Day 14: Do you have figures/creatures of folklore in your WIP? If not, can you think of something that would fit?
I mean, Elements is a fantasy series, so OF COURSE I have creatures of folklore. I have some that I save for later in the series that I won’t go into because I haven’t fully developed those yet but my absolute favorite creatures are the shadows. I probably could have come up with a flashier name for them but you know, not everything has to be complicated. Shadows are exactly what they sound like. They’re these beasts that form from shadows into physical form. They lurk in the darkness, stalking their prey until they are strong enough to hunt. They are directly linked to the antagonist, so as the villain gets stronger, so do the shadows. What inspired me for their main appearance was actually old gothic gargoyles. I always found them to be so terrifying, the way they sat up there watching your every move. To feel their eyes on you, knowing you were being stalked. Knowing they were waiting for you to let your guard down so they could strike. How do you sleep when you know any shadow cast in your bedroom could manifest one of these creatures? How do you stop looking over your shoulder when the sun strikes the right angle, casting a dark streak behind you. Can you even trust your own shadow? To me, that’s fucking terrifying.
Photo by Florian Doppler from Pexels
Day 13: Look at your characters, maybe even the one you created yesterday, and be honest. Do you have a type?
I definitely have a type when it comes to my main characters and their love interest. It’s no secret. For main characters, it’s hard to get inside the head of someone who isn’t at least a little like you. Every protagonist I’ve created has had a bit of my soul wrapped up in their personalities. Whitney from Elements is a reflection of my early twenties, matured enough to stand on her own but not experienced enough to not trip and fall on her face from time to time. Metaphorically of course, none of my protagonists fall victim to the helpless clutz trope of YA heroines. She’s strong willed, a force of nature when she’s pushed to be so but on the average day, she’s a bit reserved. Watching to see how things pan out before making a solid decision. All of my protagonists are the same in the sense that they are strong willed women who can take care of themselves. They don’t need anyone to rescue them. They don’t need a man to come in and change them. Their love interests teach them things about themselves and the world, but the love interests don’t come in trying to change them.
My type for love interests are always good guys. I cannot stand the mentality of a girl meeting some douchebag and changing him for the better. To me, love isn’t about changing someone to fit some mold you have. Love is about challenging someone to better themselves, sure, but it has to be them making the decision. Love is about accepting someone for their good and bad traits. Loving them despite their flaws and growing together. Bryan, Whitney’s love interest in Elements, is a Pisces through and through. He feels everything so strongly and because he’s so intune with his emotions, he’s able to relate to people on a deeper level. That’s always something I’ve really admired about Pisces men, they’re so empathetic to others. They genuinely care and they aren’t afraid to show it. I love a man who can express himself and that’s definitely something I carry into my main love interests.
Of course it’s boring when all characters are the same. I try to diversify as much as possible. The easiest way to do that is write what you know. The majority of my supporting characters are based on someone in my life. Sometimes it’s just little things that act as building blocks until the character can take their own form. Sometimes I use their name, appearance, the whole shabang. I look at it as a little shout out to my friends as, “Hey, I love you so much I put you in my book.” and so far everyone has been super cool about it. I like authenticity. I guess I can narrow it down to that being my type.
Day 12: So for today, let’s do some discovery writing. I give you a prompt, and you write at least three paragraphs of a character reacting to it. Let’s see who you discover. The prompt: Unfortunately, things never go according to plan around here.
“This isn’t exactly what I had planned.” I replied, as if it was going to change anything. The truth of the matter was, none of this had been what I planned. I thought we were going to find peace. I thought we would be given a second to breathe and patch up our wounds, but the cuts didn’t even get a chance to scab over before everything blew up in our faces again. Maybe this was just how life was going to be. Maybe it didn’t matter what I visioned or how hard I worked for things to be simple.
Persistent waves on the beach. I vowed I would be more like the ocean, strong and resilient. I guess I never realized how fluid the waves were until that moment. No matter what stands in the sea, the water just goes around it. The water never plans for a ship to come crashing through but that doesn’t stop it. The water finds a way to keep flowing.
“We don’t really have a choice.” My sister answered, studying my face for what was going on in my head.
“I know,” I said. “It’s okay. We’ll figure it out anyway. We can be fluid.”
Day 11: How do you create your characters? Do you make a profile of them? Do you know your character before you start writing the story?
