Category: Writing (page 2 of 4)

The World of the Verlisi: Natural Features

Peace to you my friends.

Plotting a story is hard work so I didn’t feel like doing some deep post about writing. Instead I thought I’d share some bits about the world that Girl of the Rumours is set in. I think it’s interesting (otherwise I’d have invented something else) and telling you about it will help me solidify my ideas.

I’ve already shared the common local greeting, so now I should introduce the world.

Suppose many, many different things had happened in the past of our world, and that something had happened in South America that depleted the population a lot. Also the geography formed differently. Then in 1343 a group of people from many different nations arrived there and settled the land. My story takes place about 300 years after this arrival. There are many different entities, but the most important to my story is a union of kingdom of many provinces and another nation that separated from it about a hundred years before. That nation is Nalanza, and the most important provinces are Verlis and Amra.

Geography and climate:

This is all based loosely off Peru, Ecuador and Paraquay. Imagine mountains, jungle, sweeping plains and waterfalls. It’s still a bit hard to figure out. I should have looked at the geography and then figured out where everything should go, but I got an idea in my head first and it doesn’t really fit. I’ll figure it out somehow. I can tweak it if I want. This is supposed to be fantasy after all.

I’ll just give the basic of what I do know. The province of Wherm is coastal and a bit on the dry side. Then Verlis is made up of large valleys among mountains. There are plenty of small rivers cutting through and lots of farm land. There is a very long, warm wet season. It mostly dries up in the winter, so that’s the best time to travel if you have any choice. And the dragons are less active in the coldest weather.

Along one side border the mountains become very tall and very difficult to navigate. And one end is an area of very rough jungle. It runs right up into the big mountains. On the other side of the jungle is Amra. There’s a big river separating the two. Amra is more rugged and mountainous, but still gets about the same rain. Finally over the mountains we have Nalanza. it’s mostly savannah and a bit arid in places.

Fauna and flora:

Such eyes. How could they kill such a creature?

I mentioned dragons above. They’re not your typical, big, fire breathing dragons. These creatures are
small, and mostly eat bugs and small rodents. They have been know to make off with young poultry as well.

I also have smallish wild cats inspired by ocelots, but more colourful. They’re a menace when traveling, but it’s illegal to kill them without special permission. They’re not likely to kill you if you have a weapon, but they can give nasty scratches. So rather a lot are killed illegally.

There are herds of a creature that is somewhere between alpaca and buffalo, which are used for fiber pack animals, and occasionally meat. In Nalanza they have donkeys as well.

There are myriads of parrots, insects and small mammals including rabbits. In some areas they have various messenger birds. I’m thinking something fiercer than pigeons.

For plants I have not invented much that is unique. There areyour typical rainforest plants, and for crops they have corn and potatoes and many varieties of beans. There are also many plants used for dyes. Textiles are a big industry in Amra, so these are in high demand.

I hope you enjoyed this. Next week I’ll be talking about culture, custom, clothing and cities.

Beautiful Books: A Brigand, No Longer

It’s the time of the month when I usually do the Beautiful People link up. But it’s also the time of the year when we take a break to talk about books. In particular, books we’re about to start writing.

This book I’m about to write is tentatively titled A Brigand, No Longer. It’s a sequel to Girl of the Rumours. There may or may not be another book coming after it. I really didn’t want to write a trilogy, but I cannot fit all of my ideas into one more story.


What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

It was probably about a year ago that I came up with an interesting twist to Girl of the Rumours that would leave a couple of characters in a very interesting situation. That twist is not the same anymore. It actually involved a character, who has changed a lot of the course of the first draft (sometimes she was a young woman looking after her brother and sister, now she is their mother). Also there were too many coincidences in the story. Anyway there still seems to be some complex situations, and I wanted more room to play with some themes and relationships.

Describe what your novel is about!
Joane, the former lady brigand, is having trouble adjusting to her new circumstances. It’s clear that she was meant to live out in the wilds and most people agree. So when shes hears that her former followers are forming into small warring factions and generally causing trouble, there is a strong urge to run away and get them back into line. But she knows her duty lies elsewhere. And that’s about what I can write from the little I know. It’s vague, but I can’t give away spoilers for the previous book. Many other characters make a return though. And Arthen and Leisa marry.
What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
I’m really not sure how to answer this one. I don’t even no how to describe it as a room. But it’s more town than forest. Formal garden terraces, people sewing uniforms, an apothecary shop. A strategy planning map, arrows through windows, making bandages. Mocking laughter, a burning village, a formal dance.

