• 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

Love for My “Choices” Team

I just have to say, I love my team of charries in Choices.  I really do.  They are just awesome.

Kate.  She is the easiest hero to work with.  She rocks.  I know her, I’m in her head, she’s real.  Even when I put her through the ringer she still likes me!  Most of my characters would be flipping mad and make sure I knew it, but Kate, she knows those things have to happen and she knows she’ll be better for it.  *hugs Kate*  God, thank you for such an awesome hero!

Terren.  Quiet, strong Terren.  He doesn’t like what I put him through (and am putting him through… sorry Terren…), but he doesn’t go on strike, (like I know another charrie is going to do when I write her story…. *winces*).  He might withdraw for a little while, but then he comes back around because like Kate, he knows it must happen.

Connor and Sara are just awesome peeps along for the ride.  The comic relief and moral support for my two MC’s.  You both rock.  😉

Uraeus.  He’s a dragon, you can’t get any better than that.  Nuff said.

A bit of a random post, but I just had to write about how much I love this team.  I’m so blessed to have such an awesome and real group of characters.  Real to me, and real to my readers.  Thank you God for giving them to me!

I love being a writer, you get to keep your imaginary friends and get more!  Plus have adventures with them.  😉

Image source:
http://www.sessiz-harfler.com/Anlatayim.aspx?ee=Benim-Sectiklerimden–%22-Iki-Dudak-Arasi-Ask-%22–Nihat-Coskun

Do They Break Your Heart?

I just rewrote a very emotional scene in Choices and now I just feel like crying.  I guess it’s a good thing, if it makes me cry it should make the readers cry right?  I almost feel like I just had my heart broken.  (Yes, it was a very intense scene.)

It’s crazy sometimes, how real these people are to me.  What hurts them hurts me.  What breaks their heart breaks mine.

But it makes them real.  They need to be real for the reader to relate to them, for the reader to want to cry with them.

So, do your characters ever break your heart?

How real are they to you?

Character Development

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

Characters + Candy Store

What would happen if I let my band of characters loose in a candy store?  Probably something like this….

Avalyn and Stephen would have an archery contest with the gumballs. Geoffrey would be watching, now and then tossing his dagger or firing a bolt from his cross bow into a gumball, messing up the contest and causing an argument.

Esten would be examining and sampling the chocolate tools, wondering why someone would want a box of chocolate hammers. Much would be eating anything chocolate and creating quite the mess.

William would be watching the archery contest and keeping Stephen from starting a fist fight with Geoffrey. Ieuan would be chasing after Much.

Marion, Kate, Wrenna and Luke would be sitting on the counter laughing and playing with the sour belts and Swedish Fish.

Connor would be throwing gummy bears at Terren. Terren would be using a jar lid as a shield and firing gummy worms back.

Tyra would be munching on licorice, making little flutes with them, and hiding from everyone.

Silas would be wondering where she disappeared to, alternating between the group at the counter and Esten, and trying not to get involved with Avalyn, Stephen and Geoffrey’s archery arguments.

Minn would be jumping around, chasing flying gummy bears and worms, and snatching sour belts from the girls on the counter or the Swedish Fish that Luke tossed him. Now and then, the little dragon would jump to Avalyn’s shoulder in the middle of her shot, wrapping his tail around her neck, messing her up and looking quite please with himself.

Uraeus would be trying to get his big, amber dragon head through the window and eyeing Terren hoping he would let him in.

Villains, henchmen, and their nasty creatures would not be allowed.

Hello Geoffrey

You know those pesky characters that you love to pieces but sometimes wish they would leave you alone? The ones who just pop up in the oddest places when you least expect them and make you feel like you’re hallucinating or becoming schizophrenic? Enter Geoffrey; tall, sober, opinionated and constantly peering over my shoulder. I thought Tyra and Stephen were loud, but they’ve got nothing on Geoff.

It’s always the characters who are the most complicated and/or messed up who enjoy stalking my sub-conscious/consciousness, and they won’t leave me alone. Geoffrey is still fairly new. He was born sometime last fall and has grown into quite the personality very quickly. I think he’s one of my more unique characters, not just in looks, but history wise as well. He’s an outlaw, a man on the run, on the run from his past.

The weird thing is; he’s the character I feel the closest to at the moment even though his story is still buried in development. He’s from a deeper place inside me, a place that has been trying to come out and now finally has, but the personality it’s taken on has not only surprised me, it also unnerved me. Let me attempt to describe it. Imagine there is a man in his late twenties. He’s tall, has shoulder length black hair, pale violet eyes and a stern haunted face. He knows everything that’s in your mind, everything in your heart, and you know everything in his. Because he can, he points out all your flaws, trying to humiliate you and draws out your insecurities while at the same time, showing you his own. Oh, and he is just standing there staring at you. Oh, AND, you’re the only one who can see him.

At this point I’m sure you’re wondering whether or not I really am turning into a schizophrenic. Let’s just say this guy is starting to scare me with how real he is, but at the same time it excites me. I’m a writer, I want real characters and now I have one, (who’s really starting to freak me out!).

Okay Geoff, please stop looking at me like that. I’m writing a blog post about you, and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Ah!

So, like any other crazed writer with a nosey, leering at me from a dark corner character, I drew him. Funny thing is, once I was done with the drawing, he quieted down and left me alone, for a little while anyway. I think it scared him (muwhahahaha!). Must have, because it scared me too and I had to stuff it in a drawer where it couldn’t stare at me!

Maybe it’s time I should be concerned about my mental state… You think?

And here he is.

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. 🙂

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