Nov 28, 2012
There are days when I believe I go beyond being insane and head straight towards delusional. Rather than writing about how I was being begged for brownies in a language of my making, in an alphabet of my making, I wrote a list. . . .In English. . . .In the English alphabet.
A. I'm horrid at lists. B. I much prefer writing in my make-believe languages. C. WHAT? NOW EVERYONE CAN READ IT IF YOU USE THAT ALPHABET!
*ahem* But I also have a horrid memory that needs me to organize things on paper, because I have an elf running around up there. Last night, I was writing down a list of what foods a character did, and didn't like. Cue facepalming. My sister happened to be sitting beside me and about died (okay, I exaggerate everything. It makes it more fun) when she read, "Pomegranates - No."
But this is the kind of thing that happens when I get obsessed over my characters. I want to know every little itty bit of information that I can. If that includes finding out that my elf probably has a much too large liking for bread products, so be it.
I learn things when I become obsessed. Things I didn't before. I can be horrible judge. I see you and decide I don't like you? It's going to be rough for me to loosen up and get to know you.
I met my character, V, about a year ago. It was hate at first sight. It's been hate ever since. That is, till a character I loved to death told me he liked her.
You can only imagine that I became angry. You can't like her! What could you possibly see in her? I then decided that the character was just trying to pull my leg. What else would he be doing? After all, who in their right mind would like that little viper?
But, because I liked the character who told me this so much, I decided to observe her again. If it wasn't a joke, I needed to know what on earth he saw in her. Naturally, she wasn't the little viper I thought she was. By seeing her through the eyes of someone who actually liked her, I saw all of the good things I'd previously missed.
Antagonists usually aren't all bad. Protagonists usually aren't all good. Sometimes we just have to get a little obsessed and see them through the eyes of a different character. My character, Rachel, sees Mr. Annoying differently than someone she's related to does. Through Rachel's eyes, I tend to see everything annoying and somewhat grating about him. Her relative? Her relative sees a completely different person with good qualities.
Once you start, you almost kind of want to learn everything about them. If that means making a list of what foods they like and don't like, I'll be content and try not to complain over writing it in English.
If you want to know your character properly, you have to remember that not everyone sees the same person.
Nov 24, 2012
I was told that I'm good at backstory and need to write more on the topic. I sat down (or stood, since I'm working and writing currently) to force myself to do so. I've been putting books away for the past few minutes wondering what on earth I could write about backstory. Instead of doing so, I started laughing at myself.
I'm good at backstory? Ha!
I am not good at backstory. I'm not good at any part of the story. I don't even know the names of Mr. Annoying's little brothers. I just know they're cute, adorable little blondes that I would have too easy a time stuffing with sugar.
My characters tell me things and I just laugh and say it's not happening. I don't always understand them. Ohhhh, so you love the little viper? Yeah, I'm not falling for that. Several days later, they'll come back and smack you in the face and show you that they weren't joking.
I'm no expert.
But I'm happy with that. Maybe I don't stink. I don't want to know. If I think I stink, I have something to strive for. I don't have to know I'm amazing to stay writing. I know I'm not.
Why do I keep writing, then? For the same reason I did when I started. For the same reason I did when my stories were regurgitations of movies I'd seen, just a thousand times worse. I loved writing. I loved stories and I wanted to tell them.
I don't care if I'm not good. I don't want to quit, but I really don't want a big head.
People tell me I'm too critical of myself. According to me, everything I do stinks. Unlike what people think, I don't care. I'm an optimist. I'm going to always have a good, viable reason to continue. I prefer being critical of myself. Hearing I'm good? It goes to my head. I prefer telling myself I'm not. My work is better that way.
Possibly not the best advice if you're a pessimist, but don't let yourself get a big head. Smile at uplifting comments, but don't necessarily believe it. Been there, done that. Been there, got a big head, and started ignoring all the flaws in my work.
I'm not good at backstory. But I don't care.
Nov 19, 2012
First, I hope you will forgive me; apparently my last post creeped several people out. No, I was not writing my death wish. Just using an illustration. I can get very morbid in my illustrations. That, and I was writing first thing in the morning and was rather sleepy.
Speaking of death wishes, it is oh-so-easy to write your own when writing your book. The readers are smart. If you break a rule? You're dead.
One thing that bothered me all the way through The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman? The souls. Didn't Will's father's soul become a living manifestation as soon as he stepped into Lyra's world? It may have been years since I read book two, but how come it took Will being separated from his soul for a period of time to see it? He had been in Lyra's world on and off all book! Namely, I was on the verge of blowing up the whole time.
This rule is mostly for science fiction and/or fantasy writers, but may apply to other categories. If you have a rule for something, don't break it.
Of course, there was a reason I broke this rule. Don't you understand that Jim was able to do X because Sandy accidentally granted him three wishes? Mark this where I die, people. If you never explain that the cause was Sandy, you're going to be losing some readers.
Out in the real world, you don't assume that rules will be broken, do you? You expect them to be followed and for everything to be in order. What do you do when a rule is broken? Well, putting it in the nicest of terms, you're probably going to be a bit . . . agitated.
Just as worse is having no rules. Especially if you're a high strung, we're-doing-everything-by-the-book kind of person like me. I need to know my boundaries. I need to know I'm doing everything right.
The reader needs to know too. So Jim just spontaneously gets three, free wishes? What can he wish for? Anything? Everything? More wishes? This was one thing the movie, Aladin, did well on. The main character was granted three wishes, and the genie had to go down the list of all the things he couldn't wish for.
There. Now the reader and the main character have boundaries. If you didn't, I'd be yelling at him to make a wish machine throughout the whole book. Come on, I'm sure I'm not the only one who decided they'd wish for infinite wishes if granted three wishes. What? I was six!
Readers are very aware of the rules you play by. You step out of bounds? You'll get a penalty. Make your rules and follow them. Whether it's for your wish granting genie, your made up sport, or the laws of Aunt Jessie's kitchen.
