What To Do If Your Characters Won’t Talk To You

Or do they talk too much?

 

Is there a “right” way to communicate with your characters?

I pondered this question late one night when I couldn’t sleep (the places a mind can go at three in the morning!). The topic was on my mind due to a Facebook discussion, where an author was concerned she had a problem because her characters wouldn’t “talk” to her. She had heard other authors say they had regular and vivid conversations with their characters, and she felt left out because she didn’t.

Many in the responses assured her she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Several authors, myself included, said their characters don’t communicate with them like disembodied entities. The consensus at the end of the thread was, like most aspects of writing, there’s no one right way. How your characters communicate with you is part of your writing process, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Whose Head Is This?

Personally, my characters don’t talk to me, they talk through me. I do a rough character sketch before I begin writing a story, but the characters, whether main or secondary, reveal themselves to me as I write. They don’t get inside my head, but I get inside theirs. When I am writing in a character’s POV, I am that character. I inhabit their mind, see what they see, feel what they feel. I think that is why I am able to write in deep point of view, and also why I can’t stand “head hopping” (alternating POV in the same scene). It may also be why I write slower than some writers, because it takes time to get into, and out of, character. The only downside is, when I write from the POV of an antagonist who is psychologically messed up, or a villain type, it sometimes creeps me out and takes a while to recover!

My reviews have cited “a wealth of character development” and now I know why. I didn’t even realize that I was, so to speak, “inhabiting” my characters until I thought about how other authors communicate with theirs.

Characters Are Crucial

Characters and their motivations, quirks, and personalities are extremely important in fiction. No matter what genre you write, character development is what makes the reader care about what is happening plot-wise. Some genres have more emphasis on character development and interaction than others, but knowing your characters is crucial for all fiction.
So, what can you do if they aren’t jabbering?

Here’s a few tips I have heard about getting to know your characters:

Write a character sketch– it can be a few paragraphs, a list, or a dossier. Some writers swear by this, and it helps them to know what food the character likes, what astrological sign they are, what happened to them when they were six, etc. Much of the information may not be used in the story, but serves as background, which helps to develop the character’s motivations and quirks.

Interview your characters– pretend you’re a journalist or a psychologist, and grill them with questions. Many writers find this helps when they are stuck, to ask the character what he/she wants to happen.

Try deep POV– even if you are not writing your story that way. Really get inside your character’s mind, and figure out why they behave the way they do. Writing a scene or two, which you may or may not use, can trigger you to discover aspects about that character you were missing.

Map it out– use a structural template, such as Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, or something similar, to map out your character’s development and arc. Sometimes breaking it down like that can trigger all sorts of ideas and provide insight into the character’s psychological makeup.

Brainstorm- talk it out with another author or a trusted beta reader. If you feel disconnected or blocked from a character, talking it through with someone else can also trigger understanding. Sometimes just voicing your concerns out loud can make the character more “real” and you can gain insight into what they want or should do in your story.

The bottom line is, there is no one right way to communicate with your characters. Whether they are noisy or quiet, how they get the story through you and onto the page is highly personal and individual. While it is a good idea to try new methods, don’t compare yourself to other writers. If your way makes you comfortable and works for you, bravo!

Do your characters talk to you? What’s your process for finding out what they are all about?

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Meet Mark Tiro- Author of Implicit, Soul Invictus

Did you ever read a novel that stayed with you for days, months, even years afterward? That went way beyond merely entertaining you, and changed your life?
An intriguing, gripping plot, and relatable yet interesting characters are the hallmarks of a good novel, in any genre. But when a story unfolds in such a way as to take you along with it, and literally change your perceptions not only of the world, but of what life on this earth really means? That is another experience altogether.

An Impressive Debut

Author Mark Tiro began writing because he loved books like that—and he wanted to contribute to the expansion of reader’s minds, as well as to entertain them. After studying metaphysical literary phenomena such as The Celestine Prophecy and A Course In Miracles, he felt he was ready to write the story he was born to write.

Mark’s writing style has been compared to authors Paul Coelho and Richard Bach, and his debut novel, Implicit, Soul Invictus, has been well received. Here are a few of the great reviews:

“An emotional tour de force and breathtaking adventure in forgiveness!”
“Engripping! It’s a novel so novel it takes a new word to describe.”

