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Bruises and Broken Bones

  • Posted on May 29, 2015 at 9:19 pm

Five minutes late, but at least Kaimi had managed to stop by starbucks. That was worth it at least. The mocha frappe with an extra shot of caramel was perfect on her tongue, the walk from her car to the front door of the office completely taken up by fumbling through her purse for the keys to the door. It was only when she dropped said pure and nearly spilled said frappe that she noticed the man camped out in front of her door.

Well, not literally camped out, he’d clearly been there for maybe ten minutes, at most. His dark hair pulled up into spikes only possible with copious amounts of gel proved he’d visited a bathroom at least an hour or two ago. The half-carefree smile he gave her when he knelt to pick up her purse, and the few odd pens and tictacs that had spilled out lit up his brown eyes. Her mental image of this man was a large puppy, something brown, with floppy ears.

“Thanks.” She answered, giving her business-woman smile, “Clumsy, you know? Thanks, if you could just hold that, that’d be-” She turned, opening the door with a deft turn of the key in the industrial lock and pushing at it with her hip. “C’mon in.” He was there for a reason, after all. He couldn’t have mistaken her office for anything else, what with “Rowe Detective Agency – We find SoulMates, or your money back!” emblazoned across the glass in the same dark blue as a policeman’s uniform.

“No problem.” The man answered, following her into the waiting room, six chairs, all of different fabrics and shapes, set semi-circle around the desk where no real receptionist had ever sat. Someday, Kaimi promised herself. Someday. “Nice place you have here.”

“Thanks! We like it, anyway. Here, I’ll take that.” She took her purse back, and the man shuffled his foot, shifting nervously from one leg to the next. The tanktop he was wearing showed off the absolutely massive amount of orange bruises he wore across his skin. Ah, one of those. She would have sighed, if this had been a year ago, when she first opened this agency. Now, she just hoped she could find this guy’s soul mate before the worst happened.

“So…I don’t suppose you know why I’m here?” The man asked, hopeful, obviously, to get the conversation started. Kaimi strode towards her desk, the one with the cute little money-plant on it, a gift from her hawaiian mother. “You’ve got really good reviews online, so I hoped…”

“You hoped we could find whoever is putting bruises on your soulmate, and maybe let you play hero to get the poor thing out of there?” She asked, pulling out some forms from her desk drawer, and settling into her seat. The first visit was almost always mainly paperwork and interviewing the client anyway, but she hoped to get this done with before her ten o’clock showed up. Two hours would be pushing it on this.

“No!” The man cried, earnest. Kaimi could see a flicker of upset behind his eyes, so he DID want to get his mate out of there, but- “I just… I want to meet them. I want to get them out of wherever they are…No matter how it has to happen. I just want them safe.”

It was something she heard a lot from people like this. The ones with the scars and bruising from their soulmates. It wasn’t an easy Sign to bear, she was sure, seeing how the other was hurt. Her own Signs were so much easier to deal with. She smiled, nodding, her eye tracing what looked like fingerprints in orange around the tan throat in front of her. Whoever this Mate was, they were in some serious trouble.

“Don’t worry. We’ll do everything in our power to find them. That’s what we’re here for, after all.” She offered, her voice comforting from experience. The man relaxed in front of her, although his fingers still played with the hem of his shirt. “Now, have you done any searching on your own? Any possible leads you have for us? Any other Signs, maybe?”

Sometimes Signs came in groups. Often, the Bruises would come with the String too, but it didn’t look like that was the case with this one, or he would have found the Mate already. First Words would be difficult, a Timer would be useful, but only if they were tied to this Mate. If they were tied to some other Mate, they’d do no good. Kaimi’s fingers found the line of words on her inner wrist, and rubbed at them, absently.

The man shook his head, “No, no other Signs, just this one. I…I went to a doctor once, and he said that the bruising is similar to something he’s seen on professional athletes in martial arts, or… or in thugs.”

“I see. Do you mind if we take pictures of the bruising? Just to compare, of course.” She asked, sliding a consent form right across the table to him. “We take pictures of all Signs, for our records, and also to help us find your Mate without having to drag you along to every interview.”

