“Whooo?”- Character Development from an Owl’s POV

As much as I try not to, I can’t help it. I still giggle when I see the car insurance commercial with the female owl irritated with the famous “Whooing” male owl oblivious to her life ramblings. I always look at my husband  when it comes on and we both giggle as it definitely reminds us of how irritated I get when I reference someone I have talked about earlier in a conversation with him and he responds, “Who?” 

Now this has become a daily conversation insert where we will randomly be talking to one another about someone and we will throw in a random “Who?” with a little giggle and then continue where we left off. It’s funny how these random advertising ploys hook us into embedding them into our daily conversation. I could think of many more, but I digress.

So over the past week and a half, I have been working on character development.  And I figured my “Whooo?” intro would be appropriate. Character development has been on mind and I wanted to share what I have learned and what is working for me thus far.

To all of my pantser friends (I beg you not to cringe), I am 100% a plotter so my desk is covered with numerous character charts, character questionnaires, surveys, personality tests and a slew of other character development tools. As this is my first novel, I am taking great strides to make sure that I really know my fictional friends before I base a 80,000 word story around them.

Before I began generating information about my characters, I was seriously intimidated by them. A week ago, I didn’t know them. As silly as that seems. I knew their place in my novel, but I didn’t really know them. I didn’t know their goals or understand their motivations. I didn’t completely understand their back stories and how those stories motivated them to behave the way they do in my novel. But now, thanks to my handy dandy charts and surveys, I know their motivations and their secret habits of binge eating cookies in the middle of the night.🙂

Throughout this whole character development process, I have learned that developing your characters is equivalent to a friendship. You don’t know everything about your best friend the first day you meet them. You discover their personality and who they are over time. This is how fiction characters are as well. Or perhaps, the reverse. You, as the author, do know everything about them in a short period of time, but it is your job to gradually reveal your character slowly throughout the story’s plot through his/her actions.

So at first, I was afraid of figuring out the details of my characters. I now have that down. Print off a few character charts/questionnaires and you are good to go. Now my next challenge is to embed this information gradually in my writing imagining if the reader is putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle of my character piece by piece. I plan on doing this with using my trusty novel outline, planning out each scene and working in the unveiling of my characters as I go.

What works for you? How do you develop your characters? What is your process for building an understanding for “whooo?” they are with your audience?

Oh, you are up at 3am? You must be writing your novel.

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Hello, writing friends. I am writing you with a nice, refreshed mind this morning. Unbelievably, I actually slept a full night last night and didn’t wake up to write.

Not even once!

For the past week, every night I would go to bed around midnight and every morning I would wake up at 3am.

Monday.

Tuesday.

Wednesday.

I would lay in bed and my novel would slowly creep into my head as much as I mentally protested it and then, it was all over.  I was wide awake and by 7am, I had pages of research notes taken or had worked on my outline.

So as a result, by last night I had a total of 9 hours of sleep over three days (minus an hour here or there for a catnap due to exhaustion), I was on the brink of delirium. Maybe I slept last night not because my body was returning to its original, pre-writing being, but because I was simply exhausted.

So I suppose tonight we will see which of my theories are correct. I sure am hoping for the first. 

After my experience with writer’s insomnia this past week and in the past when I write, I am curious to this phenomenon. I suppose that you are mercy to the “muse” and need to respect, listen and be a slave to her whenever she beckons, even at 3am.

And the worst part of this whole debacle is, I actually enjoyed writing in the middle of the night. My mind is clear and the world is quiet. A beautiful, balanced place for writing.

This saddens me greatly though because I depend on sleep like a child and if I don’t get at least 7 hours a night, I am a dysfunctional human being. However, even more than my desire for rest, is my desire to become a successful writer. So here is to many more early mornings and tired afternoons!

Let me know if you struggle with writer’s insomnia as well and how you cope with it!

 

Breaking News Alert! Missing Writer Found Alive in Her Home After 17 Months!

