Friday, December 10, 2010


Because I have a tendency to draw my characters in an attempt to better visualize them, a quick peek into my colored pencil case will tell you exactly which colors are my favorites.  Generally the darker the better.

Black: a great many characters and settings I write have an air of evil or wickedness about them, plus despite the color of my own hair this is my favorite color for those flowing locks

Red: a passionate color and one associated with blood, considering that most of my characters are demonkyn of some kind blood is a normal part of most scenes, plus if you look into a pair of red eyes you immediately think creepy

Violet: not as passionate as red nor as dark as black this color is a choice I use for seers who tread the line between good and evil, its not a color one sees naturally in eyes, so its also a good indicator of non-human origins

Blue a much calmer color, although it can become darker if need be, blue is a color I usually use for characters with an inner calm or quiet strength that people tend to underestimate

Gold and Silver: almost strictly for jewelry, gold is more ceremonial or for those who are arrogant, silver has a calmer feel as far as decoration goes when compared to gold so if a character is allowed blue they generally get silver, as well, however I will use gold as hair or eye color when creating royalty

Green: not used as often as the others, but this is one of my favorite colors for eyes

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Characters: My People in General

I'm not certain if this is the "norm" or more of my quirky need to do everything backwards, but my characters generally come to me personality first.  Like a Facebook profile with insightful posts and a manga character as a profile picture (who does that anyway...wait...I do that *blush*).  This is especially true for the characters who pop into my head and offer an incorporeal hand, saying some version of, "'Sup?" (Don't tell, but these guys are more fun...I loves me some spontaneity).

Then there are the guys I have to coax into being.

The process usually starts with a role that needs filling: warrior, pack leader, priestess, slave, mate, queen, king, etc.

If that doesn't elicit a response from the ole neurons, I go further. "What are the stereotypical traits of this role?  Which of those do I want to keep?  Which of them need dumping to make this role work for this series of events?"

If I don't have anything by this point, I give the character a "code name." So an undeveloped warrior becomes WName in the manuscript with a note to later describe him (or her).  Sometimes I only know what I need once the other characters show me where the gap is.  Many on-the-fly people have arisen because of this need.

Assuming the brain storming session bore fruit, I then get into the fun part: Why?

Why does the woman-hating, female warrior who could kill a dragon at 50 paces with a kitchen knife secretly write poetry and make charcoal drawings of the countryside?

See?  The fun part.

Only then do I pay attention to looks.  As I see it, the outward appearance is fluid.  If you want to change a personality, it's going to take some work.  Going back to the Facebook analogy, it's like digesting a page of insightful posts before checking out the "Photos of Me" link.

I suppose I do this because I secretly (and not so secretly) believe my own personality is amazing, but my picture...not so much.

This quirk of mine might also be why I've fallen into the trap of creating lots of beautiful people with minor cosmetic "flaws" and gaping wounds in their spirits.

Media would have us believe "beautiful, thin" people are constantly happy (bogus) and "unattractive, fat" people are constantly miserable (also bogus). So I added my own twist. I have trouble creating a truly positive character with a truly positive outlook and past, so miserable beautiful people it is.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Vague Outline

I was thinking about outlines the other day, not for any specific project I'm working on, just in general.

When I first began writing, the thought of composing an outline for a creative work seemed like creative suicide.  Up to that point, outlines were the evil, unbending things they made us create for papers in English and Composition class.  But after a few crushing bouts of writer's block, I realized something had to change in the way I was writing.

I then had my "outline epiphany."  This wasn't Composition class anymore.

An outline didn't have to be some rigid format that I had to follow to the letter or get points counted off for it.  My outline could be fluid, a springboard or a collection of brainstorming output.  Outlines became more of an ad lib script that I handed to my characters and said, "This is the situation guys.  How are we going to get out of this one?"

Each character I create has his or her own set of quirks and insecurities that shape how they approach a particular problem.  The loose framework is ideal for them, because they are so diverse in their experiences.

Thus, the Vague Outline was born...