Tag Archive | Characters

Camp NaNoWriMo Week One: Schedule Adjustments, Story Involvement, and Late-Night Camp-outs

Word-count: 27,963 and counting

I’ll admit, this is a bit late, but I think it’s still close enough to do this.

Week two of Camp NaNoWriMo has officially begun, and the first week of the event has gone fairly well for me.

Despite adjusting to a new sleep schedule and trying to work my sessions and rewards to fit that, I’ve still managed to get a fairly good total word-count so far, and am keeping it up. My story is making wonderful progress, and like I thought I would, I’m stepping into dimensions of it that I haven’t before, on a deeper level than expected, and discovering more and more new things that are making the process even more of a joy to go through. My characters are developing, my plot is twisting and taking leaps I never thought it would, and I’m writing more than ever, thanks to the help and support of my lovie and doing wordsprints to keep up.

I have been faltering on my rewards a bit – movies aren’t working anymore, since my laptop, for some reason, refuses to play DVDs, which I’ve tried every solution I could find to fix, from updating drivers, to codecs, to cleaning the disk drive myself, but I am determined to keep up with giving rewards and having a little bit of fun every weekend to refresh everything. I will admit that I have been slacking on writing sessions and hitting my minimum word goal every day, but I have my schedule change to thank for that, and am working on it. I’ve been able to evade my inner editor thus far, and just letting the words fly – it’s a blast!

Getting so involved with the story for the periods of time that I’m working on it is a blessing and a curse, sadly. Since it’s being written in journal entry format, there are entries now and then that the character gets a bit emotional and cuts the entry short, to finish up explaining at a later time, and sometimes, the buildup and getting in-tune with that feeling leave me dumbfounded on how to start the next one, stuck in that sort of feeling for a little while, but I have been able to evade it by forcing myself to start and trying to write a starting line for the next entry when I finish the prior one, in order to sneak away from the “how the hell do I start this one now” stage at a later session and just get into writing the actual content.

Re-acquainting with my characters, especially the narrator, has been a treat, as well. He’s gaining a lot more dimension and becoming a lot more than he ever was in the previous attempts to get this story done, and I find him a lot more interesting and likable than I did beforehand. At this point, he’s struggling with a lot of things – no one else seems to believe what he sees, he knows near nothing about his real parents yet still feels haunted by the brief memories he does have and the tiny links to him he’s starting to unearth, and approaching him are struggles with things more related to who he is on the (cliche wording oops) ‘inside’, this bit here being the aspect that I think will help make him easier to relate to for the average reader in terms of his struggling with, among the rest of the things, things most people do at some point in their life, specifically teenagers.

There has been a little trouble weaving the plot together the way I wanted to, but I’ll keep working on that and fix it up more in the editing process if need be. I’ve definitely wound up neglecting certain parts every now and then, but again, that can be dealt with in the point of the process where I go back and spruce up those bits. Right now, I’m focusing on pushing the story forward and getting everything down so I can edit and make it worth something more later, anyhow. I’m not sure how many times I’ve mentioned this, but the quote stating that you can’t edit a blank page is one of my favourites, despite not knowing the exact quote or the person it’s credited to, and I like to enforce it as much as possible.

Unfortunately, all of the work on writing and sleep schedule hoopla has left me slacking on my reading. I just haven’t had time to pick up the books I’m currently reading and making significant progress. The fact that I’m reading more than one book right now isn’t really helping – I want to catch up on my goal to read 12 books this year, and I’ve been getting caught up in things every time I start to make progress on that, so I’m trying to juggle reading Lara Parker’s ‘The Salem Branch’, Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, and a little bit of Scott McCloud’s ‘Making Comics’ on the side there at once. Trying to alternate is one of the big problems here, but I’m working on that, as well.

Catching up on that, though, is what I suppose tonight is for – I wrote a bit on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, and am going to be spending the rest of the night trying to catch up on other things I’ve been neglecting lately. I’m currently on page 135 of ‘The Salem Branch’ out of 334, 392 of ‘Dracula’ out of 450, and 101 of ‘Making Comics’ out of 272, and am going to be working on that periodically throughout the night. Speaking of which, I am planning to spend the entire night outside – since my new sleeping schedule utilizes staying up until sunrise and sometimes after, and I’ve been coming outside to get most of my writing done, I’ve decided to attempt to spend my entire night out here on the carport.