Released November 1, 2017, this fast-paced yet deep novel follows the past and future lives of Maya Lee, and her epic journey on her last forgiveness adventure. The sequel, All These Things, Maya Invictus, followed a month later, on December first. Both novels are available on Amazon or can be read for free through the Kindle Unlimited subscription service.

The Inspiration

I recently sat down with Mark to find out more about these fascinating novels:

How did you get the concept for your novel series, and when did you begin writing?

I hit upon an idea to write about one woman’s epic journeys through her past and future lives. And I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t bore readers to death.
Readers either love Maya or they hate her. She’s brilliant, and tenacious. She’s the kind of person you’d love to have a drink with. But she’s also angry, and when people screw her over, she’s driven to get even. I wanted to show how this plays out—not just in this lifetime, but as Maya goes from lifetime to lifetime. She doesn’t check her desire for revenge at the door, and at some point—you know it’s going to catch up with her
So, this is my take on Maya’s epic journey—and it’s quite an adventure.

What was it that drew you to the concept of reincarnation?

It’s like a dream we all have at night: we’re in our bed, sleeping, but dreaming that we’re running around in our dream. Someone’s chasing us. We’re chasing someone else. And always—we’re the hero of our own dream. We never realize it’s a dream though—at least while we’re dreaming it. But every morning, we wake up, safe in our bed, and the dream is just… gone. Disappeared back into the mind which thought it.
And we may feel out of sorts from our dream, at least for a little while after we wake up. But once we’re awake, it’s pretty easy to accept the idea that all the people we dreamed about, everything that was important to us, the figures, the characters—everything in the dream—was just that. A creation of our mind.
That’s the entire universe.
That’s reincarnation. Whether we dream we live one lifetime or a hundred—none of them is any more real than the dream we dream, while we’re safe asleep in our beds at night. And the only way to wake up is to look straight into our dream world, and to forgive what we see—specifically because it’s not real.
That’s how we return to our true home in perfect love.

Maya, the main character, journeys through many lifetimes in Implicit. Did you have to conduct much research for the various time periods?

Even though she’s fictional, Maya’s more real than just about anyone I know. She doesn’t seem to have the ability to hold back. She’s the kind of person people are drawn to, but you might wish you hadn’t been. She’s got an irresistible spirit, which in the end, is why I called the series the ‘Spirit Invictus’–the unconquered spirit.
No matter whether she’s an unfairly fired professor, or a Roman senator fighting a doomed battle out on the Northern frontier, or she’s a 16-year-old computer genius whose unrequited love for a young revolutionary student lands her right in the middle a coup to take back power for the people of her country—she’s always the same person at her core.
The form we take appears to change in each of our dream ‘lifetimes’, but the content stays the same. And it always comes down to the same choice: Are we going to choose love and forgiveness, or are we going to stay stuck in fear, anger and revenge?
There’s a podcast by a guy named Mike Duncan. It’s the History of Rome podcast. I loved that, and I couldn’t resist incorporating it into Maya’s past lives. One of Maya’s future lives in the book bears an uncanny resemblance to a lot of what went on in the aftermath of the French revolution. And of course, there’s Maya’s lifetime as Yoshio, when she was a soldier on a remote island in World War II.

What are you working on currently?

It’s the third and final book in the Spirit Invictus series. The working title is ‘Maya’s Magic List’ (shortened to just ‘The List’). It covers the time period in Maya’s life, from the flashback she had in the last book (All These Things) when she was a little girl, and goes through to when we pick up with her in that book as a confident young college student. Here’s the blurb:

Maya’s vision lasted for an eternity. In her mind. In the world—it was over in an instant.

When she opened her eyes, she found herself alone on the floor in her room, with just an empty piece of paper and a pen sitting next to her.

The list.

A comforting spirit and a revelation beyond this world had given Maya peace after the most traumatic year of her life. Now it had gone, but she had been left with the list as a reminder of what was possible.

A magic list.

Anything she wrote down on her list that night would come true. And so she did what any girl would do. Maya filled up her list with everything she wanted in life. At first it was exciting as the things she put on her list started coming true.

But now everything’s coming true fast. And Maya’s starting to panic.
When she’d made her list, she’d filled up the end of it with things everybody knew could never happen.

Or so she thought.

The last wish threatened to change not just her life, but her entire world.
And now Maya’s in a panic to do anything she can to stop it.

Where can readers get in touch with you?

