Irony.

Before I start today’s post:

Morning all and welcome to all the new followers. And thank you all for posting comments. It’s really starting to feel like we’re in conversation.

I wanted to do this a while back, but I was in such a hurry every time I posted that I kept forgetting. Anyway. I have been contacted by C. John Coombes, who wants to get his new blog off the ground. He needs authors that published in an e-book format as well as reviewers willing to read and review e-books. So please go check it out and spread the word.

Then, as I’m certain you noticed, my first page is up, but as yet incomplete. The plan is to give you all at least some idea about who’s talking to me in Doorways so that I don’t sound like a ranting idiot half the time. However, I’m struggling to find images to use in order to give you an idea what they look like. Sigh.

Finally, I’m contemplating the creation a conversation area where we can all get together to chat about whatever we want. Would you spend time in such an area? Please let me know honestly in the comments, since I want to have an idea as to the numbers involved. Also, if you have a suggestion as to how I can create this area, please let me know.

OK… that done, let’s get to the post.

My past three days have been filled with irony.

I finished an essay I believed was practically finished at four o’clock the following morning.

I woke up in time, got dressed on time and drove to campus on time. Only to have my car break down at the most inopportune moment. Just as I resigned to the fact that I was going to be late for the hand-in, someone came past and helped me to park the car. I realized that it was nearly impossible for me to get the project printed and handed in, since the queues at the printers were incredibly long… and everyone seemed to be printing out Bibles. But… I somehow managed to get the project in exactly one minute before the deadline.

Oh and I went back to my car and tried hope against hope to start it. Yep. You guessed it.

Last night I went to another dance with the same friend of before… and bumped into that guy. This after I decided that I would likely never see him again and that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He in continuing the trend, asked me to one dance and left immediately afterwards. So I saw just enough of him to have to put myself through my mental pep-talk. Again.

And today, when I have to tidy my F-5 tornado stricken room (well, that’s what it looks like. except that it’s still here…), clean the bathroom and start studying for two tests next week, now has a muse breathing in my neck, reminding me not so subtly that Gawain is waiting for his interview. That Ward might lose his nerve and leave until next time. And that I haven’t actively written anything in the Beast in three weeks.

I have to say though, my life is certainly exciting. I never know when something is going to completely in the opposite way from what I planned. It keeps me on my toes. And it gives me something to laugh about – even if it is in a sad way.  

Do you also get streaks of irony? Do you also laugh? What else is going on in your life?

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I Survived My Own Stupidity…

So… remember that I blogged yesterday because I had so much time?

Turns out that it didn’t occur to my that getting the data into written form (economics again) in 650 words was a bit of a problem. Actually, it was a big bit of a problem.

See I wrote the entire analysis, knowing that it was going over the limit, but thinking that I could pare away at my words. Riiiight… When was the last time this worked for me? Uhm… Never. I ended up spending another six hours re-shaping the data into a more manageable form before deleting every single word of the analysis I had already written before starting again.

I did finish early enough to get six hours worth of sleep. So I’m pretty happy. This essay will very probably not do as well as the previous one, but that’s OK. To me, there are more important things in life to worry about than one essay that I don’t need.

Things like: A course on Spiritual Warfare. Finding time to broaden my mind. Finding time to write.

I’m not really going to go into the first, due to the fact that some people might not agree with me, but it just felt like I would be lying if I did not give it a mention. I just feel that as a Christian, I should do everything in my power to strengthen my defenses with knowledge.

A lot of things can broaden my mind. Watching movies, reading, reading blogs, talking to people, going to new places… and (the scary and most difficult one for me to do) to just be quiet in my own company.

My mind is a strange thing, tangling with at least three intense problems or musings at a given time. Most of the time, it’s more likely to be running five. Add in three novels, two of which are extending into series and around twenty characters all talking at the same time. Then there’s also the run of the mill things like: REMEMBER TO BUY EGGS FOR YOUR FLAT MATE! and: YOUR MOTHER MUST BE AT THE AIRPORT AT 07h20. The hundreds of little reminders that float around in my head. Sorry for the all-caps, but I’m doing everything I can to remember those two. You see… with all my stuff milling around in my head, it’s the every day stuff that falls through the cracks. 

Point is. My mind comes to a point where it sounds like a full restaurant where I can hear every single person talking. For me to just be quiet by myself, I have to spend quite a few hours shutting out most of the noise. It’s fiendishly difficult and – if I succeed – quite scary. It feels incredibly alien to be in silence, but it’s beautiful when it happens. Everything feels clear. And I get so much done when I get to this stage, since I can take one thought at a time and concentrate on only that. I keep focusing on these thoughts until I finally feel I’ve solved something. At which stage the noise usually floods back and hits me again.

Finally, writing. I write even when I don’t have a pen and paper with me. Only when I stop thinking about what I want to write, have I stopped writing. At this time, I’m toning down on my physical writing so that I can find my characters’ voices again. I’m almost there and I’m starting to become very excited about continuing the story. I might not be able to write as much as I’d like though, since I’m approaching my final exams. But whenever I feel like I can squeeze in a little bit of time, you can guess what I’ll be doing…

Do you also struggle with the white noise in your mind? Do you write, even if you’re not technically writing?

