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What’s Your Writing Process?

What process do you use on a day to day basis to determine what happens next in a novel?  What is your decision-making process for introducing new characters and how do you determine their importance?

Early on I researched how other authors went about prepping for writing a novel.  Some created elaborate outlines and spent inordinate amounts of time agonizing over every detail.  The system works, just not for me.  In the attempt to recreate the entire book in outline form, I lost contact with what I was trying to say.  Consequently, it would take me months to find I wasn’t getting any closer to the actual writing process.

I finally hit on how it functioned for my level of impatience and trust me, once you find it, stop butting heads with the inevitable . . . just write.  I started over a lot until I realized one key thing; by trying to adhere to an existing outline, letter by letter, number by number, the story got lost in the translation from my attempt to force the outline to become the book.  The story has to come from the gut, not from a preconceived notion that was designed before the writing began.  The story needs to have a mind of its own, and at times, should not be controlled.  Sometimes, you should just let the monster out of the box.

I usually dig back into my past and find that moment, everybody has them, where everything that could go wrong . . . does, and then allow the characters to go through, at least in spirit, the same level of agony, just to see where they will take it instead of me.  I discovered that if I put on my writing shoes, and then just followed my feet, the characters managed to get themselves into enough trouble to satisfy my wanderlust.  Sometimes, I don’t even know what they’re about to do, but isn’t that how life works?

The importance of characters in a story should be dealt with in primarily the same way that God deals with us down here on earth.  No one person is of greater importance than anyone else.  If we treat any single character with less importance than their counterparts, we have done them a grave injustice.  We as writers never know which character will surface again in a subsequent story.  Today’s sidekick might be tomorrow’s hero.

Do you have a certain process that inspires you to create new characters or prep for a new piece or novel you are writing?  I’d love to hear your comments.

Thanks,

Solitaire

You can purchase or preview my books at www.solitaireparke.com.

 

 

 

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Where Do Book Characters & Their Names Come From?

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I’ve been asked many times how I get the characters that appear in my books. Funny, I’ve always been shy in the admission of their history because many of the characters that show up are people that I know, or am related to in some manner. I’ve always worried what some of the people would say if they knew, consequently, it isn’t generally the first thing I’d choose to reveal. Most people don’t see themselves as others do, and in that knowledge rests my courage to portray them as I see them – good, bad or indifferent. This is not a strict rule of thumb though, as there are exceptions – you will see as you continue to read.

The easy ones to use as examples are the characters that have enviable personas, like Princess Rhylana. She was patterned after my wife and mother to my children. In the book, Rhylana portrays the very essence of what I see in her, and have seen for years. She’s spunky, aggressive, and kind to small children and animals. She’s a fighter, and never gives up.

Queen Mother was given her persona from a very dear lady to me, and companion. She’s aggressive, prone to lead anyone who’ll follow, (you know just to keep them safe) and dedicates her life to promoting the underdog. She’d spit in the eye of a demon, but runs from cockroaches and can’t keep herself from rescuing any and all small mammals.

Tanis, a lead character and spokesman for a series of my books was patterned after me.

Two exceptions are characters that were designed by readers. They signed up for a character contest to have their creations entered into volume one of my Dragomeir Series, “The Emerald Dragon.” Helup Ironfold, a Blacksmith by trade and rider to the dragon Jilocasin Sybaris Cirfis, was created by Jacob Overton and played a significant role in the book.   He appears in later books as well. Sergei Rasputin Cosmonov, a Red Immortal Demon and rider to the dragon Volansa Spirandi Bellator, was created by Joe Russomanno and also played a significant role in the book. Sergei too, has a role reprisal in later books.

When it comes to naming my characters, there are a few things that come to mind.

  • Some of the names are compilations of people I know or maybe even names of pets. A particular character may bring someone to mind because of their personality or specific traits.
  • I Google English names or words to determine what they would be in another language. It’s wise to check origins of names to make sure you have the correct one for the location of your setting.
  • Checking the “root” meaning of a name might be important too. It needs to apply to your character to make sense, unless it’s done purposely for comedy or irony.
  • Google is a great resource for almost everything. Once a name is picked, I often Google it to make sure it isn’t a real person who might be offended by the usage of their name. If there is a question, then I change it somehow.
  • I might use a name from a book I have read or a movie that I particularly liked because it fits the character I have created in some way. I’m careful not to plagiarize someone else’s characters.
  • I don’t always use a middle name or initial, depending on the character. It isn’t always necessary unless you need a specific emphasis on a name.
  • It’s also good to choose names that fit the era you are writing about, unless an unusual name for that time frame is part of the story.
  • I have even used names that I liked from a certain place or map that just sounded right for my character.

How do you name the characters in your stories? It would be fun to know.

Solitaire

Visit me at solitaireparke.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s that clicking sound??

I was asked recently about my writing process…hmmm. First of all, I use an outline…but I’m not married to it. I find that if the outline is loose enough it stimulates the writing flow. Even though I get up every morning with the idea of getting to work, being methodical; the fact of the matter is most of my ideas come to me in the middle of the night in the form of dreams. The characters in ALL of my books are modeled after people I know. That way it’s easier for me to hear conversations that would involve them. For instance, the character Stephen Anthony from my novel “Vengeance of the Wolf” was modeled, in part, after my father. He’s intelligent, brash, aggressive, impulsive and prone to say whatever is on his mind at the time. He is the perfect characterization of the private detective. So…if I wake up at 2am with an intense idea of a conversation between characters, I’ll make a bee-line for the computer before the idea simply fades away. It was during one of those nights that I kept hearing a clicking sound. I don’t know how long it took me to realize what I was doing, but eventually it dawned on me that my forehead was on the keyboard. I had typed one letter for several pages! As a result I have developed my own curriculum; the number of hours changes daily. I do however try to keep my face off the keyboard!

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve also been known to take long sojourns around my back yard; pretending to be both characters in any given dialogue. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m nuts! It does however make them seem more realistic. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand at the end of a rainbow in Ireland? Or watching the earth light from the moon? Or at the very least, have you ever seen a martian sunset? The answers to these are probably no, because in most cases there is probably no way for you to know…But, it occurred to me to ask the characters that I’ve created; and I’ll be a son-of-a-gun, they DID!

In conclusion, let it be it known that I also work on more than one book at the same time. However I recognize that this is potentially a recipe for disaster. Take two stories, add fatigue and total darkness; paragraphs have actually made it from book one to book two! I’m glad it doesn’t happen very often because whatever it is that flows is where my computer goes.

Oh! One more thing…

Call me paranoid, but part of my routine everyday involves saving the document I am working on in two completely different folders on two completely different hard drives. This ensures that should one of my hard drives crash, I have a backup. This actually happened to me while writing my very first book. I come by my paranoia honestly.  🙂

Daily (w)rite

Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.

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