great gift. Vera brought me closer to friends, gave me freedom to go where I wanted to. She was my companion when I needed a place to curl up and cry and she was my assistant when I needed someone to store my things. And spoke loads about my personality with five little bumper stickers.

My Karma ran over your Dogma

When Religion Ruled the world they called it the Dark Ages

Doing my part to piss off the religious right

Some mornings I just don’t feel like slaying Dragons

Why Be Normal?

I love you, Vera . . . and I will never forget you.

Cheers

~Hoshi

11.14.2008

'If we are to fall, then so be it! At least now . . . we are free!'


I knew I was going to end up writing about it at some point, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK from here on) came out this week, the new expansion for World of Warcraft (WoW from here on) and unfortunately I was unable to acquire a copy as of yet, will not be able to until next week. I am a geek at heart, and WoW is really the only MMORPG that I have ever gotten into or really even still like. Why? Well, this is a blog about writing, so of course it’s not about the battles. I have always loved to Role Play. I began playing D&D when I was eleven and have played a lot of table top games since then; everything from Whitewolf to traveler and Shadow Run. Hell, I even beta tested the Serenity tabletop game while the movie was in production. Currently I am in a D&D game with some other local geeks. While dice and combat are usually a big part of all RPGs, of course I would be the one who is in it for the story. That’s what drew me to RPing. The stories. It’s like a table of co-writers working together to create your own world, and your own adventures. It stirs the creative senses and helps you open up to other points of view, the one of your table-mates. You can get great ideas for characters of your own or plot twists in your own writing that you never thought of prior to that. It is a great social gathering and usually involves food, drinks (sometimes alcohol) and a lot of good laughs along the way. It was because of the social gathering aspect that I am very disheartened that I wasn’t able to attend the three day long LAN party my boyfriend is currently at. Most of that is due to finances and the horrid quality of the god forsaken Compaq that I am currently typing on (400 ms of latency just doesn’t cut it for me). Regardless of it being on a computer, I enjoy the game a lot more when I play it with my friends.

I began playing WoW in ’05, and while I’ve been in and out of it for the past year, I have never ceased to enjoy the massive amounts of lore that has gone into the creation of the game. WoW is based off of Blizzard’s Real Time Strategy game series, and is truly and EPIC. Of all the points of view I always loved Thrall’s story line. The Horde are steeped in so much fantastic background that I can’t help but love the Orcs, Trolls Blood Elves and so on. The common misconception here is that because the Humans, Dwarves, Night Elves and Gnomes are on the Alliance side (what I call the “pretty races”) that the Horde are Evil. In reality, the Humans and Night Elves have done more to screw the world of Azeroth than all the other races combined.

But this is about Thrall. Oh, how I love this story. Since there is so much Lore to go on, I will not fill 200 pages, just give a little background on it.

"Born on the world of Draenor, the orcs were brought to Azeroth through the dimensional gateway known as the Dark Portal and waged war on the humans while under the influence of the Burning Legion."

Thrall is currently the Warchief of the Horde. When he was young he befriended the spirits of the Elements, Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, thus becoming the first new Shaman since the corruption of the Horde. When he returned home he fully accepted his role as the son of a chieftain and began work to build on the Shamanic ways of the tribe. It took time, but eventually his work lead to the Spirits of the elements to forgive the Orcs for their fall into the darker powers. They recognized Thrall, then, as the first of a new line of Shamans.

Thrall built up the reputation and the morale of his Frostwolf clan with his new found power, and in a sense really turned the fate of the Horde around. He spent so much time renewing the Horde, and fighting for his own land, where those under his eventual rule could live freely, sans oppression due to their diversity from the Alliance. After a long life of Battle, and through visions brought on by the Prophet Medivh, he managed to convince the races of the world to stand together against the Burning Legion, and bring about the always important concept of ‘divided we fail’.

