How to create spicy characters – Guest post

Published July 17, 2012 by ltwilton

What is a Character?

What is a character? Characters are the people who move your story along. They move the readers and the plot further. Without interesting, relatable characters your book will not end up well, no matter how amazing your plot may be. In fact, amazing and lovable characters can probably move a mediocre plot along. So, how does one create these characters who readers are suppose to fall in love with? Let me show you.

Create a Character Sketch

Some people can envision their characters in their heads perfectly. Some can even have conversations with them. For those who can’t and even those who can, a character sketch can help. A character sketch can be created on any piece of paper. You write down your characters attributes: soft, intense blue eyes or light, silky brown hair. It is also smart to give your character an identifying feature like a scar or a a big nose, so he is different and people can recognize him (you don’t want them all to be the same, do you?). And then you write down his characteristics: is he nice, mean, independent, smart…

Once you have this you can interview your characters. If you read any advice on writing, this is one of the most common pieces of advice found. Take time, just like any regular interview. Prepare questions. Then, sit down and answer them as your character. In the interview you should cover background, who your character likes, what are his hobbies, his favorite food, or even his favorite color. With character interviews, the more the better. You should also think about internal struggle and conflict (but that’s a whole other blog post).

Let Your Character Become You

This part is my own little fun idea that has helped me when writing my book. Characters are meant to be believable, but not exactly like us. So when you are creating characters put a little bit of yourselves into both them and their experiences. Let’s say you were shy when you were younger. Think of all of the realism you can add to your character if you add some of your own emotion of being shy into that character. It will make him more relatable.

Make Him into a Tasty Chicken

Also, give him a little extra. Characters are suppose to be interesting, so make him interesting. Give him a sense of humor or seem nice, but be mean or vice versa. But, you have to add some spice to your character one way or another. See, your character is like chicken. If he is bland, then no one wants to eat him, but if he is slathered with spices and BBQ sauce, everyone wants to grab for him.

It’s Practice Time

You want to write a book or story? Start now! Create your own character sheet, right now. Write down your characters attributes and characteristics. Put part of you in him and add a little spice to him. Start NOW!

My Transforming Stories prefers to stay anonymous until he completes his first novel, which will hopefully be soon. He loves to write. He knows how frustrating writing can be and wants to make it that much easier and fun. He created a blog to help aspiring authors and write awesome stories you can read. He plans on making his blog different than most writing blogs. Come check it out at:

Short story – Waiting

Published July 14, 2012 by ltwilton

This is my first short story. Unfortunately it got rejected today so I’m now posting it online:

Waiting

Eva woke to the sound of rain on the window. She had that feeling again. She reached for her notebook to scribble the details of the dream but faltered when she realised she had left the pen downstairs. “Not again!”

How was she supposed to learn anything from these dreams if she couldn’t remember all the details? She shrugged her shoulders and placed the notebook back onto the side table. “Oh well, maybe it’s just not meant to be…”

As most of the details of the dream faded away in her mind, the image of a woman’s face remained. The woman looked strange, almost inhuman, and her face was expressionless. She had silvery, grey hair but she couldn’t have been much older than 30.

Eva shuddered. Maybe it was a warning of some kind. She was still having trouble believing that there was anything remotely relevant about her dreams but Leigh insisted and Eva didn’t want to let her friend down. She found it quite exciting hypothesising about dreams and destiny anyway.  Leigh had an enviable outlook on the world. She could always see the magic in things. It made her more fun to be around and everyone loved her. No-one ever questioned her views because she was so loveable and her enthusiasm was infectious.

Eva jumped into the shower to wash off the night’s dirt and thought about what she had to do today. “I’ll walk the dog first” she thought. “The studying can come later.” Procrastination was something that came easily to her.

The weather was horrid for the month of June. It was raining heavily, the kind of rain that makes people run and scream; a strange reaction to a little bit of water falling from the sky. Eva thought it made the atmosphere of the day a little tense, more like night, and there were fewer people on the streets. She turned towards the cycle path with a sigh. She hated walking the dog in the rain but it was a necessary chore and the dog liked it at least.