Introduce us to each of your characters!
I really can’t do this very much. I’m not yet sure how much to let out about who continues. But I’ll describe Joane and a few fairly minor characters.
Joane doesn’t smile much, she’d rather stare daggers through you. She can take charge of a room, but is in her element outdoors. Her black curly hair is too short to stay up well and she always has a weapon hidden about her.
Lady Naida Harly is a small, sprightly old woman. There’s always a twinkle in her eye that says she understands you even when you don’t say a word. But she’s also ready to make you talk about it, and extremely hard to say no to.
Marcon Keresh is the second son of the Noble of Whern. He’s slight pretentious, means fairly well, but thinks he knows how things should be done. (Also I didn’t know he existed before I started writing this)
How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I fill in things like this, throw random ideas around and try to organize them into something useful. And I’m getting writing books from the library again.
What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
Putting Joane into many uncomfortable situations. Letting my characters grow more. Figuring out who Marcon is. Having father-daughter relationships.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
It takes place in a city much more than the first book.
There will be some opulent surroundings at times.
It’s summer, so lots of heat and the early harvest.
What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
She’s trying to save her old followers from themselves, and help people survive a war. A new leader among the brigands and a lot of stubbornness and fear all round is making it difficult.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
I really hope she becomes more humble, trusting and forgiving.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
One theme is learning to trust, when things seem out of your control. Also learning to obey when when another path makes more sense. And being willing to live with people who ridicule you.
I want people to feel glad that they read it. And encouraged. Certainly encouraged.

5 Responsibilities of Christian Writers

Hello friends,
Here is one of the more serious posts I’ve been promising. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and bounced some of the points off my friend Kendra several weeks back. And speaking of Kendra she’s still looking for a few more people for her blog tour of Lady Dragon Tela Du in a months time. It’s an awesome book. Head over here or click the button on the side bar, if you’re interested. Now, onto the points.

As Christians and writers we have a great responsibility. We are writing things we hope will be read by people and have an impact on them. We are trying to affect people’s minds. Or even if some of your aren’t trying, it’s impossible to avoid. If you don’t want to affect people, perhaps you should make pizzas instead. But one of my points still applies to Christan pizza makers so keep reading.

We must not portray evil as good

This one looks pretty clear. We must not redefine morality. We cannot portray murder or theft as good. (Though we might explore some dilemmas around those crimes.)

But actually how to do it can be trickier. I think it can slip in more subtly. For example, if there are not suitable consequences for evil, we make the line less clear. What the consequences are, whether or not to show mercy, are of course left up to the author of each individual story to figure out. They may be natural consequences.

But if your protagonist does wrong, it must be made right. It cannot be ignored, or else it may appear to be okay. Even if your protagonist is truly trying to do the right thing and is boxed in between two bad choices, there must be some consequence.

However those situations are often not realistic and can be constructed for the express purpose of making writing look right. Don’t do that. Perhaps give them a difficult, hard to see third option. Or perhaps let them realize that this other choice was there later, and that they did the wrong thing. And have a consequence.

Also ‘evil’ is broader than we may think. This is somewhere many of us may blur lines. Disrespecting parent, being unkind, being lazy, simply thinking bad thoughts are all wrong. Yes, these things will happen in our books, unless we’re writing about perfectly perfect people (=boring). But we shouldn’t normalize them as being okay.

We must reflect God’s reality

This point is an extension of the one above. Some stories are just a superficial shadow of the way God made the world. They ignore the big things of the world. Yes, seemingly trivial things can be important to individuals, but it is not the purpose of life to simply eat, drink and watch movies, or even make enough money to live. God created us for a purpose, a battle between good and evil is going on. Please show some of that. It can be on a personal level or a worldwide conflict, but show it.

We should portray love, mercy, justice and other abstract concepts accurately. Also good character traits, such as courage, honesty and humility. These things are not always understood by the world. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what’s right despite it. (Okay, so that might be a well understood concept, but my point still stands.)

