Story Weaving on Steroids: Real People Create Real Characters

22 Oct

This is part of a series of post that gives you tips, tricks, and dirty little secrets that will help pump up your plot, and make your story an irresistible read! Today’s trick:

Using real people to make real characters.

A question authors are often asked is “are your characters based on people you know?” most of the time the author will answer no, but let’s be honest the answer is probably yes, because if there is one thing authors are good at it’s cheating at writing.

Basing characters off real people is cheating, and it’s also genius!

Using a real person as a base for a character much like you would use white as a base for paint leads to amazing things. How so? After all, real people generally don’t have lives that are spicy enough for fiction.

Well, take a person I know. Let’s call him “John”

John’s older now, but his whole life while living in the mid-west he struggled with a drinking addiction. He’s been divorced once, and had two kids with the woman, but he has now remarried and his kids grew up with his new wife and their mother. After his remarriage he found help with his addiction and now lives happily.

Okay, that’s all well and fine, but there is no plot to John’s life. You can’t just write THAT story. But you CAN write one with someone like him. Now comes the imaginative part.

Change John’s life. Make it more tragic, more weird, or more adventurous.

For instance lets pull John out of the mid-west and stick him in England. He’s a young 23-year-old drunken Englishman in (instead of the late 1980’s) (the early 1900’s )lets say 1910. His wife didn’t leave him because of his drinking, he killed her in a fit of rage during one of his many drunken bouts. Now he can’t stand the sight of blonde women. He placed his young daughter (instead of daughters) into an orphanage to cover up the murder. He dumped his wife’s body in the river and now slogs about the bar near the river’s bridge often looking out at the water pondering suicide, until…. he meets an extraordinary woman who….

Who what?

From there you take the story where ever it may please to go.

But, just from that paragraph you have an excellent idea about who your MC is. Granted, we embellished John’s life almost to the point of  being in-recognizable, but John is still real and still very much there, and that is what makes the character seem real!

I am totally in favor of stealing people’s lives for novels. Are you?

Crap! … Nano

15 Oct

So it’s October… yeah… am I the only one who just came to that realization; or just now began to comprehend the fact that November comes after October? Does that happen every year? I’m pretty sure it didn’t last year.

My point:

HOLY CRAP NANO IS NEXT MONTH!

It’s rather pathetic that I just thought of this yesterday, you know, considering it’s the 15th of October and there is only 2 1/2 weeks until November begins.

I’m not entirely sure If I can accomplish Nano this year… Why? Because a writing blogger not doing Nano is disgraceful, but I’m very busy on other types of writing.

You see,  It’s my Jr. year of high-school, and that means scholarships, scholarships, scholarships! (what fun!) Anyway, I’m applying for two HUGE  MASSIVE GARGANTUAN  scholarships (like the ‘if you win me you get into any college in your state for FREE’ kind of huge scholarships) The first is called GSP (Governor’s Scholarship Program) and it consists of a 30 page resume and 2 essays that have to BLOW PEOPLES MINDS, and 3 letters of recommendation that basically outline how awesome you are. The second is GSA (Governor’s Scholarship of the Arts) and this one is really exciting! Its a scholarship for any of the arts (hint: writing, photography, dance, etc.) I must have a portfolio of my chosen media. I can’t decide if I should send in my writing, or my photography… If I do writing I have to submit two pieces that also have to blow people’s minds to pieces with their awesomeness! (I just think I might die trying to decide.)

Either way I have a TON of writing to do, as both applications are due by December. DECEMBER!

Which means working on an entirely new novel is basically impossible. I will probably just lay down and die if I attempt Nano this year.  But then again I’m kind of desperately wanting to start a new novel that I have this great idea for… ugh! My life.

I’ll probably end up making January my own Nano (or… um… Jano?) That way I’ll have a week of winter break in January and all this scholarship craziness will be over!

*stress*

Anyway, who has more gumption than me and is actually doing Nano this year? What do you plan on writing?

 

Bitterblue Review by Kirstin Cashore

14 Oct

I just finished Bitterblue by Kirstin Cashore only five minutes ago (quite literally) and felt an overwhelming need to blog about it, and so here I am. I haven’t read a book in a good long while that compelled me the way Bitterblue did. Evidence being the fact that my last book review was posted in February… dear lord February! I didn’t realize it was that long!

