How to get to know your characters, better?

-4th day of Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise-

He sits on a chair in the corner of my mind, in all black. He is looking down at his feet leg resting on his other knee. Arms are crossed as he avoids eye contact with me. My character isn’t speaking. Why?

Have you ever experienced this? Well in the past few days I have come to know this feeling and sometimes this is the horrible excuse that I use to state that I don’t know what to write next. Thing is, that isn’t going to help a person get closer to their characters. This is the conversation I believe I have had with silent characters in the past.

Devin: “Why won’t you talk to me?”

Character: *Sits silently and avoids looking at me. He says nothing.”

Devin: “Fine… If you aren’t going to talk, how can I write about you?” *Devin stomps off in the opposite direction only to realize that her character is still behind her someplace* (Since, it’s in her mind.)

I believe that If writers are not willing to get to know their characters, then how can you write about a shadow? You can’t see any details to their face, you can’t see the scar on his face that he got when he was younger from a wizard. You can’t see her magnificently fierce red hair and lavender eyes. Sometimes you don’t even know their names then.

Since I am a Character Drives your Plot kind of girl, characters are very important to me. Even though I still sometimes hit a roadblock where my characters don’t want to talk. Here are a few things that I have learned help a lot when writing (getting to know your characters) about them.

  1. Character Sketches – By sketches, I don’t mean drawings here. Some people have been known to looking up questions about personality and such, but I have found that I rather just start writing about the character while asking these questions.
    •What does your character want? (This one is a very important question!)
         •What are some ways that you can make sure that your character doesn’t get what they want? Have some conflict to make his or her goal harder to achieve! 
         •Sex? M or F?
         •Name Ideas
         •Role in Story
         •What do they do? (e.g. are they a student? if so where? *Harry Potter a student at Hogwarts)
         •Physical Description
         •Personality
         •Background•Internal and External Conflicts
         •Habbits and Mannerisms 
  2. Search for them – Yes go outside and look for them! haha… okay maybe not. Although going out and watching people really does help with visual characteristics of writing characters into existence. Get on ‘Google’ and search for some faces that look like your character. I will share with you one below. :)

    These two pictures are two that I have in a character study for one of my characters in the current book that I am working on.

    I know this has nothing to do with the character stuff, but I love this dress and how it flows in the wind! hehe

  3. Draw them – This helps a lot, especially when you are in a scene. Draw them out on a sheet of paper. I can hear some people moaning at me, “But, Devin! I am a bad drawer, I can’t draw!” Let me tell you, you can draw. The drawing helps you see your character, even if you are just drawing a stick person… at least you can see them. :)
  4. Act them out – Robert Liparulo gave me this idea. He actually acts out all the scenes in his books with his characters. He gets in his character’s skin. It definitely brings NEW meaning to become your character.
  5. Make them a playlist – I love this… It takes me a while to find certain songs for characters, but it really helps when I do, do it! :)

I hope these tips help you out a little bit when planning out your characters. :)

What about you? Are there some other things that you do when you ‘get to know’ your characters?

More Plotting-Day 3 of Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise

DAY THREE

Today I am uploading two posts because I was so busy yesterday and hadn’t been able to post about day two. Today was a plotting day and deciding to just get in there to finish writing a certain section. Besides writing I have been busy with marketing and freelance work. Be sure to check out the “extra” tab for my buttons. If you are a blogger who likes my blog, be free to put my button on your side-bar! :) Would be great!
Things coming up soon:

  1. I am also planning on releasing an ebook that I will have a contest up in awhile for.
  2. Vlogs – I have been planning on making more YouTube videos and posting more often

Today I wrote 2,470 words. I felt that it was a great accomplishment and I am happy to know that from the last few days I have gained a much better knowledge of my characters and what they are like!

The first day, I asked you if you are a writer who lets the plot drive the story? Or if you are a writer who let’s the character drive the story, which are you? I would love to hear what you think!

I have been adding onto my post-it-note plot

I swear, it’s filling up the whole kitchen wall. :)

I have been adding on to my post-it-note wall, and as you can see it takes up a good chuck of the wall. I have heard that the Plot Driven writers are more logical and such. While the Character Driven Writers are more into the detail and emotions of a character. That is most definitely me. How about you?

We are going to do a quick exercise! 

How many can you think of? A lot of them, right?

