Character layering and building

One of my pet peeves is a flat character. If the protagonist isn’t interesting, who the heck wants to read about them? I took great strides to make Justice, Moira, Tom, and Darien more than names on a paper, but people you’d want to hang out with and invite into your life. Mind you, you’d literally have to invite Darien, but that’s another story.

In A Raven’s Revenge, I’ve used flashbacks to really suss out moments between characters that show the reader intimate details. For example, Moira’s point of view on her date with Tom really digs into her feelings and what it’s like to be with Tom. Even Seliki’s point of view has readers understanding why she’s so crazy but needs to die anyway.

It’s almost impossible to cram in so many details in the first book and A Raven’s Touch was already 104,000 words. This method has given me a way to backfill and give the reader to details they wouldn’t have known otherwise, but still, information that helps add depth.

Creating a world is a crazy concept, creating people to fill that world even weirder, and having them all interact is difficult, to say the least. One reviewer told me I had too many characters and the story was like a Stephen King novel. That was totally a compliment even though I think that’s something that threw her off. Despite that being something negative to her, it made me beam with pride, yes, this is exactly the kind of story I want.

When I’m writing, I’m writing for me, I’m writing the things that make me happy. The day I stop doing that and change based on someone else’s opinion, well, that will be a sad day indeed. I don’t intend on doing that any time soon.

One thing I can be certain of is my characters will all carry a bit of me in them. Whether that’s for good or bad, I think this is the element that makes them human. I hope people see them that way too.

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Oh look, more red pen

A few beta readers have come through and I’ve had some time to think about their comments regarding A Raven’s Revenge.

I sincerely appreciate:
a) the time it takes for someone to read and comment on my work
b) honest betas
c) the overwhelming sense of love my betas have for my characters

I’ve also been reading the story, while on the subway commuting to work, and I’ve been making notes on my Kindle. Reading through it again I found more opportunities to add depth to the characters and places I’ve struggled to show instead of tell. I’m not going to lie, that’s my biggest problem and I know I have to fix it.

Working on a sequel also makes me nervous that I won’t be able to provide the same experience that readers are expecting. I have to hand it to my betas for letting me know they think I’ve done it and that really puts a spring in my step. I even told one of my betas that I’m going to frame her email and look at it whenever I feel bad because her encouragement is so powerful.

There are days where I struggle and wonder why I am a writer (as I am one in my day job as well), but then there’s feedback like this that solidifies my passion and really brings it all home. Yes, I am a real writer. Yes, I am good at this. Yes, I will continue.

This is a part love letter to my betas and part reminder to myself to thank everyone on my journey and that I can indeed do this. ❤

I make the moves up as I go

I’ve never been one to plan my writing. Sure, I’ve done some whiteboard exercises to try to think about the plot, but every time I tried to actually sit down and create some form of organization my brain goes, nah, you don’t need that. There goes my thought process. *POOF*

Yeah, so what the hell do I do exactly? I daydream. I let my mind wander and then words come out. Half the time I feel like I’m channelling a spirit. More than often, I’m even surprised at what I write. It’s a strange process and I’m sure every creative person goes through their own version. Some have charts, and graphs, and a whole wack of documents to back up their plots. I got a sticky note that I crumpled and decided not to listen to. Yeah. Sometimes I feel painfully underprepared, but who the hell is really ready for inspiration?

And the thing is, inspiration is such a fickle thing, I mean, it can hit you when you’re in the shower, on the toilet, or that last few minutes before you fall asleep. This has happened to me in all three instances and it sucks. I’ve made a mad dash, towel on, soap in my hair to get to my phone and dictate an email to myself. Or, half-assed reached for my phone, only to knock it further, and then half crawl down off the bed to get it and perform some kind of cracked out gymnastics to pull myself back UP into bed to dictate on my phone. I do think the bathroom is some sort of sanctuary though. It’s the only place I can truly be alone with my thoughts and they tend to attack me when I’m not prepared. If I could have an office that looked like a bathroom, I might be able to churn out stories faster? Who knows!

All this to say, I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m okay with it. I’ll keep on cruisin’.

Taylor Swift, Shake It Off, 1989

 

The writing journey so far

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It’s important to reflect during the writing process. Right now, I’ve sent out first draft ARCs and I’m hoping my beta readers are not making voodoo dolls of me. As I said before, no one is safe in A Raven’s Revenge and I highly recommend having a box of tissues with you when you read the book.

That said, writing is a funny thing, I mean you take your deepest thoughts and basically share them with strangers. Yeah, not nerve-wracking at all. Nope. The love and care that you pour into your characters only to brutally slaughter them (sometimes). It’s a strange process. Clearly, not everyone kills their characters, but I tend to and it’s hard to write sometimes. Yet, with every battle a sacrifice must be made and who else to do that than the good guy. Perhaps if you’re Loki there’s an exception, but most often it’s not who you want to die.

