Tuesday, 18 October 2016

How to create a believable character.

Believable characters, easy... or is it?

I have recently begun the penning of my next book. A fun and exciting time for any writer. A time to progress the story, introduce new faces, and new challenges. However, it's also a time to mature the existing characters.

I honestly never gave this much thought. I had already given each of my characters a different personality, and a range of quirks. Therefore, what planning was there to do?

It was only when my husband asked me: "how do you make them all so believable, and not just stick men?" that I gave it some thought.
Characters need to be as individual as you and I. They need their quirks, flaws and dreams.

So here's a simple guide for any creative writer:

  • Name
What you name your character is crucial, but maybe not in the way you would initially think. Main characters need a simple enough name to be repeatedly read, yet not so common that it's been used hundreds of times before. Think Katniss, in Hunger Games. Very simple to read, yet rare enough to be unique.

  • Home.
Where your character is from will determine their accent, speech colloquialisms and humour. A Scottish person will have many differing words mixed in with their English, yet someone from Manchester will simply use contractions. Humour is vastly different throughout areas, therefore ALWAYS research. Think Jamie and Claire from Outlander. Their voices are strictly individual.

  • Habits.
Habits are the first building blocks of a character. We all know the basics: they play with their hair, bite their lip, fold their arms. But, taking it to a more personal level will bring depth to your character. For example: they're always cold, constantly pulling a coat around themselves, hating to be outdoors. They're afraid of bees, having flapping panic attacks whenever walking through a park. The ideas can be exciting. Be adventurous.

  • Hidden truths.
For every character I create, I have a list of hidden facts which may or may not be included in the books. For example, in Trials in Walls of Ivy, the character of Jay, seems quite formidable in the surveillance department. What the reader doesn't know (but may discover in later books), is that Jay's ability to set up and design surveillance devices grew when he worked in his family business and his father blamed him for a spate of robberies. He designed equipment to capture the culprits. But, in the process grew distant from his family, which led him to accept the university offer.
These simple hidden facts help to grow the character in a realistic way without 'telling'.
Try this with character building. Give each character one or two facts which may or may not be included in the story.
For example: they hold the district title for chess. They once rescued a child from drowning in a river. They had an uncle who used to think it was funny to lock them in the car.
Each simple fact could lead to any number of personality quirks which will add depth to your character.

There are many more ways to create realistic characters, but one rule will guide you better than anything: always ask why. Why do they want to go there? Why do they like to do that? Why are they so forgiving/angry? What makes them not give up?
Give your character the answers to these questions, and you will have yourself a truly realistic character.

Photo credit: bandt.com.au

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Return of the Pen.

I floundered, procrastinated, and deviated, but finally I have arrived.
I have arrived at the writing desk, pen in hand, ready to write.

The past few days have been spent re-reading my last novel, Trials in Walls of Ivy. I have always planned on this book being a part of a trilogy. And now, it is time to get going on book two.

There's many many elements in writing a sequel. First: what happened in the first book? Which threads o story need to be continued? What was my original idea for arc? How did I leave my characters?
Second: What do I want to achieve in this book? Where do I want to take my characters? How should this book lead into book three? Will there be need for a book three, or does the story finalise itself?

Task one in beginning a book for me is preparation. Having Dyscalculia, I can-not remember details... even from my own books. Therefore, I will be spending the next week re-reading all my notes, plans and plots for Trials in Walls of Ivy. This task sounds tedious, but believe me, it's as good as reading a book for the first time. I get to re-discover the characters, think up plot lines from multiple angles and re-learn previous research.

The future is bright. The future is research.

Second picture: credit unknown.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Enjoy the inspiration.

Inspiration, inspiration everywhere.

I've been writing for many years. Some years I manage to write a lot, some not so much. But, through every year there is a constant. Inspiration finds you everywhere.

As anyone who knows me will attest: I love Cornwall, specifically Boscastle. I love its steep Mediterranean like valley walls, its picturesque landscape and its homey atmosphere. Year upon year I drag my family to the beautiful harbor town and climb the rugged cliff walk to look out to sea.

It's at Boscastle where the world famous Witchcraft museum lives. And, it it here where I have scoured the treasure trove of occult information for my book research.

I write this, not to advise aspiring writers to run to the nearest museum, but to stop and think about what you love. As I stated, I love Cornwall and Boscastle. In each story I write, there is always a mention of these places. Whether its a character's birthplace or a destination, the place draws me in. The museum has been an inspiration when writing Brigantia/Blue Equinox, but so to has the landscape.

Recently I have been pondering the pull of writing. Why do I write in the genre I do? Why does adventure, mystery and romance attract me over horror and sci-fi? Why do I base my stories in green landscapes rather than cities?

The answer: because those are the things I enjoy.

This point brings me to the entire point of today's blog: find inspiration in the things you enjoy. In my life finding time to write can sometimes be a pain. But, at times, when I stop trying to work and just enjoy the craft, writing can be an adventure.

Writing for the joy of it, finding inspiration in your most favourite places, can make all the difference.

Through these thoughts, I am challenging myself to continue writing. Not to scoop an agent and a best selling book deal, but to be proud of not only a finished book, but of the journey in creating it.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Writing never leaves you.

As usual it's been months since I've ventured onto this blog.

Time flies when you're a full time Mum and carer.

So, what's been happening on the writing front? Not much. But, it's still moving forward.