Since we are focusing on Plot today… this exercise shows us something about plot.

1. Rising Action
2. Climax
3. Falling Action With of course the

Do you see something similar? Three…

This is of course a more simpler version of what many of our stories are. Story is usually a little mountain range leading up to the Climax. Which means that there are other conflicts within the main conflict. There are also climaxes within the climax.

  1. Start with a character who has a conflict -Pinocchio for example. Wants to be a real boy. What is your stories Conflict?
    “You don’t have a story until there is conflict.” – Author Steven James once told me
  2. Does your character have conflict?
  3. For the last exercise for today – (I will also do this and I will post it tomorrow) Summarize the plot of your story into a single sentence using action verbs. Be sure to mention the character’s conflict.

Happy Writing… and see you tomorrow! :)

How to use your life experience to make real-life-like characters… 2nd Day of Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise

The past few days have been days where I have had issues starting to write. Sometimes it’s a combination of “I don’t feel like writing!” or “I don’t want to write, right now.” or “How am I going to say this in an interesting way.”

Day two of Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise – 

First of all before, I give you the report on my writing. I will let ya know how my weekend went. I went to the Sunshine Coast on the weekend with my boyfriend to spend time with his dad. It was a nice relaxing weekend and a very nice break from the city. On late Satday night I had gone to bed a tad late and then a few hours later, Johan knocked on my door asking if I’d like to go watch the sun rise. I was so lethargic and tired, but I am glad we did, because it was definitely beautiful. :)

This is what it looked like, at first.

A bit later. It was amazing how fast the sun peaked over the horizon. It was so nice, and we listened to “Here comes the sun…” by the Beatles. It totally fit the mood. :)

So, I believe that it was most definitely worth the getting up to go see it.

It was so cold up there. I am so happy that I wore a sweater and sweatpants. Here are Johan’s frozen little fingers from taking so many pictures. But, he had thought ahead before and made Hot Milo. (Which was amazing!!) and warming…

I was so proud of myself because this weekend, I designed my own landing page for the welcome tab on my facebook writing page. :) Check it out and let me know what you think. Also, if you aren’t following me on my facebook page, press like to follow.

This is the picture that you will see on my welcome page if you have “liked” me. :)

When Monday rolled by – I was really tired and didn’t really wake up at 5am. I mean this was expected that there would be days when I didn’t want to wake up to write, right? Well, it happened. But, even though i hadn’t woken up at 5am… I still made sure I got my word count in. I wrote 1,555 words. Another thing I really learned extremely yesterday (Monday) is the pain that my character was suffering.

I was writing and found a song that really connected me to my character Elfria, when I get further into the book I will be sure to share a little bit with you all.
Here is the video, by the 2 Cellos. It is titled: Hurt.

I listened to it and while writing, my fingers started typing faster and my eyes got wider as my character came to life. Her thoughts became mine and her feelings – well, I was feeling them.

My character was dealing with the first time that she was crushed. You know that horrible moment in your life when you like someone and they don’t like you back? Well,  I have experienced both types. The first option is feeling crushed because you like someone and they simply just don’t like you back like that. The second one, is that you like someone and they play on your emotions and cause you more pain – while leading you more astray. They will never love you, but they don’t care about bringing you down a rocky path if they can enjoy playing on your emotions. So, that is what my character was going through. Which reminds me of a quote I came across by Ernest Hemingway just recently. (I want to apologize for his language… but it is true.)

You especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously.
But when you get the damned hurt, use it-don’t cheat with it. -Ernest Hemingway

This is a quote stated like a true writer who experienced some hard times. So, Day 2 of my writing Routine Exercise is being dedicated to pulling from your own experiences to write.