While writing A Raven’s Revenge, I did have a moment where I wasn’t sure what the heck I was doing. Okay, several such moments, and I had to question myself. I suppose that’s common. How is this the only ‘occupation’ that is looked at like a hobby? I feel weird when I tell people that I’m a writer because they often ask me stupid follow-up questions:

1. What have you written that I might have read?
> Um…you’ve probably never heard of me and now this is awkward because you judge my success on being appealing to the masses. Thanks, jackass.

2. Are you any good?
> Depends on what you think is ‘good’.

3. Why don’t you make your story into a movie?
> Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Honestly.

I know my answers are sarcastic, but it just is annoying to hear so often. My day job is more impressive, as I’m a Content Writer and I’ve worked on some really big projects that people would actually recognize. The hope/dream of most writers, or anyone artistic for that matter, is to say adios to their day job and do writing full-time. One day I’ll get there, even if I’m 80 when it happens. As much as I’m realistic, I’m also a dreamer, and those sides fight all the time. Besides the random story ideas that pop into my head, I have to make room for the self-doubt and manic bouts where I believe I’m freaking amazing. Such a rollercoaster.

For now, I’m going to push through, polish up the first draft and publish it. I plan on writing the third instalment and getting that out there as well. After the Raven Wing series, well, I’m not sure.

Do I write a spin-off of Tom and Moira? Or, do I go in another direction completely? I have a dystopian story up my sleeve that I think could be bigger than Divergent/Hunger Games because it’s honestly unlike anything out there. So yeah, what to do?

Not sure, but let’s roll the dice and see.

 

50,000 words, so now what?

On July 28, 2018, I finally finished the first draft of A Raven’s Revenge. Just saying those words is enough to make me light headed. Mind you, this is the first draft, I probably will tear it apart and re-write it a few times. Or, I might just hit it out of the park? Who knows. Well, my editor really, but that has yet to be determined.

What happens now?

I’m sending the story to a few beta readers and then I wait.

Image result for and now we wait fry meme

And I wait, and I think about what I should be doing with my time, like creating a marketing plan, but no. Instead, I’m wondering what these lovely people are thinking about my story and if they are crying or dying, or plotting to murder me because I’ve killed a character…actually two characters.

Image result for do writers drink tea with satan

Wait a minute, I killed three, four, oh shoot, this is getting bad…I’m fairly certain I killed seven characters with a possible eighth. Yeah, a whole lot of death happens in this one. And NO ONE is safe. It pained me to do what I did to Moira. I had to take a break after I wrote it, and Tom, and Darien, oh that one hurt, and Justice. Yeah, it’s times like these that I’m glad I use a pen name. I don’t think I could handle anyone coming to my door yelling at me.

Safe to say, I feel kinda bad, but there’s always book three! I suppose I should start writing that one. I already have five new chapters and I’m introducing a special character in honour of a friend who lost his wife. I’m going to introduce her as a mutant with amazing powers.

So close…I can almost taste it

I finally finished a particular chapter that had been giving me a headache. It’s now a matter of writing one more death scene (my apologies in advance, as this is going to cause a spike in tissue sales), and then I can smooth over the holes in the plaster so to say.

Whoohoo! I may actually get freaking ARCs out sooner than I think. Mind you, this first draft is rough and I will need to find some very dedicated Betas. Looks like I may be a tad shy under 50,000 words, but I think these are some very choice words and I probably overwrote with A Raven’s Touch. Either way, I’ve learned from writing my first book, and I’m rather happy just to get the story out instead of it sitting in my head running amok. 

 

 

46,264 words, but I’m not counting…

I’m so damn close to a first draft and I’ve finally figured out how I’m going to connect the main story to the ending I’ve already written. I had to take a mental break, step back, evaluate, and talk out loud till it came to me.

All I can say is I hope you guys don’t mind getting your heart broken into a thousand pieces because no one is safe. Every character gets effed up pretty bad be it physically or emotionally, or both. There’s nothing holding back the characters as they’re literally in Hell, plus, Justice has nothing to lose since she’s basically lost everything she ever held dear anyway.

What happens when characters break and let their anger get the best of them? In the case of Justice, a whole lot of biblical whoop ass.

I’m not writing this for the sake of punishing my characters, but it really shows their growth and what they’re willing to do in the name of righteousness and all things ‘good’. In the process, perhaps they become a little bad. Killing in the name of God has always been a strange occurrence. Those with ‘holy orders’ obey, but do they enjoy the slaughter? It’s hard to say.

Either way, I’m having a lot of fun writing this and it feels like an amazing stress relief, even though I apologize in advance for Moira and Tom. Please don’t hate me.