Tag Archives: character development

Keep her? Lose her? Why the Clairvoyant?

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Quite simply, I wanted to tie these two main characters together in a realistic way that advanced the story and complicated (in a good way) the plot – Sturn is royalty, and by that, I mean high up royalty – He can choose pretty well any woman in the Khekarian half of the galaxy as his mate, and his marriage will most certainly be to a Khekarian of royal blood with high connections.

Love was never going to work. Aleisha is from the opposite end of society and Terran, and Sturn doesn’t care about emotion or the mentality of young women. What he cares about is power.

Would lust do it? No. My lead villain would just take her and dump her afterwards. Sturn certainly wouldn’t marry her, and he would have no reason to bring her home with him.

So why else, outside of sex, would an exiled prince be interested in a seventeen year-old wanna-be pioneer? She’s totally beneath him. She has nothing to offer. There is nothing that could be deemed of value to him.

This story evolved over many years. Once Sturn gained high connections, I realized that if I wanted to keep that aspect open, I would need to ditch my main character and make the story about Sturn, or find a reason to keep Aleisha.

It took me a year to find this solution, so – please – enjoy it! :D

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The Hidden Depths of Writers.

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The non-writers around you do not understand the process – to them a writer is someone who sits at a desk every day, producing reams of wonderful prose that turn into a book within weeks or months, to then be quickly embraced by a publisher.

What they don’t understand is the creative process, the time and effort and dedication needed to grow your skillsets – there’s more to being a writer than writing.

Not only do you have to know how to put words together, you have to know how to put ideas together, as well. You have to have solutions, connections, the Why, the How, the What. You have to get character development, plots and backdrops all worked out. You have to have done your research on a multitude of thing, events, professions, and gain some understanding of the psychology and drives of the individuals you are writing about.

So years go by. Your friends and family show support to varying degrees, but they’re not seeing what you are seeing, and they’re not seeing what’s going on beneath the surface. They understand that you have a passion to write, they even see you occasionally scribbling away, but they also see not much actually accumulating.

Instead, they see you staring the skyline, seemingly distracted or noncommittal, which doesn’t look much like dedication. Dedication, of course, is exactly what they are seeing, they just don’t recognize it.

So words sneak into the conversation about how perhaps you should turn your attention to a ‘proper’ career or maybe give up this foolishness. Most writers have jobs, they have ‘proper’ careers, it’s just not where their heart is – and foolishness? These people read books, right? They watch movies, yeah? Why is it ‘foolish’ to think you can produce in this line? It isn’t foolish, and while it might not sound like it, most of your friends and family actually would like you to succeed.

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Hidden Histories and Character Secrets.

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Characters have history, but I don’t always tell it – Some histories are hinted at, some are referred to, some never get a mention even though, when they develop in my mind, I intend there to be a place for them in the story.

Then the story expands and goes its own way and there just isn’t room anymore for that tale to be told. So, it’s discarded from the pages, but not from my mind. Was it wasted? No. That history still guides that character, it still makes that character who he or she is.

Some of those histories will find their way into these postings. I can show you then why some characters are as they are. You can see how I came to choose such a character and how each grew from their untold experiences.

While those histories might indeed be there in my books, although not plainly and not told in words but in deeds and feelings, outside my stories, I can give you a glimpse behind the scenes or, at least, into my mind. I can share some of these character secrets.

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The Flow Begins.

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Sometimes, you just have to do it. Like it or not, you have to sit down, crawl into your notes and write – Anything – Everything – something bridging, something whole or something that’s an outline – you have to push on and get words on the page because from that action, the flow begins.

Sometimes, you really don’t want to, except that you do because if you’re a writer, you’re not complete unless you are writing.

Sometimes, you’ll dodge and weave and do everything you can to escape the call, but you can’t ever really escape because it’s already got you shackled. It’s in your blood. It’s in your every breath. It commands almost every thought.

Eventually you do push on, and always – ALWAYS – you feel better for it. It’s your fix, your release, your song.

