• The Writer


    Hello! My name is Laura, welcome to my blog! I write weird stories, collect dragon plushies and stay up too late with my nose in a book. I am a wife, mom and child saved by grace. My hope is that you find encouragement here or at least a smile or too.
    God bless!

  • “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book that it may be for the time to come forever and ever.”
    ~Isaiah 30:8.

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  • Quotes

    We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "The only just literary critic," he concluded, "is Christ, who admires more than does any man the gifts He Himself has bestowed."
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures."
    ~Flannery O'Connor

    You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
    ~Arthur Polotnik

    Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
    ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

    "There are forms of insanity that condemn people to hear voices against their will, but as writers we invite ourselves to hear voices without relinquishing our hold on reality or our right to control."
    ~Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway

    Christians have sometimes been suspicious of stories, because they really can influence you. If you read the Twilight novels once a month for a year, I think you'd be a different human afterward—and not a sparkly one.
    ~Nate Wilson

A Writer’s Tool Box – Websites

There are so many good resources out there for writers now-a-days.  A writer has an army of books and websites to pick from to stash away in their tool box.  Here’s a peak at a few websites that are in mine.

 

Pinterest!

You have to be careful with this one, it’s a great tool, but it’s also a big distraction.  If I’m on Pinterest looking for story related stuff, I’m looking through a specific search.

I use Pinterest to create Story Boards for characters and books.  I also use to it save reference pictures of places, clothing, weapons and whatever else relates to my stories.

For characters, I pin pictures that resemble them, what kind of clothing they wear, things that show who they are and what they’re like.  If one is an archer, I may have several different kinds of bows in their board and different styles of the kind of garb they may wear.  My character Tara is an herbalist, so in her board, I have things on herbs and pictures of vials filled with healing potions.

I have three made up worlds, so having a board with place/landscape reference pictures is very helpful.

A also have a random board for things that remind me of my stories, or things I might want to save for a future story or character.  Inspiration for another time.

I love using Pinterest for writing because with it, I don’t have to clutter up my picture files on my computer and all the pictures are saved on the internet, so if my lap top crashes or I get a new one, I don’t have to worry about the files.

Storyboards

WritingRefs

 

Armstreet.com

I LOVE this website.  I want to buy everything on it, but it’s also a really good place for clothing and armor references.

Again, this is a website, if you’re like me, you can get lost on browsing and just sit there drooling over all the awesomeness it contains.  Use it with a mission in mind if you’re looking for a quick clothing reference while your writing.  Drool in your spare time.

armstreet

 

Behind the Name

Looking for that perfect sounding name with the perfect meaning and country of origin?  Look no further!  Not only do they have first names, but they have a sister website just for last names as well.  Not only do they have dozens of countries to choose from, but they have mythologies too!

You can search alphabetically, by country or meaning.  So many names and possibilities at your finger tips.

FirstNames

LastNames

 

More resources to come!

What are some websites in your writer’s tool box?

 

 

World Development

A basic idea of how I develop a new world.  Hopefully some of this might help any stuck world developers out there.

—–

Start: Characters and Story

When I’m developing a new world I start with the characters, their back story and the novels story.  These things tell me a lot about what the world is going to be like.
One character is a noble, okay, there’s a ruling class, medieval structure… etc.  They grew up on the coast, however one of their parents are from a mountainous region where they’d visit… etc.  This begins to fill out the bounties on a map.

-The Map

Once I have an idea of the people and the story goal I create a map, (or sometimes a little before because it just fun).  I fill it in based on places I’ve been or seen that I liked and wanted to incorporate into another world.  Also, I place things such as forests, mountains, rivers, bogs, villages, kingdoms, boarders, etc, based on where the characters have to go on their journey.  They have to go from this kingdom to another?  Well, in can’t be easy so in order to get there they have to find a path through a forest filled with hidden bogs, and cross boarder lands crawling with mercenaries.  Get the idea?

Step 2: Regions and people groups

Once that base work is done I begin picking apart each region and developing people groups and cultures.   I look where the region is placed on the map, figure out what kind of people live there, how they live, where they came from and so on and so forth.  What do they wear?  What styles and colors?  How do the men and woman wear their hair?  What roles to men, woman and children play? What kind of food do they eat?  Are they farmers, fishermen, or merchants?  What kinds of trades do they have? And many more.