Pulling from your life to write

  1. Remember –
    Think back on emotional (good and bad memories) and write down things like.
    “I remember when my cat died.”
    “I remember when I saw my boyfriend for the first time.”
    “I remember when I lost my best friend.”
    Do- Write down a bunch of “I remembers” and go through them and pick one at a time. Then write the experience out.
    Remember to write about how you felt, who was there, how something happened.
    Maybe it’s not a memory that brings back emotions to you, it could also be a song, smell, or food.
  2. Literally use your own feelings – the book that I am working on is a paranormal/fantasy book, so of course it is set in a different world and there are magical creatures in it as well. But, that doesn’t mean that my “Real Life feelings” can’t help me in my “other-world” writing.
    Do– When you feel happy, sad, depressed, lonely, or any other emotion write about it.
    Sit down and write it.
    Write it to get past it… and you will be amazed at how you will be able to use those distinct emotions and feelings in your writings.
  3. Place yourself in your character’s shoes – what is he/she dealing with?
    Relate to her/him – by thinking back to moments when you also dealt with similar things.
    Do– Read over an area where your character is dealing with an emotional issue. Then think back, to a similar time in your life. Is it realistic? (e.g. Is your character really as sad as they should be about their mother’s death?)

I hope that these tips help you when writing about trials and emotional times that your characters may be going through.

Do you struggle with writing about your character’s problems and emotions? If so what kind of things help you get in the mood of your characters? Music? No Music? Anything else?
 

Here Johan and I are in the sun-rays when we were watching the sun come up on Saturday morning. It was beautiful! :)

Pointers on Post-It-Note Plotting – Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise Day 1 – Turnout :)

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.” -Ernest Hemingway

Hello Everyone,

Today was the first day of my writing challenge. And I can imagine you all want to know how it went? I woke up at 5am. Yes, I actually did it. Spent a little while checking emails and updates and then I went straight to work. Outside my window the sky was a dark blue colour – definitely a twilight colour. I find something very magical and intriguing about the dark blue sky. I wrote 2,209 words all before 7:30am. When I saw how fast the words were appearing on the page, I realized that this baby wants to get written. :) Which I am so excited about.

Some pointers for Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise

  1. Stop writing when you know what will happen next – Ernest Hemmingway once said that he stops writing when he knows where he will start up the next day. I have been trying this the last few times I have been writing and it works rather well. You should try it, if you haven’t yet! :) I am excited for my next 5am morning start on Monday and who knows maybe I can get out more than 2,000 words then.
  2. Plot is Purdy Important – Plot has always confused me because some people argue whether their stories are character driven or plot driven. If I would have to choose which one, I think I would be a character drives the story sort of writer. But with this story I have been plotting out ahead of time what I am going to write. What about you? Do you write character driven or plot driven stories? In the picture you will be able to see that I am plotting with post it notes. It’s kind of a nice little break away from the computer/notebook. I write with the word processing program Scrivener and it is also a very, VERY, VERRRRY great program for plotting, character development, and writing your actual novel. I don’t really use Microsoft Word anymore. Many other famous writers use Scrivener now too. If you haven’t checked out Scrivener, do so! I promise it will make a difference in your writing time and organization. (There is a 30-day trial on the website.)

    I decided to use post-it-notes and my open bare wall for plotting. A nice way to get away from the computer and still work on your book plot. I know that some other people use index cards.


  3. Colour– use some colour, it will help your senses and creativity flow. Colour coding topics, characters and much more always helps me keep things straight. :)

    I believe that colour really helps you while being creative. So, when writing why not write in colour. Colour code certain topics, themes, or characters to find them easier! :)

    Colour Coding… :)

    Here is an example of the colour coding and the post-it-note plotting.

    I will be sure to post more hints and ideas next week when I post the next Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise Day 2 turn out on Monday. :)

    There was a part this morning where I was so engrossed in my story; I was writing about an owl and i was in a dark forest at night. Then all of a sudden there was a noise near my window on the clothes line. It was a black crow… he fell off the clothes-line or something. Weird bird, but he gave me a fright. A bit later a bush turkey strolled on by on the fence separating the houses. A bush turkey? I couldn’t believe it. I usually see cats walking on the fence, but a bush turkey? Since, I am telling you a little bit about my neighborhood birds I may as well also throw in that there was another crow on the roof of the house next door and it was carrying a piece of bread – like a full piece. These strange birds. Haha… but yes, that was random. It all started with me getting scared because of a noise and what I was writing.

    Have any of you ever scared yourselves, when writing? Has it ever made you jump?

Operation Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise Dare… Why? I need to FINISH the book…

“Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.” — EB White

I am trying to figure out what my plan of attack will be for writing. I need to finish this novel this year. I finished the second book, but I need to finish this first one. Then I can clean up the second book. The only things standing in my way are online. I tell myself I need to go on facebook and such since I am in Australia and my family are in the States, but maybe I should only set up certain times that I will be on facebook/internet. I was reading this one author’s blog and read what his writing routine consists of. And to me it consisted of a lot of coffee. But, that made me wonder – what does my writing routine consist of?

