Tag Archives: character development

Sometimes it’s good to know you aren’t alone.

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If you’re a writer, you know it isn’t all play and sunshine, you know that following your dream is not always easy and that your efforts are rarely recognized for what they are.

Those nearest and dearest to you know that you are aiming high, but fail to grasp the sheer size of the journey. Sometimes it seems they are not with you at all.

A massive amount goes into writing a book. It’s not enough just to come up with a plot and characters enough to fill it. There’s an huge amount of understanding necessary for each character and research to do on every angle and profession. Your plot, your characters and their actions must be based in truth for them to come across as realistic and believable.

You have to understand the human animal too, and not just from your own perspective. You have to be in the heads of everybody you write about, villain and hero alike. You have to understand psychology and (depending on the nature of your villain) criminal psychology as well. You have to “be” the police officer, the psychopath, the thief and the victim. You have to understand immense fear or immense loss. Gain too – joy, excitement and love so grand your heart wants to burst. You have to understand adventure and the thrill of danger.

But that’s only part of it. You not only must put that all together and make a story out of it but put it together in such a way that it sings and shines and sweeps your readers up into a world that makes them forget all else, even if just for a time.

So, a very important part of being a writer is learning to be artistic with your words, with pacing and the weave of your story. You want to build pictures in the minds of your readers so that they easily and effortlessly fall under your spell and see what you see and live where you live in the finished result. You not only want to lure them into the world your have crafted, you want them to want to stay there. That’s important! Anyone can put a book down, you want them not to want to put your book down!

Understandably, that mastery over the translation of your mind’s landscape and adventures into words and images your readers can enjoy is the biggest and most important part of your craft.

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A Glut of Characters – Ah, so that’s what I was doing.

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Too much too soon, as it turns out. Yes, I know I’m late with Book 3 and this post by no means excuses that, I’m just letting you know Why and What and where I am currently in the Khekarian sci-fi series.

Each book in the series is a stand alone book, with a beginning, a middle and, most importantly, an ending – a conclusion. At the same time, the background story continues to roll on, so parts of the story move forward or the series would not mesh into a whole.

Each of my books contains two main threads, often split into further threads, but in the main there are two stories interwoven. I think of each as a double book (certainly each are thick enough at 500-600 pages).

Book 3 of the Khekarian series, The Bastard Line, continues the overall story, running two stories side-by-side. One of the threads, however, I had in mind to contain more of the story than it should. That notion needed the addition of other characters and other stories to reach that particular conclusion, and this led me into an area where I was, in effect, trying to write two books (four books?) as one and squash way too much in.

That’s where I got mired. Not so much a tangle as a glut of characters and small stories that needed sorting because, as it was, everyone would get mired!

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Body Language.

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Dialogue can be difficult and writers can be unhappy with their results, they’ve been inside characters’ heads, they know what they want to say and they say it, then they play with those words of dialogue because something just isn’t sitting right – No matter what they do, something is wrong, something is missing and they just can’t seem to clinch it.

It might not be the dialogue at all that’s causing the issue. It might be something that should be surrounding it and is often forgotten by writers more concerned with the message contained in the spoken word. Communication has many layers, so if you’re having trouble with writing dialogue, have you considered including body language?

People don’t just yammer at each other. They move, they stretch, they raise their eyebrows, smile, laugh or frown, fold their arms, slouch, flap their hands around, or drink, smoke, eat. Dialogue often happens on the move, walking down a street, crossing a shopping mall, or in a car or bus.

Adding body language and movement can fill the scene and give the reader more than dialogue alone. You don’t want your readers feeling they might as well be listening through the wall because they are unable to see anything. You want them in the room, at the table, or out on the street or in the taxi. You want your readers to be there. So, what are they going to see if they were present? Who does what while all this talk is going on?

Naturally enough, you don’t want all your characters flapping and twitching and moving and hopping about, but a touch of it here or there can make a huge difference to a scene. It can bring the scene to life. Not only can it reveal some of what is around the characters talking, it can also reveal attitudes and demeanor.

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Middle of the Night – Pure Writing time!

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It’s because you’ve let go of the day, you’re resting, sleeping, and your subconscious is romping along working on the challenges you have thrown its way – And BAM – it has something for you and it can’t wait to tell you all about it.

So there you are, in the dark, your eyes wide open, and you have your answer. Some problem with plot, characterization or dialogue – suddenly you have the words and they are BEAUTIFUL.

The days are full of distraction for writers, family, work, chores, shopping, just dealing with day-to-day issues. It all steals away writing moments, writing time, writing reflection. Those middle-of-the-night moments become treasures to a writer. There’s no distraction, nothing needs to be done. We learn very quickly to take advantage of such times. Tired or not, grabbing it while it’s happening is all important because it might not come again, not like this, here and now, with these words, this picture, this solution.

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Writing Your Book, but it’s Taking Forever!

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So, your story’s not written yet. It’s been years now, and that’s bothering you – Guess what – THAT’S NORMAL!

It takes time to master the writing skill. If you write regularly, you will see your improvement over time, but whether you write regularly or not, improvement will never stop. Growth and development is ongoing and unlimited.

It takes time to get to know your characters. You’re dealing with a lot of people, all of them different from each other. You not only have to discover and portray their personalities but their backgrounds and goals as well. That information will not arrive neatly packaged and at once.

It takes time to get to know your story. As different characters develop and interact, your story evolves. Main areas and scenes might be all worked out, but how they connect and combine adds new flavor and complexity. It takes time for a story to mature and become all it can be.

It takes time to write your book. Deciding or discovering how to express your words, your story, your characters and plot, spending hard time at the keyboard doing it, working it, refining and editing – ALL OF THAT TAKES TIME!

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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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