Feature Friday: I Need a Hero/ Villain/ Sidekick.

Chess Board - TwitterThere’s been some discussion going about my social media regarding villains. I don’t write villains. I’ve never written a villain (no, not even Ellie the Evil Queen is a villain).

Here’s why: a good villain isn’t a villain; they are the foil to your hero. A good villain, in another book, might be your hero.

I also don’t write sidekicks. Sidekicks have their own story going on. That story is every bit as important as the heroes story. Just don’t tell the hero. Sidekicks tend to be a lot lower on the ego scale than heroes.

Take a look at your WIP. If you’re writing a romance, you may not have a villain, but you’ll still have a foil to your main character. Look carefully at your villain/antagonist, love interest(s), and sidekicks.

  • Do they have a backstory? It doesn’t need to be in the story, but you need to know a little bit about them.
  • Do you know their personality type or motivations? If Myers-Briggs is too much, do a simple zodiac bit or a character archetype. Then do a little twist so the character isn’t just a stock character. (I hate stock characters.)
  • If you’ve ever played at tabletop gaming, you probably know the D&D versions of characters. There’s race, class, and alignment to get you going. Race is the same for most non-fantasy/sf books, but what “class” is your character? What about alignment? (I like alignment best; it tells a lot about a character.) If you don’t know a thing about it,  here’s some help. Or you can have fun with these memes.

All of this works for your main character, too, in case he or she feels too flat.

One last thing I have fun doing that only fantasy writers really seem to do is creating a genealogy chart. Must be the geek in me, but there’s something fun about knowing a little bit of a character’s backstory. Christopher, from Veneri Verbum and Beta Beware, is an only child of a single mother. I know what happened to Dad, but the rest of the world never will. Still, it affects who Christopher is. On the other hand, The Bobian (The Annals of Bobian) has a full-fledged family and is the only boy, stuffed in the middle. Yep, that affects his personality. Grandparents will have a role in later books.

So, look at your characters. How well-rounded are they? Could they use a little tweaking?

Bonus: Archetypes in literature and media

A to Z Blogging Challenge: F

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Figments

A to Z Blogging Challenge: F

Although I have other series, either published or in the works, the Figments will always be my first and, to a degree, my favorite. I am, after all, a Figment myself.

Figments are those Characters that get created but never fully finished. Every Writer has at least one. This Figment wasn’t likeable enough. That Figment didn’t fit the storyline. That other Figment insisted on taking the story in a direction the Writer didn’t want it to go.

Sometimes Figments are in stories that were completed but didn’t come to light. That WIP that sits in a desk drawer (or in a file folder on the computer) and never gets revised is full of Figments. The story you sent out to publishers that got rejected until you stopped trying? Figments.

My Figments are a little different. They’re still trapped in the Figments world because I wrote them there, but they are published. So they get to be real without being Characters (okay, Eric and Shiv are still Characters).

If you’ve never read my worlds, you might not understand this, and that’s okay. You still understand the concept of Figments because you have one.

Here’s my challenge to you: set your Figments free! Find a story for each and every one of them. Give them a home. Don’t let them moulder away in some lost file. It’s like setting your ghosts free when you’re in a sappy movie. If you hang onto them, you’re not only hurting yourself, but you’re hurting them.

So set them free! Which Figments in your life are you setting free?

A to Z Blogging Challenge: B

A to Z Blogging Challenge: (The) Bobian

A to Z Blogging Challenge: B

When I first created the Figments universe, I was sure this was where I was going to spend the majority of my time. I mean, other writers had done it: Xanth. Stephanie Plum. Honor Harrington. Create a world big enough and you can play in it for decades.
Then I discovered The Bobian.
The Bobian is (currently) a twelve-year-old boy with no other desire than to eat ice cream. He’s got a good imagination and, really, a far better sense of focus than I do. He knows what he wants and he’s going to get it, come broken bones, broken friendships, or angry Queen Mothers. Okay, maybe not angry Queen Mothers. Some things are just insurmountable.
Nevertheless, when I discovered The Bobian, I realized I had found something just as special as my Figments. In fact, The Bobian may be better, overall, because I like the kid better than I like Christopher (no offense, Christopher, just in case you’re reading).
The Annals of BobianThe Bobian is really what I want my books to be: easy to read, easy to laugh at, and hard to put down.
What are your goals as a Writer? Are you out to change (or at least educate) the world? Do you want to create an unforgettable world of your own? Do you want the romance, glitz and glamour?
What do you want as a Reader? Are you looking for happily ever after? A good whodunit? Deep intellectual books that make you think?
What’s on your list?

Publishing a NaNoWriMo Book: Fleshing Out the Characters

CaveatReader CropHoleColorRev7B

She lay there, a formless mass of bones, muscles, and blood, not yet a real Character. It was his job, as a Writer, to flesh her out. Adding some flesh to cover up the gore would be a good start.

It can be tricky business making the Figments from your imagination into real, flesh-and-blood Characters. There are a lot of ways to go about it, too. I recommend picking one to keep your Characters straight unless you want  to end up with  Tweedledee-Tweedledum confusion.

Pantsing It– Completely

If you think your memory is good enough, just put your Character out there and wing it. No notes. No planning. Don’t blame me if she turns out like Chris in Veneri Verbum and never quite solidifies into a solid Character. Also don’t blame me if she’s homicidal. It’s a lot of stress when you don’t have an Id.

Pantsing It– With Style

If you want to pants it, I recommend making notes. Use notecards, Scrivener, sticky notes, or tattoos, but make notes of every important feature about your Characters.  If he has brown hair in chapter one and red hair in chapter three, a Reader will eventually notice.  Don’t forget to add character traits.

Plotting It

You’ll have to pick your own method. Some people spend more time creating their Characters than I spend writing books. Others, including yours truly, borrow from the gaming world and create a Character sheet with the basics. I’ve even rolled a Character before.

However you decide to do it, be willing to alter your pre-planning, because something you planned won’t work out for that particular Character. As Christopher discovered:

“Didn’t I describe you as slender, too?” He was pretty sure she wasn’t a size two. Maybe a size ten.

“You described me as curvy and sexy,” she grumbled… “There’s nothing wrong with a size ten or any other size.”

… “Did I make you a feminist? I don’t think I’d be very comfortable writing a feminist.”

Your Character will inevitably develop some traits you didn’t plan. Run with it. This is what makes them real.

You only have homework this time if you want to plot your characters. If you do, you have a lot of homework. Get to it.