You know what? I will find out. This week I will give myself an opportunity to become a better writer. I am going to give myself an obstacle course of sorts if you want to call it that. On wednesday, I worked at Ilona’s Counselling Practice and I had to wake up at 5am in order to catch the bus to catch the train to catch the bus to her place in time. So, that makes me think… maybe I should be treating writing more like a job.

Top distractions:

  1. Facebook
  2. WordPress
  3. Twitter
  4. Texting
  5. People

And all of these distractions are not in a bad way… I love these distractions. But that is what makes it so hard to sit down and write. Of course there are the other distractions that are less fun – like cleaning, washing dishes, laundry and such things. But you know what? I am going to dare myself to get up earlier and get my writing done even before the day starts… then I will be able to hang out with my boyfriend and do other things throughout the day that I need to do.

So, I will start this dare tomorrow. Is anyone else with me?

My Dare

  • 5am – wake up and make some tea, sit down at computer and check emails and social media for 20 minutes.
  • 5:20am – read a book for 20 minutes to get inspired with words.
  • 5:40am – start writing
  • plan to write 2,000 words or if I write more (all the merrier)

I will start this Dare tomorrow, so friday morning Brisbane Australia time. You are probably wondering why I am going to be crazy and get up at 5am? Well, I get distracted easily even from the city noises and the sunshine outside. Night suits me best, as I am a night owl – but, maybe if I set this up then I will get a lot of writing done. I have given myself Saturday and Sunday off so that I can sleep in, but other than that… all of next week I will get up at 5am to write. While I write this I sigh and pout because I dislike the idea of waking up so early. But one must give up things for the things they love. And I think, hey 2 or 3 hours sleep = a finished novel. Sounds awesome. I will keep you up to date on my ‘Writing Routine Exercise Dare’. Are you up for the dare too? 

I put a quote up at the top of this blog entry by E.B. White about how writer’s don’t reflect and interpret life, but rather that we inform and shape life – so, I am not going to let my distractions blind me from informing and shaping life.

6 Pre-conceived Ideas to help with Devin’s Writing Routine Exercise Dare 

  1. Clean up your writing area the night before and clean up anything else that may catch your attention, so that you don’t end up cleaning just to have a reason not to write.
  2. Get out of bed to write, it is WAY too easy to fall asleep in bed, when you are writing
  3. Free write in a note book (aim to write 3 pages)
  4. Turn the internet off after you have checked your emails and social networking sites
  5. Turn off your phone
  6. Get your words down on the paper
My first blog entry on how my first day of the dare went will be written tomorrow. Keep your eyes open for it. But, better yet, are you with me on this? What do you do in your writing routine? Any pre-writing rituals? I know… I need to get some candles… (they always inspire me!)

 

My future writing lounge… I really want it… wish I had it right now.

I am absolutely addicted to Pinterest. On there I have created boards with my future kitchen, future bedroom, future writing lounge, and many other things.  But, today I have been thinking hard about “Writing Spaces”… and I’ve been dreaming about my future writing lounge. Do any of you have a writing lounge? or an office where you work on your stuff? What do you think should be included in a writing space, in order to make it a “Writing Space”?

I have been really hoping and wishing i could have a beautiful writing lounge right now, because then I would have a place for my writing – but, at the moment I can’t. Right now I sit at my kitchen table and write. But someday I will have A safe place, a safe nook away from the world where – well, where I can enter my world (inside my mind). So, here are some ideas for what I want in my writing lounge someday! :)

There is one thing that I have always wanted in my writing lounge one day. I really want book shelves like the ones in “Beauty and the Beast” where there is that swinging ladder that she slid on. I loved it. These are similar and extremely beautiful! 

Photographs: One thing that is very important to me is my memories. So, I will be the type to hang meaningful family pictures up in my studio… but I will display them in interesting ways!

I have always loved the look of the tree frame. It’s an interesting idea.

Words: Being a writer, words are very important to me. I love this idea! I could showcase words by famous authors, role-models and Bible verses.

Since, I am still talking about wall decore – I really wouldn’t mind having a map wall. Traveling has always and will always be important to me.

