Archive for February, 2013

Creating The Face

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Beginning, Characters, Help, Writing
Tags: , , ,

character traits

This is the second installment of my advice to Character Troubleshooting.

So, You’ve thought about the setting of your book (This includes but is not limited to, the era of your novel– Is it based in history somewhere, is it present, or even future?); And you’ve even thought about what kind of character you want. (Are they Dynamic personalities? Flat? Round? Are they The Protagonist, Antagonist, Anti-Hero?) So, now that you know that, the next step is to create the FACE of your character.

I am sure by now a lot of you are reading this with a strange look on your own faces wondering what kind of drugs I am on. Honestly I’m not on any–  just hear me out.

The reason I say this is because a lot of Authors that I know, create their characters from the NAME down. To me, this is the HARDEST way to create a character, because what if your character doesn’t at the end of the day suit their name? All those hours looking for a name that you really like, and holds what you want, would then be wasted. (well at very least wasted in this effort– if you have characters, or names you like keep them handy you never know when they’ll be useful.)

Now that I have explained the why– lets get down to business.

First things first; What is your characters Ethnic Background?

This is vastly important to note, even if it’s to your self, because not everyone holds similar facial features. (Beyond that of two eyes, two ears, one nose and one mouth that is…) For instance, if your character is of an Asian ethnic origin, that will help determine they’re height, the average weight, their coloring. (Most Asian’s have dark hair, and dark eyes though this isn’t ALWAYS the case, especially with hair dye`s and contact lenses– but we won`t complicate things.)

So, go a head, pick your ethnic type. Here is a  page I have created as a Quick Reference to sites I find useful for all different types of references that don’t exactly fit into the other drop-down categories.

Lets take a second to list what we’ve done so far,

  • Thought about the setting (When/Where)
  • Thought about Personality Types
  • Role the character is to play in the story
  • Ethnic Origin of the character*.

Given all the information you have compiled for this character you can now:

  • Give a Height
  • Give a Weight
  • Body Type
  • Hair& Eye Color (With out worrying over Hair style or Contact lenses for a moment)
  • Give a Generalized Facial Profile (This is the height of cheek bones, Broadness of the Brow line, The Shape of the head Etc)

You have now built from the ground up, a person- and it’s easy to give a person a Name– Especially when you know what they’re like. It’s no different then giving your family members Nicknames– Only your character isn’t going to be named Marshmallow-butt.

But what about all that work in figure out the Personality Type?! 

This is a critical part of your character’s creation. It’s the Heart and Soul of the character as it where. This part of the process (done early on in the creation process) serves three roles.

  1. The Role: Establishing the importance of the character. It’s important to know where your character is going to sit in the story line, as without knowing this you could wind up wasting valuable writing time making 500 characters that won’t be noticed in your book for more then a few lines. If this character your creating isn’t going to be important in the current book your writing, then it’s alright to blur the image of the character for the reader– after all you don’t want to confuse your readers with useless information. Too many names creates chaos.
  2. The Presence: Given the personality type you have chosen, this enhances the presence of your characters. Are they the calm silent type? Possibly a soldier? Well if they have a scar on their face– or a noticeable limp, this is a good way to give Back ground AND add to the Basic profile of your character.
  3. The Naming Process: With all the information on the personality type of your character, you have narrowed the list of names for your characters. From Personal experience, And reading experience  I have found that the personality more often then not goes along with the name. In other words, since you now know the way your character thinks (given the personality) you can choose a name that summarizes the character. For example  a character who is a pacifist, or even maybe a coward probably shouldn’t have a name that reflects being a warrior.

Just one last note on Name’s, Remember how I mentioned that the Ethnic Origin of your character can help you pick your character’s name? Well for Instance, if your character hails from japan- then your character isn’t likely to be named Elizabeth. Yuki is a more likely name. You can find a number of Helpful links to find names in My Names Page.

If your having trouble finding a name, you can apply all the different tactics that I gave you in my post Pen Names R Us. All those tactics apply to any naming endeavour that you may find along the road of your own writing. Best of Luck!~

Don’t forget to comment down below, and let other readers know what you have done to create your characters.

Always Writing,

FOOTER2

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Often times I am asked by people– how do you come up with so many different characters with so many personalities. My answer is usually given with a smirk and/or chuckle:

Because I have so many wonderful people running around my head.” 

Never am I taken seriously with that statement– yet here’s the irony. Despite the chuckle or smirk, I am being 100% serious.

Every day we come into contact with several different personalities, some unable to be placed in a category. Friends, Family, Teachers, Peers, Co-workers, Editors, Publishers, Random people at the train station asking for a lighter, or just wondering what time it is. Our lives are constantly looking at different people– yet when we authors try to write– all we see is a school of oddly dressed fish. Zero personalities stand out to be remembered.