He eventually founded Orgrimmar, the Capitol city of the Orcs, and an excerpt of Thrall’s Wiki page says this:

“Despite Thrall’s open acceptance of visitors into his society, the Orcs have not yet relinquished all of their old hatreds and preconceptions about other races. Still, they honor his leadership and will treat visitors to Durotar fairly, albeit somewhat roughly. He takes individuals at face value and treats them with respect until their actions prove that they should be dealt with otherwise. Even when crimes are committed, the harshest punishment that Thrall will mete out is exile — banishment into the almost lifeless wastelands of the Barrens, where the elements judge who lives and who dies. However, if someone under his leadership causes dishonorable and unnecessary bloodshed, Thrall's policy is clear: a death sentence carried out with the help of the Doomhammer.

“To friends, Thrall is warm and generous, freely swapping stories and information. Hospitality is extended to everyone, but Thrall expects all visitors to contribute in some way to Orgrimmar’s survival. Visiting hunters often bring meat or fur in exchange for refuge from the elements, and human traders from Theramore Isle periodically bring casks of salt ale and seed for crops. While in Orgrimmar, visitors are under Thrall’s protection and he will not tolerate any threats or violence against them.”


Thrall brought about immense transition and the foundations for the essential rebuilding of civilization in my eyes, while still fighting endless battles for his kind to stay free. There is so much more storyline behind this character that I just cannot fit into a simple blog post. If you want to know more about The build-up of the Horde (and there is a lot of it) or any of the Warcraft Lore, read the books, check out Blizzard’s page, and lose yourself in it.

I do it on a daily basis, and I can't wait to get WotLK to see what other glorious storyline they added about Arthas, Crown Prince of Lordaeron.

FOR THE HORDE!!!


Cheers,

~Hoshi

(Image Copyright Blizzard Entertainment)

11.13.2008

Creative Writing 101 :: Character Creation, Part I

So, among other discoveries I have made along the way, one of the major things I have uncovered in my writing is the means by which to completely flesh out a character. There are a few different ways to go about this, and I will share with you a couple of them right now.

You should ALWAYS give your audience at least one character that they can root for or connect with.

Write out background information for your characters. This cannot be stressed enough. Even if no one else sees the complete ’character sheet’, this will allow you to help flush out the character’s past, and possibly give you some additional plot points that you can explore in the story. It seems like a lot of extra work, but it will give you as a writer, a glimpse into the Character’s Psyche. I always find it's so much more satisfying to find characters who have flaws, and play up those flaws in any way I can. No one is perfect, and anyone who says they are is lying to you. Giving characters flaws, be it alcoholism, kleptomania, or even just having the innate urge to always tell the truth no matter what, adds verisimilitude and a lot of interesting character interaction to the plot.

Diversity is key in character creation. Everything from personality to their names are important to who they are. Looks and personality of the character aside, the most important part of characters are their names. A character’s name is the reader’s first impression of them, and is a major defining factor to whether the reader likes or dislikes the character. In my experience I have noticed that I tend to flesh out the past and personalities of my characters before I name them. That way the name will fit the character. If I do it the other way around, well . . . you get a lot of baggage that way. For example, if you name your character Charlie, you can imagine all the Charlie brown songs running through your mind. Or if your reader had a bad experience with a girl named Rebecca, then they won’t like your Rebecca, despite Rebecca being the Heroin who owns a pet store and spends her weekends with underprivileged kids because she brings back bad memories to that reader.

While, granted, you can’t know who has wronged who all over this planet, you can get rid of the baggage of Celebrity names by RESEARCHING. I can’t stress that enough. Find an obscure name, a name that fits the character. Honestly, do not be surprised if after you have written half the book you want to change a character’s name. Whether it’s for plot line or fate or irony in the story itself, I have been known by my beta readers to just have place-holder names for my characters until the name I really wanted hit me in the face. Search Google for baby naming websites an ancient names and research the meaning of the names for the characters. You will surprise yourself with the abundance of creativity that flows from that research.