I saw this and really loved the “metal” cursive handwriting decore! It would be so easy to make your own.

This desk is pretty and simple. I really love the book shelf sides. I would totally use it.

I like vintage decore. This would be a perfect way to never let those flowers die as these ones would last for a long time.

I come from the woods of Minnesota, so when I saw these I absolutely fell head over heels in love! They are neat and I think it’s a cool way to bring nature inside. Since, when I am writing – I get a lot of inspiration from nature.

This is a lit tree that i have in my flat at the moment. I love it! It gives off a very whimsical fantasy feeling.

This would be beautiful as a center-piece on one of the walls.

I really like the nature feeling… so, that will be brought into my writing lounge for sure, someday! :)

I love simple little decoration trinkets that add flair and originality to my rooms.

Maybe I will have a door like this to the entrance to my writing lounge. Although, I really like stained glass windows. It makes me think of my Grandma Ruby’s door into the fire-place room. It was white like this, but had a really beautiful stained glass window in it. So, if I could I will have a door like this, but it will have stained glass windows.

There is just something so amazing about stained glass windows…

Maybe the windows will have curtains with lights in them. :)

Maybe, you can tell I love lights.

Ever since I watched “Once Upon a Time” I fell in love with the wallpaper on the walls of the witch’s house. All the birch trees. I loved it.

So, my mind keeps spinning with ideas of this beautiful room. :) Someday… *sigh*
What are some of the things that you have in your writing lounge? Do any of you have a writing lounge? or an office where you work on your stuff? What do you think should be included in a writing space, in order to make it a “Writing Space”?

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http://pinterest.com/devinberglund/



7 things you probably don’t care to know about me…

I was tagged by two other writers (Stephanie and Kelsey) on their blogs to participate in this chain blog message… to write 7 things that most people probably don’t care to know about me. What? *sarcastic smile* People don’t want to know things about me? Well, here is my attempt at writing 7 things that some people probably don’t want to know about me.

1. I had 2 nose surgeries. Yep, and it wasn’t because I wanted one. During the whole process, I was thinking about Michael Jackson and for the life of me I didn’t know why he would go under a surgery just to change how his nose looks. Me on the other hand – I had a deviated septum, and apparently also had a broken nose. Which, I can’t remember ever having my nose broken, because the doctor said I would have remembered it (as it would have hurt). Having the surgery once didn’t solve all the problems, so I was lucky and had to have the surgery for a second time. I remember the first time I had it was on the 22nd of December. So, right before Christmas. I even have embarressing pictures of me in one piece pajamas… you know the kind with footies… and I was not little like you are probably thinking. I was probably 17 or 18.  And besides the embarressing pajama’s I had tape holding cotton under my nose. And yes, that was also caught in the photos as well.

2. I love to eat sliced tomatoes with sugar on top of it. I swear I got this tradition from my Grandma Doris. But it’s a total tradition, in our family – well, at least for my Dad and I.

3. I find something peaceful about cemeteries. I like to go walk around in them. My inner muse speaks to me in the quiet places. Some people would probably think that I am crazy. But, it’s the truth, none the less.

4. I hate the cheesy commercials with odd colours and sqeacky voices. If it is unbelievable, I am not going to buy things from you.

5. A major pet peeve of mine is leaving any sort of food uncovered in a fridge. I don’t want the smells of other foods attacking the smells of the other food. I don’t want to taste the pizza when eating the cake.

6. I dislike touching the handles in bathrooms after washing my hands. Okay, let me just say I don’t if there are paper towels. But I am freaking out if there are no paper towels. Thank God, when someone is coming in at the same time as I am going out.

7. I love tea. So, if you know of an interesting tea tell me about it and I will check it out! :)

So, now I have to pass the flame to 7 other writers. Let me see… and who will I pick… Drumroll please… It is….

1.My creative boyfriend

2. A lovely writing friend from college April Matson

3. My creative Mother (who is an artist – Check out her site as she will be giving away some amazing art.)

4. A writing friend from College, Emily Enger

5. Another lovely writing friend, Mandi

6.  A Blue Monkey Writing buddy, Ashley

7. Another Blue Monkey Buddy, Andrea

Hope you all enjoy these little things about me, even though the point was to tell you 7 things that you probably don’t care hearing about. :P