I love it when readers want to talk about the ideas, the books—and pretty much anything else. My home on the web is my website at http://MarkTiro.com, and anyone can always connect with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marcustiro .

The Bottom Line

I am so excited to have discovered Mark Tiro. It is refreshing to read stories that are well-written, original, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining, to boot!
I’m looking forward to reading more books from this talented and imaginative author. What books have you read lately that made an impact on your life?

Goodbye, 2017—It Was A Strange Year

Dawn of an Era?

As 2017 winds down, I can’t help but think about how strange it was. For me, personally and professionally, it was a year when everything got turned upside down or thrown out completely. And somehow, it all turned out to be for the better.

No Status Quo

I used to study Astrology when I was younger—mostly for fun and to satisfy my curiosity. I wonder if there was some type of weird planetary alignment this year, because it sure felt like outside forces were at work. For example, every holiday this year, my husband and I just couldn’t bear the idea of doing the same thing we’ve done for the past eight years. We went to a different restaurant for our anniversary. We didn’t host Thanksgiving. We went on a trip for my birthday instead of going out with friends and family. What felt like a comfy tradition last year now held no interest for us, and we couldn’t even explain why we felt that way.

I sold some properties I’d been wanting to dispose of for years. They went quickly, too. I had the overwhelming urge to clean out closets, cabinets, and even my garage. I made so many trips to the donation center, they know me by name. I even bought a new sofa to replace the twenty-year old leather set I had.

Serendipity Rules

As far as writing goes, I had released my three-book series, the Higher Elevation Series, in 2016, so at the beginning of the year my schedule was wide open. I had started writing the fourth book in the series, but switched to writing a contemporary romance with the idea of beginning a new series. Then I got the inspiration for my holiday novella, Running In Snow, and dropped everything to work on that so it would be out in time for the holiday season.

It worked out, and Running In Snow is doing well, but it is a case in point that even with writing, I did something spontaneous and completely out of my norm. For the past three years I had methodically worked on each book in my series, preparing to release them back to back. But this year, “methodical” went out the window!

Was 2017 an oddball year for you, too? Any Astrologers out there with some insight?
It makes me wonder just what 2018 will bring. I hope it brings you all your heart desires!

 

Irony At Its Finest—How I Finally Went Viral

I live north of Atlanta, Georgia, and in case you don’t know, we don’t handle snow events very well. If there is even a hint that it might snow, schools close, and everything shuts down after the stores have been cleaned out of milk and bread. (I can’t explain that one, maybe snow gives southerners a craving for French toast?)

I even got caught a few years ago when the freeway shut down due to snow and ice. It was not fun- what was supposed to be a 45-minute drive home turned into an overnight stay in hotel lobby, because six hours later I wasn’t even three quarters of the way home! I wrote a blog post about the experience, which seems funny now. It sure as hell wasn’t at the time.

Surprise-THE FORECASTER FAILED!

Anyway, the “dusting of snow” we were supposed to get turned into a blizzard, dumping up to 8 inches of snow in some places! What is even stranger, is if we get snow at all, it’s in January or February, not December. This unexpected dumping of white stuff meant I had to cancel my book signing with fellow author Linda Joyce at our favorite wine tasting/gift shop, The Gifted Ferret in Woodstock, Georgia. I was disappointed, because we both had holiday books we were signing, so it wasn’t easy to reschedule. But safety first, so we cancelled the event.

The irony of it was, my holiday novella, Running In Snow, is about people getting stuck in the snow. One of the short stories takes place in a “rare Atlanta snowstorm”. I couldn’t have planned that if had I tried! So I went on Twitter to joke about it. I tweeted that my book signing for my “book about snow has been cancelled because of…snow.” I used the hash tags #irony and #whatarethechances along with a few others, and the tweet sort of went viral. Over 3,600 views and eleven retweets within a few hours.

It also caught the attention of someone who posted it to the webpage of Atlanta’s only major newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She wrote a nice article, giving me, Linda and the Gifted Ferret some publicity.

Silvery Lining

So the moral of the story is disappointment can sometimes lead to something better. I had some sales and people contacting me about the book, so it turned out to be in my favor.

Speaking of Linda Joyce– she’s an award-winning, Amazon Bestselling author. She writes Contemporary Romance and Women’s fiction, often with southern settings. Her Fleur-de-Lis series has received acclaim, and her holiday book, Christmas Bells, is available on Amazon now for just 1.99. The cover photo is below.