Now go out there and do some rule following!
Have an excellent day and do forgive me for my missed days.
Nov 14, 2012
I've never gone on some church retreat or mission trip thingamabob. Never particularly cared. They all sound the same to me. Marketed to say you ought to go in the same way and everyone always says the same things when they return.
That is, until I was told about this game. . . I laughed at it at first--what a stupid game it was. But it stayed in the back of my mind. 4-6 of you are trapped in a cave. If any want to escape, two most hold up the opening to allow the others to leave. Two must die.
The point of the game is to examine yourself. If you died right now, who would it affect? Who still needs you? Or does no one?
I thought I'd forgotten about the game completely. Then, one day, I started thinking on it. I was in the cave. I needed to die. The others would need to live more than I would. Everyone would be sad at my death, yes, but they wouldn't need me.
Or, so I thought. The more I sat and contemplated on it, I realized there were people who needed me. It felt like a life or death situation (for me, I guess it was. . .). I had to survive. If I didn't, something bad would happen (yes, I overdramatize everything).
I've made you sit through all of this for what? Simply, our characters are the same way. They have to have a reason to survive. If they don't, why do we even bother with them? It would be much simpler to let the big, bad antagonist destroy them. Why do they need to live?
As I feel like it's a life or death situation for my own survival, so must the reader for the character. Put your character in that cave. If he or she died right now, what would it matter?
Make sure it matters. If not, why does the reader bother?
Nov 13, 2012
I never cry when I write. I feel like a horrible monster without feelings. I'll have this empty pit in my chest that I will exaggerate and tell people I'm having a heart attack, but no tears will come. No matter how desperately my eyes want them.
I don't know what my problem is. I rarely cry in books or in anything. So long as it's not some equation no one can explain to me, my tear ducts are dry and empty. I'm left feeling terrible and unemotional. In reality, I'm dying, but whatever mask I've worn in front of my face for so long is starting to become glued to me. This, children, is why you don't wear masks in the middle of summer. They melt.
But that's all besides the point. I'm just trying to figure out what's wrong with my tear ducts.
What I'm really here to talk about is using your pain. I've noticed that more often than not, my characters have problems that stem from my own. I just want to say:
Don't be scared of it.
Putting my own life in my writing destroys me. Someone will see. Someone will know. Someone will look right through the words and point an evil finger at me.
Yet, I always daydream about writing the story of my life and fictionalizing it. Fix it up, publish it under a name other than my own, and just wait for the people I know to read it. I can never get past the first few sentences.
We have no reason to be scared. How many times do we pick up a book, watch a character, and say, "Hey, I bet something like this happened to the author." How ridiculous is that? Use your past, your pain, your problems.
After all, characters tend to have it harder than most people in known reality. Don't be afraid to intensify it. Okay, so you were in this situation that your character's in? I don't remember you going mental and running away.
You've lost someone you loved dearly? Put all those emotions in your writing. If you're feeling pain, the reader will too. If you're feeling love, so will the reader. If you're on top of the world. . .well, you can see where this is going.
Don't be afraid. There's always going to be someone who will hate your writing. That's unavoidable. But there will be people out there who are ready to cry with you, smile with you, and rejoice with you. Don't be afraid to put yourself in your work. This is writing. There are no walls. There should be no masks. So don't put one on and get it glued to your face like I did.
For now, say, "This is for my eyes only."
Nov 9, 2012
I know, I know. One of these days I need a photo that actually goes along with what I'm writing about. I'm lazy, though. I'm not going to waste my entire writing time wading through thousands (I may or may not literally have thousands) of photos. It's more of a, "Hey, this is pretty. *click click*" kind of deal.
Before I start, I'm assuming we all know the meaning of evolution. It's taught in schools and you hear about it everywhere. A change for the better. We all want things to be better.
In the simplest of evolutionary (or devolutionary) terms, do our characters change? Do certain events and life-happenings change them? For better or for worse? One thing I've realized lately is that my characters were different people when they were younger than they are now.
Probably something I should've picked up on before now, but my characters accuse me of not listening to them. I've noticed it dramatically in (quite hilariously, because I never noticed all their similarities till my writing partner pointed it out) a mother and son. They both went from some quiet, but relatively happy/cheerful people to taciturn people who've hidden themselves behind walls.
It goes without saying that things happened in their lives to cause that. I'll never forget the son's half sister (whom he hadn't really seen in years) going up to him and mentioning how she'd expected him to be louder. It threw in my head that the characters weren't always this way. People don't hide themselves away from the world without cause.
It's not always so cliche sounding as becoming a taciturn kind of person. It can be anything: An annoying brat being sobered, the poking and prodding of a girl who's bottled it up all the years to the point where one last poke will make her explode, or just someone who becomes frightened of losing the people closest to them.
Look at just your protagonist. They weren't always this person, were they? Hey, look at yourself. Think back to when you were younger. What awkward, weird person were you then? I hate even mentioning the person I was, sometimes. I look back and say, "That's not me," when in reality it was.
Have you ever been asked if you would do it over if you had the chance? It's stumper of a question, but I wouldn't. What's happened in the past has made me who I am. I don't want to change that. I don't want to lose that. I may be disappointed by my past actions, but it's who I am. What I'm made of.
Our characters are the same way. . .except, they might actually want to redo it.
Nov 7, 2012
Alright. Sorry if this post is shorter than usual. I got on early, but then people decided to talk about the elections I'd already forgotten about. I'm not going to go into my political views or anything, I mean, this is a writing blog. The way I see it? My views are my views and I'm not in the mood to irritate people with them. So believe whatever you'd like about me.
Characters, however, will have opinions on their government and its state of being. In a contemporary or historic fiction novel, what side of the election would they be on (this is being written from America, so I hope you'll bear with me)? Republican or Democrat? What if their family was of opposite views than them? Better yet, what if they're a third party and it seems like the whole world hates them?
