Writing Meme, Day 30

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

I have decided to ignore Question #30 and instead focus a little bit more on what’s next.  So, new Question #30: What’s next?

If you’ve been reading my Twitter Feed or Facebook Page you know I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed as of late with all the stories running around my brain.  I’ve got Fie Eoin, which I’m trying to organize by ripping all of the hand-written pages out of the notebooks they are scattered in and putting them in some kind of order in a hard-backed folder.  Then I can figure out what has already been typed up and what still needs to make it into the computer.  This has always been the biggest challenge of Fie Eoin – I write it all over the place and then type it up out of order and then don’t know what has to be typed and what doesn’t.  So then I start re-writing it in some sort of order, but then get out of order again and it becomes a vicious cycle.  I went through two big folders last night and ripped out all the pages of Fie Eoin, papercliped them into sections that make some amount of linear sense to me, and stuck them in the folder.  Tomorrow I’ve got two or three more large folders, and then I’ll start on all the little folders.  Luckily I’m much better at typing up the little folders as I write them (it doesn’t seem as daunting, for some reason) so most of that is already in the computer.  Then I have to finish re-writing Kaye scenes, because I’ve pretty much exhausted Kindra scenes (yes I play favorites).

I’m editing Phooka Tales this year with my writing group, and finding it easier to re-write most of the beginning.  I’m hoping to have this ready to go out to agents by early next year.  Top Secret Project is slowly being outlined and written – I’m trying to re-write the first scene already because it seems rushed.  But this is a work-on-it-when-I’m-inspired type of thing right now.  I’ve also got a brand spanking new story to work on when I feel like it.  I’m sure I’ll have some stickies about that soon.

And speaking of stickies, I’ve got some ideas for the blog as well.  I still want to put up a sticky every Sunday (or at least once a week), but on top of that I’m going to be doing some book reviews, and (hopefully) serializing a story to post weekly.  Right now I’m debating between Lane’s Girl (which I don’t plan on getting published traditionally at this point) and Aleda’s story from Fie Eoin’s world (also don’t plan on publishing traditionally).  If you have a preference please let me know!

Writing Meme, Day 28

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

The only character I can think of with a major disability (and it doesn’t inhibit her in life, just in her chosen profession) is Alicia from TSP, who was born blind in one eye.  Of course she wants to be in the army, and the army requires two eyes.

I do harm Kindra to the point that she can’t use her right arm for half of the book.  That really annoys her, since she is a warrior and she hates being weak.

I have written a character who went crazy before, and that was actually pretty fun (it was a fanfic character, so I won’t bother elaborating).  And for a little while Holly kind of loses her mind (when the manticore first attacks her), but I switched the book to Brett’s POV to make it easier to read for that part.

Writing Meme, Day 27

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

I would have to say that I do get an idea of what my characters look like (see yesterday’s post), but I’m not so concerned with giving a detailed description of each.  I give a few details (mostly hair, because I generally recognize people by the hair) that I think make them stand out and give the reader an idea of what they look like.  Each person will see each character a little differently, and can change their exact look to fit their own needs.  Holly, for instance, is a blond, blue-eyed, petite woman.  But what does she look like beyond that?  Well, I know a lot of blond, blue-eyed, petite women who don’t look anything alike, so to me she looks the most like the one she acts like (a girl I used to work with who has the same temperament as Holly).  To you she may look completely different.

I think primarily I’m concerned with what the character feels like.  Holly feels like the girl I used to work with, so she ended up having the same physical appearance.  I could tell you the temperament of a character and you would get an idea of that character without me giving you any hint of what they look like – but you might see a completely different physical appearance then I would.  But does that matter?  No.  Not unless something about their appearance is distinct and needed for the story.

Although I will tell you that Lane looks like Christian Bale.  Somehow Lane as Christian Bale has become so embedded in my mind that I cannot separate the two.  Which isn’t so bad.  I certainly don’t mind Christian Bale hanging around in my head (and in The New World when he says “Rebecca” in that whispery, sexy voice of his you better believe I melted in my chair).

Writing Meme, Day 26

26. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!

I did try to draw Kindra once, but it ended up being a pretty bad picture.  Instead I let my friends draw my characters.  And on very rare occasions I pay someone to draw a character (so far only Kaye and Kindra).  I probably have the most pictures of Kindra, since she seems to be everyone’s favorite, but my favorite is a picture of Kaye that I stumbled upon and then paid for I liked it so much (I later commissioned a Kindra from the same artist).

Beautiful, no?