This ironic event goes along with how the year 2017 has gone for me. It’s been a strange one, and I’ll cover that in my next post.

Until then, Happy Holidays to all!

When You Really, Really Don’t feel Like Celebrating The Holidays

So not into it!

Are you one of those people who dreads the holiday season, while everyone else around you is making merry? Do you look forward to New Year’s Eve most of all, because it means all this holiday nonsense and commercialism will finally be over?

You’re not alone.

How and why one chooses to celebrate or not celebrate the holidays is an intensely personal thing. It may be cultural, it could be religious, or it may simply be personal preference. But when something is as pervasive in society as is our annual ramp up to the grand finale of New Year’s Eve, and all the hectic activity in between, it can take a toll on a person’s attitude.

Holiday Overload

I must confess that as I’ve gotten older, I am less interested in the holiday hubbub. Decorating feels like a chore; shopping for gifts becomes a race against time. Endless holiday-themed commercials become even more annoying than pharmaceutical ads, and I swear if I hear “Winter Wonderland” one…more…time…

But then, when Christmas is almost here, a yearning comes from somewhere deep inside, and I find myself searching closets for that old DVD of Rudolph or the Grinch or Charlie Brown. I actually look forward to exchanging gifts, because the pressure to find and wrap them is over. Seeing little kids getting all excited over the lights or going to see Santa melts my irritation away, and I find myself enjoying the holidays once more.

So now I try every year to not let cynicism take over, and enjoy the little things.

Deep As Snow

But some people have more serious issues with the holidays, and that is what prompted me to write the short stories that comprise my novella, Running In Snow. Sometimes past trauma can make it difficult for some people to enjoy the holidays. I’ve had a few unpleasant holidays in my past, so I wondered what it would be like for someone who refused to celebrate, but was in a situation where they had to?

What on earth would make them go through with it?

That was the basis for Noelle’s Promise, the first short story. Noelle had some serious trauma around Christmas from her childhood, to the point where she would not participate at all. Not with friends, not at work, not in any way. She simply avoided it.
But when she fell in love, her life changed. Should she continue to ignore the holidays, or try to join in her boyfriend Logan’s family celebrations? She makes a valiant effort to do so, but things don’t go as planned. Noelle discovers that sometimes the way past your fears is to go right through them.

Eve’s Hope, the second short holiday story, is about a woman who believes she is cursed. Every New Year’s Eve, something goes wrong. When her heater goes out in a rare Atlanta snowstorm, her handsome neighbor rescues her and invites her to his party. She makes the best of it, hoping to get through the night without her bad luck kicking in. Let’s just say there’s a few surprises in store before the clock strikes midnight.

I enjoyed writing these emotional holiday tales because I was able to explore those feelings of dread I get every year, but still end up on a happy note. Do you ever experience negative feelings around the holidays? How do you cope?

Running In Snow is available on Amazon and  other retailers (Nook, Kobo, iTunes) for just .99. I hope you enjoy the holidays, however you choose to spend them!

 

The Writing Process- Are You Doing It Wrong?

There are unlimited books, blog posts, webinars and podcasts on the subject of how to be a better writer. Advice on how to plot, to develop characters, or to nail the perfect dialogue…the list is infinite. There is no shortage of instruction on “how to” write a novel.
But one thing no one can teach you, is what your writing process should be. Because the way each writer goes about the process of actually writing is as unique to the individual as are fingerprints.

Plotter or Pantser? Or Planser, Maybe?

Of course, there are similarities. But even the two main designations of “Plotter” and “Pantser” fall short of describing most authors, many of who profess to be a combination of the two. Then there are the linear writers, who write a story chronologically, and the non-linear writers who craft the scenes according to which ones they are most excited about or inspired by, and assemble them into a coherent timeline later.

But other than that, processes can vary tremendously from one writer to another, and sometimes from one project to another. There is no one right way to craft a book or story, so each writer’s personal process must be respected.

Writing Quirks

Some like to sprint, others don’t. Some are obsessive about keeping to a certain word count per day or each writing session, while some, like me, write by scene. While having word count goals may be the motivator that gets some writers going, others are just as motivated by finishing a scene, however long or short it may be.

