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?

How to stay inspired in a less than colourful world…

As a writer I know there are times when we come to a screeching dead halt in our writing, where we can’t find any inspiration. At those moments when we are running low on inspiration and feel empty we look out into the world around us for inspiration and find a world falling apart. At dry times we see soldiers fighting in wars across the seas, homeless people on the streets, and starving children in Africa and ask ourselves how we can get inspired.

I have found myself in this position many times and have wondered, how can I make a difference with my writing anyways? How do I get myself out of this situation? I know that when these questions start to circle around in my mind I have a bad habit of setting my pen down or getting up to leave my computer. Which isn’t what I should do. Instead I should pull inspiration out of the un-colorful world. At this moment I can imagine that many questions are forming in your minds, like:  “Devin, how do I stay inspired in a less than colorful world? How can I get inspiration when everything around me is so uninspiring?” or something like, “How can I make color when I have none?”

These are some tough questions, but I do have answers for them. When I find myself in a funk and can’t get inspired I look deeper into the issue and that gives me inspiration and story ideas. With the soldiers who are fighting in wars across the sea, I find myself thinking about a few things. Who are they? What are their stories? Were they married? What are their struggles and emotions? Or with the homeless people on the streets, how did they become homeless? What are their stories and who are they? Why do they continue to stay on the streets? What do they go through in a day?

As soon as I ask myself these questions my mind starts reeling with ideas, thoughts, characters, and plots. I want to make a difference in my reader’s lives and I know you do too. We need to remember that our less than colorful world needs our color, since we add color to the world with our words. Here are some other ideas to help draw inspiration when you don’t feel inspired.

1. Go for a walk in the wilderness 

-Nature has a way of bringing out the light, when you see all the issues that our world has, you get brought back to how our world should be.

“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the  wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain.” -Henry David Thoreau -My mom always told me that fresh air clears the mind and she was definitely right when she said that, besides you can get heaps of color, just by stepping out into the woods. Listen to the sounds. What do you hear? What do you see? Look at all of the details.

2. Delve deeply into something else that will open your mind creatively 

-Do you enjoy drawing, painting?

-Play an instrument

-Get up and move- exercise!

3. Get away from your normal setting

-A few weeks ago I went on a weekend trip with a friend and I got filled up with ideas to write. I went to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am from a rural Minnesotan town so going into the metropolis changed my atmosphere. I saw different people and settings. By getting away from your normal setting you will find new ideas for stories, settings, and characters.

4. Get enough sleep

-You have all probably heard this before, but they say if you sleep enough hours in a day, that you will have a better chance of remembering your dreams. Dreams can inspire!

5. Get out and volunteer

-Seeing good in tough situations can work wonders, it may even give you a new story idea, a new character or setting! Use the emotions you see in people as well. Such as the pain in the homeless man’s eyes. Or the tears that come to his eyes when you ask how he is doing.

6. Emotion

-Use the emotion you experience (When you feel depressed, write about how you feel and how it affects you. You never know when that will help you with a character you are writing later.

7. Silence

-Go someplace and seek silence. Light some candles and meditate. Listen to relaxing music.

8. Take an online journey of inspiring blogs and websites. 

Check out inspiring pictures or my newest addiction = pinterest. You can find interesting ideas for characters and settings.

9. Read a good book (check out Goodreads.com) 

10. Change your outlook…

-When things are dark, dreary, or uninspiring change your point of view, change your outlook…

11. Ask yourself the hard questions

-Best Selling Author Steven James once said, “You don’t have a story until you have conflict.” Since we live in a world where conflicting things happen, we must pull inspiration out of the darkness around us by asking ourselves the hard questions.

12. If you still don’t feel inspired… 

-And you have searched for it. Don’t quit writing, continue to show up and write every day! When I am low on inspiration I make a goal of writing 2,000 words a day. At least I am showing up and when I read back over it, sometimes I am surprised with what I’ve written!

P.S. The picture at the top inspired me while writing a scene in the last chapter that I just wrote for my book “The Created Ones”, so I thought I would share this awesome picture with you guys! :)

It’s been a little while…

Hello Everyone in the world,

I just thought I would write a quick post. :) I have been keeping busy and amazingly enough this week I have gotten a lot of writing done. I have been doing some freelance writing and design jobs. I have been enjoying it. When I have finished the jobs I will post them in my portfolio section for all people to view. :) Other than that I just finished writing a travel article on Mt Tirbogargen and when my boyfriend and I climbed it with a few friends.

