Tag Archives: characters

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Have you ever just been bopping along, doing your own thing, and suddenly one of your novels (or a character) just walks up and slaps you in the face?

That’s what happened to me earlier today.

I was scrolling through Face Book clicked on a link someone had shared and found this article.

My first thought was of Marsden from The Academy of the Accord because that is soooo something he would do.  (If, of course, he was a cop in today’s world, but that’s a minor trifle.)

The part with the hand on the shoulder and “Easy… I’ve got this one, son” is what really made me think of Marsden. That is something he would say and do and the description is spot on too, although he’s not quite that old – at least, not at the start of the series.

So, while it was really cool to come across that, now I want to get back to work on The Academy of the Accord.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Onyx Sun is still supposed to be on the front burner.

I think maybe I need a staff of ghost writers…

 

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Families II

 

Way back at the end of March I wrote a blog post on Families.   It’s about the kind you (well, your characters) are born into and how they shape you/your characters.  And I said that my next post would be about the kind of family that you find or create. That didn’t happen because the next post was for Camp NaNoWriMo and for some reason the topic got pushed aside. But seeing as yesterday was Father’s Day I’ve been thinking about families again so here it is, at long last.

I think that most people have someone (or multiple someones) that they consider to be family, even if not related by blood. For instance, my roommate is my best friend and the sister I never had. (And the person I’m most likely to murder, which I’ve been told is the actual definition of a sister.)  My mother even says she has two daughters: one genetic and one generic.

(I also have someone that I think of as a daughter.)

In the Academy of the Accord series, it is noted that families you “find” are often better than those you are born into. It’s also noted that the school feels like a family, mostly because the leaders have formed their own sort of family unit.  Marsden, the Commander of the Garrison, is the father Kordelm never had and the one Wellhym wishes he’d had.  Vinadi, the school’s Headmaster, is viewed in much the same light by Torlew and (especially) Yhonshel, and as a surrogate father by Caristen. (Kordelm and Wellhym are warriors; Vinadi, Torlew and Caristen are wizards, and Yhonshel is both.)

When the “second generation” starts, they all think of Senzu as a daughter. (Her race doesn’t have families as we think of them so she doesn’t think of them as fathers.)

When Draethlen joins the group, he thinks of Marsden as a father. (He doesn’t remember his own family.)  Kordelm and Wellhym think of him as a little brother, and as the other cadets join their family group they (along with Torlew and Caristen) think of all of them as “the boys” – the same way that Vinadi and Marsden think of them.

(Kordelm and Wellhym do, however, refrain from thinking of Marsden as the boy’s grandfather, mostly out of a sense of self-preservation of their pride; both are relatively certain Marsden could probably still “dust the pit” with them in a spar.)

The family that the characters form is unbreakable, unlike the ones some of them were born into.  They share a common bond, not of blood, but of Honor.

In other not-yet-published (or even completed) novels, I also have families that were found, not born. In Book Two of the Other Mages trilogy, Katheri is confused when a visitor helps with the dishes, thinking that it isn’t right for a guest to be put to work like that. Trebor and D’Laron explain to her that Luthen isn’t a guest, he’s family.

Doing the dishes becomes sort of an inside joke then, and when they later send Katheri to the kitchen to do the dishes (so they can talk about things she’s not ready to be involved in yet) she sees it not as being dismissed, but as being accepted.

And after all, isn’t that what family is?  People who accept you as you?

 

 

 

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Plot Twist

There’s a meme on Face Book that says something along the lines of “When life throws you a curve ball, yell ‘Plot Twist!’ and move on.”

Well, yesterday I got a plot twist.

I’m not entirely sure how it will play out yet. I’ll know more by the end of the month if not before, but for now let’s just say that my stress levels have about tripled.

So, anyhow…

I’ve been thrown off balance and am trying to regain my equilibrium. I’m sure I will and I’m sure it won’t take too long, but in the meantime I find myself in that weird author place where you’re not only caught up in an emotional whirlwind but you’re also outside it, observing the physical sensations.

And as another side effect, there’s also a line kicking around my head that wants (or maybe needs) to be worked into a novel. (Unfortunately, probably not any of the ones that I already have started.)

(Of course not. *sigh*)

Anyhow, I’ve written it down for future use.

In other news, I haven’t made much progress on any of my writing goals.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working on anything. Onyx Sun still needs more scenes added and I’ve started working on one to explain the relationship between Taliya and Soraine, which falls somewhere between friends and rivals, or maybe spans both. Soraine only has a couple brief appearances in the novel so far, but since she’s going to be getting her own book someday I thought maybe I should expand her a bit.  And this is a fun bit of writing because it showcases her rather wicked sense of humor. It’s also going to tie in nicely with a couple other scenes, which makes me super happy.