“Oh… Oh, uh, yeah, that’s fine.” He answered, blinking those puppy-brown-eyes at her slowly, like he doesn’t understand. Kaimi nods, and points out the line he needs to sign. He takes the hint, and scribbles out a name that starts with a G. “Oh. Uh, I hit eighteen in two weeks… so if I Dream, I’ll let you know…”

“Perfect. A Dream will give us a lot of information, just… make sure to take note of the address, or landmarks around you, and we’ll be able to find them from there. Or, if nothing else, leave them a note, and they may find you.” She coached, a speech she’s given a hundred times, and one that sits on pretty much every ‘how to find your soulmate’ diy website ever. “Here’s a survey, please answer it completely truthfully, that way we can try to narrow down as much information as possible.”

She’d taken the survey herself a long time ago, so she knew the questions he was most likely to pause over. The “is the world black and white” question, the “Any birthmarks” question, the “Exact date and time of birth” question, especially tended to throw people off. While he fiddled on his phone, most likely texting his mom to find out, she picked up her coffee, sipped it, and headed for the coffee machine. Setting a new cup of coffee in front of him, along with a pack of those sandwich cracker snacks that Marshall insisted they keep around for their clients, Kaimi returned to the other side of her desk, opening up her laptop there, and listening to the satisfying Dell sound as it powered up.


 

This is a snippet written because I saw a post on Tumblr about scars and bruises appearing on a soulmate. It’s part of what will eventually be my Kaimi Rowe Series, which I’ve decided will be about various ways of finding your soulmate! Look forward to it!

Researching Mystery

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Today, I have a guest blog published over on Cindy Grigg’s website. We’ve swapped guestblogs, and her post, 9 ways to fix your Stereotyped Character is informative and fun to read! Go take a look at it! Also, take a look at the article, Researching mystery which you can find here:

If you’re curious, here’s the first two paragraphs of the article, for your perusal.

To begin with, I’m not normally a mystery author. To be specific, when I was younger, I only ever wrote fantasy novels, or romance. Now, however, I’m trying my hand at mystery novels, which means quite a bit of strife. I have a natural instinct when it comes to fantasy, so I find it easy to fall into. With Romance, I have my years as a fanfiction writer and fandom roleplayer to fall back on, which can both enhance and detract from my writing. (No one likes reading author’s notes, I’ve since learned.)

I came to mystery as a genre because I love the tense atmosphere. Maybe it’s less mystery and more suspense that I enjoy. But recently, I’ve found that I want a challenge. And the best way to challenge yourself is to write something you’ve never in a million years written before. But how can you write something you’ve never written before? How can you make sure that you don’t slip back into writing what you know? And worst of all, how do you manage to make it a GOOD manuscript when you know nothing about your genre?

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9 Ways to Fix your Stereotyped Character – A guestpost by Cindy Grigg

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

So You Wrote a Stereotyped Character…9 Ways to Fix Your Story

 

I’ve recently been doing a blog post series on How to Write Well-Rounded Female Characters, which included a list of 19 Female Character Stereotypes to Avoid.

Since Nicohle and I are swapping blog posts today, I would love to take that list one step further and show how I would fix a stereotyped female character (but the same concepts apply to any character).

Why You Don’t Have to Start Over

If your female character falls into a stereotype, it’s not so much that you’ve written her wrong as that you’re just not done writing her.

Writers revert to stereotypes or tropes rather than fully articulating what makes a character unique. It’s tricky because you may not feel lazy as you write a stereotypical character. You’re still sitting in the writer’s chair fulfilling your daily word count or time quota, but essentially you’re being creatively lazy about who you are writing about.

1. Rearrange what you’ve got. A lot of creativity is a matter of how you arrange the disparate parts of something to make a whole. Which aspect of your character is the focal point? By restructuring which personality traits are pivotal, you could create a more fresh character.

2. Add something to the character that scares, stretches, or otherwise challenges you. If writing about a certain characteristic your character possesses makes you think about the world in a new way, it likely will do the same for many readers.

3. Change how long your character stays a stereotype. Maybe your character can start out as a character but be changed by a new event. Maybe reveal they were hiding their true nature for some good reason. Think: Scarlet Pimpernel.