Other than that, Johan and I went to a writing course on Character Buillding with Tristan Bancks. It was really interesting because he had us do a few writing things that made me think differently about writing. We talked about all areas of Character Development and how that adds to stories – we even got to go outside and people watch and make up stories about those walking by. It was rather funny and interesting.  It’s interesting how there are all sorts of people in the world. I will share something that I wrote in the class at the bottom of this entry. He had us do some digging into our past about things that we remember and one of the things that I remembered was “the last time I saw my Grandpa Dennis.”

“It is a sunny morning as my grandfather and I were driving into town. We were headed to the hardware store. We rounded the last corner before arriving at the edge of town. The trees were sparkling green and the sky was blue. Grandpa had to get new screening for our screen door, because we had some new kittens who were at the stage of trying out their new sharp claws by climbing up the screen door. As I drove toward the hardware store, a white sign was swinging in the wind. It read, “Bakery” “Ohh! Why don’t we stop at the bakery after we get the screening – Just don’t tell grandma.” He smiled mischeiviously with that crooked smile that I loved. I smiled too and answered, “Sure!” As soon as we got the screening for the door, we went into the bakery and got a dozen lengendary blueberry doughnuts. My grandpa handed me the box and then turned to pay for them. As soon as we got into my car, the sun was shining into the passenger seat and I got this weird feeling that this would be my last time seeing my grandpa. I didn’t want to believe it, so I tried pushing it out of my mind.”

I hope you enjoy your Tuesday and that you had a great weekend! :)

Sorry if there are any typos, I typed this on my iPad and it’s hard to type with it on wordpress sometimes.

What kinds of things do you do to build characters? 

 

“All you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!” – Faith – Imagination – Fantasy – Real Life –

You know a lot of people say that fairy-tales and folk-tales screwed up their childhood  on their belief system. The fact that they were told that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, leperchauns, and tooth fairies caused them to fumble when it came to believing in Jesus.

For me on the otherside it drove me to see that “this world can’t be all that there is”. I know that Jesus drives my imagination and that as a story teller i make up characters who will show the reflection of Christ. That is what fairy-tales and folk-lore did to me… The wanting to be in another world where things weren’t so harsh. Where i hadn’t been bullied and where there were mystical beings and talking animals. In all imagination, Fairy-tales, and folk-lore there is always some truth in it.

Yes, i was told Santa brought the gifts on Christmas… But, that didn’t ruin it for me because as time went by i Learned about the real story of Santa… And what had happened down the line when German and English immigrents combined. The people started changing the story as time went by. He was first known as Christ-kindel which was first known as a messenger to give gifts of Christ! Check out the whole story here… they were good intentions.

The other interesting one that we can all think of is the Easter Bunny…. You may ask… Why do we celebrate with a bunny? The bunny also has a name and it is “Oschter Haws”. There were some pagen people in the ancient past who were worshiping their spring goddess Eastre.

Missionaries came to the Land and many of those became Christians, but the pagans festival during the spring was celebrated at the same time as Jesus’ celebration of rising from the dead. And you are probably thinking, “Okay, i understand that know Devin, but, why a bunny? And why does it lay eggs?”

In research it says that the bunny is a massive sign of fertility and new life. Exactly what Jesus died for…. So that we may have eternal life. Makes sense why the bunny is a good logo for the holiday… If you know the whole story.

And you asked, why eggs? Why does it lay eggs.

Jesus died on the cross to give us the gift of abundant everlasting life and that is similar to the reminder of the eggs on easter. Have you ever drained the eggs and painted them? We did all the time at Easter! Once you empty the egg, what do you have?

“Umm, duh, Devin… An empty egg.”

“Haha!!! Yes, an empty egg! And now let me ask you a question…. What happened when Jesus rose from the dead and left the tomb…what were they left with?”

“An empty tomb?”

“Why yes, you are correct!” :)

An empty tomb and empty eggshells. There is truth in all stories and those are only two!!! :D

You are probably wondering why i chose to write about Santa and the Easter Bunny in May… But, I just decided to write a post on this, because these are two very important things in my life. My Faith. Imagination is the other one. In the world today i have seen faith is just pushed aside and people are blind to the truth… Almost like in the new television show that I love so much “Once Upon a Time” where Emma doesn’t want to believe so she can’t see the writer’s leg of wood, so she couldn’t believe that he was pinnochio.

Faith is an important factor to have in ones life. As Peter Pan once put so nicely, “All you need… Is FAITH, Trust, and a little bit of PIXIE dust.” He put it very nicely and you know what? It is true. Jesus taught people life lessons through stories. Jesus walked on water. A real donkey spoke to a man. A real giant whale swallowed Jonah. The impossible turns possible. Have some faith and have imagination. God will show you amazing things when you look through His eyes. And, boy… Does He have some Imagination!! :D

1,059 words….