It doesn't even matter what country you're in. Everyone has views. No one can turn off your ability to have an opinion. You have a character living in, say, Australia. What are their opinions of the government there?
It gets even more tricky once you delve into the realms of fantasy and science fiction. Usually because you're then building what kind of government they have and what your character's opinion of it is.
Personally, if you're asking me how to build a government, I would say to base it off of something real. Like just about anything in this genre, you need a good, believable, realistic rock. Hey, I've got one whole nation I based solely off of Republicans. From there I went to some extremes, but I've got a working nation. Back to the point of the topic since I can delve into governments sometime else if I want. . .
Politics and governments are especially important in fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, and some historical fiction. Sometimes it is in contemporaries, too, but it depends on the book in question. Epic fantasies are usually comprised of an uprising going against a government. Science fiction can often delve into the same--though it might be multiple governments on different planets. It's a major in dystopian. Every single dystopian I've read has dealt with a corrupted government. Historical fiction? Well, it can vary depending on the era it's set in, but if it's around a war, there's a high chance of having political views come in. In the same aspect, I'm sure you can imagine how it would be brought into contemporary.
It doesn't even stop at just saying you're such-and-such party. What if you're a Democrat, but take the Republican's view on abortion? People might tell you that's an unlikely mix (well, or Republicans might say such), but these are characters. They are Unlikelyness in the flesh! Don't be afraid to delve into them and learn the silly little stuff, even if your story doesn't really deal with government. After all, our worldview affects all that we do.
Nov 5, 2012
First off, forgive me if this post is entirely error ridden and incomprehensible. I woke up under the belief that it was seven. It is actually six. I was a little excited and a little disappointed: A. I actually have plenty of time to blog. B. What? I missed out on sleep I could've had?
Last night I was in bed and was listening to Don't Speak by No Doubt which usually just reminds me of my character, DD. Instead, I ignored most the words and heard, "Don't speak, I know just what you're thinking." What an excellent concept for writing.
Have you ever read someone's writing or *coughcough* my own and found large clusters of pointless dialogue? Why are we reading all of this? Character B already knows the answer and we know all we need to know, so why is Character A going on and on about it? If you've got a section like that, it's usually better to leave the reader hanging with a question that will be answered later (most the time) and it's usually more fun that way.
Actions speak louder than words. I read the beginning of a fanfiction once, that had a mute character. Now, I never went back to the story to finish it, but I find that very interesting. What would happen to your poor main character if he couldn't speak and couldn't use sign language? I'm going to the extreme here, but that poor guy would only be able to explain himself through his actions. Now what about our characters who can speak? We all have body language that shows off what we're thinking even if our words don't. We all show off our emotions too easily by just the small, little actions we do around the day. Take a door, for example. Someone slamming it shut and someone shutting it as carefully as possible portray two very different kinds of action and from them we get in the person's head.
Some people might try to put a mask on their feelings and actions to trip you up. I know me. I'm a big smiler. I'm sad or irritated on the inside, but I'm flashing you my pearly whites on the outside. People don't need my stupid problems that usually aren't problems, but just, "Such and such character decided to sneak up behind me and stab me in the back today."
I even try putting a mask on my happiness sometimes. I learned a friend was coming into town once. I had this perfect plan of telling everyone once we got to the beach. I didn't last lunchtime. However, I tried putting a mask on my happiness because I just KNEW someone would ask what was up if I was grinning like a hyena.
Sometimes characters mask themselves too. My character, DD? She often puts a smile on her face and acts like a normal teenager. Inside, she's being eaten up by problems she's having with her mother and best friend. It's hard for me to show her true feelings sometimes because she just likes to sit and smile. The true teller of her emotions is her guitar, though. If she's sad, it's doubtful that she's going to be playing something happy. All characters will have, at least, one way of showing how they really feel.
How much do you say without speaking, or do you fall into the trap I fall into the majority of the time and add long, pointless schemes of dialogue?
Have an excellent day!
Nov 4, 2012
Welcome to the new Just Simply Unique, everyone! Sorry to throw this on you all of a sudden, but I was having problems with Webs and needed something different. I added the majority of my older posts on here, but if you're missing any or if the links didn't show up and you need them, the old Just Simply Unique is still up for all of your needs.
I'm also not sure how to add the Story Football stuff yet, so I'll just keep that running on the old site if you want to keep up with that.
Please bear with me as I make the changes, and don't be surprised if things get a little weird over the next few days. This is just me figuring out how to work Blogger. I should be back to my regular posts shortly and hopefully the site will be better than ever!
Thank you ever so much for putting up with me.
-Kelsey (well, moving to Google means you get my actual name. Oh well. It was fun using a pseudonym while it lasted)
Originally posted November 2nd:
You know I missed a day of blogging as soon as I find myself sitting on Facebook and reading statuses and comments. HOLD UP. This is your blogging time. Facebook will be here later. Unless a train comes crashing through my window, but that's highly unlikely.
*Looks at window suspiciously*
It's day two of November! That means day two of NaNoWriMo for some of you. Sadly, I'm not joining in with you guys despite how tempting you all have been. I don't have the time and I'm already working on a project. I wish you all great luck, though!
And, as for the picture, don't ask. Webs is being weird. I actually clicked a different photo. At least this one's prettier.
Okay, I should stop avoiding the topic. I had to come up with something last minute, again. I told myself yesterday that I'd do a book review. I did not feel like reviewing one this morning. Sorry, y'all, but you just have to wait on that one.
Instead, I'm going to talk about characters you're not like.
Ever had a gaggle of characters who suddenly decide to do things you're against doing? I know I always seem to. One of them just took up smoking. *shakes head* Characters. Whatever will I do with them?
Smoking, drinking, abortion, etc. Everyone has different views on these things. It's only natural that characters do too. We can glare at them all we want, but if it's what they believe, they'll keep pushing it, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Other than stop writing. We all know that's not happening, though.
