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V – Victorian Romance Emma

  • Posted on April 26, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Emma is an amazing look into the world of victorian era romance and how class affected you. The main character, Emma, is a hard working woman, and in comes a nobleman who suddenly falls in love with her! William Jones is dead set on Emma, although his obligations get in the way at times. Including a kidnapping!

Why I recommend it for Writers: Kaoru Mori, the author of the series, and a number of other series too, is a phenomenal character writer. The characters are immensely human, and the feeling of whatever society Mori explores comes through aptly. Please, don’t limit yourself to just Emma either; check out Kaoru’s other manga, A Bride Story.

Warnings: Kidnappings, jealous rivals. Other typical romance-y things.

For the rest of the articles in this series, please visit this page.

Have you seen this anime? What about it made you want to be a better writer? Do you intend to go shotgun this anime now that I’ve shown it to you? Comment below and tell me what you think!

K – Katanagatari (Sword Story)

  • Posted on April 13, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Katanagatari is an amazing narrative, driven by strange, otherworldly characters who all bounce off the page with beauty and poise. Did I mention this anime was originally a series of light novels? Yeah, that happens. The main character, Shichika, goes through a lot to understand what it means to be human, and to be a sword, as he accompanies his master, the strategian (her words not mine) Tougami.

Why I recommend it for writers: As the series was originally a very well-sold novel series, it has great tips for characterisation. Also, the ending. But I can’t spoil it for you.

Warnings: A lot of people die. Be prepared to cry.

For the rest of the articles in this series, please visit this page.

Have you seen this anime? What about it made you want to be a better writer? Do you intend to go shotgun this anime now that I’ve shown it to you? Comment below and tell me what you think!

IWSG – 08/03/16 – The First Story

  • Posted on August 3, 2016 at 8:12 pm

We're here for you.When one thinks of the First Story they wrote, it’s usually something embarrassing, something small and childish. Not for this girl. Nope. My first story that I actually sat down with full intention to publish was an epic. A fantasy novel written in an accounting notebook. The sort with perferated columns. I felt so amazing writing that book, too.

It had started out with a dream, as all my best ideas do. This one I was a child in a jail tower, and I wanted out. That was it, that was the dream. So I set out to write the story of this girl child in a tower, and how she got out. Well, obviously, she had to be a witch. Because magic was the only way a little kid would get out of jail. But how had she gotten IN jail in the first place? It came to me, like thunder. She was being punished by the gods for being TOO AWESOME (and also evil). I.E. She’d been an amazing sorceress, fully grown and awful, and had set the world on the path of war. So the gods struck her down and made her a child again, and had the person she was born to be put into prison.

The roommate of the person she was born to was a witch herself, though, so she taught the girl everything she knew. And then, at like, twelve, she broke out of prison, disguised herself, and arrived at the palace, just in time for the three princes to need wives. She set herself up to the be the wife of the youngest prince, planning to kill off the two pairs of royals before her. Oh, and she had an amazing tiger for a pet. Yep.

This story died pretty quickly after the notebook died during one of the stints of homelessness that happened during my teenagerhood. I never even finished it, although I had plans for her to learn to be good and to fall in love. It just never got anywhere, and looking back now, it was a massive power-fantasy. But hey, aren’t the best books?

Now, the first novel I ever FINISHED writing was a LOT weirder. I was going through my weeaboo phase, and I had an inordinate love for characters who were sexually abused. I don’t know why, but I really, REALLY want to write a character that heals from that sort of trauma over the course of a few books, while also being badass and fighting monsters. Okay? Okay.

Anyway, so this particular book was a love story between two boys, and it’s a bit difficult to describe because it was massively anime-esque. I won’t go into it, because I hope to whip it into shape as a real novel someday, but… It’s going to be a long, long time from now. Suffice to say, the finished document no longer exists, destroyed along with the horrid machine it lived on. But it lives on in my mind.

The only thing I can really say about these experiences is: HAVE MULTIPLE SAVE LOCATIONS.

