Saturday, April 30, 2011
Not just comics, but sound descriptive words are fun in various other types of writing. Maybe a character has favorite ones, or maybe it helps emphasize a certain component within a scene.
Do you have any favorite sounding words? What about your characters? Have fun with the A to Z challenge? Hard to believe today is the last day. It feels like only yesterday when I was blogging about altruism, books, and culture.
10 stories? The challenge originally started out as a story each day, but for the past few years (I'm not sure how long ago) different levels were added for people to aim for. There is the 10 story level, the 15 level, the 20 level, and the 31 stories level. The 31 level is there for those who do want to try for a story a day. Stories for the challenge need to have a minimum of 500 words and have a beginning/middle/end. A group of 5 drabbles can also count as a story. A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.
The challenge also involves using various story/idea generators for most of the stories. There are a variety of generators linked in the challenge thread, and participants can keep playing with a generator until it sparks the muse. I have fun with the generators, it adds a nice little challenge to writing a story and it is a good push to write something different then I might have otherwise.
The challenge is only open to members of FM Writers, but anyone can join the forum. I've mentioned the forum in my R for resources post, there is plenty there for writers. Here is the thread with all the details about the challenge. This link will only work for people logged into the forum.
There, now off to write my Z post, visit back people who have stopped by here, and check out some more A to Z bloggers.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Short post for today, and a bit of a revisit topic wise. Yoga. Exercise with focus on controlling the mind and body. I also like to think about the stretching and balancing aspects of it. For me my favorite part of yoga is striking a pose and feeling myself balance and my muscles stretching.
What do your characters do for fitness and to unwind? What about your favorite exercises?
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Nothing really struck me for a post topic until I read through the X definition. Webster's 2 mentions that X is the Roman numeral for 10. I like numbers and all, plus 10 has a nice metric vibe to it so I figured what the heck.
Which of course got me thinking about years. Awhile back I put together a 10 year plan for myself in MS Project. The main goal being to have several finished novels. I set a specific length of time for first drafts and revisions, and research, having one task lead into the next. Unfortunately I got behind in my writing which threw the whole thing off. For now I'm going to concentrate on revising one of my current drafts and seeing how long a revision pass takes me. Then maybe I'll revise my 10 year plan.
If you asked them, where would your characters see themselves in 10 years time? What do you have in mind for them in said time. And what about you? Any hopes, dreams, goals, of where you would like to be in the next 10 years? For me I'd love to be a published novelist, with several novels out. I'm not sure what else right now.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Mario cart for the Wii is also fun. I'll admit I get the music from the various race tracks stuck in my head. I usually race as Peach with her wild wing car.
What kinds of games (electronic or otherwise) do your characters enjoy? What sorts of games do you like. Heck, I have favorite board games I could blog about sometime.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Now that we are in the home stretch of the challenge I thought victory would be a fun post topic.
Victory can be seen in multiple ways. It can be winning the big game, or it can be a more personal victory like a newly achieved goal. And there are even victory dances.
What have your characters done that they would consider a victory? Would other characters see it as such?
And with the challenge what victories have you had? For me I've met some great people and I've also been blogging regularly for a few weeks now.
So I'm going with whatever pops into my head, and today's U post is for utopia. Basically utopia is an ideal community or society, but if you think about it that can mean different things for different people. In fiction we tend to steer away from a utopian society because there needs to be conflict to help drive the story forward. Sure, sometimes a world might look utopian at first glance, but as you get into the story more you can see the little negatives piling up and realize what the characters are up against.
I was out at my mom's house for Easter yesterday, and my husband and I drove along Lake Erie on the way out (and back) to see her. Since husband was driving I got to take my time and gaze across the lake. Looking directly across the water there is a little ribbon of land where water meets sky; Canada. And looking diagonally the city of Buffalo is visible. Buffalo was cool in the day, but when we drove home at night It was all lights against the inky black sky and lake. I had some fun letting my imagination ponder over the scene and how it could fit into various world setups. Without much of the landscape to frame the buildings those lights could have been of any future/past city in any sort of world.
So what types of things would your character want to see in a utopia? What 'tweaks' on utopia do you like to write into your books or read in other books?
Saturday, April 23, 2011
This is Trixie, my husband and I brought her home from the local shelter shortly after we got married. She's been my pal ever since. This is my lap cat, the cat who loves to get attention all the time, and who still likes to chase the string. She's 9 years old and still fairly active.