But how can you write them? Let's use the smoking example. Maybe you've never smoked. Maybe you're not even close to someone who does. Perhaps you're entirely clueless on the topic. Unfortunately, writers have to take over the search engines and make themselves look like their guilty of a crime if someone decided to go through their search history. Hey, at least you can blame it on writing.
Sometimes you just have to look like you're battling a brain tumor and need to know the symptoms. Need more concise reasons:
1. Your character will haunt your dreams if you do not comply to their wishes.
*coughs* I've never actually had this happen. They torment me, but my dreams tend to twist into messes that are unexplainable and don't really involve my characters. Unless they just send nightmares. I have no idea. I've heard the haunting thing happens, though.
2. It will make your characters seem more real.
Spare me the cardboard, Picasso. If you write about smoking wrong and a smoker picks up your book. . . Well, don't be surprised if the book gets thrown at the wall, and your pretty little binder falls to a limp, lifeless mess down on the floor.
3. It's fun.
Call me an insane, mental asylum escapee, but it's very fun. I enjoy looking up the symptoms of malnutrition. Granted, I also like starving my pitiful characters, so feel free to whack me with newspaper. But it's also fun in the sense that it can often give you a big motivation push. I've been known to research stuff, freak out, then type more words on the page than I usually ever do. Which, these busy days, isn't much.
All I'm saying is, don't be freaked out if your characters don't share the same views as you. I love my Weird Cookie to death, even if he is of different political views, life views, and hates humans (which, if you didn't know, I am part human). The characters can't all be pro-life or pro-choice, can they? There's bound to be a mix. I've got friends in both categories.
Your story will be the better for it!
Have an excellent, writerific day!
Originally posted in October:
Well, Happy Halloween! I don't know if y'all celebrate that or not, but I figured I'd shout it out just in case.
Yesterday I died several times. A. Because mathmatical equations with solutions that are incomprehendable love to sneak up on you and stab you in the back. B. Because characters died and tears would have been cried had not my tear ducts not already short circuited. C. Because those characters *kept* being talked over.
Today I have died again. My friend over at Stardust and Feathers reminded me approximately five minutes ago. Yes, you are speaking to my cold, lifeless shell of a body. As Alley would be saying, "My feels are broken." But, on a side note, y'all should really check out the post at the link above. I thought it was great. Just ignore any "I'm glaring at you, Silence." comments. *whistles inconspicuously*
Well, Nanowrimo starts tomorrow! I'm not doing it myself, but all the hype is still getting me excited. I'm not sure why, though. Maybe it's because I'll get to bug certain friends about their progress.
Yes. You have just met evile, lifeless shell of a cyborg me. *grinneths*
I don't know what I'm on here to write about this morning. Honestly, I thought I was going to be busy, so I didn't plan anything. Guess who woke up early and completed what she needed to get done in about 15-20 minutes?
I don't know. Let's see, we were talking about broken emotions, sooooooooo. Hmm. AHA! There's another real life feeling of not having feelings. Do we ever have moments when something happens that breaks a character's heart?
That character needs a true reaction. Remember Garth from the other day? Let's take the girl he killed even though he'd saved her life previously (even if through a set up trap of his making). So, remember the girl Garth was really trying to get left to think on the horrible things Garth suggested to her and left a stunt-like-double in her place with him? But, if you remember correctly, it was the double who was madly in love with him. He pulled her aside on the night of the ball and told her more details of the crime he wanted to commit. The double, knowing nothing of it, would've faced some major conflictions here.
1. She's with the love of her life even though he loves someone else. 2. She knows it's wrong to let her feelings desire to have the man that was her mistress's fiance. 3. She's loyal to her nation and has been trained to silence any threatening oppositions.
So, I could imagine a big tearfest going on with poor Double. She draws a concealed weapon and threatens to use it on him. She begins attacking, but not as well as she could--her love for Garth clouds her mind and make her attacks weak since she really doesn't want to harm him. Thus, she brings herself to her own ruin when Garth has to fight back and it results in her death.
Of course, the result of broken emotions doesn't necessarily end in death. This was just an example. A character who is suffering something of the like will face their inward problems, and quite possibly outward problems. If those problems aren't fixed properly, consequences will result. I can imagine many scenarios: A boy who's dog has died, for an example that's less romancy, might shut out everyone else. He might turn away new pets and friends and just isolate himself (yes, I'm being a little drastic here) from the world. Because of his inward problems, he might not listen to parental advice and thus place himself in danger (i.e. "Don't play in the street." Yes, also drastic. My mind comes up with some of the worse case scenarios).
Feels/emotions are important to watch. Even if they're happy, they can have consequences or results based off character's internal and external problems or choices. Just look at yourself--Do you react to things differently when you're experiencing a different emotion (smaller scale)? How have you reacted to the big problems?
Pretty much, don't just say the character is sad. Show us, make us feel it, and show us the consequences of the internal and external problems, conflicts, choices, or whatever you have.
p.s. Don't ask me how I came up with that title. I'm not sure. This thing was just yelling at me telling me it couldn't be blank.
Originally posted in October:
I hate cookie-cutter homes. I hate people who all act alike and walk about like fish in a school. I hate not being different.
I hate characters who are all the same.
The above? It drives me nuts. I'm reading a book called Cinder right now. And don't get me wrong--I'm quite enjoying the book (cyborgs. Where do you find books with a main character who's a cyborg?)--but I feel like I've met Lihn Cinder before, and I'm not meaning that as a good thing.
If I look her over, sure, she's different. But why is it that throughout the book I'm sitting there constantly asking where I've seen this character's personality before. I'm meaning more than just personality types, just to clarify. Cinder's voice just strikes me as familiar--too familiar.