It feels so nice to finally have written a nice chunk of words again. It took a little bit of brainstorming and outlining to get this far. I am not really an outliner though. It’s crazy how some people are huge outliners and others just write, write, write and don’t need outlines. While growing up, my dad would edit for farming magazines and for other things. One of the other things would be my school papers. School being high-school and also college papers. He loved it. Sometimes it drove me and my siblings crazy because my dad loved editing and outlining so much that he would help us set up outlining mode in Word and  practically helped us rewrite the paper in outline. :P Now, I look up to him for that… because my outlines are nothing compared to how his were. But I am thankful that he took the time to sit down and explain it all to us. :) So, my outlines were not extremely amazing or anything… then more so end up being a list of points – like a road map… sorta of where I am going and where I will go next. So, then how do you write? Are you an outliner? or a freewriter? (I have heard some people call it pantsing… but I don’t like that saying much! lol!) 

I have pretty much one whole novel written. It’s the Created Ones, which is at about 70,000 words… the goal had been 80,000. I felt like I was pushing too many of my characters into the can and limiting their stories to the point where I felt like I was bored with them. That isn’t a good thing… by the way! lol…
Soon after thinking about one character at a time… I started seeing their past and their issues. I am totally excited about this Fantasy/Paranormal Fictional Novel. It has been trying my patience, and strength in writing as well. But maybe this first story will be easier to write… because I have basically written one novel already.

How have you all been?

I will be putting the WINNER of my Flash Fiction Zombie Contest up soon! Keep your eyes peeled, it’s a good one! :)

Devin Berglund

Feeling out of touch with everyone!

Today has been one of those days where everything gets you emotionally. The weather here has been rainy and overcast pretty much all day! I have finished getting my place all cozy and clean! I should be done with all that tonight as when I get home I will finish the cleaning. I have to clean the blinds. I am sure the person who lived there before me didn’t get their money back from the bond/deposit. One thing I found funny earlier this week was that the property manager said the man was like 70 and that he went on a walk about and never returned! Makes me wonder where he is and if he is lost in the outback or… Yeah… It makes me wonder what happened to him. I am currently looking for a job. I printed resumes and such so starting Monday it will be looking intensely! I haven’t been able to get my Internet up and running here yet! It’s a tad bit annoying… Fine it’s really annoying! I miss my family and wish I could Skype but haven’t been able to for a little more than a week. So besides looking for jobs, I will be dedicated to finding Internet this week via wifi or broadband for my flat.

I am sure you all saw the post where I was a guest blogger on Krissy Brady’s blog about writing. If you haven’t seen it, hop on over! Besides she has quite a few other neat posts and entries with awesome writing advice!

Later in the week I will be uploading an interview that I did with Robert Liparulo, author of many amazing books! His most recent is “The 13th Tribe”!! Which was amazing! So definitely keep your eyes open for the interview in the next few days! :)

Well I better be going!

Much Love from this side of the world,

Devin

…the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

Hello,
I have been listening to the audio books of “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. I so, badly wish that I could have met C.S. Lewis. Sometime after my trip to Australia I want to make a way back to England and see the C.S. Lewis house. It’s just amazing how you can feel like you know a writer from their writing voice. I want to make a difference on a person’s life like C.S. Lewis made a difference in my life.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” 
― C.S. Lewis

Have you ever felt that way? I remember always feeling that way when I was in high-school. I was always a little different than the other kids. I always made friends with the under-dogs and maybe I could have been considered an under-dog as well. I didn’t want to be like everyone else and I guess I never was. In high-school I went through some of the loneliest times in my life. I remember coming home from school crying because, I didn’t have many friends. I hid behind the covers of books… Narnia was definitely some of them and I definitely found myself wishing for a greater place, like Narnia. A place where people would except me for who I was. Every once in a while I feel that same way- that wishing I could escape to another place where I could just fellowship with the Lord. Leave the land of people hating others, and stress and drama.

I have been busy writing a lot of my evil characters lately and it has caused a lot of mental and spiritual drain on me today. When you write dark stuff, if ever? Does it affect you in an such ways?

“We Christian writers must paint evil with the blackest of brushes, not to sow fear, but to call out the monsters to be scattered by our light. If Satan cloaks himself as an angel of white, intent on deceiving the world, any attempt on our parts to minimize evil is only complicit with his strategy… Turn to the light; don’t fear the shadows it creates.” -Ted Dekker (At least Ted knows my feeling!)

“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” -The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S. Lewis

So, I hope this note of inspiring quotes and a little bit of my backstory all find you well and living blessed! :) I have thought about writing a memoir about my past… would that be something you all would be interested in?