Now Write! Exercise Two – Genre Breakdown

  • Posted on June 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

In Jule Selbo’s article “Choosing your Speculative Genre”, We learn how to pick apart and use genre and subgenre in order to build up and expand our plot-points and characters. She gives a few examples of how an overarching genre is good to have as a standing foundation, but that keeping in mind subgenres as well is  important for the overall structure of the story and the narratives contained within. One such example that she gives is Pixar’s Toy Story.

TOY STORY lives in a fantastical world where toys have full lives outside of humans’ interaction with them as objects of play. TOY STORY employs:

  • comedy (based in incongruity);
  • buddy (the ar of Woody and Buzz Lightyear as they go from adversaries to friends);
  • adventure (Woody’s goal of geting Buzz back into the fold before moving day is over); and
  • action.

Jule Selbo, “Choosing Your Speculative Genre”, Now Write

Her chosen exercise, after that, has four parts.

1)Decide your overarching narrative genre. Is it based in science or solely the author’s imagination? Is there a truly EVIL component to it, or is it a “scary” story that builds anxiety? These questions will help decide your main genre.

2) Construct a scene or situation set in the overarching genre so that the audience realizes they’re ‘getting what they paid for’. At the same time, weave in one or two of the main characters. People like to get to know characters.

3) List possible supporting genres. Consider how each genre would affect the story and characters. Which ones would ramp the plot up and which would make it fall flat on it’s face?

4)Frame the story in the overarchng genre. Build that scene at the beginning, and then Book End  it with a scene at the end, closing out that overarching theme. Do the same for each scene in the story. Make sure the audience feels connected with the genre they chose to experience.

For example, the build of my first novel, A Knight of Kuryle would go something like this:

  • Overarching genre: Fantasy (Magic is possible, creatures exist that don’t in our world, and the Moon God grants all wishes his followers pray for.)
  • Side Genres:
    • Coming of Age (Dirk’s journey from farmer’s son/child of immigrants to respected knight)
    • Adventure (Dirk has to find the murderer who burnt his village, and avenge the people of his village)
    • Buddy (Dirk has to win the trust of Jorgan, an orphan from his village, while the boy works through the emotions the destruction caused.)
    • Action (Dirk must confront and fight the enemy when they come for his new home as well.)

The first chapter of the novel introduces magic in an evil sorcerer who slays all the adults of his village, and then burns the village to the ground. Likewise, it is bookended by that sorcerer attacking Dirk’s new home, the capital of his country, and Dirk’s desperate fight against the powerful magic this sorcerer wields. Fantasy is woven throughout the rest of the story as well. From the always-prosperous city of Theon’s “Starlight Road”, to the matriarchal royalty of Kuryle’s religion-saturated nobility, fantasy lays in every part of the novel, and it’s subsequent sequels.

It’s easily applied to stories as-yet unwritten, too. My most recent labor of love, which has been tentatively named A Deeper Love, is a historical era regency  novel that I’m basing (loosely) after my own life. If I were to break it down, it would go like this:

  • Overarching Genre: Historical Fantasy (Regency Era specifically)
  • Side Genres:
    • Coming of Age (The main character, Dinah, leaves her small family, and the influence of her off-putting mother, for the bustling high life of london, and in so-doing, learns more about herself, and settles into a woman.)
    • Romance (I haven’t quite figured this particular subplot out, but it’s important, as I want to write the first asexual regency romance novel)
    • Slice of Life (Showing the lifestyles in Regency London)

Sadly, there aren’t many more genres in there. I might add in a comedy subgenre, but I’m not sure how yet. So there’s that. However, playing with the subgenres definitely helps define how the story is meant to go, and with what sort of inclination. I really do enjoy this particular assignment, so it’s definitely something I’m going to be doing more and more often.

Genre Shift – IWSG 06/01/16

  • Posted on June 1, 2016 at 4:51 pm

We're here for you. It’s that time again, the time when we put ourselves out there, all our worries, fears and anxieties so that others may comfort us, and we, in turn, can comfort them. Theres nothing wrong with seeking comfort. In fact, it can be exceedingly useful, especially when one needs it.

In this case, however, the cause of my anxieties and fears come from within my own mind, and as my therapist continues to tell me, what FEELS true, often isn’t. Speaking words outloud, or in this case typing them down, often helps to change that mental and emotional lock.

