Tag Archives: power

Writing My Characters

21 Jan

Recently I got a question about how I write my characters. Since I write character-driven stories, characters are important. They have to be real, complex, and relatable. I never put pen to paper if I don’t know who they are. If I haven’t had a shrink session with them in my head, then I can’t write them well. It might be that I have them answer questions, but sometimes I get images, scenes that show me who they are. It’s can be a vibe.

The key to transferring this vibe to the reader is by giving them crumbs instead of the entire cookie. My characters have secrets, or things they’d rather not want others to know for some reason and that’s what I hint at. I don’t necessarily share the secrets, maybe not even any of the secrets, but I sure as hell hint at them. Readers are smart. Spelling things out usually annoys rather than helps.

Currently, I’m writing a main character who is also an antagonist. She is bad. I mean really bad. She has power and wants to keep it, if not get more. She kills without blinking. Now it is extra important that the reader UNDERSTANDS her. Otherwise they won’t accept her behaviour or care about what she experiences. This novel is a puzzle of her and slowly but surely the reader gets to know her. Characters need to grip you, otherwise why would you care? That’s why I can’t read plot-driven novels. I lose interest. I don’t care enough to read on.

Basically I write my characters with great interest and as if they are a puzzle that readers need to put together with clues. Subtle clues. The plot allows room for that, in fact, it helps the character show us who she is. There also has to be a contrast. My character is evil, sure, but she is also fragile and can’t stand violence against women even if that makes her a bit of hypocrite. Conflict is in every novel but there should also be conflict in characters if you want them to be interesting, no matter how small that conflict is.

Make things difficult, and let them show you what they’re made of.

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Go Deep or Go Home

12 Sep

What is the beautiful thing about writers? Is it the way they make the words swirl in your mind, painting it with colours you have never even seen before? Is it because they make you experience things that you otherwise wouldn’t? Is it because they are simply awesome? Yes, possibly that. But what makes them so awesome? What makes them write what they write? See what they see? 

A lot of artists are high sensitive, which means they experience the world differently than the average person. Did you know that certain species can only see a certain range of colours. There are, for instance, far more colours than we can see. I’ve mentioned once before that I felt like true writers see more colours than other people, without realising that I was talking about being high sensitive. It means we see more details and can see the bigger picture. We seek meaning and depth, not just in life but also with relationships. We go hard or we go home. Or better yet, we go deep or we go home. High sensitive people are a minority, which means we don’t always get back what we give and disappointment isn’t always far behind in this harsh world. However, it also comes with a lot of benefits, because we do see a lot more colours, and damn, they are beautiful. We have beautiful worlds inside of us, but we also see the beauty of this world. And the desire to relay that beauty to others is one of the reasons I write. 

Normal is not something I tend to dabble in, except when I’m writing about someonne who is normal (which I rarely do). I like to escape to my mind, because that’s where the interesting stuff happens. I don’t have the patience to deal with ‘normal’ things like earning money and you know, surviving. The world is filled with interesting truths and by creating new worlds, I explore those truths. That’s why words have enormous power. They tell a lot more than you’d initially think, seeing them motionless on that page. 

I also believe that a lot more people have started writing because it has become so easy to do, because they think it’s cool to write an awesome story and become rich and famous. But those people are easy to spot, because their stories lack depth. They don’t make you see the new colours, they show you those boring colours we already know. Or worse, grey. 😉

Serious writers write because they are born to write. They have ink in their veins. They are pioneers. 

 

inspiration IIII

 

The Art of Revising

9 Feb

And there it is: a plot hole, a character that doesn’t feel quite real, a motivation that is lacking. There’s always something you find could use improving if you take out a magnifying glass and look through it with a reader’s brain instead of a writer’s heart.

And therein lies the rub. Once a story has been written, whether it’s a first draft or not, it’s hard for the writer to erase those words from paper. I like to see it as the power of the written word. They plant their roots in paper and it’s hard for the writer to pull them out, since he was the one who planted them in the first place.

This is why reliable ninja readers are so important, they weren’t there when you planted those words and they only care about how they look when bloomed. And this is also why you should let your story simmer before rereading it. Then you’ll be able to read it more as a reader, as opposed to a writer. Also, your subconscious knows so much, so be sure to take notes about which doubts are shouting at the back of your head. Chances are, if you have a strict ninja reader, that he’ll point out the things you suspected and this will make your inner (re)writer’s hands itch. No writer wants to pee in his own shoe. We want our story to be the best that it can be and we are the only ones that can make that happen.

Now comes the tricky part, which is to actually incorporate those changes necessary to benefit your story. The story is an intrinsically woven web of multi-coloured threads. Pull on one of them and the entire thing could collapse. And since I wing it more than I plan it, I find it difficult to uncover a way that works for me and doesn’t involve a lot of grunting, sighing, muttering and complaining on Twitter. What once really helped me was writing down the situation at the beginning and at the end of the novel and work my way to the middle, writing down the scenes that needed to come after the beginning and before the end. It’s a great way to plan your novel and keep sight of the thread that binds all the scenes together. You’re forced to ask yourself: What needs to happen in order to get to that next point?

So, keeping in mind the changes I need to make, I think I’ll use this method to determine where and how new scenes need to take place. (Easier said than done!) And I’ll probably still complain on Twitter.

This leads me to my question for all of you fellow writers, how do YOU rewrite?

 

writing journal

Metaphors and stuff…

29 Aug

To paint our words with brighter colours a writer has some amazing tools in his or her tool basket. Probably the most important one, is METAPHORS.  They are great figures of speech and blow life into the words we write. They sprinkle them with extra spirit, depth and originality. They say that good metaphors are a sign of genius. Which means that mastering the skill that is writing metaphors is a very good thing if you want to be a good writer.

Just to remind you what metaphors are:
A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses symbolism. It compares two things that are NOT similar and show that they actually do share a similarity. There is an additional meaning to a word, which means it includes symbolism.

Now, what is more powerful? He was overcome with sadness. OR: He was drowning in a sea of sorrow. Exactly…metaphors are your friend. An entire story can be a metaphor, but then it is called an ALLEGORY. Stories like that will show symbolism throughout the entire story.

There are more tools in the tool basket of a writer. There is also this thing called a SIMILE. This is when you compare two things and you use either ‘like’ or ‘as’.
Examples: He was cold as a stone. She laughed like a wounded animal.
I’m a big fan of this tool, they have great impact on the minds of the readers and are easier to write than metaphors. They can also be used more often than metaphors. They differ from a metaphor, because a metaphor compares two unlikely things by saying that the one thing IS the other thing. With similes it’s clear that they’re being compared and are only similar. If you keep mentioning that things are in fact other things, it might take away the power (of the metaphor). With similes that isn’t the case although I would suggest not to use them in every sentence, but at least regularly.

HYPERBOLE, which is an exaggerated statement to give power to what you’re saying. For instance when you’re tired or hungry and you say: I could sleep for an eternity or I could eat a horse.

And two others that should be mentioned are ANTITHESIS and OXYMORON. An antithesis is a figure of speech that brings out contrast in the ideas by an obvious opposition in the words or (parts of) the sentence within a parallel grammatical structure.

So: Many are called, but few are chosen. When one man speaks, another man listens. When you’re single, you want to be in a relationship and when you’re in a relationship, you want to be single.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which contradictions are combined. Like: a deafening silence. A silent scream. Turn up missing. Old news. Alone together.

There you have it, a couple of tools you might find handy to liven up the words you carefully display on the pages of your story. Good luck and may the force (of Words) be with you.

 

 metaphor-cartoon

 

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