As much as I love a good book in a genre I love, I want to be surprised. I'm sure I'm not the only one who yearns for something different. Something unique and original. When I found Tempest by Holly Hook, I was all over it. I ignored the terrible writing and the lame antagonist and the fact that that town in Florida doesn't exist (that may or may not have made me upset). A. I'd never read a book featuring hurricanes. B. The hurricanes were actually people. Insta-love. That, and I loved how it was set in Florida. I have this thing for books set in Florida. I will get uber excited at just a mention of Disney World--and not because of the amusement park. I'm hearing Orlando, Florida.
I'm not asking you to step out of your way and write about human tornados (I think Holly Hook might've done that one too). All I want is for your book--no matter what genre, setting, or overused plot--to be original. It can be done. I've read some books that normally would've earned a yawn that instead earned my respect. I hated the ending to Hero by Mike Lupica, but the story itself was different. Really, I didn't find the plot that exciting or anything. But it was unique and it earned my attention.
Ignore everyone else and write what you need to write. Do not give us the umpteenth Twilight or the next Hunger Games. Those have been done. At least, give us five or ten years of a pause. And like anyone will tell you: Write what you want. It doesn't have to be what you know. I mean, that's a big one for me since I write fantasy. You want to read books about dragons? Well good for you if you're doing such.
And I'm so sorry about this ramble. I just got myself all mad at characters who are all the same this morning.
Oh the things you can think while brushing your teeth.
- Silence Kee
Originally posted in October:
First of all, I ask your forgiveness for my sudden disappearance. The past few days I have been either busy or my mind has been as blank as popsicle stick. If all goes well, you'll have me all week this go round.
Today I'm bringing up backstory again. My head's been immersed in it lately, so I'm sorry if it annoys you. Feel free to say what you want to hear in the comments. Besides, that'll help me out for my popsicle days. Please don't make me eat a popsicle. It is far too cold out.
So, actually starting, how much to do we really know our character's background? Pfft! Like, king Garth is evil andgreedy and wants to take over the entire world.
Yes, yes, we get that. But why? One of my greatest pet peeves in the story of an old friend of mine was her enemy. Sure, she got it across that he was evil, but I didn't know why or what he had done. Of course, I was a timid little coward back then who thought she couldn't say anything because it would hurt the writer's feelings. Yeah, I wasn't the brightest cookie.
Okay, so let's take this Garth character (who, for the record, wasn't a friend's character). What happened to make him crave power? Hmm. Maybe his family had been next to powerless his whole life. He was sick and tired of it, and was determined to make a better life for himself.
Yawns. Too simple. Maybe his family had all the rights and power as any commoner in the nation. But maybe he was powerless specifically. Maybe his parents had beaten him around and abused him all his life. By now, you're probably sitting back watching all the gory details and are proud of yourself for your excellent work in backstory. But we're not yet done. After all, Garth has some decisions to make. He's tired of being abused, so he enlists in the army, where he gets paid to beat up people like his parents had him. He demonstrates skill, and he moves up the ranks. Finally, he's one of the best, but it's not good enough. He doesn't have enough power.
Where could he get more power? Hmm. Ah! The king and queen! No, no, that's too simple. He'd have to work his way in. So let's make him start to eye those princesses. Ah, the eldest is next in line for the throne. But, no, we can't have her. She's engaged. The younger one will do just fine. He'd sort out the other problems later.
But maybe it was more complex that that. Let's go back. Perhaps, as well as he was beat, he'd fallen in love with a girl while his heart was still semi-good. Maybe she'd been beat and abused and he was powerless to help her because of his own position.
What if this same girl had been sold as a slave, ended up in the castle where the king and queen found her and had pity, and then was adopted by them? When Garth starts looking for more power, chances are he'd notice the girl and have his heart strings strung. He may not realize it's her, but it might make his choice easier. He'd marry her and gain access to the larger part of the castle.
Now, how to make him a king? Perhaps the girl does fall for him, and easily plays into his scheme. Or maybe she's not interested and he has to work his way in to get her. Perhaps he sets up a death trap and saves her from immenent death.
Even better yet, it wasn't her but someone posing as her because she was in her lessons. However, she catches wind of what happened and begins to fall for him. Soon they're engages and he's so hopelessy in love with her that he tells her his plan to get rid of her older sister in order for them to be able to rule.
She can't believe it, and leaves to think on what happened. So, at the next ball, the girl Garth dances with is not his princess, but her double, the one who has truly been swooning over him for the past few years ever since he saved her. He swoops her aside where he fills her in on more details of the crime, but the double knew nothing about it and was horrified. She drew a concealed weapon and realized she had to destroy her love. But Garth's sense of destroying things takes over, and before he realizes it, his anger has left him with a limp corpse. Heart torn in two of what he'd done to his love, he fled the scene and disappeared completely for a few years.
He's determined to get the throne now. His love's death wasn't going to be for nothing. He rounds up an army of rogues, storms the castle, and kidnaps the new king and queen, and steals their daughter so that there shall be no more heirs. When their daughter is grown, he shall marry her and be able to call himself the rightful king of the land.
You see? By asking simple questions you can start to unravel whole, complete, and complex backstories that will reveal more sideplots that will strengthen your story into something much more complex and original. Now we don't just know why Garth is evil, but how he became that way, and our hearts are somewhat attached. This was once a young boy who didn't want to be beaten, and he didn't want his love beaten.
It doesn't take much of your time, either. Garth was an old character of mine. However, he was just evil king Garth. I didn't understand backstory back then. Most of this you see here? Made up just this morning. After you get a rough skeleton like this, you can add in all the little details that will bring it to life. Why did Garth fall in love with that girl? Did Garth ever decide to pay his parents back? Did Garth have any siblings who suffered similar beatings? And more importantly, what happened to the true princess, and what does she do?
Ask questions. You can uncover a lot of ground. Hope y'all have a great day!
-Silence a la Grulkey
Originally posted in October:
Yeah, I'm just starting out the day with a random photo of a record player. I'm too lazy to dig out something more appropriate. I'm up and actually have time to write, so I'm not going to waste my time.