So here goes.

I’m going to change genres. That’s it. That’s the source of my issue. You see, there’s quite a bit built up behind it, but that decision alone is what is causing a lot of my anxieties as a writer right now. It, of course, comes with a lot of caveats and changes and reprisals on all thoughts and functions of my mind, but in the most basic of senses, that’s it.

I’ll attempt to break it down for you, and for myself, so that I can work through the various issues I’m having. You see, I’ve always been a fantasy writer. My best works have always been fantasy. I’ve tried my hand at writing short horror stories, and found myself wanting. I’ve tried my hand at writing teen fiction, which kind of fell flat. The only thing other than straight, epic fantasy that I’ve written is fanfiction. And even that, well… Let’s just put it this way, I’m never going to give those accounts up. Over my dead body!

So when I say that I want to break out into Regency Era romance of the Asexual variety… Well, it’s a bit like saying, “Oh, I’m a fish and now I want to fly.” Technically it can be done. However, can it be done well?

Lookit this little guy. He tries so hard…

First of all, there’s the issue of the fact that I’m leaving a huge project, my nearly finished Kurylian Knight novel in the lurch by devoting time and energy to this other work instead. Then, on top of that, there’s the energy that will be taken away from managing this blog as well, and making sure it’s up and running. With my recent bouts of anxiety and depression, I’ve been having trouble with getting the basic energy just to apply to cleaning the house and caring for the children in my care. How am I ever supposed to split my energy even further to give this idea the time and care it needs to flourish?

Secondly, all of MY romances have fallen flat on their face and died, usually due to a disconnect over sex. So what am I supposed to do when writing it? What kind of romance author has literally NO successful relationships? Surely there’s someone more qualified out there to write these stories, right? But then again, this particular project has a tinge to it that’s entirely self serving that I can’t just leave to someone else. I plan on basing the first one off of myself, specifically, my life story. I can hear you now, “Really? You’re going to write self-insert fiction? Ugh. Those are the worst.” Yeah, I know. But… honestly, there’s just something about the idea that makes me want to do it. That and I watched Vanity Fair one too many times.

My third issue stems from the research required in order to try and even come close to tackling this particular genre with any sort of class or joy. Recently, it has come to my attention that I might have undiagnosed Adult ADHD. I came to this conclusion due to a sudden, and quite annoying, inability to focus on a book long enough to actually READ it. It’s part of why I’ve been having so much trouble in the first place. But the only way I’ve found to actually be able to WRITE a genre, is to READ said genre. It’s painful, but necessary. Which means reading a lot of really torrid romance novels for me. Again, where am I supposed to get the energy and time to devote to this?

The fourth problem stems from my inability to find a narrative link throughout this new project. All I really want to do is tell my biography, except set in the 1800s england that stood out so much when I watched Vanity Fair and Downton Abbey. Is that so much to ask? To set my ill-fated story in somewhere beautiful and tawdry? Possibly. But worse still, how do I break down 27 years of experiences into a novel, and have a point to it, a conclusion, when there ISN’T a conclusion to my life yet? There isn’t a narrative focus in my life, really, except perhaps finding balance where there is none, but even that’s speculation brought on by fortune telling. I could risk taking it aside, and just using bits and peices of my personal story, and not having it based entirely in my life, but then, I feel, it would lose it’s meaning to me. However, I fear that if I don’t, it won’t hold any meaning to anyone else, either. What to do, what to do…?

As you can see, genre switches, and starting new projects in general, are not fun, nor do they come lightly. It’s something I still have to muddle over and make a decision on. It’s something that will probably haunt me for the entirety of the time I write the book. I know that worries like this still plague me for my kurylian saga too. But what are we supposed to do with these worries?

Write through them. Push them to the side and tell the story that needs telling. Of course, that’s easier said than done, most often. Some writers I know have six or seven projects all open at once, and I find that if I so much as consider it, I become paralyzed with indecision. Which should I work on, which should I wait on, what should I be doing? But at the same time, the ideas come like a waterfall, no matter what. My therapist says that often times, what we can handle is more than we think it is, and then, even a little more than that. He’s encouraging me to take on more, emotionally and mentally, so that maybe, just maybe, I can grow stronger under the weight. So I think that’s what I’ll do here as well.

