Image Search

One of my biggest challenges as a writer is describing people.

As I’ve worked to improve my writing, and had other people read my stuff, that’s one thing that has come up several times.  My visual friends – the ones who process the world in images – all complain that they don’t know what my characters look like.  Sure, I might mention green eyes or that someone is tall, but I never give enough description to create a complete image in their head.

This is because I am not a visual person.  When I’m reading and someone is describing a person, or a place, or even an item in great detail, I don’t get an image in my head.  I hear the description mentally, as if someone were reading an audiobook in my mind, but words don’t build pictures for me.

(Related but off-topic: my memories are more likely to be sounds, too.  I can hear my mom’s voice in my mind way better than I can picture her.)

In order to help myself with this challenge of describing characters, I’ve started making use of the internet.  By searching things like “black woman with braids” and “brown hair freckles kid” I’ve been able to find pictures of random, real people that look close enough to my characters that I can use them as reference.  I can describe things if I can see them, and now I can see my characters!

I had to pause in tonight’s writing for an image search.  Three kids have just appeared in the life of my main character, and they’ll be around long enough that my readers will want to know what they look like.  I already know how they act and sound; now I can make sure my friends have something to picture, too, as they read the story.

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Without a Word

I’m trying something unusual with the current story I’m working on.

The character that I’m following right now is a little girl with a rough childhood.  She’s smart and tough, but has to be independent at a young age.   (Her mother sold her as an infant, and she was raised at a laundry that serves as a front for human trafficking.  She escapes and lives alone as a street urchin for a while before joining up with several other children.)

While she has the ability to talk, and certainly does so throughout her life, I’ve decided that she isn’t going to speak in the first scenes in which we encounter her.  She communicates just fine, with looks and nods, and no one questions her lack of words.  It’s made me think more about the dialogue around her, and how to describe her responses.

It didn’t start out as something intentional, but I noticed it after the first few scenes and decided to see if I could keep it going.  It’s worked so far, and I should now be at a section where she’ll need to say something.  The next chunk of story that I have planned is when she first encounters the group of kids she joins, and I have a great line in mind for the first time we hear her speak.

She’ll always be a character that listens and watches first and speaks only when necessary, and I think this is a great way to establish that personality trait with the readers (even if they may not realize that it’s been done intentionally).

More Words

My current project invites comparison.  The first novel I ever completed, The Queen’s Butterflies, has a lot of potential but mostly it just has a lot… of stories, of characters, of time, all crammed into one novel.  I am taking all of that and expanding it into a series of books.  Right now it looks like it will be a trilogy, but that has yet to be determined.

The good and bad of this project are basically the same thing.  I get to go into more detail with the characters and the stories, but that means I need to go into more detail.  It’s taken a lot for me to finally get the inspiration to do so.

The main story follows three girls who are all born at the same time, during a lunar eclipse, and who eventually end up training and working together.  In the original, we saw snippets of their childhoods – just enough to see the shape of their stories, but not much more.

I’m now working on telling their growing-up tales, in a book I’m calling Blood Moon Born.  I’ve started with the girl who is eventually called Mara, although I suspect she won’t be first in the book when all is said and done.  A significant event happens when she is six years old.  Beyond this point, I won’t be able to do much direct comparison between the new and old books.  I’m changing the timelines pretty significantly, to both better align them with one another and to make their ages more believable.  (Let’s face it; no matter how smart or strong or amazing, there are some things that an eight-year-old can’t realistically do.)

However, since the significant event is still happening at nearly the same age, I can compare the two books up to that point.  I pulled out all of the bits of Butterflies about Mara, up to and including the event, and copied them into their own document.  Total approximate word count: 2100.

Last week I finished the significant event in Blood Moon.  Total approximate word count now?  7200 words.

There are a few more words in Mara’s story now, and a lot more details.

Tuesday Night is Writing Night

Today is Tuesday, and Tuesday night is writing night.  Therefore, I am at my local library, having just finished tonight’s writing.

During NaNo 2017, I discovered that my local library is an excellent place to write.  It’s quiet, it has work tables with comfy chairs, and best of all, it’s not my apartment.  Without chores and entertainment to distract me, I’m much more productive in my writing.

In addition, Tuesday evenings are pretty open for me (barring a work conflict, but those are rare this time of year).  So shortly after the start of 2018, I decided that I would come to the library to write on Tuesdays.

There are two great things about having a writing routine.  If it’s a routine, you’re more likely to stick to it.  It’s basically a habit.  For me that means I don’t get by with procrastinating – I actually hold myself to writing once a week.

The second great thing is that if your creativity knows that you’re going to need it to do some work, it will often oblige.  This is the same concept behind journaling at a set time every day.  Sooner or later you’ll have more and more productive journaling sessions, thanks to the priming of practice.

Thus, Tuesday night writing night.  It’s working so far – every week the amount of writing I get done has increased.

I think Tuesday nights will also be blogging nights, so if you’re looking for new stuff, now you know when to look.  🙂

A New Start

It’s been a very long time since I wrote a blog!  In fact, it took approximately 57 attempts for me to remember my password.

Writing has been a very minor part of my life for the past few years, but within the last 8 months, my creativity has begun to bubble up once more.  In May 2017, I was hit with inspiration for a new story.  I let it simmer in my brain until November, when I used it to once again participate in NaNoWriMo.  I wrote over 50,000 words in 18 days!

After NaNo, I’ve been finding myself creating once again, going back to some of my first characters.  I’ll give you more details of the project in future blogs – for now I just want to say hello again, and jump start the blog.  My goal is to blog once a week, which is also my writing goal right now.

Thanks for reading!

An Inauspicious Start

One of my goals for 2014 is to blog at least weekly.  While this is a weak goal compared to previous years (every day, anyone?), take a look at the calendar.  It’s already the third week of the year, and only my first post.  Ah, well, I’m not going to give up because of an inauspicious start.

Another goal I have for 2014 sounds a lot like last year: I want 12 reject letters for Dragon.  That means I’ll at least have a few Query Count updates I can use for posts! 🙂

Believe it or not, even though the gap is gone and story has taken a backseat to life, a few new ideas are perking in my head.  There are still some scenes I want to write for Mara’s tale.  A young dragon has raised his head and suggested that perhaps another novel in the same world as Dragon is in order.  I would also like to go back and revise Unexpected – there are some good bones there, they just need a little more meat.

So perhaps 2014 won’t be a banner writing year, but at least I can make some progress on a few fronts.

Considering 2013

On the last day of the year, it feels like a good time to think about what has happened in my life, good and bad.

My life this year was dominated by work.  I worked hard, and a lot, at a job that I love, and fortunately I got some recognition for it at the end of the year.  We don’t talk about work, though, so let’s move on.

Personally, 2013 was somewhat mediocre.  I didn’t travel anywhere exotic, I didn’t see any new birds.  However, my sister got married, which was pretty awesome; I made some friends outside of work (which is nearly impossible); and I did get to go see my Houston friends, even if only for a few days.  As the year began to end, I also met someone who I’m crazy about; it’s very new, so we’ll have to see how it turns out in 2014.

2013 was not a good year for writing.  Sure, I got eleven rejections for Dragon and started the process of re-writing Butterflies, but I didn’t finish a book, I didn’t complete NaNo, and you know how well I blogged this year (not so well).

With any end of the year reflection comes a chance to turn my gaze to next year.  I don’t know what it will bring, but here’s hoping that it exceeds 2013!

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