She likes to greet us on weekend mornings. She'll wander into the bedroom and crawl all over us, then she'll nudge my face to get me to pet her.
He does have a bad habit of stealing spots. He waits until one of us gets up of the sofa then will jump right into the recently vacated spot and make himself comfortable. In this picture he's in my spot on the sofa, that's my lap blanket he's up against.
This is our plays with water cat. She loves to drop toys in the water dish, sometimes getting water on the floor in the process. I had to take away their knit toy because it would wick all the water out of the dish.
Friday, April 22, 2011
But there are more then five senses that us humans have, even if we are not aware of them at the same level as the traditional five. These other senses include proprioception, pain, and balance amongst others.
Proprioception is our body's way of determining location of our body parts relative to other parts and objects around us. This is what tells us that our arm is resting against a surface, perhaps the arm rest of an easy chair. This is something that we can notice the absence of. When I was younger I used to toss and turn at night, and there were a few times I had pinched a nerve in my arm. With me having been asleep it was past the point of simple tingling that usually happens. I couldn't feel my arm at all, and I didn't know where it was because the nerves in said arm weren't communicating that information back. I had to find that arm with my other arm, and once I massaged the feeling back in it was fine. But it was the weirdest sensation to not know where a limb was.
Balance is something else that we normally aren't aware of but can be. Most of the time our body simply uses that information to make adjustments to our movements/position without us having to think about it. For me I became more aware of balance when I took ballet lessons. When we would be doing various dance steps we had to find our center of balance, the point at which we wouldn't fall over one way or the other. With making a point of concentrating on that I could feel the point at which I was centered. I have that same feeling now when I do yoga on the Wii. With the different poses I have to make different adjustments to find that center of balance. (Yes, I love doing yoga)
I could talk about pain, but I'm sure people are more familiar with that then the other two I discussed. Plus to I don't want to make this post to long. I think senses are interesting when applied to characters. How would your character react to the sudden loss or impairment of a sense? Or what if one of their senses is stronger than normal? Which senses provide information they are more likely to remember? Do they picture that scene from the trip to the mountains, or do they have an auditory memory of the birds singing in the woods? Or perhaps they can still taste that stew they had the other night.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Forward Motion for Writers - This is a community site for writers aiming for publication. I've been a member for a few years now and I adore the community of the site. There are a variety of areas to participate in, from weekend challenges, yearly word count/edit marathons, writing related dares, daily/yearly writing goals, and more.
Holly Lisle's Shop - She has some very useful e-books for writers, at reasonable prices. I've bought different titles from here over the years, some of which I've read on my PC, others I had put on my Palm. My favorites are the clinic series (Create a Character Clinic), the 33 mistakes series, and Lazette Gifford's 2 year novel series (I have book 1).
Unrestricted Stock Photography/art - This is a listing of stock art accounts on DeviantArt that allow unrestricted use of their stock (see the rules on the page). They can be handy for sprucing up a blog, making a scene from a novel, visualizing your characters. They are commonly used for photo manipulation, and other visual art references.
Database Stuff: I've been working on an Access database over the years for my writing, and I have an empty version of the file that I might share out at some point if anyone is interested. I does require having the MS Access program. I started the database before I had Access 2007, so some of the forms and report formatting is a bit off. I'd want to clean it out before sharing.
I'm also open to discussing database design, so maybe some of the ideas I've had might help others in organizing their writing stuff. My current database is for top level data on a variety of areas. For example I can enter in all my characters names, personality type, goal (in 255 characters or less), who they are related to, ect. But for more extensive notes I still use Word.
With databases the actual data is stored in tables. Access is a relational database, so data in one table can be used along with data in other tables. These are the tables in my database:
Agents, Characters, Goals (my writing goals), Markets, Progress, Series, Submissions (what work was sent to which agent when), and Works.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
With writing and characters it can be interesting to think about how your characters may answer various questionnaires. For some of my characters I've taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) answering the questions as my characters would. Figuring out how my characters would answer the questions helps me to get to know them better. Plus to taking it for multiple characters lets me see what range of types I have within my cast of characters. I linked to this awhile back, but here is a handy blog post (Plot to Punctuation) that really has some nice examples of using the MBTI.