NOTE: This review contains no to very minor spoilers.

Anyway, to begin this book review:

Bitterblue is the third book published by Kirstin Cashore and serves as the sequel to her first novel Graceling and a companion to her second novel Fire (confusing in text, but once you read it you understand). I’ve been following this ‘series’ if you can call it that since it came out, and absolutely ADORED it. Fire, in fact is one of my favorite novels of all time (despite what others may say) and when I found out that Bitterblue was hitting the shelves i was ecstatic!

That means it had a lot to live up to. To summarize without spoilers, Bitterblue is about Queen Bitterblue who we originally meet in Graceling as a little girl. The novel is about her reign as an emerging Queen and patching up the deranged mess her Graceling tyrant of a father left behind (Leck, who is the antagonist in both Graceling, and Fire, and whose conflicts survive even after his death into Bitterblue which is set after both Graceling in Fire{chronologically they fall: FIRE, GRACELING, BITTER BLUE. Despite their publication date of GRACELING, FIRE, BITTERBLUE})

As you can see Cashore constructs a rather confusing time line. Regardless, I found Bitterblue absolutely astounding! (but for entirely different reasons than Graceling or Fire). Both Graceling and Fire are books with a lot of political crime, adventure, and romance (Graceling most heavily romantic, followed by Fire, and Bitterblue coming last). As many of you know Cashore takes very new aged stances on romantic relationships with her almost clear opposition to marriage and a rather loose view of sexuality, while Bitterblue contained some of this it was much lighter than in Fire and Graceling.

Most of Bitterblue’s plot centered around the disturbing puzzles and qualms that Bitterblue uncovers about Leck. This book showcases the fact that the entire series really centers around Leck (and understanding his past and present). A lot of the material was rather dark, and thankfully (or perhaps unforgivingly) uncluttered with the distraction of a graced/non-human narrator or the heavy romance that was present in both of its predecessors.

And the fact that Bitterblue was 100% human made this novel that much more chilling. Bitterblue is surrounded by things and people she can’t even begin to understand, least of all her deceased, graced, and mad father Leck. Everywhere she looks she sees his influence and the influence of those who were merely pawns on his board of players. Things in her castle are confusing enough without having to deal with her top adviser’s nervous break downs at the mere mention of Leck. This leaves Bitterblue at a loss for information on what happened to her kingdom, and thus how to fix it, so she decides to take control and leaves her castle one night to head out into the city, and discover it’s secrets.

Instead she makes a run in with a graced thief and a far too trusting printer who show, unknown to them, the Queen around her own city that is in shambles and still under Leck’s deadly influence. Bitterblue discovers many secrets with the help of the thieving and irresistible Saf (AKA Sapphire) and the generous printer Teddy.

Bitterblue and Sapphire’s romance is very slow burning, and at a lot of points in the novel I almost forgot about them, not because it wasn’t a good romance I was just so enveloped in the madness that surrounds Bitterblue in her castle: suicides, drunks, murderers all of them trying to forget Leck and convince Bitterblue of their rightness is covering up the past. There were so many plot twists in this novel that I struggled to come up for air even after setting the book down.A depressing sadness and eerie curiosity will keep you turning the pages. After reading the first two books really getting a look at Leck’s madness (and at his true dealings with his subjects) was both bone-chilling and fascinating.

And that’s why I truly can’t compare this book with Fire or Graceling. They are simply TOO different. Graceling was about love , Fire was about strength, and Bitterblue is about Healing and how love and strength play into it. That honestly makes it the perfect sequel/companion to Graceling and Fire. There was so much more to Bitterblue than in Fire and Graceling. It was this giant mass of secrets and politics, and fear that wasn’t in Graceling and Fire. Maybe, as I said before, because Bitterblue is not graced and is human. She has nothing but her title and that leaves her so much more vulnerable than Katsa (who is the MC of Graceling and is graced with survival) and Fire (who is a ‘Monster’ and has countless abilities and is obviously the MC of Fire). Had Bitterblue been anything but human I feel like the novel would of lost a lot of it’s impact.