(By the way, I really need to use different paper for different things. I left to run errands on Wednesday and grabbed my shopping list from my keyboard shelf. When I headed into the store and opened it I discovered I’d grabbed my note about how the scene introducing Soraine ties into other scenes. Useful, but not what I really needed at that point in time.)

So, anyhow, life – and writing – go on.

Just not always in the expected directions.

 

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Families

Like them or not, we all have them.

And so do our characters.  After all, they don’t exist in a vacuum.  They had a life before the story (and hopefully they’ll have a life afterward too.) They have families of some sort, just like we do. And friends and rivals and…

And let’s just stick to families, okay?  They can have enough drama for multiple books.

Like it or not, our families helped form us into who we are.  We might break from them and their beliefs, but they are still there in the background.  Why should our characters be any different?

Answer: They shouldn’t.

Even if your characters’ families are never shown or mentioned or named in your book they’ve still had an impact on who your character is and why s/he is the way s/he is.

Some people are great at writing families and family relationships.  I’m… not one of them. Most of my characters seem to come from families that are dysfunctional at best and downright toxic at worst.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

In Onyx Sun (which I will finish the revision of sooner or later), Taliya’s mother tried to cheat her out of her rightful place as head of household, and sold Taliya’s lover to a slaver.  Growing up, Taliya always felt closer to her grandmother than to her mother – and to the father that she barely knew.

Sanguine is something of an exception, in that Gregor has a large, warm, loving, and closely knit, extended family (with one exception).

In Song and Sword:

Marlia’s family is dead but the manner of their deaths did a lot to shape who she was at the start of the story.

Dakkas’ father and half-brother want to kill him, so he grew up not really expecting to grow up.  It made him cautious and hesitant to trust.

Pashevel and his father don’t see eye to eye, but at least he’s not plotting his son’s death.  Pashevel’s mother is dead, and it was her banishment from the kingdom – along with his father’s somewhat cold attitude – that had the greatest effect on who he turned out to be.

Kashrya never knew her birth parents, but was raised by a shaman, who, while respected by the tribe, was never really a part of it, so she was also always an outsider.

And lastly, in The Academy of the Accord series:

Marsden is the oldest of a large family, and when their mother died after the birth of the youngest he pretty much took charge of raising the others.  He loves his family, but we only meet two of them. He still fills a “father” role much of the time.

Vinadi is the only child of wealthy parents, both of whom were wizards, and was never really close with his family. (We only meet an aunt and a couple uncles.)  He grew up isolated and lonely. His early wanderlust came from an unconscious desire to find “home” – which is also what led to his dream for the school.

Kordelm’s mother was a whore who kicked him out to fend for himself when he was just a child. He is resilient, street-smart, and independent.  Something of a loner growing up, now that he has friends he will give his life to protect them.

Wellhym’s father threw him out when he was ten years old and it was discovered that he didn’t like girls. Wel’s mother never said a word, but his older brothers did.  One of them later comes around and accepts him. The other… not so much.  His friends become his surrogate family, but he never really stops wishing things could have been different with his birth family.

Torlew’s father was more interested in money than in his children. As the youngest son, Tor grows up seeing how unhappy his older siblings are, and resolves to not fall into that same trap. We meet his family and it’s about as awkward as you’d expect. He has one free-spirited aunt, who we never meet, and a little sister that is following in her footsteps.

Caristen’s family is loud and boisterous, and except for one temper tantrum from his father, they are totally accepting and supportive of him and his friends. (Cair’s mother is a force to be reckoned with and his father should be glad she wasn’t holding a cast iron skillet when he was throwing his tantrum.)

Yhonshel never knew his birth parents. He saw his first foster family killed for no reason other than that the man wanted to.  It was eight years after that before he could form attachments to other people. (And then it was mostly because they didn’t give him a choice.)  It was because of his helplessness as a child that Yhonshel became very good at protecting people.

(No, I’m not going to go through the families of the other characters from later books. If I do this post will turn into a novel and there are enough of those in this series.)

Maybe on Friday I’ll talk more about families – the kind you find or create vs the kind you’re born into.

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Camp is Coming

Well, it’s been an interesting week, writing-wise.

I was making pretty good progress on the Elven Bard novel (sequel to Song and Sword) and then…

And then a character showed up that I wasn’t expecting and sort of trashed my scene. I have no idea why she’s there, either, but I know I need to find a way to get that scene back on track – there’s stuff that needs to happen in it that got pushed aside because of her arrival. (I think I just figured out how to fix it.  Work in the other stuff before her presence is announced.)

But anyhow, I kept going to see if I could figure out how her being there was going to play out, and then I realized that the conversation I was writing just plain would not have happened in that setting.

But the conversation is important.  It can work into a sub plot that’s been mentioned (and which will be of more importance in the next book) and it makes use of the above-mentioned character (Inizi, for anyone who is curious) but it has to happen in a different kingdom.  (I hate writing scenes out of order, I really do, but this was an accident.)