As expected, there were no other dog walkers on the path this morning. Eva felt a sense of self-righteousness as she considered all the other lazy dog owners and congratulated herself silently for being dedicated. She was interrupted, and slightly startled, by the sight of a hooded figure in the distance as she rounded the bend. “Ah! I stand corrected” she thought. She squinted in the direction of the figure. It was still raining heavily.  No dog. “Or maybe not…” She smiled to herself smugly when her phone started to ring. It was Leigh.

“Hi chick! You alright?” Leigh asked.

“Yea, I was just thinking about you. Got more dream stuff to chat about.”

She looked up. The hooded figure had disappeared.

She described the silver haired woman to her friend and explained the sense of foreboding that she felt on waking. On the other end of the phone Leigh was silent for a moment.

“Eva” she said, finally. “I think the woman in your dream is a banshee.”

“What?” Eva replied.

“I don’t mean to freak you out but, according to legend, when someone sees one of those it means they are going to die.” Leigh waited for a reaction.

“Are you kidding me?” Eva said, laughing nervously.

“Hahaha! Of course I am , you numbnut!”

Eva breathed a sigh of relief. She felt stupid, suddenly. She had just been taken in by a ridiculous story. She could never tell when Leigh was being serious.

“You’re cruel!” she exclaimed.

“You’re gullible!” Leigh replied. “But the woman does actually sound like the description of a banshee. If you don’t believe me, you can read the stories yourself.”

“Maybe. When I have time.” Leigh sighed. “I have a wagonload of work to do today for uni.”

“OK. Well, do you want to grab a coffee or lunch later?”

“Yea. Lunch sounds good. I’ll meet you at yours. Will you be in?”

“I’m in pretty much all day” said Leigh. “We can have a nice chat about your dream.  See you later then.”

“Bye.” Eva slipped her phone into her pocket before it got any wetter in the rain. She looked at Lucky. He was completely soaked. He looked more like a drowned rat than a German Shepherd now.

“Let’s get you home, Lucky.”

Eva unlocked the kitchen door and headed for the cupboard to get a towel. She stopped, inexplicably and turned towards the door again. Through the open door she could have sworn that she saw something move in the hedge. She wasn’t the only one who detected movement. Lucky was already moving before she could even call his name. He darted off into the hedge, barking as he went.

“Lucky! Come back!”

Minutes later the dog came bounding back to her as if nothing had happened. “What did you see Lucky?” That familiar sense of foreboding came back to Eva now and she felt uneasy. “There is something odd about this day” she thought to herself.

With that, she decided to take Lucky and head over to Leigh’s. The university work could wait. She needed a coffee and a chat to calm her nerves. She felt ridiculous but she knew that Leigh would understand.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Leigh opened the door with a warm smile. Lucky was exceptionally pleased to see her and began his usual jumping and licking act. Leigh didn’t complain despite the fact that he was still wet from the rain. She always greeted him with the same enthusiasm.

“I expect you’ll be wanting a warm drink?” Leigh asked.

“Oh, I’d love a hot chocolate.”

“With marshmallows?”

“You read my mind!” Eva replied.  She felt much more relaxed the instant she set foot in Leigh’s house.

The two girls sat down in front of the fire and discussed what Eva could remember from her dream.  It was uncanny how similar the woman was to Leigh’s description of a banshee. This made Eva feel quite uneasy but even Leigh couldn’t believe in such stories. In any case the legend of the banshee didn’t involve dreams. The banshee appeared in real life and wailed. A lot.

Leigh was much more interested in what a banshee would represent in terms of dream interpretation. She tried looking it up in her dream books but couldn’t find anything useful.

“I know” she said finally. “Why don’t you try to ask the woman what she wants the next time you dream about her?”

“Maybe,” said Eva. “but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do that. I can try, I suppose.”

After about an hour Eva decided it was about time she went home to do some work. She said her goodbyes and headed back with Lucky in tow.