Today, I'm going into some tougher language rules I've learned. Please bear wtih me--I know that some of these can be difficult and that I probably won't explain some well enough. Feel free to yell your questions at me in the comments. I'll try my best to answer them.
So, without further ado, and before I start brushing my hair like a madwoman, here are the rest of my tips:
5. Idioms aren't for idiots.
I'm sorry. I've just never been able to get past how the word, idiom, seems so similar to idiot in looks. But, really, they aren't for idiots. A proper language has proper terms that don't make sense to us. I mean, our language is full of attrocities like 'the cat's pajamas.' In Latin there were plenty of strange ones too. But not all idioms have to be confusing: Facta non verba, for example, means 'deeds, not words.' Honestly, this is very similar to our saying that 'talk is cheap.'
Idioms are a part of the language, and more importantly, the culture the language comes from. I doubt most other countries will be sitting around talking about how X is the 'bee's knees.' Our languages need that realism that makes them believable. Idioms are no exception, and should most definitely not be classified as for idiots.
These aren't that different from idioms. Imagine an idiom, but as an insult. Really, I don't have to throw examples here (and I don't really want to) that are in our language. You hear insults? You're going to think of the many different insulting words and phrases you've heard. We all have them. It doesn't matter which culture you go to. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me is a big lie.
And, like idioms, they can be vague. I have one insult that a tribal nation of mine uses where they're pretty much asking their god to claim his victim. However, all they say is "come on fight." It's enough to make us sit back and scratch our heads since we don't fully know the meaning, but in their culture, it's a very serious statement (that's only said all the time. . .I'll never get these people).
Some insults can be classified as cuss words. I really don't do much work here. Sometimes, one will just randomly strike me as a curse word for the language, while others are so simple like part of their word for the sun. Now, y'all are free to go out and think of the most evile fake cuss words you can come up with if you'd like. I don't really find it necessry for my story, so I'm not going to do many. Maybe some simple, mild ones for the language to appear real (I mean, we're not just going to have one cuss word in our vocabulary), but sometimes it's easier just to say that so-and-so cussed. I'll leave that to your own decision.
6. Rules and rule breaking.
Remember back when you took English? You had to learn all of those fancy sayings like 'i before e except after c' and all that jazz? There were rules to English. Languages need and have structure. So too must yours. Once you make up some of it, learn some phrases, and the like, look for certain similarities between the words and how you can make them flow better or be more natural. You might decide to keep an 's' at the end to signify a plural. You might decide to have an 'i.' You might even go with first declension Latin and end with 'ae.' Your decision.
The main thing is, you need to find your rules, then keep them. Sure, most languages have their exceptions. Don't be afraid to break the rules occasionally. But most the time? Play by the fancy-schmancy rules.
I have enjoyed going through my rules with y'all so much. Thank you very much, KatanaLeigh, for asking me to go into this. If any of you have anything in particular you want me to go about writing for y'all, don't be scared to let me know. I seriously enjoy it. While my rules might possibly stink (hey, I'm still a work in progress), I thank you all for listening. Now, go have an excellent day. Hopefully I"ll be right back here tomorrow morning.
-Silence K. Grulkey
So, I had a comment asking me to talk about my fictitious languages. Last night in bed, I decided I'd go with that and figure out how to explain such a thing. It's always come easy to me, really. I had this insane fascination with languages and people not being able to understand me. Took Latin for the first time when I was little. Had strange daydreams of my seeing certain friends and talking to them only in Latin.
I never learned fluent Latin.
Usually, when it came to languages, I stuck to the basics: Speaking words backwards or using Pig Latin. I dah eht tsom nuf gniod taht. Ustjay ayingsay.
But let's face it. Those are too simple. Especially in writing. Out loud? You may have a chance of standing out. I tried getting my siblings to speak it. We never could understand each other--we all pronounced certain words differently.
I always had the right pronunciations, though, you know? *rolls eyes*
Since then, I knew I needed something more challenging. I'd sit with a notebook for hours, doodling out how I could make better languages. Oftentimes, my words came straight from the English language. I just changed or fixed them up. I'd rather not go all into my different processes, otherwise we'd end up with fifty books using the same ficticious language for our group of highly advanced cyborgs (*coughs* Not my story). However, I can give some tips.
1. Make the unbelievable, believable.
Fairly simple tip. I mean, that's just about everything in writing. All I'm meaning is, your words need some sort of realism to them. Not just and random string of hullabaloo. Sure, not every word is going to sound real. I don't ask you to do that. Just make some believable.
In Latin, there are so many words that sound similar to their English counterparts: Poeta, verba, mater, etc. (actually, et cetera is Latin). But it also has so many words that don't sound familiar. Remember Nemo? I think of a fish in a Disney Pixar movie, or the saying: 'Finding Nemo.' How many of us would otherwise put two and two together that is means 'no one?'
Throw in some words that have familiarity. It makes the language easier to understand overall. I won't lie. I've used the words 'Uhamnis' and 'Olocomitev' as words. Human and car, respectively. It's not some crazy, unbelievable mixture of letters. Uhamnis has that sound that without much explaining of the word, it can be understood. Olocomitev makes us think of a locomotive. Though normally a train, we still get the picture that it's a moving vehicle.
2. Don't stress yourselves.
Languages don't have to be complicated or clever. Oftentimes, I'll grab little shortcuts that give me pathways to many languages. Take any language of your choice. You have the internet. You have Google Translate. There are so many ways you can make languages out of them. I've never done this, but what if you blended two languages? English and Hebrew? Japanese and Swahili? Nothing has to be stressful.
3. Don't be afraid to experiment.
Face it: Not every language you come up with will be the bombshell. While you don't have to worry too much about it (I mean, it's not like you'll be writing entire paragraphs of the language in your book), don't be afraid to experiment. Sit down with a notebook and come up with words for everyday usage. Don't be like me who always obsesses over getting the elements like fire and water out of the way. Honestly, take a movie line or some song lyrics, and write down what the words would be in your language. Oftentimes, they'll cover some simple, well used words that your brain just didn't come up with.