“This morning, shortly before dawn, the missing novelist, Kimberly Mellor, was found on WordPress posting her first blog in a year and a half. Authorities state that she explained that life kidnapped her and she was able to escape unscathed with the exception of a slightly bruised ego.”

Hello, friends. I am back. After a year and a half absence, I am back to blog and to continue the journey of writing my first novel. I would love to report that I have indeed been kidnapped and have a fantastic story to accompany with exciting details. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Was I snatched up in the parking lot of the local grocery store after a late night shopping trip?

No.

Did I mysteriously disappear after my routine morning jog?

No. (And as my daily jog involves walking on my treadmill in my home, this likelihood is even less).

Simply put, my life has kidnapped me and held me hostage for the past 17 months. And I have let it.

Since I wrote my last blog, I am now happily married and my husband and I have closed one business and started 4 others. And among various other twists and turns in life, I let my writing unfortunately take a back seat to my life. I know that this is a common struggle with writers, the life/writing balancing act. As it appears, I have been less successful than others at the moment.

So I have pulled myself back out of the “hole” and I am moving towards the bright light in the sky once again. No, not the sun. My gleaming perpetual novel. And yes, some days I do view it as this shiny object far in the sky that I am ever struggling to reach and touch. But even though I can’t yet touch it, I continue to desire it deeply. Welcome back, me.

Not only have I missed writing, but I have missed reading and learning from my writer friends. So here is to another opportunity to blog about my journey as I begin my first novel. I look forward to hearing from all of you! Please share with me your struggles on balancing life with writing. Any tips you have for me and my fellow newbie writers are much appreciated!

Meeting My Literary Match: Discovering Your Own Fictional Self

I recently started watching a new TV cable series and had the “aha!” moment when I realized that I enjoyed the dysfunctional main character for one particular reason. She was me! There I was, in fictional form, right on the television screen! How awkward.

It was a very strange experience, I must admit. And to add to it, not only did I recognize Hanna Horvath’s physical appearance, flaws and insecurities in myself, but so did my finance which made the realization even more awkward. The fact that Hanna is an aspiring writer who is working on her first e-book just sealed my fate as the real life Hanna. The best line in the show goes something like this as Hanna is talking to a random stranger at a NYC party. She is explaining to him that she is writing an e-book and he states. “An e-book? That’s like not a real book, right?” Ha! All of my writer blogger friends can have a good chuckle at this as I did.

In all seriousness, I have discovered finding your literary version of yourself can be a self-defining experience, or re-fining for those of you out in the world that have a solid sense of self and who you are as a person. I was never one of those people. It of course started as a child being self-conscious of everything about me. As a result, I grew up to be an insecure teenager who had trouble making decisions and deciding what I liked or disliked that would define me as an individual. I tended to be an easy-going, wishy-washy type of person. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties and early thirties that I realized these characteristics in myself and now I am more conscious to define and express my views and interests so that I know who I am. This may sound foreign to those of you out there who have always had a strong sense of self. I was never one of those people and always hung in the background, following the leads and interests of others.

So as a result, when I meet this Hanna on TV, I realize that she helps me to redefine myself even further. I see additional characteristics in her that I have as well, but ones that I never had identified with earlier. And in reverse, I see characteristics in her that are most definitely not me, and that in turns defines my self further.

I am not sure how common it is for people to find their real life characters. For one it is difficult to not only find someone that looks like you, but also acts like you as well. Nonetheless, it has been an interesting experience as a writer and I would love to hear from others on this topic as well!

 

A Painful Experience: Reading through a Writer’s Eyes

“It is a travesty that such a horribly written book is now a nation-wide best seller and being turned into a movie!!!” I am sure that many of us have thought this at one point or another. I have a few specific recent books that I have in mind, but my purpose of this post is not to debate, so I will not name them. Rather, my purpose is to discuss how reading others’ writing can be sometimes downright excruciating when you are a writer.

Before I became a writer and learned the craft, I was an oblivious reader and I loved it. I didn’t pay attention to the character development or the plot structure. I simply read a book and if all of these unknown pieces fit together in some sort of a collective understanding that interested me, I was good to go. And it became a “Wow, that was a great book! You have to read it!” kind of book.

