Something About Physical Description

It’s time for a confession: I suck as a blogger. I’ve been so stuck in working on a short story that I’ve lost all motivation on working on this blog. However, I hope to change that soon. But for today, I’m going to discuss a subject that every fiction writer needs to know about, and that is how to describe your characters.

Everyone has a unique look about them, so each of your characters should as well. Very rarely will you come into contact with two people who look exactly alike, even identical twins. With twins, one will likely wear their hair differently or not dress the same as the other, so of course it is key to give every single person in your story a unique look.

With my characters, I focus in on eye color and hair color, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Does the character have dimples? Freckles? How tall are they? How much do they weigh? All of these are important questions to ask when deciding how the character looks, but how do you get it across on the page? For me, it all depends on how the writing process goes. Sometimes I’ll imply things, while other times I show it in passing. Sometimes, I’ll dump a brief description and pencil in more info later.

One of my favorite ways of conveying description, however, is to give a character some movement that is somehow important to their physical features. Take the example that follows from my WIP:

“How far is it?” Jocelyn asked, combing her fingers through her curly red hair.

It’s easy to do, and you don’t have to dump the description on the reader. It’s a bit difficult when trying to introduce a lot of main characters at once, but it’s still my favorite of all. The best thing about it is, you can do this with the eyes and other physical features.

I hope this helps.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

 

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Something I’ve Learned In College

It’s time for a confession. I’m not a fan of creative writing programs in college, unless you’re just looking for a piece of paper to help you make some extra green. The truth is, I haven’t exactly kept any of this a secret while I’ve been using this blog. However, I’ve discovered something useful when it comes to playwriting and screenwriting classes.

They help me outline fiction.

Some may not think this is possible but it is. Currently, I’m taking a playwriting class, and my professor has provided his students with an outline of how the play works and all that jazz. There are three parts to a play (a beginning, middle, and end), and between each part there is some kind of transition between them. This has helped me transition my stories from brief idea that can be summed up on three pages, to a 30-page outline using the beginning-middle-end format for each scene, to a script format to get all the dialogue down with brief description ideas, to a fully-written novel.

I think the evolution between brief idea to full novel speaks for itself. Needless to say, I’m incorporating this into my process, and am attempting to use it to plan a sequel for Kingslayer as well as planning an anthology for shorter fantasy fiction. This plan seems to be working out pretty well so far.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Update: Summer 2017

I know I haven’t been making my regular posts, but I assure you I’m not chillin’ with Tolkien, Poe, Twain, and other dead writers. I have, on the other hand, been very busy. I’ve been taking a senior-level playwriting class, after all. And before that, I was visiting my brother and his girlfriend out in the boonies of Angleton, Texas.

Several projects in a row have fallen apart–including the epistolary novel I spoke about on Twitter–but I did manage to get something else done. I managed to fully draft a piece of flash fiction, which will be published as bonus content in the back of Kingslayer with a simple update to my files (perks of self-publishing). This story actually stems from the failed prequel for my novel that never got finished, but I digress. I’m also going to be publishing an appendix in the back of the book to further explain some of the magical items in my created universe.

Something else I’ve been working on is a new cover for Kingslayer. The current one just isn’t working or getting the book noticed, so I figured a change is in order. It’ll be up soon.

Right now, novels just aren’t working for me. I’m starting to think that short fiction and flash fiction are where I need to focus my attention, until I can readjust my attention to novels again. That’s why I’m considering doing a collection of fantasy flash fiction (some of which will be from the world of Kingslayer, while others will be from entirely new worlds).

All in all, I wanted to update everyone on what I am doing so they can get a bigger picture for why I’ve been absent from the blog scene.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Food in Fantasy

There are several novels out there that are in the fantasy genre and have some kind of unique food or beverage that exists within the author of that novel’s made-up fantasy world. One famous example is butterbeer from Harry Potter, which has been created in real life, but at one point was a complete fabrication. Another example is from my own novel Kingslayer, where the characters can be seen eating a dish called “dragonloaf,” which is basically a meatloaf made of dragon meat.

