Filtering by Tag: characters

Q is for Questionnaires

I'm a big fan of getting to know my characters really well before I start writing. My favorite method? Questionnaires. Name, age, hair and eye color, height and all that basic stuff. But then I ask them what their favorite childhood memory is. Or what person had the biggest impact on their life. It's more than just knowing the surface things about these people that live in my head. I need to know what makes them tick. Why they do the things they do.

It really helps to build a story with characters that are that well-developed. Even if your reader never knows that your main character had the chicken pox when she was thirteen or that her favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip, or that the smell of vanilla gives her a tummy ache. But if YOU know these things, that character is that much more alive to you.

And when your characters are alive in your mind, they'll come to life on the page.

What about you? Do you use questionnaires? What do you ask your characters? What other methods do you use to get to know them?

N is for Names

Naming my characters is probably my favorite part of starting a new story. The name usually comes to me first and I build my character around it. The name usually is a starting point for my character's entire personality.

I like a unique name, but nothing too out there. After all, I grew up with the name Meika. I wouldn't want to saddle my characters with a lifetime of correcting people when they pronounce it wrong, or constantly spelling it out. Of course, I love my name now. I've never met another Meika. Which, I guess, is what I try to do for my characters. The female leads always have names that I love but would never name my children (I've already got names picked out for the kids I'll have someday, so I know which ones to avoid).

Every now and then, I'll read a book and think to myself, "Now, why didn't I name MY character that?" (ie Katniss from The Hunger cool is that name?) But overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the names I've come up with. Last year, I tried to change the name of one of my MC's. I searched and searched for a name for weeks only to end up right back where I started. And you know what? The name fits her perfectly.

So what about you? How do you name your characters? What are some of your favorite names from fiction? Do you like YOUR name?

Ahh, Fall

October is flying by. I can't stand it. I love October. It's been such a beautiful fall this year, with mild temperatures and gorgeous shades of gold, orange and red. I want to live in that world forever. Sadly, with each day that passes, the weather gets colder. The leaves fall to the ground. Winter is nearing. I am not ready for it.

I have been neglecting my blog again. But it hasn't been for nothing, I swear! I've finished the outline for my NaNo novel, which is something I really struggled with last year. I still need to re-interview my characters and get to know them again, but other than that, I feel prepared for the insanity of NaNoWriMo.

I'm sure I would have had my character interviews finished by now if it weren't for the crack that is The Hunger Games. I've spent the majority of October immersed in the world of Katniss Everdeen and her friends, family and enemies. I have to say, I've learned a lot from these books. Suzanne Collins put that poor girl through hell but I think it just made me care about her and what happened to her even more.

It's gotten the wheels in my head turning. When we throw things at our characters -- death, the possibility of yours and probability of those around you, heartache, torment, indecision, etc -- it forces them to grow and react in ways we might not have realized. It's the true test of whether your character is developed enough.

So, as a result, I've been pondering my novels. Trying to think of anything I can throw their way. To see what they're made of.

What are your thoughts? Do you think hardship strengthens your characters and the bond your reader has with them?

Guess That Character Blogfest!

I'm so excited to participate in my first blogfest! This one's hosted by the awesome Jen at Unedited. Basically, this is how it works:

Day One -- I'll post a snippet of my novel, sans physical description. You guys get to guess what my main character looks like, based purely on voice, action and personality.

Day Two -- I'll post a picture of what I believe my character looks like and announce who was closest.

Sounds fun, huh?

So, here goes. This is a clip from the novel I've been working on all year. Meet Mari:

“Mama, Daddy, I have something to tell you. You remember Tom, right? What am I saying? Of course you do.” Maribel Madigan straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath, staring straight ahead with narrowed, determined eyes. She could do this. “Well, the thing is…we’re not getting married after all. And…I’m pregnant.”

The last words echoed dully in the empty bathroom, sending shivers through Mari’s entire body. Could mirrors lie? she wondered, staring at the stark, scared girl reflected back at her. It wasn’t her. In fact, she didn’t even recognize this girl. Not her usual confident, bubbly self. That girl was long gone.

Who was she kidding? She couldn’t do this. With a frustrated sigh, she pushed away from the sink. Thirty years old and she was terrified to tell her family she was going to be a mom. How pathetic!

With a growl, Mari tore open the bathroom door and marched into the bustling diner outside. Like it or not, today was the day.

So, what do YOU think Mari looks like?

I'm Not Crazy (I'm Just a Little Unwell)

Okay, don't you think it's about time I got off my slacker butt and did some honest to goodness blogging? I mean, I flake two weeks in a row on my Wanderlust Wednesdays, and I finished Don't Look Down two weeks ago and haven't written a review for it. Just what is my problem?

The problem, you see, is that my main character and her male lead won't cooperate with me. They want to get all willy nilly with my plot, preferring to argue with each other rather than make nice. Or vice versa. It seems whatever I have planned, they have to do the exact opposite. And frankly, it's driving me insane.

I would just love to throw these two in a room together and lock the door. Tell them they can't come out until they've agreed to cooperate with my wishes. The only problem is, they're fictional figments of my imagination.


This is the very trait that gives outsiders the impression that we're insane. We hear voices and argue with them. We get angry and frustrated when these imaginary people won't do as they're told. "Well, they're your characters, why don't you just make them do it?" people ask. And to them, I say, "HA!"


If only they knew, right? If only they knew.

I'm at my wit's end here. I should have finished this novel months ago, but still it drags on. All because Mari and Zander would rather fight like a couple of blue-haired old women in the beauty salon than kiss and make up. So, what do you do when your characters go rogue on you? When they just. Won't. Do. As. They're. Told?

PS: Sorry if I got Matchbox Twenty stuck in your head with my title. Could be worse, right?

Dear Novel, I Hate You.

Aright, so I finished my outline about three days ago. After a couple days of reworking the dates (which is very important with a pregnant main character) I thought I was ready to get back to work on the novel. My poor novel hasn't been touched in months. When I opened that document, I had no idea where I was even at. I had to scroll up and read the entire last chapter just to get my head back into the story. And then, believing I was prepared to write, I put my fingers on my keyboard and...nothing. I don't know what's going on in my brain, but it's not too keen on creativity right now. As I stared at my screen, it occurred to me:





Okay, not really. Somewhere deep, deep...deep inside, I'm sure I still love my novel. I love the characters, the story, the basic idea. But I've stressed so much about finishing this thing ever since November ended that, well, my enthusiasm for the project has died a tragic death.

I believe we should start a support group for people going through this very same thing. The "I Hate My Novel Support Group." I am sure I'm not the only one that goes through this. I'm also sure that non-writers don't get it. I was talking to Dana about it last night, and she said, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

So is the life of a writer.

The voices you hear in your head that you're afraid to mention for fear of others questioning your sanity. The proclamations of hatred for something you slave over for months, even years, only to have people ask you why you bother, if you hate it so much. The lack of understanding for the frenzied and, well, crazy manner with which you attack your computer screen or notebook when the muse has deigned to show up. The deep, dark fits of depression when the writing isn't going just as planned, the extreme, almost manic happiness when the words flow like wine. This is why it is important to have writer friends, whether they're in real life or strictly online. Without them, you feel outcasted and crazy. And, let's face it, we writers are crazy enough on our own, without the opinions of outsiders condemning us as such.

Anyway, I've gone off track. My novel. I hate it. Whenever I think of working on it, I get angry and frustrated and literally want to run away. This is no good, considering I want to finish it by April 1st. So, here's my question to all you writers out there: How do you get through this stage of noveling? Prefferably without tossing the entire thing out the window?