Over all Bitterblue was a very weighty novel and is a nice wrap up to Graceling’s tale and a good compliment to Fire; that left us with more questions than answers about Leck.

*next paragraph contains mild spoilers*

Bitterblue has a lot of answers, but none of them really tell us the one thing that we’ve all asked through out the series: why is Leck so deeply demented? And the true beauty of Bitterblue is that we know what he’s done. We know nearly all of it, but we must figure out for ourselves why he’s done it. Or if there is any reason at all. Just as Bitterblue must. So, we the human readers really become Bitterblue, observing these strange creatures from a distance and never really understanding the madness that compelled Leck.

*end mild spoilers*

The fact that I feel the need to read this book again to fully understand it compels me to give it 4 1/2 stars if only to be able to come back and give it 5 when I read it again and absorb it fully.

I hope you all enjoyed the review! Sorry it was so long, but the book was a hefty 5oo pages and gave me a lot to say!

 

My First True Love(s)

25 Sep

From the time I was little I was in love with stories. Movies, plays, books anything that wasn’t kindergarten napping and hopscotch I was into. I desperately wanted something exciting to happen to me, something that happened to characters in books. I wanted to sprout wings, or find out I was a missing princess like Anastasia.

Naturally then, I had my favorite stories, and my favorite characters. I had particularly bad little girl crushes on Peter Pan and Dickon from The Secret Garden.

To This day I’m not sure what the appeal of these two were as compared to the princes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Maybe it was the fact that Peter Pan was utterly wild and incredulous, while the Princes of Disney had little else but their title.

Oh Golly! If you don’t find this adorable you’re on crack!

Peter Pan always held a special place in my heart. He was unruly and lets not forget musical (pan pipes). Not to mention an excellent leader (he could rally 12 boys under the age of 13 and that’s a tough job for anyone). Besides that he was an extraordinary fighter (beating up a  pirate 3 times his age and half his wit). And boy was he witty. Even at 7 years old I  couldn’t help but falling in love with people’s wit and Peter Pan’s was no exception.

Then there was the fact that he was utterly magically, and could freakin’ fly! If that wasn’t reason enough to want to marry him then i don’t know what is. So there is my explanation for being in love with Peter Pan. Makes sense.

Then there was Dickon. Oh Dickon, sweet, adorable, animal charmer Dickon! That should be enough to make any girl swoon right there. Let’s not even MENTION the fact that he has an accent (an adorable little scots-irishaccent)! Plus he’s all in love with animals and the wind in his hair and stuff like that and as a little suburbs

It’s like The Notebook for 10 year olds!😀 *I’m squealing on the inside*

girl I wanted so badly to run out on the ‘Moore’ with him. Plus, he could tame a WILD PONY. Every little girl wants a pony and if a boy could tame a wild pony and give it to me I’m pretty dang sure I would marry him to this day. Nuff said.

Oh and on top of that he would Push Mary on the swing in the garden and that was just too cute! He was a perfect little gentleman, which is the complete opposite of Peter. Who in retrospect was a total player who flirted with Mermaids, and probably joked around with Wendy way too much. He will just never grow up. So immature (haha)!

What do my fictious love interests have to do with writing.

Well, just recently I realized that right there (those two characters) are excellent examples of how to make love interests interesting. They (even as children) had the makings of great men. And so I will now got pat myself on the back for discovering that I have great taste in fictitious boys. Their characters would be excellent models to form an MC or a secondary character with! Now, don’t you feel like you learned something?

Did anyone else have kiddie crushes?

Sorry this post is late… Microsoft is lame and windows live didn’t post it for me! UGH! Technology😦

Why You No Review Books?

22 Sep

Hey everyone! It’s Saturday, so that means no school and more blog time! Yeah🙂

Today I wanted to talk about my book reviews or… uh lack there of. I’ve had a couple people ask why I don’t do them anymore and why I’m such a slacker and what not (OK maybe they didn’t say that). So I just thought I’d talk about book reviewing today.