It’s currently 1:28 AM, and I’m doing fairly well thus far. I thought that I would wind up chickening out, but I’ve updated my to-do list and got plenty to keep me occupied, plus the company of my lovie to keep me from getting too scared. I’ll be dropping inside – just at the front door – on the occasion to grab a drink or a bite of string cheese, but other than that, most of tonight is being spent out here. I guess you could consider it camping out, if only a little, in the Camp NaNoWriMo spirit. In addition to reading, I’ll be updating things that need updating that I’ve been neglecting a bit, and probably wind up working at least a little on the NaNo Novel as the sun comes up (sleepy writing is always fun).

To keep up with my progress throughout the month a bit better, you can follow me on twitter @TheDerpOfficer and I’ll most likely follow you back (just say the word, hehe). I’ll probably be giving some fairly frequent updates on the late-night “camp-out” throughout the night, as well, if anyone’s interested to see how that’s going!

In conclusion, the first week has been well, and week two is setting itself up to go by great, as well! How has the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo or JuNoWriMo been going for everyone else participating?

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Script Frenzy 2012, week one: Inspiration, misbehaving characters, and self-sailing

Page Count: 19 pages and counting

The first week of April is coming to a close now, and I’m still pretty confident. My script is a bubbling pile of inspiration, covered in scribbles and doodles, filled with scenes that I need to re-arrange and slim down, and the beauty of it is, I don’t really mind right now. I’m having loads of fun, and just getting the plot down in all of it’s winging-it glory. I’m battling my inner editor and whacking it over the head with a stick, but I’m repressing it enough to not go back, scribble all over things and rewrite them in white-out pens over the black mass of scribbles. I know that I’ll be typing out my script and wondering what the hell I was thinking when I wrote this here and let this happen over there and left this idea off somewhere else, but that’s the fun of it. I’m just letting my pen vomit my ideas all over a page, and I regret nothing. This way of doing things is very inspiring, honestly – letting the inspiration flow and take me everywhere it wants to is getting more work done than I usually do when forcing everything into the direction I already decided. A breath of fresh air, I suppose?

That being said, I did have a few plans for my characters – but some of them are already giving me the ol’ “fuck you!” and doing something completely different. I’d had a little bit of romance planned for much later in the series I’m working on for the main character with someone who hasn’t been introduced yet, however, the chemistry between them and another character is growing with every little word I write. I don’t really mind it – it just shocks me how letting my inspiration guide me and my characters do whatever is working so far! All I did was add a little bit of dialogue to reference to the internet phenomenon most of us have probably participated in at least once before, shipping, a tiny little joke that I intended to go no where, and within a few lines, my exact thoughts were, as follows:

What have I done?! It’s sailing itself! This ship, it’s sailing itself!

Regardless of fuzzy tummy feelings, though, these silly geese have a lot longer to go before it’ll even be acceptable to give them an actual romance, and right now, they have a famous legend to encounter – the Black Dog, or rather, something based off of it. The script I’m working on is a fantasy-based setting that is based off of several different places and time periods in terms of environment, government, architecture, culture, and folklore, telling the story of a fresh-out-of-training soldier with a lot to hide, nothing to lose, and how their life changes throughout several different stories, ranging from action to drama, and essentially goes through a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of plot-rich things hidden in even the most seemingly irrelevant pieces of their life when they wind up being carted off to war at the worst possible time.

As horrific as that may sound, I’m having a lot of fun with it, and the message I want to convey especially – people walking in and out of your life, lessons learned from them, etc – is something that I will admit means a lot to me. I’m enjoying the attempting action scenes, the plot development, and the character development, especially. Hopefully, when it’s done, it’ll come out to be a blend of action and plot that I can work with. It’s to be a graphic novel, webcomic (this is the most likely one), or maybe an animation if I sharpen my skills there, and I’m planning on putting as much work into this as possible. This won’t be a project that I give up on so easily.

The biggest problems I’m really facing with Script Frenzy right now are writing enough to make my hands ache (something I don’t really let get in my way too much) and falling behind in my reading, which I definitely plan on fixing this weekend. Hopefully, I can make good progress with both this month. This week’s-almost-done update being finished, I should get to working on writing a little bit before my nephew comes over for me and my mom to babysit him.

How is your script going so far if you’re participating this year, and what are you writing your script about? I’d love to hear from everyone!

Character Creation: Physical Build and Facial Features

In my last post on writing tips, I wrote about creating characters. I gave a lot of tips and general guidelines that I personally use when it comes to making my characters, with the exception of anything on character appearance and design. The reason I left out that bit is because, when it comes to what I think and take into consideration with character appearance, I would’ve wound up writing an entire post within the already large-by-my-standards main post, and since this is taking long enough to post already, it will be broken up into parts as I write them. You can read the original post on character creation here.

This post will be detailing my tips on deciding the build and facial features of a character, reasoning behind them, and my general approach of it.

