On Characters: Real or Figmentation?

Greetings, readers! March is already well underway (practically half over already!) and I find myself constantly boggled by how the time flies. For the next couple of weeks here we’re going to focus on characters, answering a couple of questions about their development and working with them and all that great stuff.

This week’s topic is (drum roll, please) . . .: Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Answer: No and yes, but then yes and no. Confusing? I agree. Allow me to explain.

When I first began this TJT project, most of the characters were actually based off characters from the story that inspired TJT. But a good deal of them I made up on the spot and as I went. I made no conscious effort to model my fictitious creations after real-life individuals (living or dead). However, the longer I worked with them and the more they developed and the more I got to know them, I began to see some parallels in people I know. Of course, every last one shares at the very least one trait with myself. As their author that’s pretty inevitable, even we as humans share that image with God, our maker and author.

I saw in Iris long ago quite a bit of myself (and a whole lot of what I wish I could be (she’s far more kind and compassionate and much less squeamish than I am)) Since then I found myself asking the question of ‘how would I react in that situation?’ How she interacts with the company is pretty heavily based on how I might (or think I might) behave in the same environment.

Jonquil is very similarly so, but I discovered one day that he shares a lot of traits with my elder brother. The anxiety, the reclusiveness, the lack of appreciation for heights (which I LOVE), among others. While the two are very different, I couldn’t help but notice the synonymous personalities, and, for me, it just makes the two that much more endearing.

Sergil is not so much like me as he is my father. He might even look a bit like my father (if dad had a once-broken nose, brown eyes, and longer hair . . . so maybe not so much). Both spent some time in the armed forces (although my father (thankfully) never saw war) and have that kind of discipline. Neither are exceptionally deep when it comes to expressing their emotions to others, and they like to get things done ─ sitting around waiting and doing nothing is most certainly not on their list of favorite things to do. (Not to make my dad sound like a stiff person, because he’s really not at all).

These three expressed the most noticeable congruencies with real people around me, which just goes to show the influences people have, that they can weasel their way into character development without mine or their intent. My characters all started out purely from my imagination, but the imagination is fed from the people and relationships and environments and experiences surrounding us. It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw that said ‘Be careful, or you’ll end up in my novel’ ─ which I think is great and totally true.

So, no, my characters are not based off real people and yes, they’re entirely from my imagination, but then, yes, some of my characters are influenced by real people so, no, they’re not pure figmentations. Does that make any sense? I guess this just goes to show that my character development process is still unripe!


The Goodreads Giveaway for Adventures in Isle is still underway, with only two weeks left, so don’t miss this opportunity to enter for a chance to win one of seven autographed copies, each with their own series bookmark!

Reynwood’s Reviews: The Thief

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Title: The Thief

Series: The Queen’s Thief  #1

Author: Megan Whalen Turner


“I can steal anything.”

After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. The king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task ─ to steal a hidden treasure from another land.

To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.


My thoughts:

I picked this jewel up at a library book sale one day, thinking it might be interesting. Little did I know what I was getting into! Every time I read this (and it’s been several, by now) I can’t help but admire how Turner tells the story with such an ease that takes you along page by page. It’s one of those, “Oh, just one more chapter” kinds of stories, and ten chapters later you realize it’s one in the morning. I couldn’t bring myself to put it down (yet again). A good story is a good story no matter how many times you read it.

The narrative itself is written in first person (which, I unreservedly admit, isn’t my personal favorite POV) but even so I enjoyed it. We read from Gen’s point of view, and even though we’re privy to his thoughts, we still don’t get the full scope of what’s going on until the end. We’re still able to learn about Gen bit by bit throughout as the event progress, and I liked that.

The story flows smoothly from one part to the next in a style I can appreciate as both a reader and a writer, and you just can’t help falling in love with the characters. Ambiades is a total snot, Sophos is adorable, Pol’s steadfast devotion is admirable; I found the magus to be a little layered, not especially endearing at first, but once you get to know him he’s actually a pretty nice guy. Gen . . .  Gen is a piece of work. He admitted himself that his own tongue has gotten him into most of the fixes he’d suffered, and his wit certainly is sharp. He’s got a strong will, but not always as selfish as he’d like us all to believe.

You can’t help but like him.

With such a great cast of characters on a quest that turns into a bit more than any of them bargained for, The Thief is a tale well worth the read time and time again.


Learn more about Megan Whalen Turner on her website or Goodreads page, and don’t forget to grab a copy of The Thief to read for yourself!