We should show relationships accurately. Siblings can and should get along well, teenagers don’t have to be rebels, friends can have a bad influence and sometimes it’s selfish to tell a person that you love them. Marriage isn’t just about ‘love’ and having another person to make you happy, it’s also about commitment, and working together. And marriage doesn’t doesn’t instantly turn you into a better person. (So I’ve heard, I have no experience in that.) So don’t show it that way. Show some examples of how things should be, and don’t do what never really happens. (This will also make your story more relate-able and therefore better.)

And we should portray God accurately overall. Not everyone has to see him that way in your story, but God is not evil, he is in control and he doesn’t change. We shouldn’t try to say otherwise.

We must spur people to action, not distract them

This was the point I got the post idea from. I was thinking about how people get very caught up in books at times. But though reading a book can be thought provoking or relaxing it is not entirely productive. 
If we create a world that readers like better than the real world and it pushed them to make a difference and improve our world, that is a success. But if instead they wish they lived in that other world and spend all there spare time dreaming about it and reading your books that is a failure.
The same applies to characters. If people wish they were more like your character is good qualities and are inspired and encouraged, that is a success. But if they wish they were actually that person in that position and do nothing that is a failure. If someone wished they were your heroine just because the hero is amazing there’s a problem.
This might be off the overall topic, but there is a talk by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin called Jane Austen and Vampires. It’s about what girls read. And they said, quoting very roughly, “If your life is boring and you feel the need to escape into books, maybe the thing that’s missing is you doing things in it.” And we want people doing things in theirs lives not just reading our books.
So even though we want our books to be engaging, we need to be careful to not trap people in them. God should be the centre of people lives, not anything we have written.

We must point people to God

Making people happy or moral without pointing them to God isn’t doing them any good in the end. Even if we’re writing a book that doesn’t clearly mention God, doesn’t have someone come to faith, or isn’t about a believer, we can still do this. Even if we don’t give the answer, the question must still be asked. Show people that there’s more to life than what can be seen. Make them realize the emptiness of life without God. Give them a bit of hope, something to make them search. And trust God.

Or if you are writing for Christians, then you should certainly show God. Remind them of things they might have forgotten. Encourage them and build them up.

We must follow God in our lives

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.– 1 Corinthians 10:31

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men. – Colossians 3:23

Being a Christian doesn’t just impact what we write. It impacts how we live. Follow the Lord with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. Love his words. Read all of it. Think about it obey it. And it will affect your life. 
We need to be a follower of Christ when we talk to a publisher, buy stationery,  and deal with interruptions. And we must be ready to follow him wherever he leads. We may be writers, but that doesn’t mean God won’t call us to do others things. In fact most of us do.

Conclusion

And that is what I call a serious post. I hope this is useful to someone. I know writing it down has helped me. You may think that I had more than five reasons or that I could have grouped them into less. I completely agree. That’s why I didn’t number them.

I’ll be back next week with something. I don’t know what yet. Perhaps someone will inspire me. Perhaps I’ll see some tag floating around and steal it. Or perhaps I’ll come up with something at the last moment out of desperation. (Yes, that is where many of my posts come from. This post is an exception by being written the day before. I’d like that to become the new rule though. It’s less stressful the day before and stress is bad.)

Game: How do names affect our perception of characters?

Hello friends,

I have a serious post in the works, but it’s not coming as quick as I’d like. So while that’s not happening i thought I’d do a little experiment. Sometimes characters have a especially villainous or heroic name. Other times they’re more subtle. And I was wondering just how much effect they have on perception of character.

Speaking personally, I tend to carry on traits between characters with the same name. I think I even start imagining some similarities that aren’t really there. And when they are similar, well, Marcus shall always mean soldier and protector in my mind, because of several characters with those traits.

Anyway I wanted to see what you all thought of the names I have in Lady of Courage. There are a couple of villains in the book and there are a few especially noble people including the one who ends up marrying Natalia, my heroine.

So I’ll give you a list and in the comment you can tell me who you think the villains are and who the hero is. Feel free to add any other comments about them if you like.

Celino Acqui                  Justini Rizzetti             Demetrio Pavone

Taddio Orberti               Lorenzo Falco                    Luca Mondo

Orsini Rizzetti                    Ivano Naldi                Rodrigo Baldini 

Also there is a female antagonist. Guess who that is?