  • Body shape/build

A character’s build can change the effect an appearance gives over-all. A simple change of a character’s body type could change the way someone interprets them by their appearance at first glance, and is a factor that can be used to make your characters unique to each other. It can show things about their everyday life, such as their eating habits, whether they have physically active hobbies/jobs, and other general parts of their lifestyle. Whether or not you’re going to give your character the build of a body-builder, the exact opposite, or anywhere in between, you should have a reason for it, be it a factor to their health, an exercise routine, an active job or hobby or anything else you can possibly think of that would cause that.

A character’s build is more or less defined by their size, shape, and the reasons why they are those sizes and shapes instead of different ones, and can say a lot about them as a person and their health. Looking at a character’s build, you can assume different things about their eating habits, the amount of exercise they get, whether or not they work out or do something that makes up for that, their general physical health, metabolism, and any other thing that effects weight, body shape, etc, and these are the factors that tend to determine someone’s build. For example, an agile character who relies more on their speed for their hobbies/work/whatever they do would probably be, scaling on the higher ends of the spectrum, closer to being a fairly lithe person, as opposed to someone with obvious, large muscles and a larger build.

Because of these reasons, and the usual sticking to have-a-reason-for-everything-you-can thing I’ve got going on in my head, I suggest thinking about more than just your character’s appearance for this. Think about their lifestyle and the factors that determine their build listed above, since I encourage you to make your character’s appearances make sense when put together with the character aside from their looks. If you’re putting together a character’s appearance before you work on their personality and life, I recommend keeping your character’s appearance in mind and to try to create a sensible character in relation to the appearance.

  • Facial Features

Figuring out unique facial features for a character can be a little hard at first if you aren’t used to deciding on them, but it’s very effective for, at the very least, identifying a character visually, and I find it fun myself. Using facial features, you can make a character’s face unique with more than just blemishes, makeup, and different eye colours. While I’m not against using those things to add to a character’s look, I often see different facial features overlooked, and I suggest using both in moderation.

It’s okay to reference real people for their features – mixing and matching different types of facial features you know or have seen before, fitting them together to create a unique face for the character. Looking at and learning to describe real faces and their features can help you figure out what kind of features give the effects you’re looking to portray in your character’s appearance – there are tons of different types of facial features and degrees to which they’re expressed, and they can give even more different possibilities for the effect and mental image of a character.

You can describe and depict the different features in so many ways, combining different ones can give characters more ways to be different from each other appearance-wise. Even when characters have the same core facial features, putting them to different degrees and adding a little bit of another one can change things completely. I like to look at real people’s facial features and the effect that they have on me – be they celebrities, historical figures, my family, my friends, or random people – and figure out how different combinations would change that, to mix and match them and see what they entail. There are plenty of people in the world, plenty of photographs of them on the internet and in books to look at and observe facial features on and there’s even a handy dandy category on Wikipedia containing what makes up the face and some different types of features.

When it comes to describing faces and their features, you can make things sound different to give off different effects, as well – using different description techniques and words to describe these things, you can make a face sound the way you want even more. You can describe the same features in different ways to give off different effects, and with experimentation, it may even be fun for you, too.

Build and facial features are things that I’ve struggled with even taking time to describe in the past, or give characters different ones unique to each other, and I’m glad I realized this. Whether or not I’m displaying a character visually or describing them in words, these features help bring them to life in a more fluid manner, as well as help keep me from eventually sounding like a broken record in describing all of my characters. One little feature of the face or build can distinguish a character and often helps bring the idea of who they are without an appearance to life. I like to use a combination of physical features and the other things that make a character who they are without it to make them stick out among my others.

Do you like to give your characters distinguishing physical features, or do you prefer to rely more on other things that make them who they are? How do you go about choosing these features for your characters, if you do?

Fiction Writing: Tips on creating your characters!

Hello, reader! Today, I’m going to give my tips on creating a character from personal experience – keep in mind, like all other tips posts I’ve made, these are only tips and by no means at all am I telling you what you have to do. These are simply suggestions and explanations to how I have come to create my characters, a compilation of tips on creating them when people need help doing so. If you have a different opinion than I do on these topics and go about it differently, that is perfectly fine and I don’t intend to offend anyone with the ways I go about character creation.

Keep in mind that I will probably be editing this in the future to fix it up, or maybe even making an entire new post about it if I see fit. I will not be posting about appearance and designs today, as that is a post I have planned to make an entire post on it’s own in the near future. Now, onward, to the real content of this post!

In my time writing and creating characters, I’ve found three important things that have helped me greatly in creating my characters. While you do not have to take them into consideration, I suggest it strongly.