After all, if I don’t write the asexual regency era romance novel, who will?

Writing Anime: Valentine’s Edition!

  • Posted on February 15, 2016 at 1:13 am

It is Valentine’s Day for most of us, February 14th, a day when we celebrate romance and love (and sex) in all it’s myriad forms. From the loving married couple giving each other lovingly prepared gifts, to the cute young lovebirds declaring their affections with homemade cards, to the cute japanese schoolgirl baring her feelings with homemade chocolates. Lately, we also celebrate the other half of that dichotomy, the lonely single sitting on their couch eating chocolates bought with their own money, the friend who gives his single friend a rose so she won’t feel bad about valentines day, the guy desperate for love who decides to do valentine’s blind dates.

So today, we’re going to celebrate writing love! In fact, I have an example for you of REALLY well done romance. Oddly enough, the story it finds itself in, is quite literally, a tragedy. The story? Katanagatari. The couple? Shichika Yasuri and his wielder (this is explained in the series.) Tougame, the self-proclaimed Strategian. First thing I’d like to point out, Shichika is absolutely the youngest of the two, which in and of itself in literature, is rare. I’ll give you a breakdown of the series a little bit before going into the actual relationship.

Katanagatari started as a series of light novels, twelve in total, by Nisio Isin and illustrated by Take.  These novels depicted the journey of Shichika Yasuri and his attempts to recover the Deviant Blades. The swordmaster Kiki Shikizaki made 1000 swords in his lifetime, and the shogunate has managed to find 988 of them. HOWEVER, the final twelve are the most dangerous. These Deviant Blades turn their wielders mad, and give them immense strength. Togame has been tasked with this mission.

Shogunate strategist Togame has been ordered to recover them. She first hired a ninja…but the worth of the swords is so great that the entire ninja clan defected the moment they recovered one. Then she hired a swordsman… but he kept the sword for himself after finding it and went rogue.

Her last hope is Shichika Yasuri, the seventh head and last practitioner of Kyotouryuu, the No Sword School. He and his elder sister live on an island cut off from civilization, and as such they need no money. His fighting style doesn’t use a sword, so the famous weapons are useless to him

TvTropes page on Katanagatari

The true story here, however, is how Shichika and Togame fall in love. One of the iconic quotes of the series is Togame’s first orders to Shichika on how he is to conduct himself during the journey. Her exact words I’ll leave for when you to discover, but suffice to say, they’re very sweet, if one thinks about it. Through the course of the series, we see her slowly teach Shichika more about humanity, more about himself, and, without meaning to, more about herself.

Part of what makes this series so well written, however, and this romance specifically, is that while outright STATED that the romance will go down, (“Fall for me!” – Togame) it is also shown in all the small things. There are scenes of Shichika dressing Togame. Scenes of her allowing him to wrap himself in her hair, to learn her scent. Scenes of the two of them holding one another, and depending on one another.

The progression is rational, and slow. Fair warning, however, this anime is a tragedy. So don’t go into this expecting it all to be feel good feelings and love. But then again, when is love like that? And you can see that too, with Shichika growing a little cruel when he thinks Togame has gone to far, and with Togame crying and being cruel herself when Shichika seems interested in another woman. The series makes sure to show the ups and the downs.

Another brilliant thing depicted is how each partner supports the other in times of sadness. Just a warning, there are a few spoilers here, but the series is relatively old, so any look up of it will definitely yield these spoilers anyway. Now that you’ve been fairly warned, I’ll be happy to go into more detail.

Later in the series, we find out that Shichika’s older sister is a little… Well. She’s nuts. She goes and finds one of the deviant blades in order to force Shichika to fight her, and hopefully, kill her. Togame stands by his side (And in fact is way too close to the battle) while he fights the only other person he’s known for his entire life, and at the end, lets him grieve as he needs to.

We see something very similar later on in the series, when in the search of another deviant blade, they meet the Sage. He forces Togame to confront the death of her father, and his last words to her, and it takes a long, long time for that to happen, along with a lot of manual labor in the form of digging. But Shichika is not the one doing the manual labor this time. Togame digs from day until night, and Shichika stays by her side as much as he can, as well as serving as a place where she can rest at the end of a hard day.

