Tag Archive: writing

Character Interview: Orsa Lars

Orsa is the sweet old lady of The Last Assassin… And also a suspect for murder. I love keeping my audience on their toes with her, because I love her and I love the possibilities with her.

Orsa: *comes in and gracefully takes a seat* Hello.

Interviewer: Hello. How are you today?

Orsa: I’m doing well. How are you?

Interviewer: I’m fine. A bit tired. Shall we begin?

Orsa: *nods once* Of course.

Interviewer: What is your name?

Orsa: Orsa Anise Lars.

Interviewer: How old are you?

Orsa: Fifty-three.

Interviewer: Do you have any siblings?

Orsa: I had an older brother, Aren. He died a couple of years ago.

Interviewer: I’m so sorry. What happened?

Orsa: His heart failed.

Interviewer: I’m sorry to hear that.

Orsa: *nods, looking pained at the memory, but composed*

Interviewer: *waits a moment* Do you mind if we go on?

Orsa: Not at all. *smiles a bit*

Interviewer: *nods* What is your job?

Orsa: I’m the high steward of Kaloris.

Interviewer: And what does a high steward do, exactly?

Orsa: I’m the king’s most trusted advisor, and when he’s gone I’m in charge of things.

Interviewer: It sounds like a weighty job.

Orsa: It is, but I’ve been at it for quite a few years.

Interviewer: I’m sure you do an excellent job of it. Next question, are you an introvert or extrovert?

Orsa: I think I’m right on the line between the two.

Interviewer: Do you know which one you lean toward?

Orsa: Probably introvert. I tend to be rather reserved, observant, and analytical before I know someone.

Interviewer: What is your favorite food?

Orsa: Lamb.

Interviewer: Favorite color?

Orsa: Maroon.

Interviewer: What is your favorite book?

Orsa: The Adventures of Florencine Lily. It’s one I’ve enjoyed since I was a girl, and it’s what got me into herbs and spices.

Interviewer: So you enjoy those?

Orsa: *nods* I’m the leading specialist of herbs, spices, poisons, and remedies in the Kaloran court.

Interviewer: Interesting. What is your favorite animal?

Orsa: I don’t have one.

Interviewer: Is there a job you’d rather have than the one you have now?

Orsa: *shakes head* No. I’m happy where I am. If I were to get another job, though, it would be as a healer.

Interviewer: What are your hobbies, aside from herbal things?

Orsa: Singing, playing flute, and reading.

Interviewer: Which of these is most important to you: Kindness, intelligence, or bravery?

Orsa: Intelligence, with the bravery to use it well.

Interviewer: And honesty or selflessness.

Orsa: In a way you sometimes have to be selfless to be honest. Sometimes being honest would bring down someone’s opinion of you, and you have to lay aside your pride to be honest.

Interviewer: True. What is something you can never leave the house without?

Orsa: My herb bags. You never know when you might need them.

Interviewer: *nods* That was the last question. Thank you for your time.

Orsa: You’re very welcome. *leaves*

Music In Writing

Yep, we’re back to music. Because music is awesome, and it can actually be a really cool storytelling tool. Yes, this post is different than my “Music and Writing” post. That post was about listening to music while you write, while this one is about actually putting music in your writing and using it as a tool. It was also supposed to go up yesterday, but I got distracted by music while I was writing it and didn’t get it finished when I meant to and then forgot about it. Oops. But it’s here now, and only a day late, so I consider that something of a win, at least.

Music for character development

This one’s possibly the most obvious. I only have playlists for a couple of my characters (mostly because I have a jillion playlists anyway, so unless something strikes me as particularly perfect I don’t start a playlist), but the ones I do have were a lot of fun to put together and give a lot of insight into the characters behind them. And having them opens up your ears to other things to add. The two character playlists I have belong to Livi Brooklyn, a peppy character from my Memories & Photographs short story series, and the other belongs to Clissa Hiara, a seductress villain from my pending novel Dark Queen Rising. Total opposites, and both super fun characters to write and make playlists and Pinterest boards for.

Livi’s almost doesn’t count as a character playlist I suppose, since it’s more songs that she would listen to than songs that fit her as a character super well (though there are certainly some of those), but even that is a big eye-opener to character. When making a character, consider thinking about what music they might listen to. Livi likes Christian pop, pop, and alternative rock. Clissa likes classical music.

