Beautiful Books November 2017 || Starting Strong, Names That Aren’t Names, and Advice

Beautiful Books

Beautiful books is a meme hosted by Cait @paper fury and Sky @further up and further in in which writers discuss their current writing projects.

This month I’m discussing my science fiction project tentatively titled Pigs Play Pork.

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Disclaimer: Everything mentioned here is subject to change.

Bluejay Feather

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

My mental state is all right. My novel on the other hand. . . Well, it’s not much more edited than it was at the beginning of the month, but at least I’m forming a revision plan.

This is honestly not too surprising. I opted to focus on getting back into blogging over revisions this month. Hoping to not have to choose between the two next month when I should have more free time.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Okay, this line is even more subject to change than the rest of this, but as of right now it is:

“You play the pork,” Suzie says.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

I never have gotten around to naming most of my characters, so that means I need to stick with the rather limited pool of characters that actually have names. Therefore, my choice is my main character, Lyle.

What do you love about your novel so far?

I love that I get to write from the perspective of someone who’s experience is radically different from my own and imagine what life would be like from this perspective.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Most certainly, but it would take me forever to find something specific, so I’ll be general here. I use placeholder words for the characters I haven’t named yet. Sometimes I forget to put square brackets around these words and they can end up looking like they’re part of a sentence.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

The beginning, without a doubt. When I sit down to write a novel length work, the idea I’ve picked is that one I’ve had for ages and can’t stop thinking about. The ability to start writing about what I’ve been thinking about for ages is wonderful.

That said, when it comes to writing shorter works, starting is the hardest part. Once I’ve started, the words flow easier.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

When I have time, I tend to write in the hour before I go to sleep. That is because in a typical day, that is my only free time, and it only happens around three to four days a week.

That said, I will sometimes squeeze in five minutes of writing time here or there, but this is harder when editing because I need to be more focused to make sure I’m making my WIP better and not worse.

I also write a lot throughout the day on things not related to my WIP, so I suppose you could say I spend about equal time in a day writing and not writing.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I tend to be very private during most stages. When I’m starting my revisions on my second draft I’ll show some people the first chapter or two to make sure my feelings about what I need to change are accurate.

That’s about it until I get to a point when I’m satisfied with my work. Which has not happened with anything longer than 6,000 words or so, but it will someday. I’m sure of it.

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

My seeming inability to give up on things once I’ve started. Seriously, I don’t know when to quit.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

  1. Use a schedule. You don’t need to write everyday, but writing tends to work best if you take time out of your schedule and make it a routine whether that be once a day, twice a week, or a few times a month.
  2. Set reasonable goals. Emphasis on reasonable here. Set goals that you have full control over, are plausible, and measurable. Instead of, for example, making it your goal to get an agent this year, consider making it your goal to get a certain number of rejections or just to send out a certain number of queries if that sounds too bleak. (I’m a personal fan of the rejection based goal. It makes every rejection something to celebrate.)
  3. Keep trying. Sometimes the unexpected happens and that reasonable goal you set becomes achievable. That’s okay. It happens to everyone.
    Sometimes someone close to you sees success and you don’t. This is okay too. It doesn’t make you any worse off. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible writer. Their success has no reflection on you at all, no matter how difficult this can be to remember.

 

Bluejay Feather

Do you write, if so how would you answer these questions? If not, do you have any advice for accomplishing major goals? What reading habits do you have? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Beautiful People March 2017

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Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Jessica, the protagonist of a magical realism short story I finished a few weeks ago.

What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?

Jessica loves comics and manga. Unfortunately, I don’t read a lot of comics or manga, so I can’t name any specific one. Jessica would say there are too many to choose.

Is there anything they regret doing?

Jessica regrets renting a cabin in rural West Virginia where there are no cell signals or WiFi.

If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?

Jessica’s best friend, Cleveland, would take care of her. How depends on the situation, but he’s known her since they were both eight and would be willing to do pretty much anything for her.

Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?

Jessica can’t bear to part with her pens and sketch pads, but she will as a last resort, as happens in this story. This is because Jessica loves drawing, but there are some people she cares about even more.

What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?

  1. Talk about comics.
  2. Do something nice for the people she cares about.
  3. Talk about art.
  4. Discuss your favorite superhero.
  5. Watch TV with her.

Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.

What Jessica wears in the story story I’ve written is very different from what she normally wears. Usually she wears multicolored dresses and high healed shoes. In the story she is wearing full on winter clothing.

What’s their favorite type of weather?

Jessica likes whether just below freezing so that there can still be snow, but not cold enough that she doesn’t want to leave her house.

What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?

One with her best friend that occurs during this short story.

What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?

Mostly Jessie, but also several variations on “comic book nerd.”

What makes their heart feel alive?