Oh, I 100% make character profiles, but I don’t type out a list of their favorite things like an old Myspace survey. The majority of the time those things don’t matter to the plot so why spend time worrying about their favorite color if it won’t affect anything. What I like to focus on is what do these people want more than anything and what are they willing to do to get it. What are their sun, moon and rising signs. What kind of families were they born into? Do they have a good relationship with their mothers? Are their fingernails clean? Those little details actually tell a lot about a person and when you write a character driven plot, those are the details that matter. Those are the things that are going to determine their decision making. Are they hasty? Do they think things through? Do they act purely on impulse?
I like to make a mixture to keep things interesting. Characters who dive into problems head first, they’ll figure out the details later. Other characters who second guess everything, worrying how their choices will affect them five years from now. One of my main conflicts within the group of main characters in my WIP, Elements, is how each of the girls wants to go about their investigations. Rayn wants the truth at whatever the cost, damn the consequences. Whitney is invested, willing to take risks but also will do anything to keep her friends safe. Lauren is absolutely terrified of the unknowns. She’s constantly worried about how their actions will come back to bite her in the ass. She follows along but drags her feet the entire way. This creates a lot of back and forth within the group. Inner conflict is just as important as external conflict and oftentimes, more personal.
More often than not, once a character is developed enough they start doing things on their own. I know that sounds kind of insane to someone who doesn’t have imaginary people living in their heads but I swear it’s a thing. I don’t have a single character that hasn’t done something or developed into someone that I wasn’t expecting. Whether it be their sexuality, their motives, their loyalties. When that does happen, I usually just go with it and let the character grow into their own. Some of my favorite things have come from characters taking over and me thinking, “Oh, is that where we’re going? Alright, let’s go.”
Day 10 prompt: Tell us about ideas you have floating around. Worldbuilding snippets, or ideas for new stories. Just a few bullet points.
I’ve always wanted to write a self indulgent romance. Opposites attract. They think they have each other all figured out but in reality there is so much under the surface for both of them, things they never reveal to anyone except each other. Maybe they’re on different sides of the political aisle. Maybe they come from staggeringly different economic backgrounds. Maybe they just flat out hate each other. Enemies to lovers is definitely my second favorite trope of all time, second to found family which I touched on in an earlier post.
Humans judge. We can pretend that we don’t, we may bury it and act like it’s not our place to stereotype each other but we all do it. Even if it’s just a quick “wow why tf would that person do something like that?” We’ve all had someone in our lives that we judged, thought we knew exactly the kind of person they were just to later find out that we had them all wrong. Maybe we knew someone similar to them and associated all of their bad habits onto this new person. Maybe we were projecting something deep within ourselves onto them. Whatever the reason, there’s something painfully human about realizing you were wrong about something you were so sure of. Humbling, even.
Plus, I’ve read quite a few romances in my day and most of them aren’t done very well. That’s just my personal opinion but I can count on one hand how many romance stories actually pulled my heartstrings in all the best ways and didn’t end with one of them dying. Most of what I’ve found out there is just shameless smut, which I’m here for, but if the plot falls flat then I just can’t get into it. Like bad porn on paper.
So, like many other writers, I look at things like that and think how I could do it so much better. Maybe I could, I won’t know until I actually sit down and write it but I have a half ass idea for a plot so maybe one of these days I’ll knock it out. Save it for a rainy NaNo.
Day 9 Prompt: Structure as offense and characterization as defense, or the other way around. Is this something you think about? Do you have other metaphors when you think about your stories and how they work?
This question threw me off, to be honest. Maybe it’s the wording so I had to google search to see what this even meant. It’s a way of thinking of characterization and plot as opposing forces. Plot being offensive (working towards the goal) and characterization (working against it) and it finally made sense.
I always look at stories as either being plot drives characters or character driven plot. A story will either have the plot driving the characters to make decisions or have the decisions the characters make drive the plot. Lord of the Rings? Plot driven characters. Frodo would have never left the Shire if the plot hadn’t driven him to. The Hobbit? Character driven plot. Bilbo chose to leave the Shire on his adventure, he chose to bring the ring back with him.
Most of my story ideas are character driven plots. The decisions the characters make are what is driving the plot forward. For example, in Elements, Whitney is so driven towards finding the truth, they set into motion a series of events that would have never happened without their influence. What I enjoy the most about this writing style is there is a sort of consequence for your character’s actions. Rather than the characters being the victim of what’s going on around them. It’s realistic to have to deal with the aftermath of your choices. One of the harshest realities of life is knowing when you make a decision or a mistake, what happens afterwards is directly related to your own choice. You make the bed, you have to lie in it.