As I was struggling to think of a Q post I started thinking that it would have been fun to blog about Q from Star Trek. Though I was able to get a Q that fit into my topic.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Basically put, psychology is the science of human behavior which includes thoughts and feelings. Early on in my studies we learned about the "ABCs of Psychology"; which are A for affect (emotion/feeling), B for behavior, and C for cognition (thinking/thoughts/attitudes).
Psychology also has many areas of study; social, personality, cognitive, behavioral, biological and more. These areas cover more specific parts of psychology. Social psychology studies how humans interact with each other. When I posted about altruism for my A post, this is a topic I learned about in my social psychology class. We also covered group dynamics.
Personally, I love how nicely psychology ties into writing. Characters are mostly human, or at the very least intended for humans to be reading about. For me it is fun to apply various psychological concepts to character development. I like to think how my characters turned out the way they did, how they interact with others, how they see the world. These are things you can think about your own characters, or favorite characters in books you have read.
And yes, psychology is a science.
Monday, April 18, 2011
It can be interesting to think about which of our characters may be more optimistic than others. How has being optimistic helped your character? For those less optimistic characters, do they get bothered by overly optimistic people? Do they sometimes wish they could have a more positive outlook?
Saturday, April 16, 2011
When I first started writing I used to spend time matching name meanings to my characters personalities. Then I had an epiphany. If anything a character's name is more reflective of their parents then the character (at least in some cultures). Parents choose a name for their child that they like. It could be passing a relative's name down, it could be an attribute they wish for their child, or simply be something that sounds nice.
I can use my name as an example. For a few months while pregnant with me my mom had the name Amanda in mind. Then she saw a movie (Brother Sun Sister Moon) about St Francis and St Clare of Assisi. She ended up choosing St Clare as my namesake. She is an interesting choice, she started a religious order amongst other things. I remember learning about how St Clare defied her father to join St Francis when I was younger. I like to take out of her story that she was a strong woman who had in mind how she wanted to live her life and did so.
So how do your characters come into their names? Do their parents have anything specific in mind? Are your characters in a society where they choose their own names as a rite of entering adulthood? Do you have any interesting stories about your name?
And because this relates well to my topic, Valerie Comer wrote a nice post on naming characters. She has some good tips in her post.
Friday, April 15, 2011
So what scares your characters? What makes them think twice about doing what they need to do? What fears did they have that they now have overcome? Do they confide in others about their fears? Do they take advantage of the fears of others? Do they reside in a world with actual monsters?
I had been planning on writing about memory tonight, but then I decided I wanted to do something fun. I still may write about memory at some point as it is interesting to think about in terms of characters. "Monster in the closet" was a theme at one of the meetings of the writing group I'm a member of. I guess it stuck a bit.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Imitation is an early form of learning, before we have enough cognitive development for other types of learning. As the name implies this is learning through copying the actions of others.
Classical conditioning is a pairing of two stimuli, once the learning occurs there is an association between the two. For example, Pavlov and his dogs. He would ring a bell then give the dogs food. The dogs learned to associate the bell with food, and would salivate when they heard the bell.
Operant conditioning is a little more complex than classical. This involves reinforcing a behavior with the purpose of increasing occurrences of said behavior or decreasing occurrences. For example, Thorndike and his cats. He had put cats (one at a time) in a puzzle box with the intent of them figuring out how to escape. The cats would simply lie down, he had to have food outside the box (the reward) to get the cats to engage the door in the box.
This list not exhaustive there are other types of learning. I just thought these would be interesting to blog about today.
What types of actions might your character have imitated from others while younger? How has their behavior been shaped by associations made? How might their parents/friends/others reinforced various actions? How do they want to influence the behaviors of others.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
"Knowledge is a detailed familiarity with, or understanding of, a person, thing or situation. It can include facts and information, as well as understanding that is gained through experience, education or reason. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); and it can be more or less formal or systematic."
The Wiki article also mentions how knowledge is acquired through various processes; such as perception, learning, and communication amongst others. I think the perception piece of acquiring knowledge is particularly interesting. If you think about it, we all perceive things differently which can influence how we learn what we learn. So different people can learn different things from each other, even in the same situation/environment.
And of course this is fun to think of for our characters. How easy is it for them to learn new things? How comfortable are they with learning? What types of knowledge to they value? And what about the culture they live in, what values are placed on knowledge and the acquisition of that knowledge.