I meant literally a place for her to rest, by the way.

These sorts of scenes are necessary to show us the love that has blossomed between them. The trust and the camaraderie between them is more important than any outward romantic display of any kiss or hand-holding. These little moments, they’re more of a love story than fifty shades of grey and twilight put together.

To make it simple, here are a few points to make sure your romance doesn’t fall flat, or worse, turn into a farce.

  • Show the small moments. The things that aren’t ROMANCE per se, but are, in fact, companionship.
  • Make the romance about the PEOPLE, not the sex.
  • Make memories for them. Beautiful memories that we as the reader can share in the intimacy of.
  • Try not to push your version of romance on them. Let it grow. Let them be people.
  • Above all, make sure that there is story to surround the romance. Even in Romance Novels this is paramount.

Remember, the story in and of itself is about the people, and if these people happen to be in love, show us that! In love, show-don’t-tell is essential. So go out there and tell the best love story you possibly can!

 

Breaking Down Nemesis: Part Five

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Welcome to Part Five of Breaking Down Nemesis! In Part Four, we discovered that Miss Marple’s original idea, of meeting Mrs. Anderson and asking her about the deceased Mister Rafiel, turns out to be a bunk. In fact, we are no closer at all to finding out the mystery that Mister Rafiel wanted us to find, nor are we actually anywhere closer to the actual plot! It turns out that from what we’ve found out, Mrs. Anderson doesn’t have anything to do with it at all!

Luckily enough, this chapter is entitled Instructions From Beyond, so I don’t doubt we’ll finally get some directions! It starts out with a letter that arrives three or four days after the confrontation with Mrs. Anderson. I’ve copied it here, for your perusal as well!

Dear Miss Marple,

By the time you read this I shall be dead and also buried. Not cremated, I am glad to think. It has always seemed to me unlikely that one would manage to rise up from one’s handsome bronze vase full of ashes and haunt anyone if one wanted so to do! Whereas the idea of rising from one’s grave and haunting anyone is quite possible. Shall I want to do that? Who knows. I might even want to communicate with you.

By now my solicitors will have communicated with you and will have put a certain proposition before you. I hope you will have accepted it. If you have not accepted it, don’t feel in the least remorseful. It will be your choice.

This should reach you, if my solicitors have done what they were told to do, and if the posts have done the duty they are expected to perform, on the 11th of the month. In communication from a travel bureau in London. I hope what it proposes will not be distasteful to you. I needn’t say more. I want you to have an open mind. Take care of yourself. I think you will manage to do that. You are a very shrewd person. The best of luck and may your gaurdian angel be at your side looking after you. You may need on.

Your affectionate friend,

J. B. Rafielmr.rafielgrave

My fangirl instincts are beginning to really enjoy the idea of these two in a romance.  However, putting that aside, Miss Marple is quickly contacted, again in two days time, by the Famous Houses and Gardens of Great Brittain. I won’t type up their whole letter, it basically states that she’s been given a free tour around London, and after checking with a few of her friends to make sure the company wasn’t a scam, she made arrangements.

Once again, we are treated to a scene with Cherry. She’s worried that Miss Marple might not be up to the long amounts of walking involved with the group tour. In the end, Cherry decides that so long as Miss Marple doesn’t “Fall down with a heart attack, even if you are looking at a particularly sumptuous fountain or something”, that she’s fine with it.

Another two days later, and Miss Marple carries her small overnight bag as well as her new suitcase onto a very nice new bus. Another bit of her genius shows through, as she studies the Passenger list, along with the daily itenerary. Apperantly, the itenerary was quite well arranged, with two seperate tours, one for those fleet of foot, and one for the elderly who can’t really move that well. Miss Marple then began guessing who each name on the passenger lists belonged to.

Now, during this particular strain of thought, Miss Marple uses that term again, that I took exception to in the second chapter. “Old Pussies” is a bit… Well, problematic nowadays. So, we’ll not be going over that too much. I’m attempting to take this book as the time period it was written in.

