Archive | September 2014

How much of your characters are based on real people?

One of my very first projects since starting to learn to write fiction is to try and create characters. They need to be believable but, quirky enough to stand out, get your attention and set this book aside from others.

While struggling with this aspect of fiction I wonder how much of your character is based on a real person. How much do you keep from reality, how much do you change or embellish? Or are you so creative, the entire character comes from your imagination?

We obviously do not want our characters to be recognizable as to exact identity of a real person but, we wish them to have universal traits, challenges and problems.

I suspect most authors and writers combine the two methods. Their characters are based on a real life person, but changed enough to keep the writer out of trouble.

Recently I read a very long biography of Marcel Proust; he himself was quite a character and a unique personality. Much of what he left in his notes and letters indicate he used real people for his models. Sometimes, the characters were actually based on two or more real people taking traits from one and other identifying marks from another.

It seems to make it easier to start with a real person in mind and then make that character uniquely yours. Adding your own creative elements means you can create an even more complicated person than the one your character is based upon.

This is a pressing subject for me as I try to learn how to write fiction and any advice or point of view would be welcome. I believe all fiction writers have a method they use, but it would be so helpful to new writers if they had some direction.

Would love to hear your solution to this writing problem.

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Last Prospector Author, Cairn Rodriguez, Demystifies Fiction Writing

Another wonderful author who consented to help point us in the right direction.

The Blank Page

In writing, is there anything worse than the dreaded blank page? Writer’s block is bad, for sure, but blocked implies something was flowing before. The blank page, and in the modern age the blinking cursor, is the first step towards filling up the big empty. It’s full of promise, wants to be immediately interesting and sets the course for all the pages to come.

Because that first blank page is so important, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise how much time writers spend staring at it. Often, it’s not a lack of ideas on how to start, it’s too many ideas all vying for the limelight. A new story of any length has the potential to be anything, to go anywhere and to do everything. Creative types can easily become overwhelmed by the possibilities, it’s hard to know where to start when there are pretty much no limits.

So you sit down, boot up and commence writing with conviction. That white screen emerges, that pesky little cursor blinks. And blinks. And blinks. All that conviction disintegrates beneath the weight of one looming question: Where do I begin?

(Did anyone else also start hearing the theme to Love Story?)

Every writer is different, we all work and think in unique ways. This can make giving advice on how to write problematic. All I know is what works for me and I’d like to share the two most valuable tools that enable me to sit down and start typing.

The first one is hard, and something many aspiring authors who have asked for my advice discard immediately. It’s fair to point out that, thus far, none of those who’ve asked and discarded have yet to complete any kind of work. However, this is the single most essential thing I do before I start writing.

Ready? Here it comes. Start at the end. Don’t fight me on this.

Know where your story is going before it starts. Sit down and figure it out first, in your head. Or talk it out with the family dog, it also works well because dogs are very perceptive. Pester your friends and relations, hash it out on Twitter, I don’t care HOW you do it. Just do it, because once you know where you’re going, how you’ll get there, 90% of the hard work will be done.

Think about the over-arching theme of the story. Decide on the ideas you want passed on in the text. Know why your characters exist and what is in store for them. Knowing all these details in advance will inform everything written from the start. It doesn’t matter if the story has a big, splashy finale or not. Because you know how it ends, you also know everything that needs to happen to get there.

Once you’ve done the hard work, and I’m not pretending the above is easy, there is only one more step to a solid beginning for the story. The easiest way I know to avoid the accusing stare of the blank page and the petulant blink of the cursor is to know the first line I wish to write before opening up the screen.

Once again, work it out first. Find that perfect first sentence before the blank page demands it. When you have it, sit right down and bang that puppy out, try to look smugly at the monitor while doing so. After that, just don’t stop. Let the words flow because you have what you need to build the framework for the story.

You have a beginning, you have an ending, you are a rock star. Yes, there will be many details to work out along the way. There will be fits and starts, pauses and furors, and at times you may get stymied. But knowing the end is your true north, it’s the fixed point you are traveling towards and will keep you from getting lost.

Thinking about writing a story is certainly far less romantic than actually sitting down to type one out. I want writing to be a fun, pleasurable experience, not stressful and full of angst. Doing the dirty work first keeps the romance in the actual writing, hopefully a love affair than won’t ever end.

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Cairn Rodrigues is a lapsed chef and a current writer of refreshingly delightful fantasy fiction. She has a passably good relationship with punctuation while maintaining the high standards and integrity of self-published authors the world over. With over 30k tweets to her credit, she can sum up even the most profound and convoluted thought into a mere 140 characters as if by magic. Cairn knows all the words to La Bamba and is very well educated in classic American porn. She enjoys glitzy fireworks displays, the iridescent feathers on common street pigeons and a really great Monte Cristo sandwich.