Sometimes a supporting cast member comes out of that.

-Creatures

One of my favorite parts. ;)

What kind of creatures are there?  Where do they live?  What do they eat?  What do they look like?
Are there dragons?  (In my worlds, there are always dragons.)

Step 3: History and Religion

This usually starts happening at the very beginning, but here is where I really start working on it.  After the world is laid out and the regions and people groups along with some cultures are laid out, I start moving backwards.  Where did these people come from?  Why do they live the way the do?  How did the rulers rise to power?  What kind of legends to they have and where did they come from?  What are the truths to the legends?  Where are they? etc, etc, etc.

Religion is a big part of history and culture too.  What God/s do each people worship?  How did that religion come to be?  What are the false religions?  To they have a true religion?

-Magic

How advanced is this world?  Is there magic?  Is it part of their religion?  What’s it’s history? What is it’s structure and rules?

-Technology

How advances is this world?  Where did it come from?  How advanced is it?  What science is behind it?

Step 4: Language

Again, this is something I’m working on as I develop everything else.  Usually I pick a language as a naming language so I can put names on the map.  When I’m picking a language to use, I look up old versions of modern languages, or ancient ones that are no longer spoken, or ones that’s no one’s heard of because they’re from a very small country.  There are a lot of options here.  If you’re feeling particularly brilliant, (or you are), you can create your own language, or languages, up to you.

Step 5: Filling in the gaps

By this times I’ve already been writing the story, and filling in gaps as I go.

Gaps could be somethings like a new cultural tradition arises because you need some kind of festival for the Main Character to be in so the villain can chase them through it.  Then you get to make up on the spot the reason for said festival.

That’s pretty much it. If you use any of these, don’t feel like you have to follow all that in the steps I outlined, I actually mix them up a lot.  These are just some hints and guidelines, but do what works best for you.

Character Development

Where I talk about a few things that might help you develop those amazing dragon fighting heroes.

Character Driven Part 3: Playing with Your Charries

Charries – noun

Nickname for “characters”.  Used for multiple imaginary beings.

Okay, now that’s out of the way…

Playing with your charries is my favorite way of development.  One thing I really love about it is you can discover how your character would react in different situations.  Some of them may never be in their stories, but it’s still good to learn how those people and/or places and questions would affect them.

Here’s how to get started.

  1. If you are a part of a writer’s forum, you already know. 😉
  2. Chat!  If you have a way to online chat with friends bring your characters into the mix.  Ask the friend you’re chatting with to “interview” the character.  Or, if the friend is a writer, have him/her bring their own characters in.
  3. Role playing!  What is character role playing?  Simple; come up with a place, time and scenario.  Then, stick your characters in it.  For example: 

   The first character role play I was involved in was a thread on a forum.  Any kind of character was aloud, Fantasy, Historical Fiction etc.  It took place in a tavern.  Characters could come in and mingle with other characters or do whatever it is they would do in a tavern.  It was a ton of fun.  I stuck Tyra in there and I learned a lot about how she responds to people.  The tavern ended up being burned down by another person’s charrie… but that’s another story.

I also made a thread for Historical Fiction characters.  It took place on market day in a medieval castle courtyard. Here is a look at that thread…

 The castle gate is packed with people coming and going for market day.  You push your way through the throngs of people to get to the iner square.  What is your purpose here?  Are you a buyer?  Seller?  Visitor to this town?

Rules
1. No “god-modding”
This means no taking control of someone else’s character.
2. No magic or fantasy.  This is strictly Medieval.
3. Keep posts to 3 lines minimum and in third person
4. NO KILLING OTHER PEOPLE’S CHARACTERS
Without prior written permission, anyway…
5. All off topic talk should be avoided
If you must say something, either PM the person or surround your statement in ((double parentheses))
6. It can be any character of yours as long as it’s a Medieval one.

(My character. Yes, this is Stephen form SoS.)

Stephen forced his shoulder between two people in front of him.  He hated it when it was this crowded.  He pushed through and continued until he stood inside the town’s gate.  Out from the throng he looked about the market…..

(A friend’s characters)

Where was she??  T__ sighed and brushed a piece of hair into her head scarf.  They were supposed to be doing a performance together.  But K__ always seemed to be in some sort of trouble that made her late…  Sighing again, she held her skirt up and tried to avoid being trampled.