On that note, develop your characters, develop your characters, and develop your characters. Stories generally aren't about what happens to characters, but rather, how characters react to what happens to them.

Be a sadist. No, really. Be evil to them. Do terrible, awful things to them. No matter how sweet or innocent your leading characters, make dreadful things happen to them to show the reader what they can really do. Don't be afraid to make your characters FAIL. I read many stories where the main character, while not a Mary Sue by any stretch of the imagination, WON everything all the time. It gets redundant and boring. When a character fails, you want to pick them up and tell them to go for it again, or to try something different. When a character fails, that’s when you start to see who they really are, and what they are capable of doing.

Finally, remember, EVERY character should want something, even if it’s only a glass of water. While yes, the characters react to what happens to them; a lot of the time it is the characters themselves who drive the plot line forward.

More on character creation later.

Cheers,
~Hoshi

11.12.2008

Playing God

I wonder if it’s all that common for authors to dream about their characters. I would have to think so. Seeing as we spend so much time with them, almost daily, they would have to slip into our unconscious at some point. I wonder how many authors actually listen to their characters in those dreams. Probably not enough. Usually they tell us things we need to know, like how THEY want the story to end, or where they would like to have the opportunity to do away with their personal antagonist once and for all. Granted, we don’t always have to give-into their wishes—sometimes demands, seeing as we are, in effect, God to them; but on the same note, I think we should listen to them at the very least.

We are the ones who breathe life into, and sometimes snatch it away, from them. We owe them the time and the ear to listen. These characters in the most basic of senses are part of us, the author. Ignoring what they have to say to you not only stifles your creativity and the story line itself, but it’s also you not listening to you.

I remember a year and a half or so back, after the rough draft of EH was completed, I was working on a very difficult scene while on break at my job. I was going back over what is now going to be a later book in the series, to where I kill off a character who was an integral part to the EH plotline. I had every character who had ever met the one who was doomed screaming at me to let them stop it from happening. When my characters cried, I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke down while writing that scene and no one around me understood why. While they all kept asking if I was alright, and why all of the sudden I lost control, part of me laughed inside. It was something that they wouldn’t have ever been able to understand. A connection that none of them had.

It’s very difficult to describe that sort of thing to people. How you’re ecstatic when you finally find a way to help the characters along on their journey, and how you want to curl up and die when you see that the best way to go about a situation is to destroy a person that you’d put so much heart and soul into.

Don’t get me wrong, I love playing God . . . . but there are times when things just can’t end happily ever after.


On that note, I'll probably have a character profile or two up within the next day or so.

Cheers,

~Hoshi

11.11.2008

NaNoWriMo . . . and Why I Won't be Part of it This Year

A lot of people have asked me why I am not joining in on the NaNoWriMo fun this year. I think I may be the only writer in the world who isn't doing NaNo this year, actually. The truth is, I have tried it in the past years, and while I have had fun in the process, and while yes it is a great creative exercise, I've never completed anything.

The problem with NaNo to me is that you have one month to produce a full novel--considering it's taken me Three years to produce the second draft of Ethereal Heart, I don't think I have it in me to slap together something in just thirty days. I am not going to throw in the series of excuses that you would normally hear, along the lines of 'I've got too much going on', 'not enough time', or other such nonsense. No, to put it simply, I am just too ADD to stick with it. That's probably part of the reason Ive still not finished EH (well, also the fact I haven't gotten any of my beta testers' manuscripts back yet).

But I digress. Really, I am too ADD to stick with NaNo. Granted I have a thousand different story lines that I could throw up on the pire and torch the hell out of until I come up with something to submit, but too many story ideas and not enough "Hoshi, nail yourself down and DO IT!" don't exactly expedite the situation.Also, I like to actually CARE about my writing, and either the story lines are much too detailed to write out in a month, they take too much research, or I care too much about the characters and the story itself to subject it to the month-long creative cram-session that NaNo is. I am afraid that if I do that, I will be so burned out on the story by the end of the month that I won't want to touch it for the next ten years.Now, I am not knocking NaNo in any way. I think it's awesome and my hat is off to those who actually complete it. I just haven't had the driving force behind me, or a good story line to write about. So maybe next year, NaNo, maybe next year.