4. Have fun.
Now I'm being annoying. Everyone adds "have fun" at the end. Why did I do it? A. I don't want to stop writing because I'll have to get to work (well, actually, I have to get to work in a few minutes anyways). B. I'm having too much fun writing this. And C. It's important to have fun doing it! If you're not having fun, it's just going to be another mundane task that you shove past with the utmost speed, leaving spilt cereal all over the tile floors. If I didn't have fun doing it, I wouldn't have notebooks filled with languages that I can turn to at any time of need. I write fantasy. Languages for my different cultures tends to be a must. It's more realistic.
Besides, what better way to answer a telemarketer call? Go foreign.
Actually, if you're wondering if this is it, it's not. I plan to write a little more on the topic. I just don't have enough time to at the moment. I tend to only have time for a quick post most weekdays. Unless I wake up uber early. Please don't make me. I am not fond of early wake up calls.
Have fun experimenting with your verbosity!
-Silence K. Grulkey
Originally posted in October:
For one of the first times in my life, I'm scared. I'm unsure. I don't know what I'm going to do. And I don't like it.
Ever since I was little, I knew what I wanted to do in life: Write. I was going to write a book, be published, and become a bestselling author. Over the years I've dropped the bestselling part--that's not that likely--but I was going to be an author. That's what I wanted to do with my life.
It's still what I want to do in life.
But I can't live off of it. What if no one picks up my manuscript? What if sales aren't great even if I do? Even if Iwas a bestseller on book one, I still wouldn't have enough to live on.
I need another occupation.
That's what scares me. I recently put my foot down and said I was going to go into marketing, but was that the right choice? Should I have been a photojournalist? A psychologist? A burger flipper? For the first time in my life I'm honestly unsure of what I'm doing.
Sure, I suppose I've been unsure before. I've wondered if writing was the right choice for me, but in those instances, writing's not like anything I could just drop and ignore. It just hasn't been like this. Throughout my life I've had those weird moments when I wondered if I should build websites (imagine me gagging right about now. Computers?Really?) or drawing horses for trading card companies (which this pin could probably detail out for you), but I always went back to writing. That was what I needed to do. I was never really unsure of it. I'm still not.
So I'm scared. I don't know what to do. I've made you all listen to this long, boring rambles with no apparent purpose. But I do have one.
What if this is what our characters feel?
Lame question. I know. What about this makes anyone stoked (don't ask. I just had the strange urge to say stoked)? But, really: Don't we make our characters hopelessly lost and unsure? Don't we scare them out of their minds and place them in the most terrible situations we could place them in? My feeling is practically nothing next to theirs.
I have those weird moments when I stop and wonder if the things I'm feeling are what my characters feel. Ugh. I'm horribly tired. . . I hate this. . . I need sugar or caffeine or something. . . Wait. Is this what my poor, malnourished character feels everyday? And he's used to it? How could anyone live like that?
If you don't have scared, insecure characters, I believe it's important. Everyone has things that frighten them, and certain things scare them to death. I mean, that's just life. I'll freak out over bees and wasps and I will worry about losing people. I don't always open up because of that. Sometimes it can take you several months to break down my walls (and you're probably an awesomely weird person to do that--compliment, by the way). I can't help that I'm that way. Honestly, I have no idea why I'm frightened of bees. I always freak out around them. Don't get me started on the time one decided to hitchhike on my jeans.
Take my character, Jef-Jef, for example. He's shut himself off almost completely from the world. He's tired of "hurting" people, and them hurting him. He feels like he can't trust people. He won't open up to his foster family. He'll just be moving on to a new one sooner or later. That was how life worked. He was never going to find a family. Even his own family shut him out. His mother abandoned him and his father kicked him out. Who is he supposed to trust?
Everyone has their insecurities. Don't forget to leave them out of your characters. You'll probably hear me going on about this till the end of time, but please don't make them cardboard Barbie dolls you push around across your bed acting out a "story." I mean, I'm sure I'm not the only one who grabbed dolls, figurines, or stuffed animals and made them the characters of some great story in which they were the worst characters ever imaginable. Our characters are real. We need to remember that and not push around cardboard images of them.
My mom never did understand why I didn't like babydolls. Honestly, all in all, I was more into stuffed animals (who had the most epic names ever and talked and had the chance of being total drama queens) who acted out my stories. Babies didn't talk. They only were fun if I was "pregnant" and were stuffed up my shirt (please tell me I'm wasn't the only weird seven year old who did that). Ahem. All I needed was something to act out my pitiful plots with pointless characters and overcontrolling Barbie mothers.
We don't want to stay in the overcontrolling Barbie mothers stage, do we? Don't forget to make those characters real. This doesn't mean you have to fill out one of those fancy character questions lists (which I congratulate you if you can complete since some of my characters find it horribly weird that I ask them what their favorite drink is) or anything like that. I just beg you to make them real.
And I digress about my old Barbies with superpowers again. . .
-Silence K. Grulkey
P.S. Oddly, I never was really into Barbies. Mine were only awesome because they were the really old ones with the arms that were sitting in 90 degree angles. Which, was awesome till my favorite one lost her old legs and "died." Sorry, Midge. You transformed into an animal for the very last time.
Originally posted in October:
What would the point of taking Latin for 2+ years be if not to write insane sounding blog titles? Technically I was going to write this one yesterday, but the internet had to go and delete everything I wrote. Then it was later than I usually post and I still had things to do, so I went to one of the easier sounding options.
Nomen et Nemo. Name and No One. If there's anything Latin will do for you, it will give you an idea of what "nomenclature" means without looking up the definition and give you totally new ideas regarding "finding nemo."
After all, how do you find no one? Unless you're a giant cyclops living in ancient times when there are certain evile heroes going around poking you in the eye and calling themselves Nobody.
And there I go and digress again.
