Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Halleluiah and Holy Hand Grenades it Worked! And Musings on Characters...

Well THAT was exciting. I managed to both change my profile pic and add one in a post, all without destroying the computer, locking it up, or somehow burning out my internet connection. Pretty good considering my track record. But enough about my technological hang-ups, onward to what I really wanted to post about...

So, you really made me stop and think, Tink (please ignore my inability to avoid rhyming on occasion) when you said that you loved that my character was named Pony. I hadn't given her name much thought. It's a nickname, her real name is Nelian. To me, she just appeared in my head as Pony, herself. All the characters that I've ever come up with have just popped into my head, largely formed, if not entirely defined. Sometimes, I'll actually wake up from a dream with a new character, or story idea. I've never been one to sit and 'brainstorm' not about developing characters or stories. Now, AFTER I've gotten a story idea in my head, I might sit and iron out details, especially when it comes to any sort of magic system, or how various races relate to each other, or timelines. But as far as my main characters, they've all just 'shown up'.

It's like looking in the foggy bathroom mirror after a shower a lot of the time. I can see the character's shape, a rough of who they are, but their details grow, the more I look at them, their personalities begin to define themselves, their little quirks solidify and eventually, there they stand, staring back at me. I leave them on occasion and come back later to see how they've changed, how they've clarified, if they've gained any new scars from their continuously coagulating histories. It's my favorite process of writing, the growth and development of characters, although I think every aspect is enthralling, if also sometimes vexing. But having a new character form before your eyes is like meeting a new friend, or enemie, as the case may be.

How do YOU find your characters? Do you spend hours brainstorming? Or just wake up knowing them? Do they drive you nuts? Or do you know who they are and where they're headed right from the off?


  1. First off, I love your kitty pic. Adorable! I was seriously photographing my beloved little boy, Ivaan the Terrible last night and contemplating how I could post his preciousness on my own page!! Get out of my head, woman! I too am computer challenged and probably WOULD make something blow up trying to do the masterful photo inserting that you have accomplished.
    Love your pic also. Awesome. Is that a tat on your back? I am not as brave to post an actual photo of myself. The camera does not like me to be in front of the lens, only behind it. :)
    I am trying to beg, borrow and steal to get the money for the Sirens conference. (sniffle) Maybe someone will feel sorry for me and donate a big wad of cash BEFORE my big bday in Sept.
    Anywho, on to your post and questions...I swear, I am not a stalker, but pretty much what you say about finding your characters and story ideas is mirrored in me! I actually have been having crazy vivid dreams the last few months and have woken up at all hours with story ideas, or characters that lead to the story ideas, or ideas to add to my already started stories. I definitly have to try hard to iron out my full plot and flesh out the story, but the basic ideas and story line just come to me easily. My first concern is always- has this been done before. And, of course, there is probably something somewhat similar out there, but I try not to focus on that part too much. I just try to make it different and somehow my own. Those kinds of little things can really drag me down. I am all about the details. I have characters that I absolutely love, ones that I love to hate and ones that I just plain hate. But I write them anyway. I am the kind of person who has to write things down as they come to me or I forget. I am horrible at remembering. Everywhere I go, I bring my notebook and a pen. If I dont have that handy, I grab whatever I can write on. Napkins, deposit slips, anything. I have sticky notes galore all over the place. Things paperclipped into my notebook, etc. I seem to get inspired early in the morning while I am driving, or after I wake up from a dream. Also a lot in the shower, which sucks because it's cold leaning out and trying to jot something down before I forget. ;) I also have a hard time concentrating when I really need to. If someone tries to talk to me when I am in the middle of a thought, I have to hold up the hand to stop them. That is one of my rules. If you see me writing, do not speak to me. :) When a character starts talking in my head (does that make me sound crazy?) I usually know right away who they are. Sometimes they surprise me and become something different. I come up with all kinds of names and write them down for future stories. Sometimes I switch them around if a name feels better on a different character than what I originally came up with. But I really like to build my characters. I give them birthdays and hobbies and all sorts of things that make them who they are and make them *real*. I've always been in awe of people who could write more than one novel at a time. All of a sudden I've come up with several more story ideas and one of them that I had saved for later is really scratching to get out of my brain. I have to admit that my first novel is still a work in progress and that I havent written several pages of anything on it in weeks (just short little blurbs here and there). I think I might have to get busy on this other story too! I hope my fragile little mind can handle that.
    Wow, this is a really long comment...and it's taken me hours to finish because work has been a bitch today. Ugh.

  2. PPS
    you can call me alissa...tink is my husband (family nickname, long story. not really, just not very interesting. haha). i try to make it easy on myself and use the same username on all my stuff!