Did I mention that I’m a blogging addict?

Yes people, as sad as it is, I just can’t stay away.

But, due to the pressure of a test right before a project hand-in date, I decided to take the postponement option on my test. (Yes, we these come standard in our Course outlines.) So I do have a bit more time on my hands as I’m ahead of schedule.  

Since I missed you all so much, I decided to quickly post something new and reply to my many comments. I have so many! Thank you all for leaving them, it really makes this blogging exercise feel worth while. I won’t be able to read a lot of your posts though, since that would be project suicide… I estimate that I’m at least forty posts behind. I promise to try to get them all read by Saturday.

Also, hello to all of my new followers! Can you believe that a bit more than a month ago I had less than seven followers? Thank you all so much. Next stop, 100. 😉 

OK… that said… I want to ask all of your opinions. Yes, I know that I should try to supply what I think you want from my blog, but I also want to know what you want, because it would suck wasting my time doing something that no one is really interested. 

I want to expand my blog a little, and I’m thinking about adding some things. But I need to know what you all want… 

What I will do is slowly expand and test the pages for a month. I’ll be doing this a page at a time starting this weekend. What will these expansions be? That’s my little secret 😉 

Still, my expansions are still pretty much Carte Blanche, so please leave comments to state what you would like to see. More on my characters? More on other blogs I like? More on other blogs you like? Books I read? Movies I watched? Anything. Make the request and I’ll see if I can get it done. 

I just really want to make this your blog as much as mine. As much as I like having this soap box from which to make noise, I would prefer my blog to become more of a nice comfy cafe where all of us can discuss whatever we want. To do this, I need as much advice as you all can give. 

After all, we’re all different so what I think is a good idea might not be… Please please pretty please help make this blog awesome! *insert puppy eyes here.* 

My Sunday Update

Good morning everyone! And welcome all the new followers. I hope you all enjoy my blog and find at least a little value in what I have to say…

Right: Let’s get to the updates…

Firstly, I just want to brag a little. I have lost…  11 pounds this week! This means that I’m pretty much back to my weight before my great winter gain. I’m ecstatic!

Somewhere in August, I ranted and raved about my economics essay that wasn’t going well… It turns out that I got a distinction for it. I was flabbergasted when I got the results, but I’m very happy. It counts towards my final marks, so I’ve got a bit of a safety net in the event that something goes wrong in the subject.

As for the rest of my studies, I might be a tad busy this coming week, since I have a project to hand in, a big test to write, and a Fencing AGM that I must attend, since I’m the club chairperson. So, I’m afraid that the next time you’ll see a new post from me is on Thursday. I’ll try to get something posted, but since my mind will be completely focused on my academics, I’m quite sure that whatever I say will a) not make sense, b) be boring c) both. I’m sorry that I’m so inconsistent at the moment and that I won’t be getting to many of your blogs, but I’m in test and final exam season now… So think of me please.

Writing wise, I’m spending the next few hours interviewing James before getting back to the academic grind. Callan was surprisingly chatty, and it gave my many insights into who she is that I didn’t understand before. James just pushes my buttons. Which is why I’m here. Leaving him to stew.

I really really suggest you try interviewing your characters. Building scenes help you to see how they react. But interviewing lets you see who they are. It’s brilliant. I’ll definitely interview them again as the story progresses, just so that I can see how they’ve changed…

What about you? What news do you have to share? Nothing is too big or small for us to celebrate or mourn with you. I am just dying to get to know you all better and hear what’s going on in your lives.

Doorways and Darrion

The Beast has finally been named. This morning I just felt in a naming kind of mood and turned my attention to my main Work in Progress.  

Quite a few names occurred to me, but they didn’t seem to fit. So… I thought about recurring themes or objects in my story. And there it was. The name makes perfect sense. Doorways.

Except for the fact that doors in a literal sense appear often in my writing (no, I mean differently from going into rooms), doors also have a special significance to me.

These past few years have been all about doors opening on opportunities and closing on my past and wrong directions. There are many doors opening to me and I feel somewhat lost as to which choice to make.

It’s exactly the same with my characters. They are all very different, but they have doorways (making choices) in common.

James has to decide if he will step up. Ward must decide if he will tell the truth. Darrion must choose between loyalty and ambition. Gawain must choose sides. Callan must decide who she wants to become.

Everyone has an important decision. And every decision has an impact on others.

As you might notice from my short summery of the characters, there’s a lot of story to get down – with a lot of voices.

So I decided to take Bish Denham’s advice and hold interviews with each character. And immediately ran into a challenge. 

I started last night at 22:00. Darrion insisted on being first – despite my wanting to start with Ward. What can I say? The fiend is stubborn.

You’d think that he’d be chatty. You’d be wrong. Getting information from him is like pulling teeth.

Think I’m kidding?

Question 1:

Me: Tell me about your childhood.
Him: No
Me: Come on. I need to know.
Him: Did I stutter?