Eloisa Muertas                Rhesa Masi                  Valentina Orberti

Rubina Falco                Cloe Neroni                   Bettina Baldini


And in case you hadn’t noticed the names have an Italian feel to them. But you had noticed because you’re all smart people and I made it kind of obvious. And the women do not change their last names when they marry, so if people have the same last name don’t assume they’re husband and wife.

I’m looking forward to telling you bits and pieces about these people in the future. Some more than others, because of secrets and the fact that some are more significant than others. To keep those secrets for now, I’m not going to tell you what the right answers are. But I will give you all points for correct guesses of any sort and announce them at the end of the month. And I’ll add one extra question; who do you think dies?

Beautiful People: Nylf the Slightly Handsome

So, I had trouble choosing a character for Beautiful People this time. Probably because it was external beauty or lack thereof, that it focuses on this month. I’ve already done most of the characters that are that significant. So I thought I’d do the character who goes by Nylf, despite the fact his looks aren’t that important.

As I begun, I realized I’ve never done Aydel, my heroine and that it would work well for her, but the character development is good for Nylf. Even though it’s mostly externals, He’s a very important character, but sometimes a little awkward to explain. This way I don’t need to worry about keeping secrets.


Give a brief overview of their looks. 

Straight dirt coloured hair, it’s short to begin with but he doesn’t really cut it over the course of the book. He does keep it tidy and shave though. Quite pale skin, though it is reddened by sun and wind, greenish-brown eyes. He has a open, friendly, teasing look about him. And he’s young, early twenties.

Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Skin and hair contrast ought to be higher.

‘As they came into sight, their voices died away. Probably realizing there was a chance they could be heard. They weren’t dressed in the usual soldier uniforms but soft forest colours instead. One was tall with hair slightly darker than hers in stark contrast to his pale face. Even paler than Leisa’s. 


What is the first thing people might notice about them?

That’s he’s very quiet and good at blending in. And that they should have seen him before. Other than the fact he’s rather good at sneaking up and vanishing, it would probably be his height and his easy way of standing. And probably the hair/skin contrast.

What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

He’s actually pretty ordinary. No scars in places that are regularly visible, His ears do stick out a little though and he’s got common, random skin imperfections.

How tall are they? What is their build?

Pretty tall, a little over 6′. He’s got a long distance runner’s build.(’cause he actually is a long distance runner) So not overly muscular.

What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

He tends to stand in a lazy yet controlled manner. He walks and runs quite purposefully unless he doesn’t want to be seen in which case he kind of slinks along quietly.

Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

He’d actually kind of look rather like that picture, slightly dishevelled. Clothes would be shirt, trousers and possibly a vest and/or wide belt. It depends on exactly how lazy he’s feeling and who is around.

Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

He always has a knife or two about him and a small leather satchel. A rope hung from his belt or over his shoulder is common.

Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

No. Because of his manners and actions, yes, but not his looks.

Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Perhaps he’d like to be more handsome. But also more ordinary. Being pale with dark hair can stand out at times. And if you could change his appearance more dramatically, he could be a completely different person. That could be useful, since a few too many people know him.

And that is that.

Writing is Not My Highest Priority

Just what the title says. It isn’t. It might not even make the top five.

Hello readers, I’ve noticed on occasion people talking about how you need to make writing a priority if you want to actually get anywhere. And sometimes my writing gets shoved away by many things. But that is not a bad thing and I’m going to tell you why.

The first thing is to be expected. As a Christian I try to put God before everything else. That’s what everyone would expect. And I must set aside time to spent with my creator and redeemer. And of course my family comes before writing. But that doesn’t just mean spending time reading the Scriptures and talking with God, or spending a bit of time with my family every day. It means much more than that.

If I felt that God had something for me to do that stopped me from writing, I hope I would stop. I certainly do for short periods of time. Things with my family might mean a holiday on which I don’t have time to write. It might mean spending days working in the garden or building.  It includes the work I do in our family business. There are times I’ll put writing before that I admit, but only sometimes. Besides I certainly will never be able to afford anything like writing software or conferences if I don’t work.

And then there are just other interest I have. I might spend a few days researching how to dye fabric. I might spend a week or two sewing a skirt or dress. (I probably will even give you photos when I’m done.) Or I might decide to do a free course on biochemistry or some other subject of interest. I think those other passions come from God as much as the writing does. I’m not going to put them aside just so I can finish a book.