“Stop that girl!!” the soldier shouted.K__ growled and ducked a pair of hands.  If she was caught… She’d be hung by nightfall.
But she wouldn’t get caught.  She had grown used to this game.  Bounty hunters, soldiers, sherriffs, they all wanted to catch her because of the great price on her head.  She ran for the gates.

(My character)
Stephen yawned and adjusted his sword belt.  The hum of voices played annoyingly in his ears.  He crossed he square to a stall selling breads.  “That one”, he said to the merchant as he pointed to a small cheese stuffed loaf…..
A yell made Stephen turn.  Several solders were chasing someone through the gate.  He thought about helping, but decided he’d rather fill his stomach.  He paid the merchant and left the stall.  Looking down at his bread he broke off a piece then…bumped into a gypsy girl.

(Other)
“STOP HER!”
T__ jumped, then pressed a hand to her face.  That was K__ all right.  She scowled and started in the direction of the shout, when someone bumped into her.  “Excuse me,” she mumbled, allowing a slight curtsey.  “You haven’t seen a girl in a brown tunic have you?  Brown hair?  Brown eyes?

(Mine)
Stephen looked down at the girl, “I could name a hundred girls to fit that description.  Which one do you seek?”  He stuffed the piece of bread in his mouth and waited for her to answer.

Get the idea?

4.   Next is, have a conversation with them on paper.  I like to do this when I’m just sitting somewhere, (with no book to read) waiting for something or someone.  You could do this at the dentist office, or the doctor’s, in the car, on an air plane, anywhere you’re going to have a big chunk of time to kill.  Think of some topic you and your character could discuss.  If you can’t think of anything, look around you.  Is there something wearing something interesting?  What would your character thing about it?

Once, when I was sitting around waiting, I picked up a pen and paper and had a little chat with Tyra.  I had forgotten to bring a book and the wait was taking longer than I thought it would.  So, as is prone to happen in such instances, a character popped into my head for a chat.  I’ll just say the conversation that followed was quite amusing. 🙂

5.   Lastly, interview them.  Here are some questions you could ask…

  • If your house was burning down and you had sixty seconds to get out, what would you take? 
  • Why would you take it?
  • What do you want more than anything?
  • Why is this so important to you?
  • What are fifteen things that you hate?
  • What are fifteen things that you love?

Get the idea?  It’s pretty simple.  Once you get the hang of it you can make up your own questions.

Wow, this post is really long.  Hope you enjoyed it and that it will help you with future character development.  Thanks for reading.  Questions?

God bless,
~Laura

Character Driven Part 2: Outlining

Outlining is probably the most used and practical way of developing you character.  It’s nice to have a step by step, written idea/picture of who this person is.  Outlining for characters or stories is much more fun than the outlining you have/had to do in school, so don’t feel intimidated by the word.  I like to use a variety of outlines when I’m developing a character.  Why?  It gives me a broader view of the character.  Each outline is different in one way or another, asking different or deeper questions, different exercises, etc.

When you begin outlining start simple, begin with the characters age, sex, and write down whatever you already know about them.  If you had the idea to give them a scar, write it down.  If for some weird reason you can’t get it out of your head that they don’t like carrots, write it down.  (For some reason I had this notion that one of my characters doesn’t like apples.  I have no idea why, guess I’ll find out later. 😉 ) 

Next, think about how this character fits into the story, why are they a part of it?  How to they influence it?  How does it influence them? 

If it’s the Hero ask yourself these questions (and write it all down):

  1. What does this person want and how does it apply to the goal (the end result or plot) of the story?
  2. What’s keeping this character from getting what they want?
  3. What virtue does this person represent?  (This is, [I feel] very necessary to the story.  It’s something the reader can identify with, something that makes the Hero a Hero.  Sometimes this may not become clear until much later on in the writing process.)  
  4. What’s this person’s background?
  5. Do they have any personality quirks? (This is tricky to figure out, but once you do get it, it can be a lot of fun.)
  6. Does the character have any personality traits that seem negative or start out as negative? 
  7. How does the setting of the story affect this character?
  8. What’s at stake for this character?
  9. What does this character fear?
  10. And other things like: Occupation, age, physical appearance, the basics.  