So I added a bunch of white space before it and will use it when the characters get to the other kingdom, hopefully some time this month.

Why this month?

Because next month is Camp NaNoWriMo and the cabins are already opening for it.

Yes, I’ll be doing it.  No, I’m not sure if I’m going to commit to 50K for it.  I’ll be doing NaPoWriMo again too, and job stress is really getting to me so I don’t know if I can do 50,000 words of novel, 30 poems, and cope with work.

Anyhow, keeping Camp word count separate from your main Word doc is hard enough without trying to work it in around already existing scenes. And since I do want to work on this during Camp I’d like to get caught up to that scene by the end of the month.

I have a 9k word goal for this month, so we shall see.

Of course, I can always work on something else during Camp. It’s not like I have a scarcity of plot bunnies and started novels. (I think my count currently stands at 40, plus I’m sure I’m missing some.) I’d really like to get the first draft of this book wrapped up this year, though, preferably before November so I can start the next sequel then.

Or I can use Camp to finally complete the current round of revisions to Onyx Sun.  That might be a more productive use of it.  Has anyone ever done that? If so, how do you verify it at the end?

 

 

 

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Thirteen Book Series?

So I’ve been working my way through the first round paper edits of Book 7 of The Academy of the Accord, and I’m thinking I may need to rethink the series.

There is so much overlap between the original ending of Book 5 and the starts of Books 6 and 7 that I’m thinking of taking all that overlap stuff and making it a book unto itself.

For one thing, it would certainly make editing this mess a whole lot easier in the long run.

And there is a whole lot of stuff that I had to cut because it didn’t really fit into any of them, but I saved it all because a) I’m even a packrat when it comes to computer files and b) it is still kind of needed somewhere but there’s currently just no where to put it.

And this extra book would let me expand some things that I need to put more emphasis on so it’s there for later books. (I’m looking at you, Book 11 – you and Andrek and the most confusing and convoluted family tree ever created.)

And for yet another thing, it would let me focus on just the characters that are center stage in Books 6 and 7 (Rahmael and Shander in Book 6, and Brythel in Book 7) and would cut down on a lot of repetition between the books.

It doesn’t solve all of my problems with the series, though.  I’ll still be struggling with the (re)introduction of Azlea, for instance.  Of course, I’m already not entirely sure when that happens so that’s not really a major drawback.

It won’t exactly solve the problem of Book 7 either.  It’s still going to overlap some of the others no matter when I set the beginning of it because it’s Brythel and he’s… complicated.

And this new book in the middle of things sort of comes with a couple problems of its own.

For instance, so far it’s mostly just a series of scenes with no plot. I’d need to come up with something to tie it all together and tie it into the overall story arc for the series.  (I’m pretty sure I can find something, I just have no idea what at this point.)

And of course, then it becomes Book 6 so I’ll have to renumber all of the other books and all of the files associated with them…

I think I’m going to scream now.

And the headache continues to grow.

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I Did It!

CNW_Winner_1500-1

Another Camp NaNoWriMo has come to an end, at least for me.  I verified at approximately 1:45 am on the 29th.

It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win.

Why wasn’t it pretty?

Well, for one thing, I was lagging behind on word count most of the month, so at the end I was making a mad push for words and writing absolute drivel.

A large part of that is because I’m still fighting with a logic flaw in Book 6 and every time I think I’ve figured my way out of it something else crops up.

And sometime in the past few days it occurred to me that I was caring too much about Book 6, and it was keeping me from being free to just write goofy off the wall fun things, even though I know that those goofy off the wall fun things often end up creating really good ideas to move the story along and get you unstuck and…

But I just couldn’t seem to do that this time.  Maybe because the Academy of the Accord series has become too major of a part of my life over the last several years.  It deserves better attention than it gets during a NaNoWriMo session, especially one where I’m running behind all month.

Or maybe it was something else. I don’t know.  All I know is that I decided to take a break and step away from it for a bit and write something totally random and unplanned that I didn’t care about.  If nothing else it would pump up the word count and then I could go back to Book 6 when I was caught up.

But then a funny thing happened…

My totally without merit word orgy turned into something…

Well, I won’t say it turned into something worthwhile, because so far I don’t think it is.  But somehow the characters began to develop and a real plot bunny hopped out of the fiasco.

It’s not a bunny I plan to pursue, at least, not any time in the near future, but I started to really like the characters and a two sentence bit of conversation has spawned a potential contemporary tale and…

And this is now going to go into my “Novels I’m Ignoring” file (yes, I do have a file folder on my computer with that name) and I will turn my attention back to Book 6 of The Academy of the Accord and will work on it at a much slower pace. I want to be able to edit it by June, but that’s not carved in stone, and May should give me plenty of time to finish it.