So sometimes I might drop writing for a few weeks, or work on it very slowly. Because in the end I want to serve God and writing isn’t the only way I can do that. I have no intention of dropping it entirely now. I want to finish my stories. I want to come up with more to write. And I mostly likely will.

However, if an opportunity to do some kind of missions work or outreach I wouldn’t let my desire to write stop me. Not because that’s necessarily better than writing, just because I wouldn’t resist adventure, the chance to do something new. Or when I someday have a family of my own, i may have to drop my writing, to properly serve them. Especially if we’re involved in the kind of things I think I’d like to be involved in. God has so many things we can do. I don’t want to just stick to one. There are things I’d drop writing for. Maybe not forever, but quite probably for a long time. I’m a person, before I’m a writer.

And in case you’re wondering, I haven’t written a lot in the last two weeks. I editing my first chapter and actually sent it to a few people for feedback. That was a big first for me. And overall it was a good experience. Now I can’t decide whether to try and finishes rewritten the whole thing, or try and edit it more at the beginning. The first choice would probably be smarter, since I’ll probably just end up changing anything I do at the beginning. But I want it to be read and I do want it to be edited. I’m certainly not stuck, possibly just a bit burnt out from Camp NaNo. I did 25,000 words, without difficulty and without putting my blog on hold, I know I can write a lot if I put my mind to it. But right now I haven’t. I think I need the accountability.

How about you? What do you put before writing and how is it going at the moment? I’d love to know.

9 Ways my Beliefs, Interests and Personality Try to Affect my Writing

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. This is not necessarily about the ways my beliefs should be affecting my writing, but just about small things. Little unnecessary things that are sometimes good, but sometimes annoying. It fits in well with a Writing Excuses podcast of a few weeks ago about examining unconscious biases.

Many of them are actually somewhat important beliefs but might not actually benefit from the way they come through in my story. To make a point, bad examples are important as well good ones. Other points might actually just be tendencies I have for other reasons.

  1. I have trouble making my main characters bad
  2. To be exact, I’m not right stories about people who you could call villains, but I do want them to be flawed. But with some of the flaws I shrink back and think that I’m making them into a person who isn’t nice enough. Of course that might actually be a legitimate concern, I don’t want my characters to be unlikeable. But that doesn’t mean that Natalia has to be the perfect sister. Especially if the story is partly about the fact she isn’t the best sister.

  3. I prefer to show the society I like
  4. Lady of Courage was intended to be set in a very feministic society. But I don’t like feministic societies, so despite the fact I was trying to show some of the problems in one, it keeps creeping towards being more equally governed. I think I’ve found a balance I’m comfortable with now and a good reason for many of the people in power to be women. There was this very terrible war about 20 years before… But I’m not here to explain my backstory, that’ll have to come some other time, when I’m actually working on the story.

  5. I try to invent food I consider healthy
  6. This one is slightly ridiculous, since I still haven’t figured out diet and nutrition stuff for myself and the lifestyle and amount of physical labour of my characters is somewhat different to my own. I was going to give them beans as the main staple instead of a grain. Fortunately I did some research and realized that every civilization has a grain or other starch as a main staple. But my characters still won’t be getting much sugar.

  7. I write minimal romance
  8. I’m not actually sure why this is, but I cringe from to much focus on romance. I value the commitment side of relationships over the emotion side.
    Lady of courage has a major focus on Natalia needing to marry someone. But it’s not so much a story about love as it is about respect and working together. The romance might come in more when I actually write it, but it might not. In Girl of the Rumours one of the relationships have very strong parental involvement. And it’s barely at a subplot level.
    I may also being avoiding it since I have no experience and therefore little skill. If I were to write any more romance it would probably be terrible.
    .

  9. My characters tend to be private about their feelings
  10. This one is simple. I’m private about my feelings, and if I let my characters spill a lot out I feel uncomfortable. But I know I need to do it sometimes. Not everyone is like me.

  11. Clothing is practical and modest
  12. I tend to design clothing for my characters (the female ones) that I would wear myself. And I think about the technicalities of how it’s made and where the material comes from. So I have nothing overly fancy or complex. It’s still pretty I think. but very practical. That’s something else I need to talk about in more detail someday.