More to and fro arguing and negotiating followed and I gave up without knowing anything. And so it goes on. I’m currently taking a break before I decide to write him a terrible death at the end.

I can’t start an interview with anyone else, because his lordship won’t move his butt out of my mind. So here I am, letting him stew while I entertain myself with other things. Maybe he’ll be more talkative later…

Doubtful. Highly doubtful.

Sigh. I guess it sounds nuts, but I find it quite insightful, since I’m getting to know him outside of the context of the story. Even his reticence gives me insight into who he is, but he’ll never hear it from me…

How do you get to know your characters? Have anyone ever tried to get to know a character, only to have him/her push you back with every effort you make?

Writing Compelling Characters

Well, ladies and gents, today is the first time that my blog gets involved in something that didn’t come out of my mind. Last night I decided that it would be a great creativity exercise to take part in the Great Blogging Experiment. Basically, a lot of blogs signed up and are all writing about this topic. Please feel free to click on this link and check out some of the others too.  OK… let’s get going, shall we?

We all have our favourite characters. One of mine (and the one I chose out of many for the purposes of this post) is the Great Detective himself. If any of you thought: “Poirot,” I must ask… What the hell were you thinking? I’m talking about Sherlock Holmes. After all, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed him off the first time, there was a public outcry to bring him back. I don’t think you can get more compelling than that. But more about Holmes later.

Before we can go into writing compelling characters, we must first ask: “What is a compelling character?” To my mind, a compelling character is one that grabs my attention and holds it for dear life. He/she/it makes me want to read an entire story – regardless of the length – to find out what happens to him/her/it. Sometimes (as Holmes did), characters keep our attention through several books and/or stories. Holmes managed it through 56 short stories and four novels. And that’s just the canon. (Gave away my fan-girl status just now, didn’t I?) Anyway. Although I think it insane to aspire to such a stretch of attention, it makes him an awesome example.

Now we ask: “What makes characters compelling?” This question can be more than a little tricky to answer. One person may believe a character to be compelling, but the next might not. I know that a lot of people don’t like any of Sherlock Holmes books. They don’t take a particular liking to Holmes either. After all… He’s “better-than-thou”, moody, cynical, a drug addict, not very appreciative of his best (perhaps only) friend in the world. Basically your all round generic magnificent bastard. Who could possibly like a character like that?

Oh I don’t know, me and about five generations of Holmes fans? Face it, haters. He’s sticking around… But what makes him so compelling?

Exactly those things I listed. Yes yes I know. There is this common idea that characters have to be likable to be compelling. No no dears. They have to be interesting. Holmes is all those things I listed above, but he’s more complex than that. Still, he is very very loyal and is willing to admit when he is wrong – although it is rare enough. He is moody because he is easily bored and frustrated by the stupidity of those around him. He is, after all, a genius. But his genius extends beyond book knowledge. The list goes on and on and on. But I’m going to skip right to the end of my mental list to the most important attribute.

Holmes is, above all, Holmes. He doesn’t care about what others think of him. If they don’t like him, so what? He’s not going to change who he is just to fit into the mould people would like to put him in.

And that brings me neatly to writing compelling characters. Create them, then let them grow on their own. Don’t force them to conform to what you think they should be, for they are who they are. Yes, the character might not be nice, but by gum he is interesting.

Remember: interesting is good. All nice is boring. Interesting makes reader want to peel back the layers to get to know the character. They’ll read as far as they can to do so.

But who wants to hear how wonderful and perfect anyone is anyway?

Imagine if Holmes was truly perfect. A detecting Genius that never did anything wrong. Ever. I shudder at the thought, because I would never have read beyond the first book…

So, ladies and gents. What do you think? Am I talking total nonsense? What do you think makes a compelling character? Who is your most favourite character of all time? What makes him/her/it so compelling to you?

Fate

This is a question that has been with me for some time. Fate. How far does it rule our lives?

Me, I think Fate plays a huge role in things since I believe that God has a plan with my life. It’s just that I sometimes have to make decisions that might or might not be dependent on Fate.

For example. Last night I met an awesome guy… and I think he liked me too, yet we just were never alone for long enough to exchange numbers. We can, however, ask our mutual friend for the other’s number, but to me it’s not that easy.

I’m right at the end of the year. After that I’m going to leave University and very possibly the country. For me, actively seeking a relationship is just a bit too complex to even think about. Part of me believes that if we are meant to be together or even date, we’ll meet again.

Part of me wonders if I’m being a coward.

But that got me thinking about my books. In the Beast, the characters are quite fixed to their fates, although they get to choose if they step up or not. In the Western, they are responsible for their own fates.

Clearly, part of me obviously believes that even if Fate is there, it’s my choice to accept it. And thinking about it, I do accept a lot of what Fate throws my way. It’s my of knowing whether or not I’m following the Plan. I like following the Plan. It’s the best one there is for my life. 

But this was such a near miss. I have no idea about whether the door closed or not. So… Do I shove it a little and see what happens, or do I move past it and go on with my life? What do you guys think?