Day 20 prompt: Make a mood board.
Ooh man, do I love a good mood board. Nothing gets creativity flowing quite like a good aesthetic, right? Pinterest is my best friend for this kind of stuff and my WIP, Elements, has its own account. This particular mood board I made for my main character, Whitney, the water witch.
Image by TanteTati from Pixabay
How do you decide which WIP to work on?
I try to stick with one at a time. I’ll have one main WIP that I put most of my firepower into but there are always other pots simmering on the backburners. My blog posts for example, future projects that I’ve worked on in the past or ones I hope to expand on in the future. Like any other artist, you kind of have to wait for your muses to talk to you. Sometimes it’s like having seventeen tabs open in your brain at once, other times it’s radio silent. I try to prioritize based on what is closest to being completed but sometimes you have to let the waters carry you on their own. While about 80% of my mental power remains on Elements, I still hop around to other stand alones. It honestly depends on what I’m doing that day or what music comes on. I have songs for all my WIPs so if one comes on that I have on a particular WIP’s playlist, it ignites my fire to work on that story.
Image by AnnaER from Pixabay
What ideas came to you recently from daydreaming?
This is a good one, because most of my ideas have come to me while daydreaming. The most recent one is actually a relationship between two of my supporting characters. They have a lot of history but I hadn’t gone into much detail of exactly how they developed their feelings for one another. The exact moment that it clicked and they crossed the line from friends to more. How everything fell apart for them and most importantly, how they found their way back to each other despite all the pain they had caused one another. I’m a sucker for good ships, and the best stories have more than one. I like to play around with all the different layers and emotions of love, because no two relationships are alike. I’ve fallen so far into these two falling in love that I’ll probably end up writing a little novella about them. I just think they’re neat.
Image by Ahmed Gomaa from Pixabay
Think about an interview question for your main character/s and then write down what they don’t say. What secrets do they keep? What do they lie about?
This is actually something I’ve been thinking about recently. I was writing a chapter where Whitney meets her boyfriend’s parents for the first time and his mom asks the age old, “Tell us about yourself.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I always freeze up at this question. Like, I forget everything I care about in a matter of seconds and it only gets worse when you have so many skeletons in your closet.
Whitney in particular doesn’t like talking about her past. She will talk about how she grew up in foster care but doesn’t speak a word about the abusive caretakers she lived with before being adopted. She definitely doesn’t talk about that one time their powers were discovered. When asked about her plans for the future, Whitney will tell them that she doesn’t know because she hasn’t decided what to do with herself. The truth of the matter is, she never allows herself to think about the future because she knows she’s limited with her powers. She feels that because she is a witch in hiding, she’ll never have a normal life and has given up on plans for basic things that other people stress over.
Photo by Mizzu Cho from Pexels
Do you have prophecies and superstitions as part of the worldbuilding in your WIP? Could you add some?
I try to stay away from chosen one prophecies, simply because they are so overdone. When you’re trying to stand out of a crowd of writers, it’s usually best to avoid what everyone else is doing. There’s only so much room before people get bored of the same old. I kinda took bits and pieces though when it comes to the sense of how the powers in Elements get passed on. I guess that can be considered kind of a prophecy for how my girls get a hold of their jewelry because they could have gone to another generation but the jewelry chose them. The myth of the jewelry was they would find their way to a future generation who would then hold the responsibilities that came with them. I don’t want to say too much because, ya know, spoiler alert.
Photo by Jan Kopřiva from Pexels
Does your WIP have fairy tales? Do your characters tell mythical stories to each other?
Elements has fairy tales in the sense of stories that have been passed down and told so many times that they get embellished and details are skewed. My witches had already built their society and it had fallen a good century before my book takes place. So the truth of what actually happened to the last generations of Elements before my girls is a mystery. First hand accounts were documents but books were lost and the stories became legend. Most of the witches who still believe the Elements even existed think of it all as myth anyway.
The fun thing about this is, trying to decipher what is fact and what is fiction. What actually happened and what details were added in to fluff up the story years down the road. This really plays into my character’s goals of finding out the truth about themselves. Once they start doing some digging to see the history behind their powers and if there is anyone else out there like them, they come across these old myths of what may have happened. It’s like another piece to the massive puzzle I’ve been building. You can’t build a picture out of a handful of pieces. You have to keep looking before you start to understand what you’re even looking at. It’s tedious for sure, but that is what truly tests how serious my characters are about not only finding the truth but also cleaning up the messes they make along the way.
Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels
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.”