Yes, this poor post is a bit disjointed, I spent about 2 hours at the dentist's office this afternoon.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
A job description, a document that defines someones responsibilities. Some workplaces have more specific ones while others have more general ones. There is much more that could be added in this section, but I'm keeping it short because the character part is catching my muse more.
Characters need some means of support, and it can be useful to think about what sorts of tasks they do on a regular basis for that pay check. What sort of job do they have? What do they like about their job? What don't they like about their job? How does their job influence their identity and self-esteem? How did they get their job?
When it comes to fantasy, historical fiction, and characters who don't have traditional "being employed by someone else" jobs there aren't going to be job descriptions. In these cases it can be interesting to still think about what sorts of tasks a character does to make sure they have food clothing and shelter.
Monday, April 11, 2011
- Different people focus on different attributes/traits for their identity.
- Culture tie in - what is important to a culture influences what traits/attributes individuals within the culture use to define themselves.
- People don't exist in a vacuum, identity also has a self verses others. People compare their self to others and see who others are and who they are.
- Sometimes occupation can define a person, which can have a greater or lesser influence on the person's identity depending on the individual and the culture. It can be seen as a bad thing if their occupation is their whole identity.
- And identity is comprised of a mix of attributes. For example someone can see them self as a compassionate generous person who is cleaver and creative and outgoing.
How do your characters identify themselves? What is important to them in said definition for them. While identity can be useful for characters of any age it is especially important in young adult (YA) fiction. In YA the main characters are in the process of figuring out who they are. They are moving away from their parents' idea of who they should be and flexing their own sense of who they are. Of course peer influence can play a part in the process.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Hope, to wish for a positive outcome in one's situation. To cherish a desire with anticipation (Merriam-Webster). A distinct form of positive thinking (Wiki). Hope is a feeling that can take on different forms. Hope is what keeps us going when times get rough, or simply give us something positive to look forward to. Heck, it gives us a goal, a drive for working hard towards something.
With writing it can help to think about what our characters hope for. And are they the type to try to attain what they hope for or do they simply wish for it? How do they handle being thwarted when something happens to deprive them of their hopes? Do they rise to the challenge to continue trying or do they simply give up?
Back in Catholic school I remember one of my teachers had said something along the lines of God rewarding those who work for things. She wanted us to be able to pray for things, but also continue to strive for what we wanted. That's something that had stuck with me, in part I think because it encourages more of a self determination. It is good to pray, but we can also rely on ourselves to help bring out our desired outcomes. And of course expressing gratitude when we do attain things is good.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Gratitude, feeling grateful or thankful. Appreciating someone or something. While conflict is necessary to move the plot along it can be useful to think about what our characters may or may not be grateful for. Knowing that can help us get to know them better. For the characters that are grateful how do they express their gratitude?
I've had gratitude on my mind for awhile thanks to Kerry's 30 days of all things good. I had been posting for that here for awhile, but when my mood got a bit low it was hard to blog about gratitude. Gratitude is good though it can help to focus on the positive. In the future I would like to do more gratitude posts. Probably once I'm done with A to Z.
And I'm grateful that I can save a draft post on the Blogger app on my phone and have it available in my Blogger dashboard online. It would have been tricky linking on the phone, plus I have my saved labels here. It is nice to work on a post while offline on my phone (I seldom use the data plan, my phone also has WiFi which is what I mostly use).
Thursday, April 7, 2011
The link to the spreadsheet. - This is in Google Docs, and I've set it to shared. I didn't set editing on this, it is view only for others. Anyone who wants to should be able to download it, and either use it as a local file, or upload it into their own Google Docs. (If saving then uploading you shouldn't need Excel). Because I've been blogging on multiple devices I left my own copy in my Google Docs and am updating it via the web.
Google Docs does have a mobile option, and some phones can edit Google Docs. But with the long list of blogs in the spreadsheet I've found it tricky to use on my phone. I ended up writing down blog names on paper to be updated later.
I also put together a list of possible topics. Again this is in Google Docs, and set to view only shared. Reading a document should be easier than downloading and uploading a spreadsheet. Feel free to use any of them for the challenge, or simply let your mind wander and think of other things. No credit is needed if you do use a topic as they are only words. Though if you want to share the link, or link back to my blog so others can find said resources that's fine to.
And more of an FYI than an actual resource, but take a moment to see how you look on someones widget when you follow them. From their blog click on your icon and Blogger will pop up a little window. Hopefully you should see a link to your blog. This makes it easy for someone you followed to visit your blog.