Next month, though, is mostly going to be focused on finishing the revisions to Onyx Sun so I can get it released.  I’m hoping that it doesn’t take me all month because I’m not quite midway through entering changes to Book 4 of The Academy of the Accord and not quite that far in doing paper edits of Book 5, and I’d like to get both of those things done as well.

*sigh*

Looks like it’s back to work…

(At least until July Camp.)

 

 

 

 

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Four More Days

Remember on Friday when I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t really have a bad guy?

I now have two.  Maybe three.  Okay, two and a half. (The third is behind the scenes, manipulating bad guy number two.)

Sadly, the only one who has a name is the one behind the scenes.

(I should probably work on correcting that sometime in the next four days.)

Overall, though, the outline is shaping up.  (I’m not going to say what it’s shaping up into, but it is shaping up.)

The antagonists are making me tear my hair out.  They’re all after the same seven year old boy.

One wants him dead.

One wants to use him to blackmail the first one.

And the third? The third wants to use him as a pawn to destroy Vinadi and the Academy of the Accord, and is using the second one to get him.

The problem now is figuring out how to weave all three of those together.  The first two aren’t bad, but that third one…

I really want that third one in there, as it will be a great way to tie this into the overall story arc of the series, but I’m not really sure how to make it happen. I’m hoping that as I keep tweaking the outline and moving stuff around and asking and answering questions I’ll figure it out.

Meanwhile, another problem has cropped up, namely, the order of events.  Specifically, the length of time between the arrival of bad guy number two at the school, the arrival of a messenger, and the disappearance of the seven year old boy.

This thing is seriously giving me a headache.

 

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Everyone Talks About It…

… but no one ever does anything about it.

The weather, that is.  It’s so much a part of our every day existence that we kind of take it for granted and not give it a lot of thought, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve started thinking about it a lot the last few days, mostly because our weather has been sucking big time.

It’s been raining or grey, no sun to speak of for months except for an occasional hour or two or an even more rare day of no clouds.  We’ve also been unseasonably warm (60F in Western Pennsylvania at Christmas is just not normal by any stretch of the imagination).  We’re down in the 30s now but still raining, and it’s really getting to me.  I’m getting short tempered, I’m tired all the time, and I’m feeling stressed, burned out, and drained.  Not to mention that it’s wreaking havoc on my sinuses and joints.

So, if it’s affecting me that much, why not my characters?

I started thinking about whether or not I use weather in my writing, and the answer is that I do, as part of scene setting (for instance, a blizzard, or a thunderstorm, or sleet, etc) but am I taking full advantage of how the weather affects people?

No, not really.

Should I be?

I’m not sure.

I mean, yeah, if it’s important to the plot or to help define the character or set the scene, then definitely the weather and their reaction to it should be brought into play.  But a daily weather report in the novel?  Probably not needed.

But yet, weather is always there, which leads me to wonder how much other day to day stuff is left out of writing?

And what can we do about it?  Or should we do anything about it?

Food for thought.

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Words to Write

So I’ve been steadily losing ground and as of this writing I am now just a hair under 13k below par.

According to the stats page, at this rate I will finish on December 16, 2015 (hey! at least it’s this year!) and need to write 2677 words per day to finish on time.

I was hoping for at least a 10k day today, but that’s not likely to happen, so the new goal is to get the words per day thing down to under 2k.  If I need to write less than 2k a day I can stay at that level – or at least close – for the next four days of work, then I’m off for two days (my last days off before the end of the month) and I can push ahead (with a looming deadline) to get ahead and maybe even validate.

On a brighter note, the story is picking up now, and I have a pretty clear grasp of the next part – maybe the next two.

On a not so bright note, I have written a logic flaw into the story so I’m going to have to figure a way around it.  But that can happen in revisions.  (And revising this is going to suck almost as much as revising and editing The Academy of the Accord books.)

But I can’t focus on that right now. I have to focus on getting words written so that I can revise them. I already know that a lot of what I’ve written so far is going to get cut in revision.  It’s not word padding so much as unnecessary details of daily life.  (Seriously, every time Jacob enters the house Cara is at the kitchen table and feeds him.)  Meanwhile, descriptions of important things (like the house and the things in it) are sorely lacking.

The worst part about this novel is that I’m still (at 20,000 words in) having trouble finding my characters’ voices.   I’m getting a better handle on Cara, my main character, but still struggling with Jacob, and with Tamira.  (Actually, I’m starting to get a better grip on her, too, but right now it seems like she’s two different characters from when we first meet her to where I am now.  But those are revision things; plus, she’s likely to change again before I’m done.)  For someone whose writing tends to be very character-based and character-driven, this is a major problem.

But it’ll sort itself out – eventually.

Meanwhile,

I have goals to keep,
And words to write before I sleep.

 

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