As for my other characters, I usually find pictures of people that look like them.  I’ve figured out that Jermaine from Phooka Tales looks like Jason Mraz, and Brett looks like, well, like my friend Greg.  Although I knew what Brett looked like before I met Greg (imagine your main character walking in to work with you!).  I also met Gar in the gym once – we kept looking at each other, but I thought it would be a little weird to go up to some strange guy and tell him he looked like one of my characters.  He was quite handsome though.

Writing Meme, Day 25

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

The only person in any of my novels that has a pet is Henry from Phooka Tales, who is Phooka’s owner.  But since the book is named after Phooka, he’s more than just a random pet.  He helps save the day a couple times, and talks to Holly (or at least Holly thinks he does).

Oh, and Kindra gets a horse later in Fie Eoin.  Well, the tribe gets a horse and since it’s a sacred animal belonging to her ancestor Ian Odion, she is the only one allowed to handle the horse.  She thinks he’s a monster for a while (and he acts like a little monster for a while) but she ends up loving him.  He doesn’t follow her around like a pet though – he’s penned so he won’t run away.

I can’t think of any other animals in my writing.  My own pets play a huge part of my life, but since I love dialogue so much I guess they just don’t make it into the stories.

Writing Meme, Day 24

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?

Do you see that small group of people laughing in the corner over there?  That’s my writing group.  They are laughing because they all know how much I love to kill people in books.  Ok, maybe love is too strong, but I certainly don’t have a problem killing anyone in a book.  In fact, I have a character that dies in every book except Apollo (somehow it just didn’t work in Apollo, and my hatred of this person has slowly drained away in the cathartic killing of her throughout five other books).

But I don’t just kill random characters (although if you would like to die in one of my books, reply to this post and let me know – you can even choose your method of death as long as it’s not too ridiculous).  I have been known to kill my favorite characters, too.  I killed Rebecca in the first scene of Lane’s Girl, and then killed Lane in the last (trust me, by that point he was begging to die).  Rebecca’s a pretty tragic character – I still haven’t found a world in which she doesn’t meet an early death.  Kindra also dies (I won’t tell you when) and that tore me up inside.  I was crying and sick for days when I wrote that.  It made my writing group cry too.  If you ever need a good cry let me know – I’ll send you the scene.

As for my favorite death scene – it’s got to be the first one.  The character I kill in every book had her first death scene in Fie Eoin, when Pike chases her into a crowd and slits her throat to get everyone’s attention.  She’s so terrified, and he’s so cruel.  It’s deliciously evil.  In After Ancient she’s ripped apart by a giant gar in the Mississippi Ocean.  In Pike’s Revenge…. well I don’t remember how she dies in PR.  Probably plague.  Everyone dies of the plague in PR.  But the most interesting way she dies?  In Phooka Tales a bottle of acid explodes onto her face and she collapses into a puddle of it on the floor.  Her face is eaten away until she looks like Two Face from the Batman Comics.  I think that was such a good death scene that I haven’t had the urge to kill her since.

Writing Meme, Day 23

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting sending out?

Well, the first draft of Fie Eoin took me three years to complete (keep in mind that I was not seeking to write for publication at this time – I wrote cause I was a bored, procrastinating college student).  Five years later I’m working my way through the third draft (I took a very long break in the middle), with plans to do another major go-through-and-edit-and-maybe-rewrite-again once that is done (I learn so much about writing between drafts that while this one is good and probably even publishable it’s not as good as it could be, and I finally figured out how to make it that good).  Fie Eoin is probably the longest project I’ll ever work on, but it’s the first one and I love going to Fie Eoin, so I don’t mind :)

Most of my recent stories have been written during NaNo, so I’ll get the first draft done in a month (or finish it shortly after NaNo ends) and then put it away for a while to simmer.  I like to re-read them during this simmering time, just to get a feel for what needs to happen.  I thought for a while Phooka Tales would just need a little bit of editing to make it ready to go out, but like I said: I learn a lot about writing between drafts.  I’m currently re-writing the majority of it and sending that to my writing group to edit.  Happily, I think it won’t need a heck of a lot of major changes, so once the re-write and editing are tight I’ll start sending it out and see what kind of feedback I get (I’m hoping to start doing this by next year).  If I can get to that point next spring it will have taken about three years (I started planning it the year before I wrote it for NaNo).  Hopefully I can do the same with Apollo – he’s got the same minor problems as Phooka Tales, and even fewer of them, so it shouldn’t take long to get him re-written, edited, and out.

Note: I crossed out “posting” above because I post chapters as I write them for my online writing friends to read and review as I go (this saves a lot of time in re-writes, since they can catch problem things before I make it part of the whole story).  As you have seen if you’ve tried to click through a link to one of my story’s LJ pages all of these scenes and chapters are password protected and if you don’t have the password you can’t see them.  You probably wouldn’t want to anyways – they are a confusion of out-of-order scenes and story notes.