What kind of traits make a character interesting?
Flaws. When I’m writing my characters, I definitely think about what makes them unique, what gives them strength and motivation. But what I find the most human is their flaws. Maybe they have a temper or maybe they self sabotage. I personally didn’t feel like my main character of my current WIP was a well rounded individual until I pinpointed what made her a great character, but also what made her slightly infuriating. Whitney has tunnel vision. She gets so wrapped up in what they’re trying to accomplish with their powers, she doesn’t see the immediate effects her actions are having. She’s gotten so used to doing everything herself and carrying all the weight of her situation on her shoulders, she will exhaust herself before she accepts help.
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What comes first, plot or characters?
Characters, usually. I mean they go hand in hand and are definitely developed alongside one another, but I almost always come up with a few main characters first. Who they are, what they care about, what they are doing and how they are doing it. Then I build around that. I feel like who we are as people affects our actions more than anything else, our reactions and our personal beliefs. Plot can be as simple or intricate as the writer pleases but it always comes back to the characters for me. Our choices and the consequences leading us into the next chapter of our lives. Of course, sometimes things happen to our characters that they have no control over, but you can’t carry on the plot without knowing how your characters will take what happens to them.
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Post your favorite line of dialogue that you’ve written recently.
“You’re the sun, Whitney, and I’m just some rock floating through space with no choice but to be pulled into your orbit.”
I have mentioned before how sappy I am, yeah?
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The relationships you write, what kind of power-dynamics do they tend to have?
I don’t write a lot about significant power dynamics. Like sleeping with your boss or having one person in a relationship hold power over the other. I’m a Libra and a feminist, I like good balance. That doesn’t mean everything is equal and pretty all the time because that isn’t realistic but I try to keep things in the same ballpark at least. Forbidden romances can be fun and they definitely have their place, but there’s a fine line for me.
So far in my WIPs there really aren’t power dynamics in my main relationships between my protagonist and their love interests. The obstacles they have to overcome typically stem from things like, being together is dangerous because I have enemies who will hurt you to hurt me, or we shouldn’t tell anyone we’re dating because of drama/conflicts with our families or friends.
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How do you describe sounds?
I like to relate sounds to other senses. Nails on a chalkboard that makes your teeth tingle. Screeching tires on the asphalt makes your blood run cold. Our five senses are so intertwined that it’s impossible to experience one without the others. Sounds can set the entire mood of a scene, whether it’s raining outside or even a complete absence of sound. Silence is often more haunting and eerie than a blood curdling scream. Silence allows our minds to fill in the blanks and when our minds wander, we usually go to worse case scenarios. Like thinking someone is going to murder us while we’re in the shower kinda of paranoia.
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Do you prefer to write fluff or angst?
Why not both? A little angst is what makes the fluff so good! If I absolutely had to pick one, then I’d probably pick fluff because I’m a hopeless romantic and I love the sappy stuff. But would we truly appreciate the sappy stuff if there wasn’t some level of angst to go with it? I don’t think we would. Love gets taken for granted so easily. Knowing it could be taken away from you or having issues come between you as a couple and overcoming it together is what strengthens those bonds. For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a massive fangirl and I love video games. One of my favorite aspects of Bioware games in particular is how all of their in game romances have a level of angst. Can your relationship recover from you coming back from the dead after two years to work for a terrorist organization? It certainly can, and that angst of being apart and then reconnecting is what makes the reunion so sweet.
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What kind of gestures are your characters often using?
My witches in Elements don’t use wands or latin words, they use their hands to physically manifest magic. Kinda like the Last Airbender. So the gestures used by my characters the most is the use of their hands. Snapping fingers to light flames or throwing their hands up into the sky to call wind or a rainstorm. Waving your hand to shut a door behind you. The motions don’t have to be dramatic, they can be subtle and still have the same effect which is nice because there are definitely moments where using magical powers discreetly would come in handy.
I didn’t want to use wands or magic words because for one, those methods are used a lot. Two, I wanted the witches themselves to be the vessels of magic, not a secondary source. I wanted them to be the ones who can manipulate the energies flowing through the world all by themselves.
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What’s your favorite trope you’re not writing and why?
Enemies to lovers. I love it. I love to read it, but it’s not something I’m currently exploring in my WIP. Maybe two characters will pop up in at some point, I mean across five books who knows what my mind will come up with. But for the time being, I just don’t have anything for that trope on the horizon. I enjoy it though, because enemies hate one another and you can’t hate someone without some kind of passion. You have to care about someone, or at least their opinions, to hate that. Otherwise, you’d just be indifferent. Seeing that passion for hating someone slowly turns to thinking they maybe they aren’t such a worthless sack of shit, to finding them almost tolerable. Then realizing you may have actually been completely misjudging them, and then the grand moment, my absolute favorite part of the trope. Oh. And yes, it has to be italicized. That moment of oh, oh no. Oh no, this can’t be happening. Do I like this person? Or worse, do I love this person I used to think was less than slime? Oh yeah, I live for that kind of stuff. One day it’ll seep into a story. Maybe it’ll be Elements or a new WIP I haven’t tinkered with yet, but someday I will explore it.
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What’s a pet peeve you have, that you focus on to do differently in your own stories?
Giving all the characters their own unique voice. One of my pet peeves when reading a book is when all the characters sound exactly the same. Now, I’m not talking about drastic differences, but subtle things. It’s not like everyone needs their own accent but people do speak differently. Some people use filler words more than others, likes and ums. Some speak more eloquently, depending on their education or perhaps their upbringing. Slang and abbreviations. Things like that. I feel like those differences really help shape characters and give them individuality. It also helps the readers connect with each character and relate to them for different reasons. The book that comes to mind is Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (which I did a review on in an earlier post. https://mysticquill.com/2020/04/29/history-huh/). But the main characters had such a unique style to their dialogue and how they all interacted with one another, it reminded me of my group of friends. Add in or take out one person in a group and the entire dynamic changes. Those are the things that make fictional characters feel like real people.
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Did your main characters change as you wrote them? Was that the plan or did they surprise you?
Every single one of them, but two characters specifically changed the most from when I first started the journey of writing Elements. Abe and Lauren. Now, I know those names don’t mean anything to anyone but they are completely different people from what I originally planned. Lauren in the sense of how she changes throughout the series. One of the few who have read Elements told me how much Lauren annoyed her, and good because that’s the point. But she endures and grows into honestly one of my favorite characters of the series. Abe, on the other hand, changed drastically from conception to who they are in the first book. Originally, Abe was a female character with a very different personality. I decided to switch genders up because I have so many female characters, I wanted to add more guys to the story and specifically guys with powers. Male witches are very underrated and believe it or not, they actually exist in real life. I wanted to make sure they got their moment in my spotlight as well.
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