  1. Try not to go overboard on anything and definitely do not be overly outrageous with it.
  2. Characters who some people can relate to tend to be more ‘realistic’/’believable’, even in fantasy settings, and this can help in making a character people will like or dislike and gain some sort of emotion towards, including yourself.
  3. Almost everything about a character should have reason behind it if it, with the exception of some details that could have come about without reason.

The following bullet points are what I personally take into consideration when making a character, with my insight in the paragraphs that come with them. Things I feel the need to stress are italicized in the case of not wanting to read through long passages.

  • What is this character’s purpose in your work?

This is something very important to know about your character – be they made for a role-play, a personal story for a piece of writing or a fan fiction. Are they the main character, or are they minor? How are they related to the story itself? Are they to be a protagonist or antagonist? What is their point in the story?

  • Character name

Naming a character can be fun, but complicated at times – there are so many names out there, how could you choose just one? It can be so overwhelming at times, but it’s one of the simplest and easiest ways to recognize a character, along with an important one, so it is necessary. It depends on what kind of name you want – do you just want a name you like, or a name relevant to the story, maybe both? Is your character, or the audience reading/watching, unaware of the name? Are they referred to as a real name, or a code of some sort (numbers, letter combinations)?

If you want to take a character’s name’s meaning into play, I would suggest looking at websites or books that list meanings and origins of names with the name. While a minor detail, it means something and has a way of making us feel clever sometimes – why would someone look up your character’s name’s meaning? It’s a little meaningful nugget that people may not see, and if they do, it could give someone a little smile out of figuring it out. Along side this, a lot of people like to have as many details, no matter how minor or unnoticed, meaningful to the ‘story’ they are viewing and/or creating (visual, text-based or not).

Whether you want it to have a meaning related to the story or not, it’d be a good idea to at least give your characters names that fit in to their ‘story’. If your character is of a nationality or race that tend to use certain types of names, you should have a good reason for giving them a name that doesn’t fit that if you do. Were their parents or whomever gave them their name from a different race/nationality or simply fascinated by that name? If so, why – what reason is it that they have a name different than what most customs of their race/society would have given them? I’d not advise giving your characters outrageous real names (nicknames are fine, most of the time) that wouldn’t quite fit (I.E someone with an Asian name while they are from or in a society that tends to have different types of names, such as European, American, etc) without a good reason.

If your character has some sort of code as a name, such as letters, numbers, or words, make sure it has a reason behind it and isn’t too complicated for the audience to remember. Why is this character referred to as something like XY003, #69, or some random word? Is it a reason that has to do with their past, if so, what reason is that? If they have a name aside from this, what is it and why aren’t they referred to by that?

When I have trouble picking a name for a particular character, I try to find something that I know will fit them and I personally like. I tend to go through list after list of names online, putting together a personal list of names I like and names I think would be good for the character, then give the personal list a second look and keep narrowing it down until I find the name that character eventually gets.

In  all, my biggest tip here is don’t be too outrageous with it. It’s okay to be unique, but still be sensible in the world the character belongs in, whatever it may be. Try not to give them names that are hard to remember, be it because of it’s over-simplicity or because it’s too long or complicated. Lastly, it’s a name, don’t get stressed out over it.

  • Personality

A character’s personality is one of their most notable qualities. It’s something that tends to make or break a character. Personalities tend to be fluid, something that people can’t be too unsure of, and if you want it to change, I would suggest doing it gradually and with reason, unless called for by other traits of the character, such as having multiple personalities. Keep in mind that this is different than a character’s mood, that can, with reason, change very suddenly or stay the same for long periods of time, depending on the character’s situations and personality.

Giving a character a full personality can be a bit complex at times, and it’s a tad hard to explain straight-out – I’ll set this up with questions to ask yourself about the character (or the character themself, if they’re developed to the point where they’re doing things and changing on their own before you realize it! ;P) with tips and pointers instead of just giving tips.