That being said, I do still plan to put up some writing at least once a week to just make sure I practice. You can never practice too much, ya know?

Cheers!
~Hoshi

Another Legend Reduced to Ashes


I'm out of the loop a hell of a lot more than I had originally thought! It was just today that I stumbled through some other writing blogs only to find that Michael Crichton is dead. . . died last week. Wow, I'm unplugged. This comes as a shock to me. You know those stars you love, the ones who you think are so big that they can defy death, and you just want them to live forever? Crichton was one of those guys to me. Yeah, the guy who wrote Jurassic Park is dead. He was also known for many other novels, like The Great Train Robbery and Timeline (yea the movie). It was because of the movie adaptation of Jurassic Park that I had my heart set on becoming a paleantologist when I was about 6 years old--it was later, when Twister came out, that I wanted to be a storm chaser. I still love Science in part because of this man, and my favorite television show to watch with my mother was created by this legend. When I got a little older, and could appreciate his books (post Jurassic Park Movie) I read them, and enjoyed them, and they remain in my top favorite stories. I mean COME ON! The guy created ER!!! . . . then he had to go and die on Election Day. What a shame. I hope for all our sakes that he is remembered for the brilliant man that he was. I bow to you, Mr. Crichton, I bow to you.


Cheers,

Hoshi

Creative Writing 101 :: Begin at the Beginning

  • All poetry has to rhyme/meter

  • Each piece of writing must have layers upon layers of meaning

  • You must follow grammar and punctuation avidly

  • You must write something profound

  • Everything must be formatted perfectly

¡¡¡WRONG!!!

Part of the reason I began this Blog was to get some of my personal writing theories and experiences out into the open. These posts will be know as my 'Creative Writing 101' posts.
Now, a little bit of information before you bite my head off: That term, ‘Creative writing 101’ is a loaded term; And I’ll let you in on a little secret by saying that in all actuality, *Grabs the nearest megaphone* There IS NO formula to writing. If there were, we’d all be the next J.R.R. Tolkein or Stephen King. However here you will be able to slowly begin to piece the puzzle together and start to open up yourself to more and more ideas of how to help your writing as well as help others with their writing.
Every one of these is up for discussion on any level. Disagree with me? Cool, comment about it. I want to hear all points of view about the creative writing process. I have never published a novel, and will not pretend to know all of the ins and outs of the creative muses. A lot of my theory stems from personal experience coupled with advice I have received from seasoned veterans of the literary world. Take what you will of it, and yes! please discuss it!

Now for some elaboration on the above, I would like to bring to the table some 'pointers' regarding story lines.

  • Use the time of a total stranger in a way that [s]he will not feel the time was wasted

  • Start as close to the end as possible.

  • Write to please yourself first!

  • Give details and background! Make the reader feel as if they are part of the action, part of the story.

  • Literary agents are your friends (no, not the kind that you pay). Metaphors, allusions, even hyperbole, they are there to make your writing better. Use them.

  • To keep your writing from becoming dry and boring, use sentences of differing length. It keeps the flow from tricking to obscurity or washing away a reader in a flood or run-on sentences.

  • Avoid Clich├ęs like the plague. Unless it’s intended to sound that way.

  • Research! Research, Research, Research!! Especially when it comes to Non-fiction. You should know every detail that you can about what you are writing about.


Questions? comments? let me know! I will elaborate as best I can in every way I can.

for now, Cheers!