 

Let the Adventures Begin

Hey, y’all! How’s everyone’s March so far? Over here we’re waiting for a sap season revival so we can make some more maple syrup (so good). I was supposed to be here a couple days ago (sorry) but a technical goof on my part postponed what all I have to announce. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

With the onset of March, this month we’re ‘celebrating’ volume 3, Adventures in Isle!

The cover didn’t receive such a dramatic change as the previous two, but I did update it a wee bit, having it brightened up and the text layout switched up a mite. I like it better, and (more importantly) it’s more symmetrical with its forebears.

The updated interior is also pretty sweet, and you can now get this 425 page beauty for your very own collection:

Also, the Goodreads giveaway for this volume is already underway, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to vie for a chance to win a free copy! There are seven available ─ all signed ─ and each comes with a super cool series bookmark that will only increase the awesomeness of your reading experience.

And with that I must say adieu for now ─ there’s a lot of work to do in preparation for next month!

I Dub Thee

Greetings, ladies and gents! How has everyone’s February been? I can hardly believe we’re on the last legs already, myself ─ how time flies!

In today’s post I’m going to talk about the title of The Journey Taken, which is a mild story of a prolonged struggle and ultimate defeat. Defeat, you say? Yes. And this is the way of it:

When I first began working on this project I didn’t know right off the bat what I wanted to call it. Titles are fickle things that way, I’ve discovered, and I wanted it to be a good one. However, while developing the plot, characters, and story in general, I needed to call it something, so for the time being I referred to it as ‘The Journey Taken story’, because that was a big, overarching theme in the narrative ─ that of the company journeying from this place to that place and then the next, and I’d know what my notes were referring to (because my notes are always a jumbled up, messy, disastrous nightmare). I thought I’d come up with a different series title later on. Well, it didn’t happen, though I tried, and after a year passed I had volume one ready to publish and I still didn’t have anything. It was like by brain went dead the moment it turned to the subject, either unwilling or unable to craft something else. I couldn’t come up with a different series title, so, feeling defeated, I kept ‘The Journey Taken’. I’ll admit it doesn’t sound very catching, but it does capture the essence of what the story is about, I think. Not just the physical journey of walking from point A to point B, but also the metaphysical journey the characters take ─ the maturing they undergo during the hardships and trouble they face, the emotional struggles, and the personal development they experience as the story progresses and the stakes increase. It’s a journey not only taken to save the current world from a destruction of fire and chaos, but a journey to bring each individual to their fullest potential, to test them and make them stronger than they were before ─ to realize who they are, what they’re capable of, and what their purpose is.

So, in that sense, I think ‘The Journey Taken’ is a rather apt title for this adventure.


Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enter for a chance to win a copy of volume two, The Northward Expedition! The giveaway ends in seven days, at the end of the month; each copy is autographed and comes with a super cool series bookmark.


Also, beginning on Thursday, the 23rd, the ebook copy of The Northward Expedition will be FREE on Amazon until the following Monday, so check it out!

The Pen, Archenemy of Forgetfulness

Hello, and happy Saturday! There’s been a lot happening this past week, so here’s just my two cents on a subject that hits pretty close to home with myself as a writer.

I once read a quote somewhere that said ‘The greatest lie people tell themselves is that they don’t need to write it down because they’ll remember it.’ I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up with an idea for a story or a quote that (I thought) was awesome or a name I really liked and might use for a character and proceeded to not write it down right then because I thought I could remember it until later. WRONG. So, so very wrong, because then I (without fail, usually) end up getting distracted and forgetting it. It’s not until later that I remember I had an idea, and by then I can never remember what that idea was, and then I hate myself.

As writers it’s very important to write things down (kind of in the job description, actually) because inspiration has a tendency to strike and random and our next greatest story might come (and usually does) while we’re in the middle of scrubbing the bathroom floor. Or some other activity. It’s a good habit to jot those things down while you have them, instead of trying to remember it until later. Your memory will betray you and hide it away or toss it out the window. This is very important, so much so that I now have a notepad with ‘write it or lose it’ printed on every sheet, which I then tack to my doorframe (for lack of a better place, but at this point I might have to branch out because I have so many).

Even if you’re not a writer, it’s not a bad idea to write things down when you think of them, then even if (and when) you forget that phone message you were supposed to pass on three days after you took it, you have it on paper to help you remember and not make a total shmuck of yourself. It’s why God gave us pens and paper, I’m pretty sure.


Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Northward Expedition, volume 2 of The Journey Taken! Each copy comes signed and includes a series bookmark (how fun is that?)!