She trudged down the lane to the back garden and pushed open the back gate. It was then that she froze in her tracks. Lucky also stood completely still, fixated on the back door of the house.

Eva felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She didn’t know whether to run or scream. In front of her, at the back door of her house was the woman from her dream. She was as real as the rain falling around her and she was standing in the doorway of the back of the house. Her hair was long and silver and her face was almost blue in colour with piercing light blue eyes.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing, Lucky?” The dog didn’t move.

“She can’t be a banshee. She can’t be. She’s not wailing! And she’s real!” Eva thought frantically.

With that, the woman grinned from ear to ear. She lifted her arm to point at Eva and then started to walk towards her, very slowly and deliberately.

With that, Eva turned and ran until she arrived back at Leigh’s house.

……………………………………………………………………………………..

“Call the police.” Leigh’s advice seemed simple and obvious but Eva hadn’t even thought about it before now.

“Yes, yes, you’re right. I’ll do it now.”

The policeman asked her to recount the details but Eva found herself unable to describe the woman accurately. All she could remember was her face, standing in the kitchen doorway just looking at her.

“And you say this woman was definitely inside your house?”

“Yes, yes. I’m not going over there again until I know it’s safe!”

“We’ll send someone over there now. Sit tight.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

It was some time before she heard from the police again but when they called they asked if she could stay the night at Leigh’s.

“Of course” Leigh whispered, “I’ll get the spare room ready now.”

She watched Eva carefully as she listened to the policeman talking. There was a shocked look on her face. When she had finally finished the conversation Leigh asked her, “Well?”

“He says I’m lucky to be alive.”

“Did they find the woman there?”

“No. No trace. And the back door was locked.

They found him waiting in Eva’s bedroom with his usual kit of battery acid and a screwdriver, only this time he had also brought some meat to distract the dog before he killed it. The police had been looking for him for some time. He had got in through a side window of Eva’s house and would have likely remained undetected until it was too late, had she not fled the scene. They found no trace of any woman and, as she had told Leigh, the back door was locked. There were no prints to be found on the handle apart from her own.

Eva wondered if she had really seen a woman there at all.

“Of course you saw her!” exclaimed Leigh. “But I’m telling you now, that was no banshee…”

“No.” replied Eva pensively gazing into her coffee.

Little did she realise that her life was about to take an entirely different path and things would never be the same again.

7 ways to create story ideas.

Published July 14, 2012 by ltwilton

Image

We all get stuck for ideas from time to time. Use these techniques to get your creative juices flowing again:

1) Leave a notebook beside your bed. When you wake in the morning jot down any of the ideas you can still remember from your dreams. Dreams can be particularly strange collections of thoughts but they might be a good starting point for a story.

2) Play Cluedo. Well, not exactly, but take inspiration from the game by creating a story from a very simple starting point. Pick a random character, a job, an object and a place and build your story around these. You could even put the different characters, objects etc into a hat and pick them out at random.

3) Observe, observe, observe! Go people watching and imagine who they are and where they are going. Add a back story to each one and see if this sparks any story ideas.

4) Get inspired by the news. Try looking out for strange news stories or interesting photos and build a story from those.

5) Read the oldies. Try reading works without copyright like myths and legends and see if you can rework a classic. Change the venue, the characters, the moral, the ending or anything else you like and see if it helps you create something fresh with a hats off to the old masters.

6) Turn the world inside out. Think of normal, everyday things and change the rules. Upset the balance. Flip it all over and see what you end up with.

7) Start with a phrase or a sentence that you find interesting and see if you can develop a story from there. Try playing with quotes, ambiguous or vague phrases and those with double meanings.

I’d like to thank @jfaraday for idea number 7.

Comments please if you have any more ideas to add to the list.

Find your creative outlet!

Published July 13, 2012 by ltwilton

ImageI’m starting to think that everyone on the planet could benefit from being involved in something creative. It’s starting to have a great effect on me in any case and I just want to spread a bit of that happy, shiny feeling.

