12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?
In most of my work, I use contemporary time. Therefore the world is already built for me. In my other stories, I think the best world building I’ve done is Uiquar, the planet that is host to my Illuminator Trilogy. I feel my second best world building is the world of The Unknown Dragon as I feel I’ve built a lot of world with just a few words. As I’ve said before, I’m not a long-winded writer. I like shorter works, so for me to have written as much as I have with these stories, it blows my mind away. Worldbuilding is necessary for fantasy and sci-fi as a writer must create the illusion of permanence and reality that may not be there.
A side note that I’d like to share that may be of interest is that I often build minute details that may only get brief mention in my stories, yet these small details can be very significant. For example, I have students in The Vale of Secrets, and they must have some structure, so I created a curriculum to help me see what they do for classes. It’s not perfect and will most likely change, but it is there nonetheless, even though it isn’t mentioned at all in the book.
11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?
My favorite character to write was Edward from a story I’ve sent out for publication. He’s grown a lot in the few years I’ve known him. I identify with Edward in many ways, though he has a little bit more fun than me. I wrote him in first person present, not an easy perspective, but I just really enjoyed his outlook and attitude and the circumstances of his story.
Though I typically am a fan of all the characters I write, I think my least favorite would be Barbara, from one of my short stories. I just haven’t found her place yet, and I really need to tackle her down. She’s a difficult character in a very difficult story. So she’s probably my least favorite.
Sorry no characters from my novels! They are still growing and changing. 🙂
10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!
My characters don’t usually find themselves in odd situations. I’d say uncomfortable most of the time. I think the truly strangest situation my character Áhron has been in is when he finds himself kissing Tyrian twice the exact same way, one immediately after the other. I can’t say much more without giving it away!
For me ‘weird’ means means uncanny or strange. Anything out of the ordinary. I don’t write ‘weird’ stories, at least to my characters. Everything in them should feel natural and normal. Magic in my stories has that normal feel, at the moment. I have unusual scenes and situations, maybe unexpected but not truly weird.
9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.
Ooh, tough one! I don’t usually have information at all about characters before I start writing. I generally have an idea, though not always. My short fiction starts with a blank page and a blank mind. Why a blank mind? I like to sit down and just let the ideas roll out. It’s not necessary to know every single detail about a character. It helps to know as much as I can, and only if I’m having difficulty with the story do I ever go into extreme depth with my characters. And it does help with story. In first drafts, I generally lay everything on the table, including details that I don’t need. This helsp me define the character as I go along. Afterwards I take out unnecessary details.
If I’m having trouble with a story, if it feels stagnant or unmoving, or even if the tension arc isn’t high enough, I’ll play with the characters, and have them ‘tell’ me about their life, though really it feels more like spying or a psychic hotline call. For me, a story is drive by character, but it’s also drive by surroundings. All the elements of craft come together in to form a story. If any element is off, I try to understand character first before tackling other elements.
8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?
I’ll answer the second question first. I love to read fantasy. That is my favorite major genre hands down. My favorite of favorites? Fantasy mystery with gay main characters. I read one story like that, and I fell in love. My second favorite, then should be easy: Fantasy mystery (Daniel Hood, A Familiar Dragon). Strangely, or perhaps not, I’m not a huge, huge fan of just straight mystery. Though I do have a few books I’d like to read in that genre.
But I’m not a one genre person. I also like reading Science Fiction and Literary Fiction. SF is like fantasy for me, takes me to a different world. 🙂 LF is for me to (hopefully) pick up some skill: from Alice Munro to Jhumpa Lahiri—amazing, amazing, amazing writers.
In non-fiction, I tend to read histories. I have no idea why, but I love learning about the past. Mostly the distant ancient past, but sometimes the nearer past is interesting to read about. I occasionally read books on writing (though not many—Mark David Gerson’s Voice of the Muse is excellent), and magazine or news articles, but in general my reading of non-fiction stays in the realms of history.
Now, for my favorite genre to write? Literary Fiction short stories. I am absolutely atrocious at writing longer works. Remember my last posts? Yes, 5 years and I only have 42k words. I like stories I can write in a couple days. I do like writing short fantasy, but that is incredibly difficult because of mechanics and such. I’m not experience enough (IMHO) to tackle short fantasy in an elegant way. I find it very interesting that writers of short stories are still considered ‘less’ than our novel length peers.
Can you believe it’s been one week already? I still have 23 days left, but hey, one week of daily posting has to count for something, right? On to today’s question.
7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?
It really depends on my mood, how caffeinated I am (too much means no music), what I’m writing about, and what I’m listening to. Sometimes, I prefer complete silence, and those are usually scenes when I need to ‘physically’ be there (meaning I have to imagine the scene).
I like listening to Celtic or instrumental music when I’m writing fantasy.For my general fiction stories, I play contemporary music, depending on the mood I’m going for. Right now I’m listening to music from Spider Man 1 & 2 as I really like the songs, but I’m blogging. 🙂 Almost all the music I listen to, I don’t need to hear the lyrics b/c I’ve already memorized them, for the most part. If I can fall asleep to the music, I can write to it. Sometimes any music is an irritant and I have to write without it.
As for certain songs for characters, I don’t have specific songs that are my characters. I usually pick music based on the emotions they are feeling, that way I have an easier time for portraying their thoughts and feelings in the moment. For example, hard rock and screaming would be great for anger, soft music for peaceful moods, etc.
For other tasks, like cooking, cleaning, etc. I have to have music playing. It helps motivate me to actually get things done by distracting my brain from what I am doing. Writing is a whole different monster!
If you follow me on twitter (@snowppl) you’ll notice I go to the gym frequently. I’ll tell you why. Warning: This post may contain beliefs you may not hold true.
As a human, biologically, our brains are part of us. It sounds silly, but I believe we think with our entire body. As a writers, I know it is important to be able to feel every sensation across our bodies, and be able to have a full range of senses to tap into. If we are in shape, we are more in touch with our bodies, and thus more in tune with our minds. In short, exercise is important to writing.
I may have writers and authors say, “That doesn’t leave you with much time for writing.” No, it cuts down on time for writing. I know, and it cuts down on other things. Health is more important than writing, in my mind. I do write, and admittedly, I should write more, though we always make time for what we want to do.
Exercise can become out of control, and for me it hasn’t had that effect yet. I think I’ve been more productive a writer since starting to work out, than I was ever before. I’m developing habits of writing, and habits of exercise. I hope that they will stick, because they are tied together.