  13. There is always a chivalrous young man who doesn’t talk to girls much
  14. Always doesn’t mean much considering the little I’ve written, bit does seem to happen. It’s probably based more on observation than beliefs though. But I must have a character of that sort. And since the heroine isn’t much like me she finds him annoying. And because she is like me she wishes he wasn’t so withdrawn. But unlike me she tries to talk to him, that’s why she will find him annoying.

  15. Fathers are important
  16. At one time Aydel didn’t have a father at all, but it didn’t feel right. So she has a father though he isn’t around as much as I would like. I wish I could have him their more but the story wouldn’t work. And in both Lady of Courage an the other book that I never actually wrote, my MC’s father had died, but she’d had an amazing stepfather for most of her life. Natalia’s father wasn’t supposed to be quite to wonderful but I couldn’t help it. He’s got to be a good man, even with the faults he has.

  17. Parents are wise
  18. Woe to any of my characters who don’t listen to their parents. Even when they might be wrong about some things their advice is usually good. But it usually takes my characters, especially Aydel, quite a while to figure that out.

And that is that. For a bit I thought this list was going to be too short but more ideas keep popping up. Now I had better click the publish button because I’m behind on my word count and spent the bits of yesterday when I wasn’t working or procrastinating, writing fiction not blog posts.

13 Things I’ve Learnt in a Year of Writing.

Hello internet people,

I’m not exactly sure when I started seriously writing. A year ago I was probably in the midst of outlining Girl of the Rumours. I believe I started actually writing in the end of June. I had also been dabbling for over a year before that.

Anyway I’ve learnt quite a bit in that year. These are of course just my experience and you may find things work differently. But I also thought these little bits of knowledge could be quite useful. I thought I had a dozen, but I found I had miscounted and had an extra one. But I’m a baker so that’s okay.

  1. It’s important to know where the story is headed from the beginning
    1. I got stuck in a major way when I realized that the climax I had planned didn’t actually work as a climax. The story would have needed on the wrong note. So I tried adding other stuff on afterwards.

    2. I need my outline to be loose
    3. The further along in the story I was, the more the more it differed from what I had originally planned. I was still headed on roughly the same direction, but the details changed. When I actually get to a point in the story I can see clearer what the character would do. Also I discover things that don’t really make sense. My outline wasn’t very tight, and I don’t think I ever will outline tightly. I also found it can be good to outline roughly and then add more detail as I approach it.

    4. It’s okay to go back and rewrite before continuing
    5. I know it is recommended not to edit the first draft. I’m not talking about editing though. I’m talking about when you realize that what you just wrote was all wrong. Go back and write what the story needs. It will help keep the story on the right course.

    6. It’s also okay to just rewrite it in your head
    7. Sometimes I realized that some of the earlier event of the book happened differently. I even removed a character who did appear quite a bit in the beginning. But since it was back a long way and I knew where I was going, despite the changes. I just made few notes and didn’t actually rewrite it at the time. That means that my idea of the story and what I actually have written are different. Also I now know that I would have still had to make even more changes.

    8. It’s okay to summarize
    9. There were times when I was little bored with a bit, or just couldn’t quite figure it out. Instead trying to push through it I just put in some vague place holder test such as, “Aydel does something awesome to escape,” or “They got back safely.”

    10. Or write badly
    11. I did a lot of this. Sometimes I just let dialogue ramble on stupidly. Sometimes I left out dialogue tags, Sometimes there was no description or someone contradicted what they just said. And sometime I just plain didn’t like it. It kept me going. I’m just going to be rewriting the whole thing anyway, so it would have been a waste to make it beautiful

    12. Or write out of order
    13. I didn’t do a lot of this. But there where times when I was stuck but had an idea of what might happen later, or I realized that I had missed an important scene. Sometime I wasn’t even quite sure what order it should go in. I wrote it anyway.

    14. It’s possible to write when you don’t know what’s going to happen next
    15. I know I said I needed to know where the story was headed. Well one time id really had very little idea. I knew that Leisa had to warn the others about danger, but I didn’t know what the danger was. At the very last minute I figured it out. And then I still didn’t know what was really happening in my climax. But it was all right. I survived. It’s a dreadful mess, but I did finish it.

    16. Continuing to write is often the best way to sort things out
    17. This has really already been covered, but if you’re stuck keep trying to write. Even if you end up writing about your story instead, I t can help. You’re bungling along, and then suddenly you know the answer, or at least something that looks like an answer and will do for now.

