Are Your Characters Faceless Blobs? (Or, How Exhaustively Do You Describe Your Characters?)

Writers tend to be of two minds when it comes to describing a character’s physical appearance. Either they like to a) introduce each character with a fully-fleshed description that gives the reader an instant picture in their mind, or b) sprinkle in details sparingly, when they come up organically in the story.

(Of course, there are some writers who prefer a third option, c) divulge nothing about the characters save, basically, their names. This tactic, I DO NOT recommend. The idea behind it is, I guess, noble: to let your readers form their own interpretation of a character’s physicality free from the author’s influence, and to avoid bogging down the prose with a clunky descriptive paragraph. I can see what these writers are trying to do, only most of the time … they don’t do it. They end up creating faceless blobs: featureless talking heads that leave little impression on the reader.)

So, when it comes to describing characters, how much detail is too much? Should we saturate our pages with description, or sprinkle them?

Continue reading “Are Your Characters Faceless Blobs? (Or, How Exhaustively Do You Describe Your Characters?)”

What My First Drafts Look Like (Answer: GIANT MESSY MESSES)

As I’m sure every writer on the planet has noticed, our writing tends to vastly improve between our first draft of a scene and, say, the eightieth draft of a scene. Very rarely will you throw liquid sparkling gold down on a page on your very first attempt — usually it takes hacking and polishing and pleading and farm animal sacrificing and a number of alchemical processes to transform that messy first draft into something not-embarrassing and actually pleasant to read.

BUT I CONSTANTLY FORGET THIS. Every single time I write a scene, I feel terrible about how bad it is compared to a bunch of other scenes that I wrote, which were all in their twelfth-or-twentieth drafts and really shouldn’t be compared to this poor fledgling, baby scene I’ve only just now started working on. So, in an effort to make myself feel better and remind myself that it’s completely okay to have an embarrassingly bad first draft, I thought I’d compile a list of all the signs one of my scenes is in it’s first draft.

Short answer: because it’s a damn mess.

Continue reading “What My First Drafts Look Like (Answer: GIANT MESSY MESSES)”

The Cake Book Tag — with added sprinkles of betrayal

Okay, so, I’ve stumbled upon several different people doing this Cake Book Tag, most recently PaperFury. I’m not going to tag anyone, but I love the questions — so let’s get started!

FLOUR: A BOOK THAT WAS A LITTLE SLOW TO START OFF BUT REALLY PICKED UP AS IT WENT ALONG

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Rebecca. This book – You guys. This book. The first sixty pages or so are definitely slow – the main character is mostly staying at a hotel, flirting with a guy, and eventually marrying him. The writing is lovely, but not a lot happened, and I was sincerely contemplating putting the book down. But once she gets out of that hotel and joins Maxim (her new husband) at his house – a house thickly coated in lingering traces and strong, sour memories of his late wife, Rebecca, good lord does the plot pick up. I feel like it took me a week to read the first sixty pages, and a minute to finish the rest of the book. SO GOOD. Creepy, suspenseful, shocking. Contains one of my favorite lines of all time. (“Will you look into my eyes and tell me that you love me now?” one of the most genuine “drop the mic” moments I’ve ever found in a book.)

Continue reading “The Cake Book Tag — with added sprinkles of betrayal”

fantasy religion novel

Dragon Gods and Demon Sea Monsters: Deciding Your Fantasy World’s Religion

Creating a fantasy world from scratch is an arduous, daunting enough undertaking, what with having to decide what it looks like, how its people act, how far this city is from this mountain, if the world has magic, or dragons, or sea monsters. You need a history, a timeline, a sense of logical consistency. And, unless your fantasy world is steeped in science and Atheism (which, now that I think about it, sounds awesome) you’re probably going to need a religion.

Religion has, from the times of men looking up at lightning and surmising a god must be up there throwing down electric bolts, stemmed from a need to explain the inexplicable. And, in a fantasy world, there’s probably a lot that’s inexplicable. A fantasy world might fear sea monsters as demons, might revere dragons as gods, might think magic comes from people touched by the heavens — or by hell.

So, most fantasy worlds are going to have some kind of religion. People fear the unknown and seek to explain it — the question is, how do you decide what kind of religion your fantasy world will have? Amy Rose-Davis’s article Creating God In Fantasy says a fantasy religion should, at the very least, answer three questions: where did we come from, where do we go after we die, and what should we do while we’re here.

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BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE: MARCH EDITION

I participated in one of these Beautiful People link-ups last November — and I really want to do more of them! This month’s edition is all about characters — we’re to pick one, and answer the following!

For this, I’m picking my main character, Charley.

1. What is their secret desire?
As far as a SECRET desire goes, I think he’d really appreciate taking a sidebar from all the questing, and death-defying, and general STRESS of his life, and go somewhere with endless towers of books where he can just throw himself down, grab anything, read for however long he chooses, and not have to deal with anything beyond finding the right reading snack.

2. What is the best and brightest moment they experience during the story?
As far as the first book goes, Charley’s best and brightest moment probably comes at the very, very end, when he finds what he’s been seeking and accomplishes what he set out to do. (Unfortunately, this euphoria isn’t going to last long.)
In the rest of the series, there’s a scene in a later book where his two closest friends take the time out of the aforementioned death-defying and STRESS to throw him a birthday party he wasn’t expecting, and doesn’t feel he deserves. There’s cake, and hot chocolate, and a fantasy world equivalent of trivial pursuit. 😛 Continue reading “BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE: MARCH EDITION”