For a villain or bad guy you can ask the same questions plus:

  1. How is the Hero keeping this character from getting want they want?
  2. What is the opposite of the Hero’s virtue?  (The villain will represent this.)
  3. What makes this person strong?
  4. Why should we fear this person?
  5. How does this person cause the Hero trouble/suffering?

For a Mentor you want the same questions as the Hero plus:

  1. What Lesson is this character teaching the Hero?
  2. What relationship does this character share with the Hero?
  3. Does this character give the Hero any gifts? (Physical or emotional.) If so, what are they and why are they given?

For an Ally (someone who helps the Hero), again, same as Hero plus:

  1. What is this character’s relationship with the Hero?
  2. Why is the character helping/standing with/following the Hero?
  3. How does this character help the Hero?
  4. What strength does this character have that the Hero does not (and/or needs)?
  5. What disagreement/conflict might come between this character and the Hero?
  6. What does this character sacrifice to help the Hero?
  7. Will this character betray the Hero?  Why or why not?

As you learn and outline/write more you can tweak the questions to fit your story or your writing style, but those are the basic need-to-know outline questions.  There are a lot of books out there that you can find to help you outline your characters, but my favorite (time for a shameless plug, 🙂 ) is the One Year Adventure Novel writing curriculum.  (There is a link to the site in my website links, or you can click on the banner.)

I also enjoy creating my own questions, ones that help me really get my thinking cap on and create a deeper, more real character.   Another outlining system I’ve used was created by a friend.  Here is a summary of the first stage in the outline:

  1. Describe this character in one sentence.
  2. Describe this character with several key words.
  3. Describe this character in one paragraph.
  4. Describe this character with several phrases.
  5. Describe this character with several paragraphs.
  6. Write a few similes or metaphors describing this character.

If you want the full outline, visit his blog here.    

That’s really all there is to outlining.  If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to comment below. 

Thanks for reading!

Character Driven Part 1: Who are these people?

I bet you all have been wondering where the promised topics of 2010 are.  Well, here is the first one in a series on character development!  I am very excited about this series because honestly, I love developing characters!  If you thought having an imaginary friend was fun when you were younger, get ready to experience the allotment invasion of imaginary characters! 😀

To get us started I’m going to talk a little about what it means to have your story character driven and just how important that is. 

Think back to your favorite stories (books and movies), what was it about them that you loved the most?  The adventure? (Got to love that right?)  The story itself?  The characters?  One of my favorite movies is Sahara; I could watch it over and over again and still not be tired of it.  A week or so ago I thought about why I liked it so much, and it occurred to me, the reason was because of the characters.  (You got to admit, Dirk and Ale are one of the best movie dues ever!  I could quote them all day. 😉 )

Now I’m not saying that plot, story and all that good stuff are not important, on the contrary, they are, but right now I’m going to focus on the importance of creating believable characters.  So for now, I want you to forget that dragging plot and stuck story line and just focus on your main characters, (especially the Hero).  For once you truly get to know them, you’ll be surprise on how quickly the story picks up. 

Beginning

So what does it mean to have your story be character driven?  I haven’t a clue.  Okay, maybe I have a bit of a clue. 🙂   It means to have your characters be driving the story.  They are in control, not you.  Think of it this way; this is their story, you are a biographer and your characters are dictating the story to you.  How is this possible?  The answer is simple, yet hard to achieve.   You get to know these characters inside and out.  You become “weird” and “crazed” to the outside world because you “hear voices” and argue with people who aren’t really there.  Honestly, that’s how it is, or can get, but you know, it’s a lot of fun.  😉

How do you begin?  Simple, choose your character.  Usually characters will spring into existence as a story begins to take shape in your mind.  You have this awesome idea for a high seas adventure and you need characters to fill in the needed roles.  You need a Villain, a Hero, an Ally (someone to support the hero), a Mentor (someone to teach the hero), and if the story calls for one, a Love.  Sometimes characters can be a combination, for example, I have a character who is an Ally, a Mentor, and a Love to the Hero.  Your Villain could even be a combination.  That would make for some great conflict!  But that’s another series.

The next question:  How do I get to know my characters so well?  There are three ways you can do this.

(NOTE: I’ll be covering these in detail through upcoming posts.)

1. Create a detailed outline, asking very specific questions.  Ex. Who is this person?  What makes them tick?  What are their favorite things?  Why are said things their favorite?   