    18. Ideas aren’t always brilliant as they first seem
    19. This is sad a but very true. I found the perfect answer that was going to solve my plot problems many times. Then I actually stated thinking about the plot again and realized things weren’t any better. It will happen and there’s not really anything you can do about it. But sometime an idea really will be good and sound. It may be one that come slowly, a little bit at a time.

    20. Main characters must have a consistent goal
    21. This was my biggest problem and the key to solving my story. Since I had added more onto the end, it didn’t all fit consistently together. Aydel’s actions were inconsistent or at times rather stupid. Just a couple of weeks ago I realized what goal would try everything together. And then all I had to do was figure out how everything else interacted with that. Insert a few other little ideas and her actions mostly make sense.

    22. Characters need to have the right name
    23. I wasn’t completely happy with the name of one of my main characters. He also had very little personality. He wasn’t charming enough, or smart enough, or at all intriguing. His name made him sound stupid. Once I had the right name everything snapped into place. I’ve had the same experience with other characters on a smaller scale. Names do dictate our impressions, even when we make them up ourselves. So if you have trouble with a character consider changing at least part of his name.

    24. I need some kind of daily or monthly goal
    25. When I don’t have a goal, I don’t get as much done; it’s as simple as that. Even though I do love my story and am excited about it, there are so many other thing that take up my life. The goal give me something to work towards, and forces me to make time for writing. But I do find that high goals stress me, so I try to avoid that.

    Did any of you gain anything useful from that? Should I make more lists like this? Comment and let me know. My next post will probably be the Beautiful People link-up and I’m going to tell you about a sweet red-head girl named Mim.

    Writing Oomp for you in June + a podcast interview

    Who needs a little motivation with their writing this coming month and wishes Camp NaNoWriMo was on already? I don’t want a huge goal, but I know I need something to keep me accountable. And Kendra was thinking it was happening in June. I made that mistake last year so I remembered last year. So I thought we could make up our own little group of people who want to write in June.

    You don’t have to have a big goal to join in. Mine is 15,000. Kendra’s is 30,000. My little brother might be doing 12,000. You can do 10,000 or 100,000. (though I will think you are mad if you attempt the latter)

    If you don’t know much about Camp NaNoWriMo it doesn’t matter. What we are doing here is having an an author chat and accountability group.

    And if you think you might be working on multiple projects that should be okay. I’m not sure whether I’ll be writing Lady of Courage or rewriting Girl of the Rumours. Just make sure it’s something with an increasing word count.

    We’re going to do it through a Google hangouts group and a spreadsheet to  keep track of everyone’s word counts. It’ll be rather like a cabin for Camp. I’ve even got graphs that look a little like Camp ones. And you don’t need a gmail address to do this.

    If you see this any where in the  first half of June you’re welcome to join in. I’ve made this lovely Google form for you to sign up. I promise I won’t use your email for anything apart from this without your permission.

    Speaking of Google Forms, I just got interviewed on The Very Serious Writing Show and talked about beta reading. And I mentioned using Google forms for signing up for beta reading and that I’d never made a Google form. And here one is. They’re as easy as I expected.

    You can check out the interview at thatguywiththehat.com 

    Tell me what you think. And tell me what your writing plans for the month are, or reading plans if that’s what you have.

    Beautiful People: Natalia Rizzetti

    It’s Beautiful People time again. And I found a way to make it take much longer than it had to. But here it is only a few hours later than I like.

    After a little thought I chose to tell you about Lady Natalia Rizzetti of Vecoa this time. Since I don’t know her quite as well as I should, I’m going to travel to Vecoa and and ask her the questions personally.

    Since she is unaware of my existence and might be uncooperative if I try to explain, I will take another tactic. I dress myself in the traditional flowing blue and white of the legendary guardian of the Maretegna. (The region of sea that Vecoa has a share in.) I think that will open her up a bit, though no one believes such a person ever really existed.

    I arrive for her mid-afternoon walk on a day when Eloisa would be elsewhere. Also a few weeks before I will begin the the book. She’ll be less wary that way. Nobody had died for a while.

    I spot her quickly, a bright red spot among the green of the forest terrace. I walk closer. She is sitting on a wooden bench, staring up into the trees, yet not looking like she actually sees anything. I scraped my foot against the ground.