More than that, it’s You. It’s your Expression. It’s Who You Are.

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Your Abandoned Desk – Writer’s Block (a Post from the Past)

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It’s been a long time since reams of the finished product has been seen spewing from your printer, that wondrous machine of sound and light once upon a time delivering the majesty of your work into physical form, now sitting there, dormant, silent, a black box with no mystery at all about it anymore – a layer of dust speaking of a lack of appreciation or, worse, contempt.

Your desk has been abandoned. Not tidy, mind, never that – just left, as though you got up one day meaning to return and just… didn’t. Your chair sits there waiting. A cat or two might take your place for awhile, but it’s not the same thing. The writer is gone.

Where are you now? For certain it’s not anywhere in this world. Your eyes are glazed, unfocused, your mind as far from the concerns of the flesh as your hands are from that keyboard at your desk.

Yet you breathe. Gently, to be sure, with no strain – but also with no hope, no heart. Why did you ever try so hard? It’s no easy path, being a writer.

A friend comes by and comments lightly, “Hey, you’re not at your desk, you’re not working.” And this is someone who knows you, who cares, one of the Good Guys, one of the few who understands.

Not working? Oh really?

You fade out again, staring at the sky or the wall. Maybe the TV grabs your attention for a time, but that’s just fake, you’re not really there at all, just going through the motions. You eat – do you remember what it was? You sleep, but not well. You wash, you dress, you go out when you need to. For what? Is it important? No. Nothing’s important. You do whatever you have to do and come home again. But not to your desk.

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Fleshing Out the Minors in Fiction (a post from the past)

 

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It’s easy to be focused on your main characters and to put your creative energy as a writer into just those characters you adore – the Good Guy and the Bad Guy, mainly – and leave until last (or leave out altogether) the small guys and gals that provide background support.

I’ve read a lot of books over the years and have seen lots of variation. I have seen books where the reader got the full life history of every single character, none of them important to the plot and none of them having anything to do with any of the others, until the plane crash or motorway multiple collision – some big accident, anyway – at the end of the book (the one you were shown a glimpse of at the beginning of the book). Basically, those books seem to be an exercise in writing characters, not plots, and I’m afraid they don’t do much for me.

I’ve also seen my fair share of Main Character in all his/her glory, right down to zits and all their foibles – completely and totally surrounded by 2D nothing characters that might have been made of cardboard.

There is life in between. It doesn’t have to be a giant pain and it doesn’t have to be ignored, either.

You can flesh out a character with a word or two. Flashes of human feeling or an expressive action will do it. Very simple things can do it.

A woman standing at the doorway of her home as she’s informed of an accident is emotive, but the same woman buttering bread when her sister brings the policeman into the kitchen tells you a whole lot more than there’s been an accident.

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The Zing of Realism.

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The most alive characters in fiction, the most realistic, are true to themselves – They are not there to do your bidding as their writer and creator – They are not there to follow your orders or to show the world your feeling or thoughts or ideas – They are not there to obey you – They are there purely as themselves, reacting as they would react, thinking and living and breathing inside their world – not yours.

This is something I have learned. It might not be true for every writer (you all know your own style and what works for you), but it sure is true for me.

Some writers find character development tricky – how do they flesh them out? Personally, I don’t try to flesh them out, I let them flesh themselves out because then it’s the reflections of circumstances that’s doing it, not choice.

It’s too easy to try and control your characters. You created them to say something but you cannot force them to say it. They are not dolls or puppets, no matter how much you want them to be. Yes, you can treat them as such, force them to comply and have it all your way, but I guarantee that all your readers will see is awkwardness.

If you want something said or done, you must create the circumstances that will allow a character to develop into the sort of person who would want to say or do it.

It’s truth that brings a story alive and consistency that keeps it there.

That means giving them incentive that is true. That means setting them into the circumstances that will promote development of action or plot in a natural way and along understandable channels.

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