I've spent many months re-editing my very first book. This first book was written years ago, before I went to university. It's been a work in progress. As my skills in writing improved, each edit followed suit. The book has followed my writing aspirations from the beginning. First being named, Brigantia House, then Blue Equinox. A further name change will follow this final edit, and I will be then moving onto the sequel.

Fingers crossed.

Being a full time mum and carer takes up the majority of my time. Therefore, to re-kindle my love for writing, I've been dabbling in the works of romance. Studying the conventions and formula of romance novels has been an eye opener to say the least. The steadfast structure and sequence of events which form the building blocks of a romance novel have acted like a guiding line back into the world of writing.

The story, which is based in the beautiful Cornish town of Boscastle, tells the story of an unexpected romance in the midst of sudden disaster.

Only the future will tell if I manage to continue with my writing. I still love creating worlds and characters, and hope to find time to get them on paper.

Monday, 20 July 2015

No planning, no plotting, no scrutinizing.

That time is almost here.
Schools are almost out, the summer is almost here. It's the time some parent's dread... not me. I love my boys being at home. It's time to play, to explore and to have a great family time.

However, as much as I love this time of year, there is one drawback: no time to write. No time to clatter the keys or plan for the next big plot twist.

I don't want to break away from writing and I don't want to let my practice slip. But what can a person do when time becomes so restrained?

My idea!

A holiday story.
No planning, no plotting, and no scrutinizing.
My plan is to spend a moment of time each holiday night with my laptop. Each night I will continue with the story and see where it takes me. I will use the events of the day as my inspiration.

I'm sure it will end up being fantastical, magical and crazy: everything a good holiday is made of.

Let's see what the imagination brings...

Image credit unknown.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Networking vs Advertising.

I have been involved in a number of discussions regarding the 'correct' way to market an independently published book. Through networking and marketing there are a number of directions an aspiring author, or indeed any creative individual can take. The discussion gains heat however when the subject of payment is introduced. So, what is the correct way to reach an audience?

The act of introducing your product, becoming familiar with selected audiences and making strategic friends. This method works for many and is the worst nightmare of many more.
The advantages of networking are huge. You will become aware of significant figures within areas of interest. Never forget the age old line : "it's not what you know, it's who you know." Through networking, you have the means to familiarize yourself with the people in the high places.

However, if it was so easy, why doesn't everyone do it? Because, it's not that easy. More than personality, more than confidence, networking requires time. Time to sit at your computer desk and reply to tweets, create blog tours, and write reviews. Networking requires constant presence and attention.

If you have this, fantastic. If you don't, you need to choose a second option for promotion.

Paid product placement. It's the method used by most large companies. In this day and age, you would be hard pressed to manage an hour in your daily routine without coming across a single form of paid advertising. Be it on the side of a bus, on a food packet or on the radio, we are constantly swamped by product placement and promotion. People want their product to be seen by audiences out of their reach. Paying for advertising can achieve this target.

But, what's the catch? Money. Big businesses can afford to pay millions in advertising. They understand the reach it has. So how does a lone independent author put their toe into this pool of sharks without the financial means? They do it exactly the same, but on a smaller scale. They begin by paying to advertise on social media. It's a small step, but an achievable one.

The Discussion?
These two methods are always going to be debated. Is it moral to pay for advertising when other authors can't afford to? Is it correct to push networking when some can't find the time? I have had this discussion over and over with peers, never settling the debate.
Therefore, my advice for any creative types out there: do what's best for you.

For those who have the time, the personality and stamina to remain within arms reach of a computer at all times, networking is most likely correct for you.
For those with other jobs, family and commitments, payed marketing is most likely the better option. This method still required daily input, but simultaneously frees time to continue life.

In essence, if you create and want to sell your creation, you need to make the world aware of it. Be it via time or money, the audience is the same.

Good luck to you!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Time flies!

Isn't it daunting how fast life speeds by?

It's been a year. A year(!) since I last ventured onto this page. In that time I've been a busy beaver indeed.

July 2014 saw my graduation from the University of Cumbria. I am now Deborah Jayne Pye BA. I was very happy to get a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. My time at university showed me how to make friends as an adult, discover how to create new pools of thought and creativity, and it showed me how to be proud of myself for the hard work I undertake.

August 2014 was a fantastic time.
I re-married my husband by way of a Handfasting. We jumped the broom, lit a candle and had the most wonderful time with family and friends. It was an experience I will never forget. 

September 2014 was when the hard work began again.
I sat at my writing desk, put my thoughts in order and began penning my newest novel: Trials in Walls of Ivy. It took months of scribbling, crossing, typing and correcting, but eventually it was completed. 
This latest book tells the story of eighteen year old, Rozlyn Grove: a young woman who wants nothing more than to escape her mundane life and hop onto the stepladder to academia. Desperate to find acceptance anywhere, Roz enrolls at the University of Terram: a top secret university in the North of England. 
Completing trials and averting danger, Roz's first year at university is a year not everyone survives.

June 29th 2015, Trials in Walls of Ivy was released to the world!

What a fantastic response. Friends liked it, family liked it, and people who I have never met liked it. Feedback has been wide and hilarious at times. 
Comments include: 'That Mark sounded like a hottie, who did you base him on?'
'What happened to the dog? The dog wasn't mentioned at the end.'
I could go on, but don't want to give any spoilers!

It has been a whirlwind of a year, and a fantastic one. 
Time now to begin the sequel to Trials in Walls of Ivy, take my family on holiday for the summer and continue to enjoy life.