Initiate Stage 2

Here we are, people! We kicked January off with a giveaway of volume 1, and this second month of February will be welcomed with a second giveaway, this time for volume 2, The Northward Expedition. Didn’t make it the last time? Enter this giveaway for another chance! There are seven copies available, all signed, and including a series bookmark (but really, you won’t need to hold your place, because you’ll probably just read it all the way through in the first sitting).

This rerelease features a brand new coat for vol. 2 as well as updated and dressed up interior, to give you the best, most coolest experience possible. You’ll wonder at just how awesome it all is.

The giveaway, hosted on Goodreads, begins this very day and lasts until the 28th, so enter for a chance to win – and let people know! Spread the word of this sweet opportunity to share a story!

 

If you simply can’t wait for the end of the month to see if you’ve won, or if you want more than one copy (keep and share!) Here are some links to places you can make some of the best purchases ever:

Straight from the publisher

Amazon

Ebook

Check out the page dedicated to TNE for more links and info, it’s neat.

A Piece of the Process

Hello! I’m back in, and boy has it been quite a week. I have for you today another topic of interest to expound upon: the writing process.

To be blatant, there are as many processes for writing as there are people who write. Every individual is different (hence ‘individual’) and the method one goes about something is unique to them. It’s also a learning process, at least it was for me. When I began writing I had no real education on ‘how’ to write a story, I just began writing what I wanted to say, having gained some capacity for prose from reading. See, reading stokes the fires of imagination and creativity, and if you read a LOT, like I did (and so so many others) you pick up on things. Albeit, some people are born with the ‘writer affinity’, a talent for stories they were simply made to have, but you don’t become awesome at it without work. Taking something you enjoy doing and developing that to an even greater level of skill is a joy not only for you, but those around you. I began as a total and complete amateur. I loved stories and I loved the idea of sharing the stories I have, so I wrote without having any real plan or ‘process’ in mind. Only after I’d been doing it for a while, peeking into the world of other writers and the vast amount of information they shared about their own experiences and whatnot, did I begin to realize the truth: apparently writing wasn’t so simple as I thought it was. There’s actually a lot of forethought and planning that goes into a really good story, but then, if you think about it, every great piece of art has a bucketload of blood, sweat, and tears behind it.

My own writing process is, I think, still under development. I haven’t hashed out a system of operation down to the wee details yet. TJT has truly spurred my growth, though, from where I began so very long ago. Some people ask if you write more by logic or intuition/ purpose or instinct, or some combination of the two, and I’d have to say that, for me, it would have to be the lattermost. It’s the intuition that directs where and how I use my logic ─it’s the idea of “I want to do this” or “I want this to happen” and then figuring out how to make that a reality in a convincing way. I like planning things out, too, and with whatever project you’re working on, plotting is essential (otherwise you make stupid/silly mistakes that bite you in the butt later). I do like to develop a plotline, as it helps give me a direction for the story and keeps me on track, because digression is a disease. A malady. An icky germ. That’s one thing I appreciate about the editing part of the writing process, you can go back and see the yucky parts, the unnecessary parts ─ the dross ─ and expunge. Sometimes it’s painful, yes, but sometimes good things aren’t painless (think about getting a tooth pulled, or surgery, or budgeting ─ not really painless, but ultimately beneficial).

So, to summarize the above blather, my writing process is, so far, thus: I get an idea for a story, take that raw material, and heat it in the fires, plotting, developing (the analogies that can be used for this are numerous, quite, quite numerous). What helps me in the actual writing of the story is to picture it as a movie playing. That was a tip I came across ages ago, and it’s really helped me visualize what’s going on and to describe what I see. I’ve found myself narrating in my dreams, sometimes. I’ve found  myself watching movies and thinking about how I would put it into words (I’m bad at watching movies). I plot and I visualize and I write everything down, because if you don’t write it down you’ll forget and hate yourself. At the same time, writing the story and being immersed by it also helps me further develop my plot, so the two actually go hand-in-hand. My plots are very flexible and basically cover key points or events that I want to include, kind of like the dots on one of those connect-the-dots games. When all those smaller pieces are connected in the narrative, I love being able to stand back and see this bigger picture. It’s very rewarding.


Don’t forget! There’s a giveaway running for A Journey Begins, enter to win one of seven copies + a super awesome series bookmark.


Also, coming up next week, there’ll be running a promotion on Amazon for a Kindle version! Available copies are unlimited, but it’ll only last the week, so no procrastinating. If you’ve been waffling, take the opportunity to snag the first bite of this sweetness while you can! It begins on the 23rd, so mark thou calendars, fine folk, and await the day with the appropriate anticipation.