When you comment you can link back to your blog that way. Comments do link to profiles, but it can take a bit of time to figure out which is a person's AtoZ blog when they have multiple blogs in Blogger. What I've done to help point out my A to Z blog is put "AtoZ" in my blog title for the duration of the challenge. That way it is easy to spot for other challenge participants.
Also, I created a Twitter List of AtoZ bloggers. Yes, I know there is a hashtag (#atozchallenge) which is good to use. I also like to use lists, they are a handy way to keep track of who else is participating, no matter when they last tweeted with the hashtag. If you are on Twitter and are not on my list let me know and I'll add you. (Comment here, @ me on Twitter, whatever works).
Whenever I create a character I spend some time working out what their family dynamics are. Was the character's mother nurturing, or was she emotionally distant? How has this shaped the character? Was the character expected to follow a certain path in life by their parents? Did the character have older siblings to emulate? Is the character the eldest and grew up with being expected to be the role model?
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
One way of showing emotions externally is through facial expressions. Some emotions are easier for others to notice on a person's face such as pain and anger. When I'm writing, I like to try and visualize my character as they are expressing an emotion. I try to see their eyebrows lower in anger, and their eyes narrow. And I try to consider what reaction that will cause in the other characters they are interacting with.
What about your characters? How do different situations effect your character's emotions? How do they express those emotions? Are they more likely to talk out their pain or frustration with other characters? Do they use other characters as scapegoats? Do they try and pretend they are fine?
Yes, I guess I focused on more "negative" emotions here. I could have mentioned more "positive" ones. Though with fiction the ones that cause conflict between characters are more interesting.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
There are many different theories on dreams, even within psychology. Instead of delving into current theories to much I thought it might be fun to mention some things I think of in regards to dreaming. There are parts of theories mixed in there. And yes, for this post I'm talking about dreams that we have at night while asleep. Dreams as in things we aspire to/want is a topic that could be fun for another day.
We are constantly exposed to various stimuli, sights, sounds, smells, etc. Some of these we pay attention to and remember while others are relegated to lower brain centers or simply slip by. When we sleep, I like to think that our dreams are composed of all this 'raw material' along with our imaginations. Our minds can mix and match anything to create completely different scenarios then what had happened. Dreams can also tap into our fears and our deepest wishes using the same raw material that is available to us.
Of course this can be fun to think about for our characters. What sort of dreams to our characters have? How likely are they to remember their dreams? Do they consider their dreams to have any sort of prophetic element to them? Have they had any intense dreams that caused them to fear things?
Monday, April 4, 2011
"-An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning.
-The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group."
When considering human behavior one should consider the culture from which that person is from. As individual as humans can be, we are all shaped by our culture at some level. What one culture considers normal can be seen as abnormal in the next. In my cross cultural psychology seminar we learned that in some cultures dissociative identity disorder (what used to be referred to as multiple personalities) is seen as someone touched by the divine/gods.
And this is also fun when creating our characters, even ones that exist in the real world. It can be easy to overlook culture in our mainstream fiction characters, but it is still worth considering their culture and subculture. Then with the more speculative types of fiction we have more control over the elements of culture(s). What is normal social interactions for a culture? How does the main character fit in with these cultural norms? Having a character that doesn't quite gel with their cultural norms can be a nice way to work in some conflict.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Anyways: Books. I was thinking last night about different types of entertainment/story telling and was pondering how reading can be more engaging than watching TV. At least for me. With a book, there is something about not having predefined images to really allow me to interact with the story at another level.
With having only words readers have a certain amount of flexibility and a certain expectation that they will fill out their own mental image of the characters, places, and objects in the story. Of course everyone has had different experiences, so people will make different associations from the same group of words.
Which then got me thinking about my characters. Which ones of them are readers? What would one character take away from a book that another character would totally miss. Would a late night reading session of a more suspenseful book keep a character up the rest of the night? What types of books do they like best? Or maybe a character just doesn't like to read at all and prefers TV or video games to keep them entertained.
Friday, April 1, 2011
So you have your character. Maybe they are the type of person more likely to help. Or perhaps they are in a situation where they are the only person available to provide help. Each character could have different reasons for helping another character out. The different motivations for helping can make for different courses of action in the scene and consequences for the characters.