Character First

September 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I only have about ten minutes so this will be short but I want to get it out there while it’s still fresh in my mind.

I was trying to think of how to describe the story I’m creating to someone, the tagline I guess it’s called, but everything I thought of sounded really stupid when I typed it out. I started to wonder if that was a reflection of my story, and started to think of things to change to make it sound better.

Eventually I just had to snap myself out of it. I could feel my blood pressure rising and just the slight edge of panic creeping into my thoughts. No, this is all wrong! It’s not working, nothing is working! I stopped and tried to clear my head for a moment, which was when I realized that the real problem I have is that I need to work through my characters; their goals and personalities, and what they hope to achieve, and once that is done I can go back and work the setting to find the most effective way to tell their story.

First things first, I need to work on characters.

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“Book Cover”

September 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

I like to make fake book covers for my stories, even before I write them. I’m a very visual person and it helps me to feel out the mood of the story when I made a visual representation of it. Here is the one I made for this year’s Nanowrimo story:

Shadowland

It’s funny, but even though I’ve developed a great deal more of the story since I made this image, it still matches the tone of this picture; I think even more so based on what I’ve added or taken away from the setting and plot.

I looked up “Shadowland” on Goodreads and it was a little depressing how many results came back for it. I shouldn’t be surprised because it’s a pretty cool title. I’ll keep it anyway, at least as the working title.

Fighting forgetfulness, my new nemesis

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I hate forgetting things, it’s the worst. And when it involves parts of my story, I get even more frustrated because I feel I’ve just knocked over the continuity cart and lost all the apples. Previously hot summer weather gives way to winter freezes without warning. A tasteful olive shag carpet turns into a stained red rug. Stupid little stuff that nonetheless seems to glare at me upon re-reading and leaves me wondering what the hell I was thinking.

I should keep notes but I feel myself getting bogged down in trying to remember things that don’t matter. I don’t want to write everything down but I need some basics. They are not names, places or hair colors that get lost in whatever crawlspace my brain keeps things it deems unimportant, but rather the pictures hanging on the walls, childhood memories, room or landscape descriptions. Hell, I even forget what descriptive words I use until I look back and realize I’ve used the word “bleak” five times and it’s time to visit the thesaurus and find a new word.

Old age is going to be hell on me, I can tell. I try to look on the positive side, that this is just a first draft and maybe the stuff I make up when I forget will be better than the originals and isn’t that what editing is for, anyway?

Music for the End of the World

September 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

I go through phases with music. Sometimes I can’t stand to have even the slightest sound distracting me from what I’m doing, whether it is writing or working. Lately, however I enjoy listening to a playlist I made specifically for this story I’m working on.

I call it “music for the end of the world” although listening to parts of it I can see how one could make an argument for calling it “music for committing suicide” (Please don’t). My intention was to create a very dispiriting mood without hope to mirror the feeling I imagine one would have upon waking up to discover their world is gone.

I’ve included parts of lyrics that particularly struck me while listening, but for many of the songs, the words don’t matter, it’s the music and the mood it creates.

Clair de lune – Claude Debussy

The Times They are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan

The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel

And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Only Remembered – War Horse

Who’ll sing the anthem and who’ll tell the story
Will the line hold will it scatter and run
Shall we at last be united in glory
Only remembered for what we have done

Abraham’s Daughter – Arcade Fire

Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

Here Without You – 3 Doors Down

Wise Men – James Blunt

But they couldn’t escape from you,
Couldn’t be free of you,
And now they know there’s no way out

Beautiful Lie – 30 Seconds to Mars

It’s time to forget about the past
To wash away what happened last
Hide behind an empty face

Adieu mon Coeur – Edith Piaf

Adieu mon cœur                     Good-bye my heart
On te jette au malheur.        We are casting you into unhappiness.
Tu n’auras pas mes yeux     You will not have my eyes
Au mourir                                 Until death

The Breach – Sunspot

The frailty that tore,
Still led us once more unto the breach.