The way I see it, nomenclature and certain nobodies are important in stories. Have you ever picked up a book and been able to tell a lot about a person's surroundings or parents just by his or her name? I recently discovered that a certain character who hadn't been telling me her name was called Java by her parents. I soon after found that her mother thought that names needed meaning and was a little eccentric. Also, she'd just gotten adventurous with her younger daughter. Her other daughter's names were much more tame, being Bronya (she was convinced it meant bronze) and Eve.
I also think it's important to make names right for the era or nation, depending on what kind of book you're writing. I don't do much of anything in the historic or contemporary genres (that is no offense to those genres--I still quite enjoy reading them), but even fantasy, science fiction, and other similar genres need to have suitable names. I write fantasy most of the time. I have multiple nations and I have guidelines I set myself regarding each nation. The dwarves, for example, won't name their children anything that has more than four letters. Sure, maybe that's not a sort of complex nomenclature, but each nation will have different names to represent them. Names that will clue the reader into who exactly they're meeting.
It rather stinks, though. I named one dwarf Cato, after the Roman leader, but I'm afraid The Hunger Games is going to make me change that.
I mean, if you're writing historic fiction, you should make sure that your names fit the era. Contemporary? If you're writing anything with people from other nations, make sure that they have names suitable for the country in particular. We writers in the more make-believe worlds might have it easier in the fact that we can name our characters almost anything, but even we need to add order to our names. If that requires giving one nation names of only four letters or less, so be it.
And then we come to Nemo. Never trust that a certain nobody is really no one. Often times, they're more important than you realize. Besides, no one's tend to have some of the most interesting stories. My character, B? He was a nobody when I first met him. Some random somebody who somehow appeared in my story. Little did I know that he was the main person who got my MMC (main male character) where he was. He wasn't necessarily a nobody in the backstory, that's for sure.
A character who's not there for much of anything? Don't trust those feelings. My simple, cardboard-would-envy-them, Mary-Sue's (somehow this got to being the saying used for "perfect" characters) of characters will come to me a year or so later and slap me as they show me their true purpose. Then I'm eternally annoyed with them for not telling me sooner.
Just don't be scared to press those certain characters for answers. Besides, it's a great activity when you're sitting in that hospital lobby for 45+ minutes. Just saying.
Now to end this ramble.
-Silence K. Grulkey
Originally posted in October:
The girls over at Notebook Sisters are geniuses. Utter geniuses. That's all I have to say. They came up with the brilliant idea of writing letters to your characters. You know I just have to do such.
So, while I neither have the time nor the patience to make gorgeous photo version of the letters because I still have half a presentation to complete before Tuesday, but hopefully sooner, I'll post the contents here. Be warned, I often call my characters by names that aren't quite their's. It annoys them so much, but that's half the fun.
Dear Pretty Boy,
You annoy me so much. You have that evil, dolphin laugh, that impish grin, and you hate anyone with stubby, human ears. You argue constantly with people you shouldn't argue with and one day you might get stabbed in the back because of it (literally). As far as I know, you shouldn't die, so please don't go doing something stupid. One day, you'll fall in love, and I can't wait till you meet her. You will freak out. Be warned. I'm tired of you not realizing that you are a horrid person who's accusing people you don't know of doing things you can't prove. And maybe you should actually listen to your dad. I'm not going to say anything I shouldn't, but running off like that to join the army is going to get you in a mess you never dreamed of.
P.S. Say hi to Lucy for me. Maybe yell something uncomprehendable like you normally do.
I'm sorry about all the pain I've caused you, and please forgive me for forcing you to live where it's cold, with only the vaguest memories of the sun. I've stolen your family, your home, and your life, leaving you a prisoner with uncaring people. I want to hug you and love you, but I know you'd cast me away. I'm a horrible not-so-much-of-a-twin to you and as an author I've ruined your life. I can't help that it has to be this way. The faeries found you and stole you, and that's all I can say. All I want is your forgiveness. There's still hope, and maybe you can set things right. Don't give into your anger. Just do what needs to be done.
I'm so sorry,
P.S. Please don't rip his heart out, and deal nicely with those two you're going to kidnap.
I know you hate me calling you Jef-Jef, but please just deal with me here. Your one word responses are killing me and I desperately want to slap you when you use them. I don't care that you're my favorite. Like I was saying to Alley earlier, it's not that odd that I want to smack Crayon (who is only the most annoying elf on the planet) when I get the desire to smack you. Don't worry, I'll be a good girl and stick to biting my pillow, but really. Do you have to be so quiet? To me? I pity you greatly, and you probably get annoyed by that, but I can't help but want to hug Mr. I-Don't-Wanna-Be-Hugged you. You've been through a lot. If it's any comfort, I think it will get better.
Hoping she doesn't sound like an utter idiot,
P.S. Please don't hate me for what happens in my Big Bang (I may have nicknamed something that will happen to you in the future).
As an added bonus, you get one on here too, even though you're not my character. I still can't get over our introduction. I lovethed it. Just saying. Please don't hate me over any aspect of flattering you. I called you Fluffy. No one here should know who you are. This will be between you, your author, and myself. I hope you don't take me to be one of those big mouthed, annoying, I-like-my-hair-so-much girls by doing this. You are just one of my favorite characters that I know of in your author's book. I love your sister and your friend, Z, but I really like you. I feel sad for you because you look at everything like it's the worst thing ever invented, but you have some excellent points. I can be way too optimistic. I can't always help that. According to something I read, I have one of the most optimistic personality types. Feel free to hand me a big wad of paper so that I may whack myself on the head repeatedly. I'll end this now. I've embarrassed you enough.
Not so sure she should've posted this,
P.S. I can't wait to read your story.
Ahem. This was fun. I may have only wrote short letters, but I don't care. That was fun. I need to do the rest of my characters. Not necessarily on here (I have a lot of characters), but I'm hoping that these weren't boring to you all. Have an amazing day!
Wondering if this post is worth it or not,
P.S. I don't hate you.