Something that could be a good window into background could be how broad their musical repertoire is. I, for instance, like just about any kind of music under the sun (and yet somehow I’m still super picky about my music? I’m weird.) I listen to classical, instrumental, a cappella, some pop and alternative rock, pretty much anything Christian (hymns, contemporary, rap, pop, rock, etc.), etc. I inherited the classical and pop from my dad; I inherited the Christian anything, instrumental, and a cappella from both parents. I inherited the alternative rock from friends. Oh, and there’s also some electronic stuff thrown in there thanks to Spotify’s stations. (Spotify is awesome, BTW. I highly recommend it.) Where did your characters get their taste in music from? Was it something they found on their own? Family members? Friends? Whatever’s popular?

In a new story I’ll be working on soon, the main character lives far in the future, but she listens to songs like “The Sound of Silence” and “American Pie.” (I have yet to figure out how she got to listening to those, but I’ll figure it out.)

Also, how does your character like to listen to their music? Livi loves vinyl and her MP3 player. She has, like, ten pairs of headphones/earbuds. The character mentioned above, Christine, listens on the radio. This can also tie into my next point about using music in the plot.

Music can be a huge key to character development.

Music for foreshadowing/plot

Music can be a great tool for foreshadowing or to support a plot. For instance, Christine is listening to a certain song which ends up foreshadowing the plot. I plan on having several similar songs played throughout the story, or mentioned, or something. I’m not 100% sure yet, I just know I’m going to be doing a lot with music in that story.

You can also use music as a main plot point, which I’m doing with the above story and which I did with my short story Charming. Your character might be a musician, a singer, or just a music-lover. Or maybe they don’t even like music, but they hear it a lot in the story in opportune places or something. Which is not a suggestion to use it as a crutch. If you use it that way, make it subtle.

You can also make playlists for your stories, to help you get a feel for the story and its characters. I was able to do this really effectively (with some help from my friend Ruby. Thank you. :) ) with my Wonderland playlist. I like the mix of pop with the classic Wonderland music because I think it blends the two worlds together, as does the story itself. And the whole thing is just fun to listen to. (Plus it’s 71 songs, so it’ll play for a while.)

Music for worldbuilding

This one is a bit harder than the others, because you can’t necessarily just grab existing music. Figure out what music there would be in your world. In some cases this doesn’t mean writing out lyrics or anything, it just means deciding what instruments are common and that sort of thing, but in other cases – like my short story Charming – you have to come up with lyrics and artist names and stuff like that. It depends a lot on your world. And depending on how much you want to get into this, it could be fun to write a song for each of your story worlds, even if you don’t necessarily put them into the story. It could help give you a feel for the world and what they value and stuff like that. Music tells a lot about values, which is why I’m so careful about it in most cases. I don’t want to be putting things into my head that will repeat themselves, and a lot of music is fun to listen to. It’s music, after all. Since I almost always have something playing through my head, I like it to be something wholesome and uplifting. But that was off-topic, and it’s something I cover more in another post, so I’ll stop now.

 

Music can be an incredibly powerful storytelling tool, and it’s fun in the process, so consider what you could do with it. :)

 

Weekly Writing Update – December 2-9, 2017

Getting back into the swing of things after my trip has been hard for me, so the following update isn’t going to be very pretty, but at least I’ve written some of what I needed to in the past week. Also, I have a blog schedule announcement: I’ll only be posting one short story this month, because I have to write 18 separate from the blog already and it’s just too much for me to take on. I promise they’ll be back in January!

December 2 – Word count unknown

I haven’t the foggiest idea what I wrote on the second, if anything. I’m fairly certain I didn’t write anything, since this would have still been on my trip and cousins would have been keeping me busy.

December 3 – 818

This was the day I started one of my Christmas-gift short stories, a satirical fairytale retelling that is now the beginning of a series of short stories, which I plan on publishing as an anthology in February. I also posted a survey for my readers, to help me improve my blogging and Facebook page schedules for 2018.

December 4 – Word count unknown

I’m fairly sure I didn’t write anything on Monday, but I could be mistaken.

December 5 – 2,098

I’m not entirely sure what I wrote on the fifth, but it was definitely one (or more) of my Christmas-gift short stories, and judging from what I have finished, likely the one I started on the third.