  1. Is your character’s personality generally positive, negative, or in-between? In other words, are you planning on making them a positive (such as optimistic, peppy, cheery), negative (such as pessimistic, irritable, grumpy, sad), or a combination of both?
  2. Do you want your character’s personality to be static or dynamic throughout the course of their story? Do you plan on making your character’s personality stay the same throughout, or do you want it to change? If so, how does it change and why? If not, why doesn’t it change?
  3. What are some positive traits to their personality, and what are some negative ones? Less in terms of happy/unhappy, and more in terms of things a real person would like about this character and things they wouldn’t, kind of like reasons someone would or wouldn’t want to befriend your character, personality-wise. (Using my own protagonist as an example, some of his good personality traits are being a loyal friend who likes to help those they care about when they can, while some negative ones are being very negative and showing a rude personality to most people, making it hard to like and befriend them, and some traits that can be both good and bad that I’ve given him are a certain stubbornness and a bit of an ego)
  4. Is their personality one expected of someone their age, and if not, are they more mature than most people their age, or more immature? This is more along the lines of whether or not your character acts their age or not, and something usually very simple to answer and understand, so I don’t really have much to say here. If you’re going to make a character more or less mature than expected of their age, however, keep in mind how your other characters/other people would respond to this part of their personality.
  5. Why is your character’s personality the way it is? Take into consideration as to why your character acts the way they do. Is it because they were brought up that way, or did something in their life change them to the point where they act differently after/because of it? If they’re hiding a different personality beneath the one they show to other or certain people, why is this? An important thing about personalities is why they are this way, and it’s another thing that makes a character’s personality more interesting.
  6. How does the character respond to stress? Everyone has stressful times in life sometimes, and everyone responds to it differently. How does your character respond to it, and why? Some examples of this that I have seen in both real-life and fiction would be: pretending to be happy or joyous or trying to make it seem like they aren’t stressed, breaking down (crying, panicking, having panic/anxiety attacks, emotionally shutting themselves down, it d depend on the stress of the situation), getting irritable or violent, letting walls of a fake personality fall down and reverting to normal, even overreacting to the degree of the situation in one of these ways, perhaps even combinations or variations of any of them, the degrees of which all depending on how much stress the person is under. Keep in mind that you probably want their reaction to be realistic and not too overdone without reasoning, depending on the character’s personality, the amount of stress, the situation, and other traits such as anxiety/stress disorders and the like.
  • Quirks

Most people tend to have at least tiny quirks. Some examples of quirks are things like twirling your hair, bouncing your leg, chewing/biting your nails, sucking your thumb, and the like, sometimes in certain situations. Quirks can be small and unnoticeable, or they can stand out heavily, being something people may notice often, or something people don’t notice at all. They can range from being things that are simple and normal, or things that are very extreme and people may find odd. You can find many lists of quirks online if you’d like some better ideas of them, or need help coming up with quirks for your characters. Try not to go overboard here, as well – there’s a difference between a quirky character and just too much.

  • Hobbies

Almost anyone has hobbies, whether they get to do them often or not. Reading, writing, drawing, painting, singing, sports – things like these are hobbies when they are done in free time, while they can also be professions. Anything people do in their free time for entertainment can be considered a hobby, be it something like the ones listed above or something like fencing, different types of fighting, etc. There are so many different hobbies a character could have in many different worlds or alternate universes, ranging from hobbies that require physical participation to others that require mental participation, and even both, it feels like it would be impossible to list them all. They can be things that you can come up with off the top of your head, or things you can find in other people, on lists, in other characters… the possibilities are simply endless!

  • Lifestyle

Overall, how does your character live their life? It’s not very hard to understand and probably isn’t something I need to go into a lot of depth about. This ranges from professions and schools to things like sexual orientation, their views of life and how they implement them, how they live their lives. This should effect your character somehow, be it a negative impact or a positive one, depending on whether they enjoy their current lifestyle or not, and while two characters can like or dislike their current lifestyle, it will probably effect them differently depending on their personality.

  • History

Your character’s past – this can be something normal or shocking, perhaps enviable or pitiable. My suggestions here is, to give your character an interesting past, try to make it a combination of normal and… not-so-normal, something that the audience can be curious about, IF you want to go into the character’s past eventually. If you don’t, I would suggest having their past be normal for someone like them or something not important to go back to and explain in their story (while things may become less average as the story goes on). Try not to make them have a perfect life, however, as everyone has problems – but don’t give them a sad past for the sake of getting people to pity them.

A past has an effect on a personality, and making it too much of one side of the balance would probably cause that with a personality, and making something too perfect or too traumatic may be the start of creating a mary-sue, especially without reason. This isn’t to say don’t make them have a good or bad past, but to say do it carefully and with reason when it comes to things. Major points in their past, such as traumatic or satisfying events, should have an effect on the character’s personality and a lot of the time, involved with the plot of a story. In example, a family member’s death may effect them or their family, which would effect their personality to some degree if it were to effect them, which in turn would effect the way they react to things in the plot. This death itself may even be a part of the plot, but it does not have to be. Other things, negative and positive, in their past, especially if they’re major, should have some effect on the character or other characters and perhaps even the plot.

That’s all I have on character creation today. I hope this has helped, be it a little, a lot, or anywhere in between – thanks for reading!