Amazon page http://amzn.to/1dnQYjR
Blog http://thelightstealerssong.com/
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Questions about writing a novel! Can you answer them for newbies?


I imagine, you should have a good idea of the type of book and the general story before you begin but, what next? How much research should you do so that you are thoroughly familiar with your subject?

Once the book’s concept is at least somewhat fixed in your mind, do you move onto planning scenes and plotting out your story? Do you even know your whole story when you begin writing it or do you simply begin and figure out much of it as you go on?

When do you develop characters? I would think, the scenes are difficult to start to plan put until you know which characters people them. Authors, do you find that the very nature of your characters change while writing or do they develop in response to what you wrote? How often mid story, must you add or eliminate characters?

As an established writer, do you always write your novels in the same way? Do they take similar amounts of time to accomplish each writing goal for a book? Does it all depend upon the type of books? Is the novel length similar or within the same word or page range?

I’ve been reading about Marcel Proust and how he wrote and the extra amount of steps, changes and additions are mind boggling. Just wondered how much of this others do.

How many times do you edit a book? Is it always the same? How many times do you rewrite a large section after the first couple drafts?

These are questions that plague me and may be of interest to other new fiction writers. Hoping some of you established writers can show the novices which way to go and what to expect is normal. Or is anything in writing normal? Is the process always the same or do we need to be even more flexible about writing fiction than other types of writing?

Please, writing experts- show the way!

Author of Rosehead, Ksenia Anske Gives New Writers Advice

Rosehead cover 1Since I have decided to begin writing fiction, I have been aware that I know even less about it than I thought. I have been reading and researching and still no clear picture has come to me as to how to begin or how to proceed. Although much of the advice out there is probably very good and useful, some of it seems complicated or even vague.
As a new writer, and when it comes to fiction I am, you have many doubts about your ideas, your skills and your journey. How to start out and how to arrive where you want to be? That is the question.

So instead of trying to figure this out on my own, I am consulting the real writers. You know- the ones who have made it. The professionals, who are earning money by plying their trade. Those who have mastered many of the skills, though we know it will take a lifetime to be proficient at all we do when it comes to writing. Beginners are not expecting to be experts or sell everything they write, but they are looking for direction, so the experts will advise us.

The first person I wish to introduce to you is a beautiful person and an imaginative writer. Her name is Ksenia Anske. She appears to have fun and she is open and giving to all she comes in contact with-and those are just her non writing skills. She is an encouragement to others who would live this life of writer. She works faithfully and that is one of her secrets, but I will let her tell you in her own words.

Advice to beginning writers
I can really summarize this in two very simple things you have to do, if you are just starting out.

WRITE EVERY DAY.
READ EVERY DAY.

That is all there is to it. Writing is like exercising a muscle. If you don’t do it every day, you don’t get better. If you don’t feed your brain by reading what others write, you’re not growing. Yes, you can write without reading other fiction at all, and I often hear moaning from beginning writers who are terrified to read anything because it might influence their own style in some way. This is bullshit. Number one, all reading influences you in some way. Hell, sniffing flowers influences you in some way. Everything you do influences you. What you take from it is what determines who you will be as an artist. What you notice is what’s important, what you learn. Without reading you won’t grow, or you will grow, but very, very slow, and you won’t expand your understanding of writing if you won’t study how others do it. You will see the rules being broken, the stories singing to you, or you will be disgusted and will throw books at the walls or at your fridge because you hate them that much. All of it is fantastic. Read everything. Think of it as an input into your brain, and writing as output. You’ve got to feed your creative beast, otherwise what will you create? Same stuff, over and over again.

Another thing, too. Reading will teach you to trust yourself. This is the biggest hurdle all beginning writers have to overcome, the fear of writing however they want to write. It’s tempting to do what others do, tried and true techniques. Pick a genre that’s hot, or a writing style that’s hot, or whatever. In order to grow, however, you have to write a lot of bad stuff to start seeing what exactly it is you’re good at. If you copy someone else, something else, you will end up copying their mistakes. You have to make your own. This is why reading is so important. You will see what other writers did. Better yet, pick one writer and read an early book and a more recent book and see how that writer grew and changed. You can do the same. Here comes another piece of advice.
NEVER QUIT.

There will be times when you will be tempted to just give up, thinking that no matter how hard you try, you will never get better. Let me refer you to this Ira Glass quote. Print it out and put it up over your laptop or the place where you write, and every time you doubt yourself, read it:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

This is it! Do these three things, and it will happen.
1. Write every day.
2. Read every day.
3. Never quit.

You can read more about this author and her professional life at
http://www.kseniaanske.com/

Find her on Amazon-
http://www.amazon.com/Ksenia-Anske/e/B00D3CSVTO

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Please support Ksenia buy checking out her blog, buying her numerous books and listening to someone who has already found many of the answers.