  3. Okay, so gonna blow your mind a little. My twin sister has an Ivaan the Terrible too! He's a long haired grey cat, sort of loopy in the brain due to the fact that she hand raised him from a day old.
    Yes, that's a tat on my back, actually, just the edge of a wing that belongs to a white wolf surrounded by oaks leave which trail down my spine to three more wolves and a girl. In otherwords, it's a bit of a whole back piece. :) You have any ink?
    We do totally share a brain I think. One of my friends used to swear I had Hypergraphia, which the overwhelming compulsion to write. I have paper EVERYWHERE, with odds and ends written on it. I've been seen writing down something while driving the tractor, riding one of the horses, while doing pretty much anything besides driving a car, where I might kill someone else. I know what you mean about characters talking in your head. I've even called other people by characters' names, if the person was doing something that reminded me of a character while I was thinking of that character.
    And I 'fuzz out' as I call it, when I'm thinking of something I'm working on. The space shuttle could come in for a landing in the front field and I wouldn't notice. Gets me yelled at by my sister a lot. :)
    Your 'big' bday? Dare I ask how old? Or rather, what's big about it? (other than it's your bday) Oh, I hope you CAN make it to Sirens. *Sigh* I'm having such a girly highschool moment over the idea of having someone I know (and obviously share some personality with) there to talk to. Tink, that's an interesting nickname. And Alissa's a very pretty name. Funny, that you say you're not brave enough to put a pic up of yourself. I debated. Odlly enough, I don't care who sees me, but I don't use my real name. Can't bear the thought of actually getting published, and then never having me to myself again. Sounds weird I know, but I need the me that doesn't have to be out-going and social to be separated from the "TOWANDA take over the world, and look good doing it" me. A. Grey is my take over the world persona. :)

  4. Ok. So I am freaking out just a little. My Ivaan the Terrible is a long haired grey cat too!! There really isnt a thing terrible about him. I've had him since he was teeny tiny, but not one day old tiny. He came from a litter that belonged to the people that lived across the street from me. At the end of the month he will be 13. By far, he is my most favorite of all things. He is super fat and when he runs his little gut swings from side to side. I do have a dumpster kitty that my mom found when working for a vet's office that was hand raised since she was probably just a day or so old. The mother had been hit by a car. Her name is Sonja and she is hell on wheels. That cat is straight crazy. She pretends to be an angel when Tink's around though. Little schmoozer.
    My "big" bday will be 30. So depressing. I really thought I would have completed at least one book by then and be on the way to being published. *sigh*
    I meant to tell you that one of my characters last names is Grey. She is the character that is somewhat like my best friend. I promised I would immortalize her in my book, so she shares the same first name and some of her features. That's about it though.
    I do have some ink. That is another one of my unhealthy addictions that would probably be way out of control if I had more money to spend or if my bro or uncle were around more often. They are both tattoo artists in Seattle. I also have a homemade one on my ankle that I am mortified about but did when I was 14 and pissed at my mom. Way to show her. Haha. One day that little guy will be all covered up. Easier to cover it up than have it removed, I suppose. I have an almost full back piece. It's been a work in progress since the second I turned 18. My uncle's been working on it for free, so I get it worked on here and there every few years, or when he feels like I should say. It will be finished one day...like my book. Ha! It's an old painting that I feel in love with of the Angel of Death and a woman who is reaching for him in an almost embrace. (http://www.illusionsgallery.com/angel-death.html)
    I am technologically challenged so I dont know how to put links in here...
    And, if I can come to the conference, I will attempt to smuggle some of that fab peanut butter buttercream that I've gotten everyone riled up about. It really is TOO good.

  5. So just looked up the Angel of Death painting. Totally ink-worthy! I have a strange infatuation with Death, probably because my father is a funeral director and it's been a part of my life forever. The big 30. Don't worry, I'm right on your heels. I'll be 29 next November. So cool that you have tat artists in your family. My grama is still trying to get my dad to remove his, which won't ever happen because Sailor Jerry did it back when he was in the Navy. Meanwhile, he's gotten another I drew him....

  6. Very nice! We are all trying to get Nana to get one. (She is super awesome and very understandng about all of us weirdos in the family). Everyone else has 'em. My uncle's really like an older bro to me since we grew up together. He's a lot younger than my mom. My grandfather was in the navy too. On subs. He had tats. My mom is covered. My uncle and bro are covered. It's my turn! I am working on art for a sleeve that I vow to have one day. I also have an eerie thing about death! Funny that I ended that sentence with an !. I love photographing old cemetaries and all the old grave markers and statues. Birds of a feather...

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  8. I don't know where my characters come from, but often I'll have one in my imagination before even having a story based on that person. In other words, often (not always) the character comes first, then the story after.