    “Is that you, Teresa?” She whirls around and her mouth goes slack at the odd sight of me. Then she gives a little laugh. “Well you certainly aren’t Teresa. What are you? The Guardian herself?”

    I nod. “I just came to ask you a few questions. You can see I can’t exactly attack you well in these drapes.”

    “You probably could,” she says dryly. “But you’re not going to and you wouldn’t get away. Now about those questions.” She drops back onto the bench and points for me to sit next her.

    “This is going to sound odd,” I say, trying to keep her gaze, “But how often do you smile?”

    “Too much. Sometimes the corners of my mouth get sore. But I can’t just frown at everything I’m not perfectly happy with.”

    “Of course. I’m less likely to frown with a stranger than a close friend.” She frowned a moment, but it didn’t last. “I won’t smile at you if I don’t want to.”

    I nod slightly, averting my eyes. “You probably won’t after this next question. What- what was the cruellest thing someone ever told you?”

    “Oh!” She scrunches up her eyes and leans back against the seat. It creaks and bends. “Well when- no, not that.”

    She stops talking. I wait. Finally she opens her eyes and speaks making each word deliberate.

    “When Signa Murtas and Grandmother told me that my real father had died before I was old enough to remember and that Father wasn’t really mine at all. That I was different to the rest of my family.”

    “What did you do?”

    She shrugged and smiled. “I refused to believe them at first and went and hid in the garden where even Eloisa couldn’t find me. Then I wouldn’t smile at them or even talk to them for a long time.”

    I sigh with relief. She dealt with that one pretty well. It wasn’t quite the answer I though she might give, but I couldn’t do much about that. “What about the kindest thing someone told you?”

    “All about what my real father had done and how he and Father were so close, almost like brothers. I found it extremely comforting at the time.” A dreamy look comes into her eyes. She seems to still find it comforting.

    “Who told you all that?”

    She frowns and brushes a bit of hair out of her face. “I’m not sure. It may have been Lorenzo and Filippa, in fact I’m pretty sure it was. Not that she remembered a lot.”

    I nod. “She wouldn’t have. Do you have any other strong childhood memories?”.

    She scowls. “I remember when Demetrio Pavone knocked me into the harbour on my first visit to Doranto. He probably didn’t know I could swim. My rescuer splashed him badly.”

    I try to keep myself from smiling. I hadn’t heard about that before.

    “Have you ever been seriously injured?”

    She shook her head. “Never. Well not physically.”

    I’m about to ask her to elaborate, when I realize what she is talking about talking about. And I do not want to go into that now, even if she did seem open. (Spoilers)

    “Do you get along with your neighbours?”

    Natalia blinks. “Do you mean neighbouring states or the people who live close to the Palazzo?”

    I shrug. “Either or both if you like.”

    “Well I can’t very well be disagreeable, but I like some of them more than others. And we get on well with Trione, alright with Doranto, hardly at all with the others. Why are you here anyway? If you were a spy or looking for gossip you wouldn’t do it like this.”

    I smile. “It’s kind of complicated, but it will never hurt you. Now are you usually this easy to get on with?”

    She makes a quick motion with her hand. “Oh always, the other person is being demanding or foolish or ignoring me. Which is fairly often.”

    I raise my eyebrows at the slight contradiction and she shrugs. “It’s true.”

    “You’re right.” I say. ” Now, if you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?”

    Natalia leans forward, eyes shining. “Anywhere? I’d go everywhere. At least to all the grand cities where women are respected. I’d really like to go to Ingiltere and see the works of Queen Elisabetta.”

    “I’d like to do that too. I’m more interested in Vittoria though.”

    She gives me an odd look. “Vittoria?”

    I look down at my feet. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m already mixing her up enough without talking about an uncertain future. “Never mind. I’ve just got one more question. Who was the last person you held hands with?”

    She crosses her arms. “I’m not answering that one.”

    “Why not? Was it Taddio at your party two days ago?”

    Natalia gives me a queer look. “No, of course not. It was actually Alexso, just after lunch. Now, won’t you stay for afternoon tea.”

    I stand up, shaking my head. ” I really can’t stay any longer. The Maretegna has been left unguarded long enough.”

    I vanish, leaving her stunned. And I really think she needs to read It’s (Not That) Complicated or A History of Venice. They’d both help her.

    What did you all think? Does Natalia come through as an interesting person? Did you like me writing it that way?

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