Save Tonight – Eagle-Eye Cherry

Mad World – Gary Jules

No tomorrow, no tomorrow

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Barely Breathing – Duncan Sheik

Bent – Matchbox 20

Crying Out – Shinedown

45 – Shinedown

Send away for a perfect world
One not simply, so absurd

Elegia – New Order

Dust – Royworld

All that will remain of us,
Are a thousand voices floating in the atmosphere,
Shadows falling in the dust,
And I hear your voice singled out and I want to say,
You and I will never die,
So don’t think about all the space in-between us,

Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

2815 AD – WALL-E soundtrack

Setting the mood

September 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

Wind from the Sea

Andrew Wyeth – Wind from the Sea, 1947

The tone I’m going for in the story can essentially be summed up in Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Wind from the Sea.” When I look at this painting there is a calm bleakness and inevitability in the muted colors and path leading into the line of dark trees in the distance.

Despite this, the feeling of motion in the curtains hints at a more dynamic scene than would first appear, and brings a small ray of hope into an otherwise somber setting.

Two days of thoughts (aka catching up)

September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

From Saturday:

My fingers are moving as slow as snails while my mind races faster than I can keep up. I’ve had quite a bit of time to think about the structure of my story. I find it has become an amalgam of several different storylines that appeal to me, and I hope that in itself will be enough to make it somewhat unique. What I really need to do is stop worrying about whether something is a cliche or not. Even if it is, I can always tweak it later to help it along. The big ideas are always the same and just a little creativity can separate it from the pack.

Like my sister says, “Everything you want to do has already been done a hundred times before, so don’t worry about it and just do it!”

I’ve been thinking of actions that can be taken more than one way. Something as simple as a look of surprise and the exclamation “..but you’re dead!” could mean the person was the would-be murderer shocked at his victim’s survival, or the lover who was told the victim was dead and is simply experiencing the shock of the dead coming back to life. Two very different standpoints but through the eyes of a another character they could seem similar. And that gives me some wiggle room to manipulate the storyline as it develops. I don’t want to be too vague because that is a dead giveaway. I need to find the right way to convince the audience that one of the statements is true but not the other so I can totally blow them out of the water with a revelation later on in the story. I know that doesn’t work on everyone because some people are crazy good at guessing the outcomes of stories. But in general the theory holds.

Written today:

Trying to be creative is exhausting! Inevitably, I wonder how much I’m over-thinking it. I’ve seen what happens to writers who over plan every little interaction. It sounds about as natural as a child’s haltingly memorized lines in a school play. But trying to plan out twists in a plot is a harrowing and altogether new experience for me (previously I’ve been more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of writer). I feel as though I’m adding and adding and twisting and twisting until it no longer resembles the plot I came up with, and I wonder if that is a good or bad thing since the original plot is not in fact a unique one by any stretch.

I’ve also discovered I freeze up writing in certain situations. I was at the clay studio thinking I could just sit back and plunk on my keyboard with no problem. The first of many problems was Adele’s horrible throaty voice constantly in my ear thanks to someone’s terrible taste in music. The next was that the comfortable chair I’m used to disappeared, leaving only hard wooden stools in its place. I sat at the computer, flipping through screens idly; reading other people’s writing and feeling too self-conscious to write any of my own. There was someone who kept walking behind me and I felt like they were staring over my shoulder to read what was on my screen. I’m sure that wasn’t the case but it’s unnerving nonetheless.

Character development is exciting!

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve started writing some development stuff for two characters who I’m hoping will become the leads in the story I plan for November. This “stuff” so far is just writing from a character prompt from two different perspectives.

The prompt was something like “what is the first thing your character does in the morning?” and it’s funny but after writing this same scene from two different points of view, it felt like a dusty old trap door opened somewhere in my brain and more ideas came flooding out, not just for character but an entire story line based around them. I immediately started writing notes down and it was hard, even typing, to keep up with my thoughts.

They are just preliminary ideas but just having an idea is the most exciting thing! An idea that’s mine! I think the message to take away from this is that you don’t have to wait for a fully formed plot idea to start writing. Take some rough character sketches, start writing, and more than likely ideas will spring further from there just based on the direction your mind takes. Mental note for the future.