2. Get to know them as you write.  You do this even if you’re not trying.  As you write and put your characters through tough situations, you slowly understand them more, why they make the choices they make etc.  This is how most writers become familiar with their characters, but I like to use more than just this method which brings me to my favorite. 

3. You play with them.   How do you play with people who aren’t really there?  One way is to get them together with other people who aren’t really there.  (I know what you’re thinking, “She’s lost it.  She’s been writing too much.” 😛 )  This is how you do it.  If you are a member of a writers forum, (if so, you might have already done this or are doing it), start a CD, or a Character Development thread and stick whatever characters you want in there.  Then invite others to join you with their characters.  It’s a lot of fun, especially when you get character from all different genres talking.  Another way you can do that is over chat or even e-mail.  If you have a friend who is a writer ask them to have their characters talk to yours.   When you do this, don’t let yourself talk through the characters, let them talk for themselves.  Really think about who they are and how they would respond.  You’ll be amazed with how much you learn. 

Another way to “play” with your characters is to interview them, but not a regular interview.  You ask them very hard core questions and take your time thinking about how they would answer.  There are a lot of games/interviews you can do with your characters, I’m sure there are books and websites packed with them.  One I recently learned and rather like is called, (or something close to it), Burning House.  I like to call it Sixty Seconds.  This is how it goes.  Your Hero’s (or any chosen character) house in on fire.  He/she has only sixty seconds to grab something and get out.  What will he/she grab and why did they grab it?  That is only one example.  If you want, you can even make up your own.

End Notes:

Lots of people like to begin developing their characters by giving them their physical traits first.  Hair color, eye color, height etc. and that’s all well and good, especially if that has to do with a twist in the story or affects who the character is (ex. A superstition says blue eyed people are evil and therefore outcasts), and it really doesn’t matter to me how you start, but keep in mind, the reader isn’t going to care if they have black hair or blond.  Part of having your stories be character driven is making the reader care about the people you are writing about.  You want this set of people to feel real to the person holding the book.  How do you do that?  Well, that’s a whole new post. 🙂

Character Takeover!

So, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now, I’m going to let my characters take over a blog post! This should be fun. 🙂 Here are all the characters who will be participating.

Ava= Heroine in my current Novel (age 16)
Stephen= Hero of Stephen of Scarborough (age 21)
William= Ally of Stephen of Scarborough (age 25)
Tyra= Heroine of a work in progress (or WIP) called for now Tyra’s Stone (age 19)
Silas= Ally/Love of same WIP (age 24)
Kate= Heroine of WIP (no title yet) (age 18)
Terren= Ally/Love of same WIP (age 23)

Alrightie! Without further ado, it’s all yours guys!

*silence*
Stephen: *clears throat* Greetings?
William: That was a question?
Stephen: Well, this is rather odd.
Tyra: Get use to it.
Stephen: *groans* You’re here?
Tyra: Of course I’m here. Didn’t you here our Author announce me?
William: Oh don’t start that you two!
Silas: Yes, I’m in full agreement with William.
Tyra: You would be.
Silas: Be nice.
Tyra: *whistles*
Ava: It would be very interesting if they were in the same story, wouldn’t it?
Kate: Changing subject!
Terren: To what?
Kate: I was getting to that.
Tyra: Weapons.
Kate: Why weapons?
Tyra: It was the first thing that popped into my head.
Stephen: *mumbles* You mean there’s something in there?
Tyra: *between her teeth* I heard that you no good, fancy pants of a highway man!
Stephen: I…
Silas/William/Kate/Terren/Ava: No!
Kate: This is going nowhere.
Terren: Yes, if you two can’t get along then don’t even look at each other.
Silas: Perhaps we should talk about… Ava?
Ava: What? Oh. Um… Tyra could tell us a tale?
Silas: Yes!
Tyra: No.
Silas: Why not?
Tyra: *shrugs* Don’t feel like it.
Terren: How long have you been a bard Tyra?
Tyra: All my life.
Terren: Umm.
Ava: Are Stephen and William the only characters set in a historical time?
William: Yes.
Kate: I’m from modern Seattle, but my story takes place in Terren’s world.
Terren: Yes. *smiles at Kate*
*silence*
Stephen: Now what?
Silas: Umm… Do any of the reader’s characters want to join us?
Kate: I like that idea!

Well, if you would like to let your characters talk to mine through the comments then go ahead! Ask them questions or just converse.

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