4. Look around you. Think of the most unique people you know and add some part of their personality to your character.

Rarity gives you an example reaction.

5. Add more weaknesses, flaws,  fears, and losses! I like the trick of thinking, What is the worst thing that could happen to my character? Then consider adding that to your plot so your character has to really solve and struggle.

6. Put your character in strange situations. Brainstorm several seemingly unrelated scenes and put your character in them. Consider crossing genres with this exercise. Put your fantasy heroine in a murder mystery and see how she behaves, etc. You may stumble upon an interesting nuance to add to your story.

7. Change your character’s past or future. If the character seems flat or one-dimensional, hook the audience into caring based on something terrible or wonderful they went through or will go through.

8. Give your character a unique motivation. Most of humanity is motivated to some degree by love of family, romance, personal gain, or moral/spiritual paradigms, for example. But what if you made your character also motivated by something kooky like a love of snails, and wanting to save those snails from extinction, for example?

9. Create personality contradictions. I love giving a character two characteristics that seem paradoxical or at odds with one another, then showing why they are this way.

Both fixing characters or scrapping them will require a lot of editing, so I figure you might as well refurbish your stereotyped character rather than starting from square one.

While it takes more effort, it’s more fun and interesting to write well-rounded characters. For me, this comes down to asking, But who else is she/he?! By consciously steering clear of stereotypes, writing becomes more adventure. More fun.

Cindy Grigg

Cindy Grigg writes speculative fiction and instructional non-fiction. She is the author of the HULDUSNOOPS series, a middle grade mystery and fantasy adventure about Icelandic Huldufolk or “hidden people”. As About.com’s Office Software Expert, Cindy also writes about technology and productivity (www.Office.About.com). Find her writing advice, blog, and other projects she’s working on at www.CindyGrigg.com.

Nightmares in Human Shape

  • Posted on April 17, 2014 at 12:46 pm

It seems never ending, the lessons we can learn from Fairytales. But often, villains look human for the most part. A few are even more human (and handsome) than the prince himself! And we are expected to remember that fact. Because it’s truth. Often, in real life, villains are human shaped, and kind, and manipulative, and every bit our friend until suddenly they aren’t. It’s rather interesting how that works, don’t you think?

The evil stepmother, or in some cases just mother, is always human. Although she might be a sorceress, or an evil duchess, or even an evil old witch, she’s still human. And her magic isn’t the only thing she’s got going for her. Our trusting naivete allows her to actually trick us into believing she has the best at heart. How sad is it, when we see these heroines fall for it time and again?

The childhood friend can sometimes become this. Someone we’ve trusted for so long that we barely have to think anymore about the oddly ominous things they say. They’re close to our heart, and dear to us, so we can’t believe that they’d do something wrong or evil or indecent in any way. It makes sense, doesn’t it? That this person would ultimately betray us. Usually out of a form of jealousy. Either of what we have, or of someone else’s new closeness to us. How strange that we should see this most ugly of human emotions on the faces of those we trust.

The greedy leader is worst, though, because often, we are too small, too singular to actually make a difference against them. But sometimes, we manage. Sometimes, we can call enough people together to actually gain a voice, to actually shout out “WE WILL NOT TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” and step out of whatever chains this horrid person has put upon us. It’s always nice, then the searing freedom earned.

All of these archetypes call out to us to be defeated, to be broken. Because they are us, only twisted, us, but broken and wrong and just… not right. They are us at our worst, and we must always put forth the best will we have to avoid becoming such foul villains. We hate them because they remind us of our own humanity. They wear our faces in the dark, and we can see, so easily, the path that it takes for us to slip down and into their shoes. Never once do we realize that by seeing them as they are, we are choosing not to become these beasts, these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

So continue writing, drawing, showing these enemies in front of us. How else are our children to recognise the threat when they have never been taught not to trust blindly. How can we protect the princesses of the future if we do not teach them that anyone can possibly be an enemy? I, personally, prefer the adventure of not knowing, and of believing the best in those around me. Sometimes I am hurt, but I always get back up, stronger and surer.

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