One author friend confessed to me a writing habit that made me realize just how individual our “process quirks” are. She was discussing a WIP (work in progress) with a friend, who kept asking her what was going to happen further on in the story, plot wise. The author knew everything about her own story, every plot point, the ending, etc. But she refused to fill her eager friend in on the details, because if she talked to anyone else about her story, she’d “feel” as though she’d already written it. She was afraid she would lose interest and momentum in the story by discussing it with others, thus jeopardizing her ability to write the story as she envisioned. For some writers, discovering the story as it is being written is their process.

Some other “quirks” of the writing process might be:

Listening to music while you write
Having to sit in a certain room or chair
Needing a particular snack or beverage before you begin
Re-reading the previous chapter before you start
Never reading the previous work you’ve done on a book until it is finished
Discussing each step along the way with a trusted friend or critique partner as you write
Not discussing the book with anyone until it’s finished
Write out scenes or outlines long hand
Use note cards, post-its or storyboards to plot

Respect The Process!

So, while it’s fine to discuss with others how your personal writing process works, keep in mind it may not work for others. So many factors come into play—personality, level of experience, living situation, time constraints, and energy level, to name a few. We don’t have to approve of or understand other writer’s processes, but we should respect them.

Because, unlike the (so-called) writing “rules”, a writer’s process is very personal. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to write. Some methods may seem more or less productive than others, but we all must find our own way to the end of our writing projects. Personally, I think it’s amazing how we can all end up at the same place (completed books) via so many different ways of writing.

What are your writing process quirks? Has anyone ever criticized your writing process?

Cover Reveal of Running In Snow-A Holiday Novella

I know, autumn has just begun and in many places, it still feels like summer. At least it has here in Atlanta with ninety degree temperatures. But the Holiday Season is right around the corner and this year, I have a Holiday Novella release!

It’s called Running In Snow, and that is the cover in the featured photo. Elle at EJRDigital Art did a fantastic job at capturing the mood of these two heartwarming yet emotional holiday tales. Release date is November 7, 2017, and it will be available for preorder in October, date TBD.

Full disclosure here—I never had the desire to write a holiday story, or even short stories for that matter. But this is proof that writers can get inspiration from anywhere. The idea for the first story, Noelle’s Promise, hit me out of the blue. I read a blog post (sorry, I cannot recall the author) about writing holiday stories, and the idea came to me—what would happen if someone who didn’t celebrate the holidays was in a situation where they had to? Why would they not want to celebrate? How would that play out?

I guess it may be an unusual twist, but that seems to be what I do. If you’ve read my Higher Elevation Series, then you know I come at subjects from a different angle sometimes. These holiday stories are deeply emotional, and my characters go through some real soul searching. But they end up on a happy note.

Here’s the cover copy for Running In Snow:

Two heartwarming tales of love and redemption. And snow.

Noelle’s Promise

Does your past define the future?

Noelle has one cardinal rule─never, ever celebrate the holidays. But now she’s promised to spend them with her boyfriend, Logan, and his extended family. As the festivities begin, bad memories surface. She manages to suppress her anxiety and join in the celebrations, until an unexpected incident sends her fleeing into the night. Can she overcome her past before it ruins her future?

Eve’s Hope

Can a holiday be unlucky every year?

When her heater goes out in the middle of a rare Atlanta snowstorm, reclusive Eve accepts the invitation to her handsome neighbor’s party. Expecting to be bored to tears, she encounters a few surprises before the countdown to midnight begins. Can she survive just one New Year’s Eve without her bad luck kicking in?

 

I’ll be posting soon when more information becomes available. Until then, you can follow my Amazon Author Page for updates:
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01M4IHA1A

Or follow my Goodreads Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15611048.Renee_Regent

Or subscribe to my newsletter. They got to see the cover a few days ago, and enjoy exclusive content, and giveaways. You also get your choice of up to FIVE FREE mini-ebooks just for signing up:

http://www.reneeregent.com/newsletter-sign-up

And you can also get excusive news and giveaways for being in my Reader’s Group on Facebook, Renee Regent’s Readers. Message me and ask to join:

https://www.facebook.com/Renee-Regent-Author-1625365841109181/

 

I’ll be sharing this cover reveal on social media and would greatly appreciate any likes, shares, retweets, etc. I am so excited to share these stories with you! Thanks again as always, for your support.

May I be the first to say, Happy Holidays!