I grew up thinking I was not in the least creative. My view of this kind of activity was restricted to traditional art – typically drawing, painting and sculpture. I never really did particularly well at art. I studied it for a small amount of time at age 11 and my art teacher didn’t appreciate many of my efforts. My one good idea in art class took me too long to finish and I hadn’t noticed that a girl sitting at a desk nearby had, in the meantime, nicked the idea, finished it off and showed it to the teacher for lavish praise and demonstration to the class. My piece was ‘just a copy’ after that. I gave up art soon afterwards, frustrated at my complete lack of talent and the fact that my drawings always looked like freaky cartoons with even freakier hands.

I was always fairly good at writing and my short stories in primary school had garnered much praise from my teachers but no-one ever told me that I should keep it up. I don’t think writing is viewed by teachers as a viable career option. Either that or they didn’t actually think my stories were that good after all! The strange thing is that I never saw writing as a creative art. I have no idea why! In fact, I have only recently realised that I am, in actual fact, being creative when I write.

This has opened up a whole world of amazement to me. I suddenly feel different, a bit more worthwhile. It’s very odd, I know, but it certainly feels great.

I look online and I see just how many people who are writing and creating and I now feel like a proud little number amongst them.

When I decided to delve deeper into the reasons for my elation I started to think that, as humans, we have a necessity to create. I thought about the people I know, and there are very few of them who don’t have some sort of creative outlet. And, don’t forget that we also create life, famillies and our own little networks. This brings all sorts of joy to people, as we all know.

So, my advice is this: if you don’t have a creative outlet, find one and see how it makes you feel. Whether it be writing, filming, taking photos, creating works of art, decorating, doing hair, putting on make-up, fixing things or whatever. Find it and revel in the joy that is making stuff!

What do you think about our human need to create? Do you think it’s nonsense or is there something in it?

Non-fiction or fiction? That is the question.

Published July 10, 2012 by ltwilton

I currently find myself torn. I’m wondering if I should start trying to earn money by producing some articles for magazines  to build up my skills and my experience before embarking on writing a novel.

I just don’t want to write a novel that is shit. I don’t want to find myself going back over it to try to improve the writing, the structure, the characters, the POV because I didn’t have enough practice before I started the project. I realise that I could write short stories in the meantime but I find that this distracts me a little from cooking up the characters and plot for my novels. I say novels as I have more than one in mind.

I’m also having another problem; which genre should I be writing in? Do I have to pigeonhole myself or can I float around on the cusp of a genre or two? My tendency is to write dark tales but some of my ideas are clearly sci-fi and others are more fantasy. Then there are others which are downright horror.

So, what would you do? Write to make some money (if I’m lucky) and get some practice before I launch into the big project or just go ahead and write the darned thing now?

Spreading yourself thin on the internet?

Published July 10, 2012 by ltwilton

I keep reading that these days a writer needs to do a lot of their own marketing and that the internet is a tool (so use it! use it!) but so far I’m failing abysmally at this task. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going with twitter, twiends, digg, delicious, twellow, technorati, blah, blah, blah. I’m verifying accounts left, right and centre and I have no real idea how to use any of these things.

I feel like I might be spreading myself a little think across the net. I’ve started to try and build a little community of fellow writers, appreciators of art, empathisers, sympathisers and general nice people but I feel like I’m in a world where everyone has special glasses of knowing and I’m the only one walking around with two eyes.

There are people who know how to do this sort of shit. Heck, there are people out there who get paid to do this shit for other people but I don’t fancy spending my current zippo levels of cash on that kind of party.

The other hilarious thing is that I can’t currently ask much by way of comments and opinion from people as I don’t really have very many followers. (And no, not telling. Look for yourself!)

So, people, for the love of god, tell me this: are any of these sites worth using and will they work to increase the traffic to my blog, get me some more followers and generally bring me my heart’s desire?

I feel like the desperate kid in the line being last picked for the football team.

For those of you with experience in this field, I will search you down and find your advice. If I haven’t found you yet, please direct me and I’ll get there eventually.