If you want to truly make your fantasy world come to life, it is important to give the characters interesting food choices. For example, Japan has far different food choices than Italy. Part of this is due to geographic differences, but part of it is also because their culture is different. Both those things are unique in a secondary world fantasy, and you can have even more possibilities when you consider that magical creatures exist in your fantasy world.

What kinds of animals do the people of your world eat, and how are they prepared? Both these questions will depend on the culture of your fantasy world. Let’s say that grapes are outlawed by your world’s government, so what other fruits would be used to make wine? These are very important kinds of things to think about if fantasy is the kind of book writing that you want to do.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Dialogue

Everyone has a unique voice, whether you be from Boston in the U.S. or Ireland in the U.K., but how can a writer use this fact to make dialogue that is unique from character to character? Well, there are lots of components to this, which will inevitably have to be covered in future posts,  but at its most basic level, dialogue stems from how people talk.

If you want to write realistic dialogue, it is important to note that there are three major components to speech: phenology, morphology, and syntax. Phenology is basically how people pronounce certain words, morphology is the choice of one word over another that basically means the same thing, and syntax is all about overall word choice.

For example, if someone says “worsher” as opposed to “washer,” you’ll know this is an example of phenology where they’re talking about a washing machine. Different people pronounce these words differently depending on their geography. Morphology works similarly in that you’ll say something different depending on where you live, except you’ll use a different word as opposed to the same word that’s pronounced differently. Fireflies are a good example of this. Where I live in the south, firefly is the accepted word, but in other places firebugs or lightning bugs are just as acceptable. Syntax is a little more complex, but it’s self-explanatory, so I won’t go any further on that.

The point is, we’re all going to talk differently, and it’s your job as a writer to convey that in how your characters talk. Geography is very important in the real world, because different kinds of people settle in different places, and therefore different accents and even dialects develop. If you want to create realistic dialogue, even in fantasy, these are all things to keep in mind.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Character Development: Supporting Characters

A few of my recent posts have centered around the idea of developing characters, so for today’s post I figured I’d finish it off with supporting characters. These are the characters that are neither protagonists or antagonists, but are just as vital to the story as a whole.

To develop supporting characters for your story, it is important to remember that they are the protagonist of their own story. Therefore, they need to have their own goals that are in some way different than what the protagonist wants. This will make them realistic in a lot of ways.

For example, take Snape from the Harry Potter books. His love for Lily Potter has caused Snape to risk his own life to help Harry and work for Dumbledore, which is something he would not be interested in if he wasn’t in love with Lily in the first place. The bottom line is, you need to give your supporting characters something that will help the protagonist. If they don’t, they’re nothing more than a second antagonist.

I think it goes without saying that the supporting cast doesn’t want the same thing as the protagonist for the same reasons, but it’s very important to give them some common goals.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

How to Not Get Burnt Out on Writing

Sometimes, I have a hard time getting words on the page. This isn’t because of a lack of planning, or writer’s block, or something else entirely. The truth is, writing a lot on the same story is something that can cause you to get burnt out. It’s happened to me. For Kingslayer, I worked on that story for 10, so by the time I was done nitpicking and changing words around, I was sick of writing everything and anything. This is part of the reason my blogs will sometimes not get posted, but I digress.

The real question is, how do we avoid getting burnt out? Well, that’s a great question. I feel like most writers should be able to slow things down and live a little. Experience the world, hang out with friends, yada, yada, yada. Now, that’s not to say don’t write during your scheduled writing periods; however, you have to be willing to take a break and explore the world. For instance, I’m going on a trip to Houston in a couple of weeks, and I will likely not do any fiction writing during large portions of that trip.

Now, writing is important if you want to see your work in print, but for goodness sake, don’t burn yourself out in the process. If need be, take Saturdays off (or some other day of the week). Just give yourself some time to do other things, because too much of a good thing can be bad for your mental health.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017