Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Character Backgrounds

I have been called (on occasion) the “Queen of Character Backgrounds”.

It’s a joke, but it is still true. I love character bios. I love listening to a character in my head telling me their backstory; they tell me in great detail all of their great deeds and misfortunes. I think I have more character bios on my computer than I do stories to put them in. No, scratch that: I don’t think this, I know this.

Every character, be them a main character, a minor character or a bit character has a full bio on my computer. I like to know what makes all of them tick, why they act the way they do, why they have a place in this story. No one is there as filler or fluff. I’m rather meticulous about it; maybe that is why my story is unfinished as of right now, because I am still listening to the back stories.

I’m sure that this is wasted time for most people, if a character is a bit character, a minor player than the effort is time and energy better spent on the main part of the story, but not for me.  Nothing is more frustrating for me than reading a story and being able to tell that the author has no idea why this minor character is doing what he does, I’m not saying that every character needs to have three chapters devoted to backstory, but you can tell when love and care is put into the smallest of characters.

So as December comes to an end and a new year is on the cusp of beginning I am going to focus on keeping my characters well rounded and knowing full well the how’s and why’s of their personality.  I don’t want to write something and have no idea what my characters would say or do in that situation.  So even if it may be a waste of time I will continue with my extensive character bios, it’s just how I roll. And to take a lesson from +Alexandra Webb , research will be a key focus of mine as well. Be it story research, character research, or the final stage of marketing research, all stages are equally important.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Research, Research, Research

So while I sit and wait for inspiration to get passed this super emotional tense scene, I decided to see what the next step would be after I get the book polished and shiny. (What can I say, I'm all for being optimistic) Mia actually let me borrow a book called Quit Your Day Job. It's a resource for self publishing by H.P. Mallory and it was a fantastic read.

I'm not going to turn this into a full on review, not yet, because I haven't had the chance to try the methods suggested. As you can imagine though, the book focuses on what to do after writing and polishing your novel. Helpful tips on what to do for your website, how to make a pleasing appearance on Amazon and BN, social media, and so on. That being said, I realized that, after reading this book, I am going to need to do a lot of research when the book is done. (and I'm not talking about for the book itself, I do that while I write so I don't have a bunch of crap to fix later.)

There are review sites to find, groups on facebook to join, marketing things that I have no idea about. I'm just glad that I'm not on this journey alone, because it can be overwhelming. Though reading the book gave me confidence in being able to be successful in self publishing, I'm still nervous about going this route. Of course it all depends on your definition of being successful, currently my goal is to get my stuff out there for people to read. From there? Who knows.

So the next step after writing and polishing is going to be more research. Woohoo! Who doesn't like research? I'm going to need minions....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SPE: Big Dreams, Losing Focus, and Doubt

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

At any given time I have at least 50 characters talking in my head. Sounds crazy? To some, maybe; but to writers and creators, they know exactly what I am talking about. I could be walking down the aisle at the grocery store, glance at a packaging for green beans and then be hit with a story idea or a character pops into my head. As fun as it may sound in schizophrenia-land, it’s a burden more than a blessing.

I struggle to keep focused when so much is rambling around in my head; jokingly I’ve even asked my husband if I should seek help from the doctor in the form of a Ritalin prescription just so I can focus on my projects. ADD jokes aside, my lack of focus comes from a mix of an over active imagination and being undisciplined in my writing. I have so many ideas typed up in my “idea’s” notebook, my WIP folder on my computer looks like a disaster and I’ve been dubbed “The Queen of first Chapters & Character Design” by my husband, who thinks that writing is easy and who can’t understand why I can’t just pound out a 120,000 word novel by the end of the week.

Oh the joys of being misunderstood, both myself and writing as a whole. Writing isn’t easy, writing and crafting something that is entertaining and well thought out takes time.

My SPE project has hit some snags. Snag #1 is: What the hell am I going to use as my SPE?

Well, let me answer that one for you and me both.

My SPE was supposed to be a story of a wolf and a witch set in Ireland, it was going to be the tie in to an entire series I have in my head. I did say “supposed to be”? Yes I did, when the characters refuse to speak to you, you just can’t force it and those two did not and still do not want to speak to me right now. Project scraped.  

Next on the agenda was going to be my Fallen Angel’s story, but I have decided that his tale might be a little too dark for reader. This, as you will see, is definitely becoming a theme for me. His story would be a prequel to a demon huntress story that is a mix of Religious conspiracy theories, demonology 101, a pinch of world history and so much sex it should probably come with an NC-17 rating. So, that option probably wouldn’t be good either for a first time self-published author.

Option 3, my baby. The story that I am dying to write, a tale of two characters bound together throughout time, forced to never be together until- well, you know, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for everyone. The only problem with that one is I am so emotionally invested in these characters that I find them hard to write at times. If I am stressed out over real life issues, then I can’t focus on them, they are so tightly wound around every fiber of my DNA that they respond as I respond.  Crazy, I know. But the mental hospital doesn’t have any rooms available to the “author and her characters who can’t seem to get themselves on track” and sadly the deadline is looming.

So the final word on what my SPE is going to be is: Option 3, unless I can be convinced that readers actually do like a twisted, dark, smutty story as much as I do in which case I will be using my Paranormal Erotica story involving Angels, Demons, and the Church.

Either way, focus is needed. Both projects are continually open in my WIP folder, so they should both be seeing an increase in word count throughout the next couple of months.

Snag #2: Novella vs. Novel

For the entire month of November I have agonized over this. The only conceivable answer is: Write the story (which ever it may be) and whatever it ends up at is what I go with. ß-- I think this might be my shortest answer ever to a question.

So, was there a point to my blog post this week?

Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. This post is mainly a little note to me, to remind myself not to get hung up on the little details. I lose focus when I stress, when I worry, when I become overwhelmed. We all, at some point, are plagued with self-doubt. When the stakes are high, when it is a dream that we desire above all else, when we are truly afraid of failing- That is when we run the risk of listening to those internal voices that try to bring us down, and it is at those moments when we need to reach out and ask for help. For me, help comes in the form of friends and fellow writers like Alexandra who help get me back on task and help keep me focused.  

My dreams are big and they scare the hell out of me, but if I give in to doubt then I will be in agony for not having tried. So, regardless of the snags I encounter, I will keep going until I finish. The only way I will truly fail is if I never try in the first place.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SPE update from Alexandra

It's been so long for an update, and I'm sorry for that. Life some times gets away from us and there are times when life must come before writing. I'm sure a lot of you can sympathize. I didn't have a particular topic in mind for today, so I thought I'd give you a personal update.

I have chosen, titled, and written part of, my SPE. I also used my SPE for my NaNoWriMo, and though I hit 50,000 words, the story isn't anywhere near finished yet. I would say a little over half way there. In Black and White came alive a lot more than I expected and the characters had different ideas than I originally planned. (Which is fine, because I plan loose enough for that.) I didn't, however, plan for it to be as long as it's going to end up being, but it needs to be that way.

Balancing this with another Nano project and my life proved to be a challenge. There were times when I was not in the mood to write this particular story and yet I forced myself to keep going. With Mia's help I realized that I could actually do this. Write something out side my normal genre and actually have it be decent. (I use the word decent, because most first drafts are crap...but we can polish crap. Thank you Mythbusters for proving that one.)

So onwards I go with a new glow to my confidence that I didn't have before Nano. I'm hoping to have In Black and White ready to be released by June. Wish me luck!