~Hoshi

11.10.2008

Stress Relief

And now for something completely different.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She dipped fingers into flesh and didn’t flinch as her mark's burly hand wrapped around her arm. His skin ripped almost easily. Already the small metal blades that adorned Zephyrus’ fingertips pierced the barrier of his vital organs. His eyes, steely with an animalistic fear, would not let go of the blood. It streamed from the little wounds and traced over her own veins before gravity caught it and brought it, in tear drops, to the earth. She was the shadow that, before, swayed among a sea of other shadows. In the sun’s glare he couldn’t tell her apart from the treetops. Now she was corporeal, standing in front of her prey, hand lodged into his chest. The numbness in him began to waver, made way for the more prominent throbbing. And the world stood still. Then, the flexing of fingers and she felt for the bone. Touched the final membrane before her goal. He groaned.

Snap.

The man released her arm and reared back in a futile attempt to separate himself from the pain. Adrenaline coursed through his blood, and into her senses.

Zephyrus kept her head lowered as she reminded herself, Don’t look into his eyes. Don't show him compassion, and concentrated on the goal. She wrapped her hand around his heart. Its pace matched her own heart’s, and the warmth she held was almost welcoming.

Quick. No more pain.

It happened in one rapid motion. With a cry she pulled the source of his life from the cage that held it. The muscle pulsed, the line was cut, and she held the slowing heart away from its owner.
He reached out to her with a sticky crimson hand, pleading with his eyes for her to mend the pain, repair the wound. Only, she didn’t, and her victim collapsed against the cold forest trail as his remaining blood seeped into the earth.

Zephyrus clenched her fist around the man’s heart as it slowed. With each beat she tightened her grip a little more; a snake coiled against its prey. Finally the beating stopped, the nerves quit and the deep red that stained her arm began to grow cold.

Behind her, Zephyrus heard a slight chuckle from her companion.

Elloro made his way out of the underbrush and onto the trail, “Very nice,” he stopped beside her and looked down at her work, an eyebrow raised and an unsure smirk across his lips. Already the man’s blood had soaked through the thick fabric of his tunic and vest. Elloro eyed the organ in Zephyrus’ hand and she held it out to him, as if it were to be tossed aside without another thought. Her eyes were still fixed on the corpse in front of her.

“Are you sure this was the man?” Elloro questioned, tentatively taking the heart from her.

Zephyrus crouched beside the body and began sifting through the pockets and crevices of his clothing for her prize, “Well, if it wasn’t, there’s not much we can do to rectify that now, is there?”

Elloro stopped for a moment, considering, “You’re a very positive person, you know that?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

No idea who the characters are, no idea what time-frame, etc . . . It's just been one of THOSE days . . .

Cheers,
~Hoshi

Greetings and Welcome!

Good morning one and all. First off I would like to thank you for dropping by one of my little corners of the interwebs. I don’t know how well this will go considering the fact that I have tried things like this before and never kept up with them, but I hope that this time around it will be different. I avoid the tl;dr posts I will make this brief. I am an artist and writer and this blog is here to document the ups and downs of the writing process (and maybe some art dumps in the interim).

The novel that I am currently focused on is called Ethereal Heart. It is the first book in a series of novels that I plan to complete. Ethereal Heart is co-authored by Ashley Lorenzo, a good friend with an amazing imagination. She has gone above and beyond any expectations I could ever have hoped to set as far as a partner in writing goes.

Ethereal Heart is currently in the second draft and I’ve been struggling with a lot of the elements to it. The story was actually never supposed to go this far. It was meant as a role play to develop characterization and to gather some new perspectives on the way of telling the story that I was writing at the time, which contained a couple of the characters from said novel. It’s amazing to me how wonderfully things like that develop!

So, after three years in production just to get this far, I think that I am finally ready to start on the final steps to publishing. This is a Blog to learn, to teach, and hopefully meet some fellow writers along the way.

Being that it’s late and I’ve already gone beyond my tl;dr promise, I will update again tomorrow with some additional information and other literary goodness.

Cheers!

~Hoshi


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