When we try to pull up the images in our minds of how someone stood, they’re composure etc, they end up as faceless bodies– or i could just be completely way off– after all aren’t all Authors hermits that hide in the houses and sleep during the day writing fervently at night. Burning the mid night oil as the phrase goes.

Well, in my case, this author doesn’t have the luxury or the funds to burn any oil– there for i have to work at a “real-job” to bring home the bacon. So that forces me to be out in the general public– maybe more often then i’d like to be. However, that doesn’t mean i have an eidetic memory; I’m not Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal minds.. far from it. Heck I sometimes forget which direction to go in the local mall, and wind up having to walk Around the outside to figure out where I am going.

So how is it that i remember actions, reactions, and even more difficult, Personality traits.

Well, I don’t– at least not in the sense that you may be thinking. Let me explain;

I first use the scene setting as my first clue to what is going on.

  1.  Train station? I have a couple thousand of those trips,
  2. High school– I spent four years there, and had the rather agonizing experience of going to four DIFFERENT high schools.
  3. Your character at a dance club?
  4. Police station?
  5.  Hair dresser?
  6. Mall (of any size or shape)

I try to stick to where i have been, and what I have done ; drawing off of my own personal memory for the setting. This allows me to fill in the background noise, the faceless mash of the crowd, and even the description of the scenery it self. It’s always a lot easier to write about somewhere you have been, then somewhere you would like to go. (You can also always expand on this later.)

“But that doesn’t help me create a character from scratch! Why is your title so misleading!

Don’t fret, I was getting there. The reason why i listed setting first, is before you have a character you should at very least have an idea about what you want to write– what kind of story, and what scene’s (or places) are you going to most likely find in said story. You don’t have to have a complete plot web (indeed if you do, then you already have a character{or 12}– and all you need is a name.).

We’re talking the bare bones here. Okay, now the next question is, what KIND of character do you want?

  1. Dynamic
  2. Static
  3. Round
  4. Flat
  5. Stock

Are they going to be:

  1. Major or central characters
  2. Minor characters
  3. Protagonist –
  4. Antagonist
  5. Anti-Hero
  6. Foil
  7. Symbolic

These are important questions to ask, because once you know the answers to these two questions, then you know how much detail you need for this character– are they nameless and just in passing; Eg, the jerk that rams into your self conscious Protagonist, knocking him/her to the ground? Are they the Main Antagonist who is going to be the subject of the Self couscous shy Protagonist’s torment in the book– Are BOTH characters Rounded? Dynamic? Are the polar opposites? Are they two-bit players in a larger pond that has nothing to do with them?

Just like every person is Different, every character should reflect that in fiction. Not everyone falls into the stereo types, BUT there are enough people in the world to make the Stock “Mad Scientist” Scheme a viable option.

Before you get all tangled up in the Creation of your character- Name Age, DOB, DOD, Height Weight, Ect ect ect. Ask your self the above, and figure out which number applies to your character. That Will make it a crap tone easier to figure out the next step. (Post to come soon)

(For those of you who do not remember these terms presented from high school– or are still new to the writing game Check out my New Page “What the Heck are These” )

So, I know I haven’t been very active in the online writing world for a while. Well here is another reason (see Excerpt for the first I have given). I have found, quite literally, an instructional DVD called Budokon: Flow and Flexibility. Now I won’t lie, It follows the new-age trend that has hit in the last 5-10 years, but that’s a-okay with me; I quite enjoy “New Age”. With that being said, it takes three of my personal interests/passions and merges them in to an hour exercise program that is quite fun.

Now if your not a fan of Yoga, or meditation, then feel free to skip this entire blog post– however, if your interested or practicing/learning any martial arts, then stick around (Even if Yoga and Meditation make you want to go to sleep.)

A little background before we get into the nit and grit.

I have always held an interest in Yoga, though until recently I haven’t really looked at classes or even free tutorials online. Shame on me I know.

However, one morning, I decided hey what the heck I’ll give it a go, and looked for yoga for beginners on the good ol’ youtube. What I found was a wonderfully relaxing ( And helped me cut back on smoking.) full class of what is called Hatha Yoga Flow from a Yoga class company called Yogayak. However, I quickly lost interest in this style of Yoga, and just stopped practicing it. Why? Because i didn’t feel like i was gaining anything accept the feeling that i had slept in. My flexibility wasn’t showing any signs of improvement, nor was my endurance because it was all slow flowing and typical yoga. Which is fine, it’s just not for me.

Then I came across this DVD I mentioned earlier.

 Now, don’t think that if you run out and pick up this DVD (which I strongly suggest you do) that it’s going to be a walk in the park– because it’s not, let me tell you.  This style combines Yoga, Martial Arts, and Meditation to give you not only a renewed sense of self movement, and achievement  but also strength.