Now that I am doing my own writing and overly conscious of plot structure and character development and the 500 other things you need to think about as a writer, I find myself looking for these characteristics in others’ writing. On one hand, it is a great exercise to be able to first know the good characteristics of writing and then to pull out examples in other writing. Those examples help to strengthen your own writing. On the other hand, it simply just takes the fun out of reading for me anymore. It’s hard for me to enjoy reading when I am constantly drawing a plot outline in my head and figuring out if overall, the book was written well. Like I’m a literary critic now or something.🙂

Oh well. The only thing that consoles me in this perturbing matter is that I do have my favorite writers whom are just geniuses in my eyes and do no literary wrong. So I usually can relax and just enjoy those reads without having my literary police hat on.

If anyone else struggles with this, or would like to share their opinions of good and bad reads out there right now, I would love to hear from you!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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I have just been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award by Time to Write. I have enjoyed and appreciated his posts about his writing experiences very much. Here is his link and please check him out! https://firstnovelblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/very-inspiring-bloggers/

I appreciate the community of writers and readers here on WordPress.

Here are the rules of the award:
1.) Display the award logo on your blog.
2.) Link back to the person who nominated you.
3.) State 7 things about yourself.
4.) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award.
5.) Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back.

7 Things About Me
I love traveling with my finance.
I love antiquing.
I have a black lab.
I love writing fiction.
I love reading.
I grew up in Pittsburgh.
I enjoy running and developing businesses.

15 Blogs to Explore
http://matthewlhall.wordpress.com
http://vtypical.wordpress.com
http://parttimenovel.wordpress.com
http://irishfirebrands.wordpress.com
http://musesings.net
http://emptynestdotme.wordpress.com
http://patwoodblogging.wordpress.com
http://rescuinglittlel.wordpress.com
http://jmmcdowell.wordpress.com
http://changeitupediting.wordpress.com
http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com
http://sebastiancoleauthor.com
http://bookwritingtips.wordpress.com/
http://sarahgroomsdotcom.wordpress.com
http://consortiumofthecurious.wordpress.com

These bloggers have been encouraging to me.

Writing Jitters: The Reasons Behind the Fears

I am on a stage. A bright lines shines on me from afar and blinds me. I squint and turn my head slightly to see hundreds of people in an audience staring at me. Each and every one of them has their mouths open in a shocked expression.  I look down and my heart stops.

I am naked.

Ahhh, the “naked on a stage” dream. I’m sure many of us have experienced it. I know that I have. As writers, I feel that we have that same vulnerability when we share our writing. It is that moment of nakedness where we are in our simplest and most purest form. We are able to put into writing our innermost thoughts and emotions. We may fear the judgment of our readers or maybe we fear disappointing them. Whatever the reason, every writer at one moment or another has feared.

Why do we do this? Why are we so anxious to share our thoughts with others as writers, but yet so scared to do so? I was responding to a fellow blogger today regarding writing as a child and I had an epiphany. When I was a young girl, possibly twelve or thirteen, I loved to write. I would write stories in my notebook and even began to write a “novel”. From what I remember, I got pretty far in it. One day, I took my journal over to my best friend’s house for a sleepover. Unknowingly to me, I forgot my journal at her house. Several weeks later, my friend called me and in our conversation, she casually mentioned that she found my journal and that she and her friend were reading my story. She said it in a judgmental way and I was mortified. That moment was one of my “naked on stage” moments as a young writer.

I never thought about it until today, but that was the last time that I wrote for enjoyment. Of course I wrote academic writing in school and in college, but I only began writing for enjoyment and others to read a few months ago.

Is it possible that that experience how long ago has scarred me unknowingly for all of these years? I’m sure that self-doubt and lack of self-esteem in general has added to the fears, but this may have as well.

What are your fears as a writer? Why do you have them or what caused them? I’d love to hear from you!