Day 8 Prompt: What is your favorite trope to write and/or read? And is there a difference between reading and writing the trope?
So many tropes come to mind. I love enemies to lovers, redeemable villains, grey morality. But I have to narrow my favorite writing cliche down to found family. There is nothing I love more than a group of misfits who find a place in the world that they belong. Strangers thrown together by chance that end up loving and supporting one another through life’s trials. It’s one of the main reasons why I love Bioware games so much. What I love about Harry Potter, and the list goes on and on.
There isn’t much difference between reading and writing about found family. I guess the biggest difference would be that you get to decide who the people are and what bonds them together. Are they fighting for survival? Are they all thrown into therapy and work through their deepest trauma together? You get to decide what they have in common and how the bonds are forged. When you read about found family, you get to sit back and enjoy not knowing what’s going to happen. You can watch the friendships blossom without worrying about if it flows well or if it’s too slow, too fast. There’s a lot less pressure being a reader.
Day 7 Prompt: Do you have a writing day? Or a writing hour? When do you get most of your writing done?
I don’t have a schedule as of right now. I tried, I really did. But how my life is right now and the ages my kids are at, schedules just aren’t really on the table. We have a half assed idea of how things are going to go when the day starts, but I kind of have to take things as they come. I usually write the most in the afternoons or late at night. When the kids are asleep, or at least when my youngest is asleep. Whenever I have the freedom to focus on something but also the quiet to concentrate.
For example, the other night I was in the zone. I was just tipsy enough to get some good ‘drunk writing’ done and I had ideas I wanted to get out. The words were flowing and I was actually really happy with what I was producing. Then my baby was crying, he wanted attention. My daughter wanted me to watch her dance. My husband was busy with things that needed to get done. So sometimes, having time to write is pretty low on the list. That’s why my blog will go weeks without a post or the dates of a last edit for a google doc will be further away than I hoped. I do the best that I can, but unfortunately even when I do have some quiet time to focus and get some shit done, I just don’t have the inspiration. And yes, sometimes we do need to force ourselves to write even when our muses are silent but it’s oftentimes one of those things that requires the planets to be aligned. Someday I’ll have a pretty little schedule that I’ll actually be able to stick with but for the meantime, I write when the universe allows.
Day 6 Prompt: What worldbuilding idea did you come up with that you would have loved to use but just couldn’t get to work?
Parents. In the original draft of Elements, Whitney and her sister, Rayn, had parents and I actually really enjoyed the dynamics between them. How the parents tried to understand their powers but were also low key afraid of their potential. Ultimately, it didn’t really add anything for them to have parents, especially in the later books. It was just another obstacle when they got further into the mess. So I decided to up everyone’s ages a few years and cut the parents out completely. The only thing it took away was just that extra layer of not wanting to disappoint them but also wanting to forge their own paths, typical teenage stuff, but as I decided I didn’t want Whitney to be a teenager, putting that parental pressure on her just added more to her character. Forcing her to grow up quicker than she was ready for, forcing the extra responsibility of caring for her siblings, that added stress on top of their main goal and motivation of uncovering the truth behind their abilities. She needs to uncover hundreds of years worth of buried secrets AND make sure the lights stay on? Welcome to the real world.
Day 5 Prompt: What’s a worldbuilding detail in your WIP that you really like?
I like taking different aspects of magic and witchcraft to create my own spin. One of my favorite things about fantasy is you can really do whatever you want with little explanation besides, “magical energy” and it gives it validation. One detail in particular that I’m really proud of is how the girls can feel each other’s magic when they use their powers. This is something that is specific to an elemental generation only. Witches without elemental powers cannot sense other witch’s magic and other generations are unable to sense outside of the five elements in their specific group. A generation is a set of five witches with powers of the five elements born within five years of each other. The five elements being water, fire, earth, air and spirit. I really love this detail because it solidifies the connection Whitney and the other four main characters have to one another. The obligation they all feel to stand behind one another and protect each other because not only do they have a common goal, but they can literally feel one another’s magic coursing through their veins. It’s like a blood pact. Something that not only brings them together, but keeps them together.
I also want to add how much I love their matching jewelry. It’s probably the main reason the five girls decide they can truly trust one another because none of them really know where each of their gems come from, but they know they’re all connected to one another. The floating ink inside of the jewels that changes color when they’re around one another definitely helps. It’s these details that bring them together but it’s their own decision to work together that truly bonds them.