To be quite honest, this chapter really didn’t interest me all that much during my first read through. It was mostly descriptions of what people looked like, and how they struck Miss Marple, which while normally quite interesting, was, in this case, quite boring. Of the fifteen passengers, she determined quite a few things. Unfortunately, with the way it is written, and how tangled it all is, I honestly can’t begin to untangle it.

However, this does bring credit to our Agatha Christie Code theory. Miss Christie just added sixteen new characters to the story, and gave them all very in depth descriptions, and as noted, my brain basically just GAVE UP. Luckily, in the next chapter, we get slowly introduced to them a little easier, so I’m not really going to lay them out now. However, I am going to note a few bits of good writing.

Once again, we’re treated to a very organic thought process from Miss Marple. She goes from thinking about the four other old women, which is realistic mostly due to the fact that people generally note those similar to themselves. I know that I tend to look at young women on the bus before I look at old men, or older women. We see again, how she compares others to those that she knows. Specifically, she compares an old woman to someone called “Dame Emily Waldron”, a notable scientist, and a Principal of an Oxford College.

Perhaps we should learn from this. The next chance you get, take a moment and categorize your own thinking. Take notes on what you notice first, and follow along to your next thought. When you read books, note the thought processes of the characters that you’re reading.

The first day of the trip passes, without Miss Marple determining if anyone was involved in a murder, and she goes to bed, hoping that she might find something out the next day. Before bed, she spends a few moments, noting things down in her notebook. Which, honestly, is a wonderful way to bring us into re-thinking the things she’d discovered today as well. A wonderful narrative device, in fact.

So what have we learned today? Having an organic thought process for your character, as well as showing creative narrative devices to re-iterate information that may have been hard to understand in the first place, are keys to salvaging a rather horrid chapter.

For those of you following along, what did you think of this chapter? For those of you who aren’t, Share your experiences in the comments, with books that start slow and boring, and then pick up?

 

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?

Read More

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.

Princesses Dancing (Twelve of Them!)

  • Posted on April 19, 2014 at 12:49 pm

((forgive the lateness, this one got away from me a bit.))

Twelve sisters, all in a row, dancing to a chintzy pop song, lipsynching while the lace and frills sway seductively. Each one had a cute heart shaped face, each one dressed in heels, low for the younger, all the way up to six inch stilettos for the eldest. They were perfectly in synch, having practiced for years at the behest of their parents, and each one, every single one, was almost done with this whole routine. It was beyond idiotic, and the girls couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Maya, the eldest, danced because she’d loved to when she was little. Then Aya had been born. Her mother had thought it wonderful for them to dance together. After Aya, Yako, Yano, and Yaya were born. And then Koyomi, Noami and Yakiko were born. Mitsumi and Mikumi were born twins, and then followed Mizumi and Minami. The twelve of them grew up together, their mother obsessed with making them stars.

It was only when Maya was sixteen and Aya came home one night after sneaking out that they found anything that made any sort of sense to them. Singing and dancing in front of everyone was just… boring. It was so every day for them. Princesses of Pop as they were, none of them thought of it as fun any longer. So when Aya came back from the streets of the city and told them all about how there was a club where no one danced, no one sang, but everyone snapped and spoke in rhyme and it was dark and beautiful, they all put on their best non-stage clothes and snuck out.

It was beautiful. They sat down and ordered coffees that they weren’t allowed to have normally, and then they all listened as people poured their hearts out in solemn tone, accompannied by bongo drums and snapping fingers, and it enchanted them.

Maya was the first to fall. He called himself Adam. He wasn’t though. He was just as japanese as she was, and she knew it. But she couldn’t help it. She wrote him poetry on her arms, so that he would read it when she met him at night, and then he would kiss away the ink. Aya was next, and her Danny was good with words. He told stories that made Aya sing with laughter and joy. Each one fell quickly, boy after boy, princes of darkness, of the poetry of the coffee.

They hoped never to be found, when they left every night. But when they slipped down three spots on the charts, they knew. Someone would find out. They didn’t care. Never did they care. It would be a long time before the Princesses stopped dancing this dangerous knife-edge dance. They didn’t want to let time slip through their fingers.

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