The first time i tried this DVD (Which comes with tutorials of how to do the moves in the practice) I was sweating buckets, and wondering if my heart was going to explode through my rib cage and make quite the mess. You Begin with a 5 minute seated meditation, and then jump right into the program. Though out this program you do a lot of back exercises, My personal favorite is the Dancing dog– Very interesting movements and stretches (makes me feel like I am dancing). But then, oh boy, you get into the martial arts side of the program. Lunges  Knee strikes, Front kicks, Blocks, Warrior poses (ALL OF THEM) and even side punches, and forward strikes.

Then you go through a couple cool down stretches, and another 10 minute seated meditation. The flow from yoga to Martial arts, is so fluid that it’s hard to tell at times what is YOGA and what is Martial arts… okay you can clearly tell what is martial arts, but my point is, you don’t realize how easily they are able to interconnect until you at least TRY this DVD.

Now, remember how I was saying that through the Hatha Yoga Flow, I felt no improvement? This is over the course of TWO WEEKS.(or was it three?) With Budokon, it took me ONE week to be able to get through the DVD, and when i did get through it (still panting and sweating buckets) I felt a sense of accomplishment that i haven’t felt in a very long time.

You really notice the difference, and yet, as you work through it, your finding ways to correct yourself, and it becomes once again a difficult process to keep up with. This in my opinion, is a good thing, Cuts back on plateaus (If you have ever tried to lose weight, or watched the show biggest loser– then you know that is when your body just stops losing the weight, or even stops creating muscle because it has become to accustomed to the motions.)

I really LOVE this DVD, and good news for me, is when I don’t need the DVD anymore, to run through the reps, there are two more that i can choose from in order to expand my learning.

The added bonus of this collection, is I am also doing research for a few of my characters for a secret project I am working on (a pet project if you will); But enough of my shameless free advertisement– Just take my word for it, Go right now, get this DVD where ever you can, and give it a try.  I love it. (And I am almost certain that you will too.

(Almost) Always Writing,

FOOTER2

P.S. I Promise, Next time I post– It will have more basis on the writing side of my life.

Excerpt: Remnant

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Excerpt, Writing
Tags: , , , ,

So I come again, at last some may say; and I come barring a gift of yet another 1st draft excerpt of my WIP Remnant. I hope you enjoy this taste of what I have been up to these past few months… I promise soon I’ll have another post up with more then just an Excerpt– who knows, it may even be a useful post. 

[Excerpt: Remnant 21-02-2013]

 

Samurai wake

The sun was warm against her face, it was pleasant, yet somehow wrong. She couldn’t imagine why the warm healthy sun felt wrong, but something told her it should be night.

It was quite to top off her discomfort, she couldn’t understand why her ears rang with such a silence, until she felt the powerful down stroke of a bird swooping in for a landing. She pried open her stuck-closed eyes and found herself looking at a detached leg. The bird who landed was perched on the ankle joint helping himself to the soft inner tissue of the severed appendage.

Her stomach rebelled instantly, spilling watery clear stomach liquid on the ground around her. Where was she? Why was she amongst the dead? Where were the patrols? What happened to the Regnant? All these questions whirled through her head until she tried to push off the blood soaked ground– finding fire hotter then the forge masters bellows igniting against her back.

She couldn’t catch her breath as the pain brought white to her vision and turned her arms to jelly. Resigned to the hard packed earth she twisted her right arm to feel her back. It was wet.

“sword cut?” she wondered to herself as she walked her fingers up her back– suddenly finding the sharp edge of a spear only partially embedded in her back. She was suddenly more thankful to the heavy leather scaled armor then she had been anything in her entire life.

“Be still.”

She disobeyed the disembodied voice as she tried to lunge for a sword carelessly dropped to the ground in front of her. A firm hand gripped her shoulder pushing her down.

“I said be still, I won’t repeat myself.” She didn’t have the energy to fight the restraining hand and that should have been enough to tell her just what sort of dire straights she found herself in.

She strained to turn her head, looking up into the darkest black eyes she had ever witnessed on a man. He wasn’t looking at her face, but at her back with a thoughtful expression to his clenched jaw.

“You are lucky.” He said flatly, “Double lucky to not only survive this wound– but also to have us walking past this field.”

The deep voice seemed disconnected from the man hovering over her blurred vision. The weight on her back seemed suddenly as if it where five time heavier then it had been but a moment before.

“What’s your name?” The man questioned as the outer ring of her vision wavered, growing steadily darker.

Ayane

She didn’t know if she spoke it, or if simply her mind answered where her lips could not. Suddenly the abyss of nothing engulfed her– leaving her to wonder if she was dead or alive.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

I hope this got you intrigued, if not– ah well better luck next excerpt– if so I look forward to hearing your comments! 

Also, before the copyright ninja’s come after me– the image used in this post is from the 1966 film Sword of Doom, and the location of this image is [Here]  This is just to set the mood of the scene– I am not trying to steal the image for my book.

 

Always Writing,

FOOTER2