Drawing images to put in a comic book.

Beautiful People: August 2016

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Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Queen Cressida, the mother of my protagonist from my epic fantasy work in progress.

Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)

Queen Cressida

The avatar creator used to make this image is found here: http://www.dolldivine.com/rpg-heroine-creator.php

This isn’t exactly right as in the story itself Cressida isn’t nearly this thin and the clothing designed in this fictional word would have a different cut than the one shown here, but it’s the closest I could get in an avatar generator.

Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

I can’t say that I’ve ever described Cressida’s appearance in my story itself. I don’t tend to write a lot of description, and have a tendency of focusing on personality traits when I do. That is especially true of this story since the story is told from the first person point of view of a mind reader who cares far more about people’s thought patterns than how they look. Here are snippets describing the queen’s personality:

(Note: These exerts are from an unedited draft.)

From part one:

“I stand by my mother’s side pouring her wine with eyes down-turned. It’s a struggle not to acknowledge mother’s thoughts. To pour her wine and move along. Mother is a queen. She can’t afford to associate with servants. Not even the one who happens to be her daughter.”

From part four:

“Baby, she [Cressida] has never called me that before, or at least not that I can remember. Part of me wants to say that she should be sorry. That my mother should have stood up against the persecution of Sifters and recognized me as her daughter. Queens are supposed to make the rules after all, but right now, arm in arm, it’s hard to be mad at her. I want to forgive.”

What is the first thing people might notice about them?

They’d notice that the way Cressida carries herself is imposing.

What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

Queen Cressida has a scar on her upper arm from an assassination attempt.

How tall are they? What is their build? (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)

Cressida is slightly taller than average, though people in this time period are on average a little shorter than modern humans, so she might be short by modern standards. Cressida is slightly overweight, but this is considered attractive in her society.

What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

Cressida has very upright posture. She almost never slouches. Cressida carries herself in a way that suggests privilege and control.

Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

I don’t think Cressida has had a day free from her usual routine since she was in her teens. She’d probably wear the same thing she does any other day because she’d expect to have something in need of her attention at any moment.

Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

Cressida often wears a beaded crown similar to the one pictured above.

Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

No, not to her face anyway. No one wants to bear the consequences of insulting the queen.

Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Cressida wishes she didn’t have wrinkles. She doesn’t like the signs of age that are starting to appear on her body. If she could change anything about her appearance she would get rid of these wrinkles.

Beautiful People: May 2016

PAPERFURY

Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Dex, a major secondary character from my current work in progress. It’s epic fantasy, and I’m currently around 70,000 words or about 3/4ths of the way through my rewrite of it.

How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Dex is a very serious person. He does not smile often. He probably would not smile at strangers unless he is trying to use them to get what he wants.

What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

It’s unusual for someone of Dex’s background to live in the places he chooses to. As a result, he faces frequent prejudice. I could make the argument that one of these prejudice statements was the cruelest thing he has ever been told, but Dex would not see it as the cruelest thing he has been told.

Dex would probably say the cruelest thing he has ever been told is something my protagonist confirms for him at the end of the first of my work in progress’s four parts. I can’t get into details because of spoilers, but he is more upset than he is at any other point in the story and reacts very strongly.

What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

The kindest thing he has ever been told is probably something his sister, Catrine, has told him with regards to him being an awesome brother. Catrine and Dex are very close, and he holds any compliments she gives very dear. Dex’s reaction was probably to smile, hug her, or both.

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

Dex’s mother and father were never officially divorced, but might as well have been. His father is gone for lengthy, sometimes year long, voyages while his mother stays in the city-state where Dex spent most of his childhood. His mother is an immigrant to the city where he grew up, and his father is also from elsewhere, and somewhere entirely different from his mother.

The memory of this time that has stuck with him most is of one night when Dex and his sister, Catrine, were traveling with their father on his ship and Dex found Catrine crying in their cabin. Dex asked her what was wrong, and she said that it was the realization that even after visiting all these places she still hadn’t found one where she belonged. Dex replied that sometimes he felt the same way, but promised they would find out where they belonged together.

He has been trying to keep that promise to her ever since. That’s what makes it lasting.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

Dex would probably get the most benefit the most practically from non-fiction books about surviving in the wilderness. I haven’t read any or I would include a specific book.

If this question is meant to ask which book he would benefit the most as in what he would enjoy the most then Dex would love books about characters going on quests. I’d probably give him The Lord of the Rings.

Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

Dex has had several near death experiences. Most of these did not involve injuries, but living in a world where antibiotics are not widely available as he does he has almost died of an infected cut before after accidentally  grazing his forearm with a knife. After weeks of suffering and almost dying he made a full recovery. This occurred long before the story takes place.

Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

This depends. Dex has had many neighbors over the years, but generally speaking no.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

6, it really depends upon the personality of the person in question, but he leans slightly more towards being harder to get along with than easier.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

By the end of book one Dex has gone to almost all the major regions of his word, or at least the regions he knows of, but he really likes visiting the city where he grew up. If Dex was familiar with our world he wouldn’t be able to pick a place. He would want to see all of it.

Who was the last person they held hands with?

This depends on what time this question is being asked about. If it’s anytime during the story probably my main character, Yuliana. If it’s anytime before the story probably someone he is trying to use to accomplish is end goals.

Beautiful People: March 2016

PAPERFURY

I’ve decided to participate Beautiful People this month. It’s a monthly meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further In in which writers answer questions about their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Yuliana, the narrator of the epic fantasy project I am 40,000 words, or just under halfway, into rewriting.

What first inspired this character? Is there a person/actor you based them off?

I’m not sure. Her personality is a lot like mine. I suppose that aspect of her is inspired by myself, but not much else is. Her appearance, personal history, and interests are very different from my own.

I tend to write a few scenes from the perspectives individuals with various characteristics until I find which character(s) I feel are most capable of telling the story, and even then a lot about the narrator(s) changes throughout my first draft.

The first character I cast for the role of this story’s protagonist was actually male, and his personality was about as close to the opposite of Yuliana’s as it’s possible to get. That draft didn’t last long.

Describe their daily routine.

My main character’s routine changes in a way that makes going back to the way things were at the beginning of the story impossible very quickly. For this reason, I will be sharing what her routine was like before the story started because her routine throughout the story is radically different.

For this to make sense I need to give a little background information. In the first chapter of the book Yuliana is a palace servant who doubles as a spy for the queen who also happens to be her mother, but this fact is known only to the two of them.

Yuliana wakes up early in the morning to take care of delivering breakfast to the palace nobility and taking care of whatever else she has been assigned to do that particular morning. Often she’ll spend an extra long amount of time with her mother in the morning, especially if her mother has any particular information she wants Yuliana to gather on someone in the palace that day.

The rest of her day is spent trying to find a way to work getting as close as possible to whoever she is supposed to be gaining information on while completing the tasks she’s been assigned for the day. That night, she will report her findings to her mother and go to sleep exhausted.

If they joined your local high school, what clique would they fit into?

Not sure that she would fit into any. She’d probably spend a lot of time compiling information about her fellow students, but not really joining any clique. She gained her current education by spying on the nobility’s children during their lessons, after all.

Write a list of things they merely tolerate. Ex: certain people, foods, circumstances in their lives…

  • The fact that her mother won’t publicly acknowledge her as her first born child.
  • The frequent threats on her life.
  • Her mother’s refusal to talk about her father.
  • Her half sister, the crown princess, with whom she has a love-hate relationship.
  • The looks most people give her in the rare times that they acknowledge her existence.
  • Dairy products, she’ll eat them if they’re the only food available, but does not like them.

How do they react in awkward silences?

She experiences these quite often, but it depends heavily on the circumstances and who she is talking to. If they’re someone important she might wait for them to dismiss her. If not she might flee the room on her own or wait for someone to continue speaking.

Can they swim? If so, how did they learn?

It’s very hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that some people can’t swim. Where I live everyone learns to swim or they will die– okay, not really, but they’re at a significantly greater chance of it.

My protagonist’s culture is similar in this regard, but worse. As in, if you can’t swim you really will die. Yuliana learned when she was too young to remember. Probably with some of the palace staff’s children.

What is one major event that helped shape who they are?

When Yuliana was younger her mother sent her to live with a group of people who didn’t care for her very well for a few years. The queen was worried that if Yuliana remained in the palace her ancestry would be too clear. Yuliana hated living there, and having to hide everything about herself from everyone.

When her mother, the only person who knew the truth about Yuliana, came back into her life she was terrified to lose her, and with her the ability to talk to someone openly, again. She became entirely devoted to her mother so she would never have a reason to send Yuliana away again.

What things do they value most in life?

Yuliana doesn’t own much in the way of physical possessions, but she highly values the island where she lives and her own anonymity.

Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues?

She gave her mother a second chance after feeling like she’d abandoned her, so yes. However, both as a result of what happened with her mother and keeping so much about herself a secret Yuliana has major trust issues. She basically doesn’t trust anyone at the beginning of the story. She trusts people at various levels throughout the rest, but it’s hard for her.

Your character is having a rough day…what things do they do to make them happy again? Is there anyone they talk/interact with to get in a better mood?

Yuliana tries to keep herself busy when things aren’t going well. She’ll find so many things to do that by the end of the day she will collapse into an exhausted heap. Who she will interact with to try to make herself feel better varies heavily based on which part of the story is being referenced.