December 6 – 1,682

On Wednesday I looked at the results of the survey I posted and ranked the lists according to your votes. (You can still vote if you’d like, FYI.) I also finished one of my Christmas-gift short stories, Out of Water, and made a timeline for that fairytale retelling series, The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles.

December 7 – 4,445

I think that’s inaccurate. I think I failed to copy things over on a past day and it got attributed to Thursday. My estimate is more like… 3,500? Maybe? I worked on a short story called Epidemic, which is another Christmas-gift short story. This one is related to my novel The Half-Elves.

December 8 – 468

Well yesterday’s writing was pitiful. I had nine goals. How many did I complete? Two. I decided on a new blog tagline and reorganized my 2018 goals schedule. That’s it.

December 9 – Undetermined

Well, at the rate we’re going… I had a choir concert fairly early this morning, so I’m tired, and I’ve been wasting my time since on scrolling through Facebook and deleting irreplaceable audio recordings of my sister and I. (Accidentally. I’m furious with myself.) I’m hoping to finish Epidemic today, which should be easy to do since I’m almost done… if I can buckle down and do it. I should do that. My goals for the last five hours before I go to bed (wow, that sounds like a long time like that. O-O): Write and schedule several blog posts, finish Epidemic, write two additional short stories (both members of The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles), plan my Secret Santa short story. (I’ll try to return with an update in the comments at the end of the day.)

5 Tips to Help You Stick with a Writing Project

Sticking with one novel to completion is something I’m only just now learning this year. I know the struggle of losing steam and deciding to chase down a shiny new idea instead, thinking it’ll be easier. In the words of Rick Riordan, “DON’T! That new book won’t be any easier.” And it never is. As someone who has 70+ unfinished stories laying around, I can attest to that. If you keep chasing new ideas you’ll always chase after the new shiny and never finish anything. So, to help you combat that, here are five tips to overcoming “Ooh Shiny Syndrome.”

1 – Figure out what excites you about this project

It could be the characters, the setting, the plot, something more specific within these. Figure out why you want to write this story as soon as you start prewriting (or writing, if you’re a pantser). Write these things down if you need to. Keep them on a sticky note by your desk. Do something so that you can remind yourself of these things when – not if – the going gets tough.

If you’re already part of the way through the process and you don’t know what excites you about your project, you should probably give some deep thought to whether you really want to write this story or if maybe it’s actually a good idea to move on to that new shiny.

2 – Make a plan

Give yourself a schedule and a deadline. One of the things I love about NaNoWriMo is the deadline. It gives a sense of accountability if you tell yourself, “YES. I am going to finish this by this date.” And the nice thing is that you can set your own word count goal and time limit. It doesn’t have to be 50k in 30 days. You don’t necessarily have to be nuts.

You might not need a more specific schedule than a deadline, but it may help to have one, particularly considering my next point, which is…

3 – Make a habit

Figure out when you write best and, if possible, set your writing time accordingly. Whether that’s doable for you or not, try to write at the same time consistently. Eventually your brain will realize, “Oh. It’s writing time now.” As Ralph Keyes said, “Routine is a better friend than inspiration.”

4 – Don’t get too focused on the end goal

If you focus too much on publishing your book and seeing it on shelves and reading it in tangible book form, you’ll start to wish it was already finished and you’ll lose the joy of writing it. I learned this the hard way during NaNo. That said, don’t lose sight of your goal, and a little fantasizing could even be the push you need to keep going. Just don’t take it too far.

5 – Find an accountability partner

Find someone either in the same boat as you or more mature in their writing to keep you on track. Maybe check in each evening with your word count, maybe tell them where you’re at with your book at the end of each week, whatever works. Find someone to keep you writing. And if you share your book with them, they can even get you excited to keep updating by being a little tiny fandom. If you do that, though, make sure you get someone who will give you honest, constructive feedback and point out both the good and the bad. As much as compliments feel good, you don’t really want someone to tell you you’re great in an area if you’re not. If you get someone constructive in their feedback, you’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses and you’ll have an easier time growing in your skill as a writer.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you to stick with a project. Don’t forget those new shinies, though. Always make note of them for later. If one keeps nagging you, make a special note and prioritize it. Chances are it’s a good one. ;) Happy writing.

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