The main reason I haven’t reviewed any books recently is because I don’t have time to read. The last book I read was I Am Number Four and that was… two weeks ago? I think it’s been that long. My god it’s a sin! I can’t believe I’ve been that busy! I used to read upwards of 60 books a year and now I’m on track to read around 35… 40 if I’m lucky. It’s atrocious really.

So lack of reading also equals lack of reviews. I know: FAIL.

But I’m going to make a concentrated effort to do at least one review a month now. If that goes well I’ll bump it up to two a month. No promises about that though!

Since I haven’t actually been reading though I’ve been thinking about what i want to read and the list is SO FREAKIN’ LONG it isn’t even funny. The next book I’ll be reading is Destined by Aprilyne Pike (the 4th book in the Wings cycle) and I’m so super excited for that. I’ve waited FOREVER to read that book and if Laurel doesn’t end up with Tammini I am going to track down Pike and throw the book in her face and cry!

Just saying.

Anyway that will definitely get a review, because I’ll probably either think its wonderful or horrid and no matter which it is I’ll have something to blog overly emotionally about.

Besides that Bitterblue by Kiersten Cashore is on my list (high expectations there!), Fallen by Lauren Kate (which I embarrassingly enough never got around to reading), Flyaway by Lucy Christopher, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (simply because my friend is forcing me to under penalty of death… or book shelf burning O.o),  The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness (second book in the Knife of never letting go trilogy), and the list goes on for quite some time.

I’d also like to re-read The Host by Stephanie Meyer before March when the movie comes out (I’m so excited about that, that I could pee my pants)!

As you can see, I am very much talk and very little walk. To change that I will go off immediatly to read a book! Good day to you all and what’s on your reading list?

 

Quotes for Writers

21 Sep

Just got back from a homecoming dance and it’s 11:52  that means I must do a post quickly… so enjoy these lovely quotes about writing and writers!🙂

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
– Douglas Adams
It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
– Robert Benchley
Being a poet is one of the unhealthier jobs–no regular hours, so many temptations!
– Elizabeth Bishop

 

A best seller was a book which somehow sold well simply because it was selling well.
– S. Boorstein
Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.
– Orson Scott Card
I firmly believe every book was meant to be written.
– Marchette Chute
A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.
– Emily Dickinson
If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper.
– T.S. Eliot
At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance–that is to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is to be–curiosity–to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does, and if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got it or not.
– William Faulkner
Don’t be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.
– Gene Fowler
I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
– Stephen King

 

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
– Barbara Kingsolver
What are your favorite writing quotes?

Ally on: Being a Teen Writer

20 Sep

I feel like it’s time for a little heart to heart here guys. I just need to get this situation off my chest, because everyone else seems to have an opinion about it and so here’s my two cents on teen writers, and being one.

First off, we get a bad wrap. At least I thinks so. We can’t write anything ‘good‘, were shut ins, we drink large amounts of tea, and on top of all of this people seem to think that were just writing for fun. FUN? Whomsoever thinks writing is fun has obviously never done it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people and when I tell them I’m a writer they’ll say over exuberantly  “Oh that’s cute!” or dreadfully, “you aren’t going to college for that are you?”. With either response you might as well of just spit in my tea and walked away.

I’m not taken seriously, and i know it. Heck, everyone knows it!

If you’re between the ages of say… 13 and 20 and drop the ‘W’ bomb you’re whole ship is sunk. You automatically become the out in space, unrealistic dreamer who obviously doesn’t have his/her head on straight and clearly, ever so clearly needs to be steered in the right direction. I can’t tell you how often my Grandmother has throw out the topic of engineer, or chemist, or (if you absolutely must) biologist when I bring up writing. And it isn’t that those aren’t good jobs, or that I couldn’t do them (or don’t want to) it’s the fact that you don’t even give writing a second thought.

No one has EVER said to me (other than fellow writers) “Why Ally, you should keep writing! You could have a future there.”

And I’m not asking for handouts, or compliments, honestly. If you want to tell me I suck at writing and am a failure and that I’ll never amount to anything in the field… fine. But don’t just skim over it like it isn’t even worth a comment, like since its worthless to you it’s worthless to me, because it’s not.

And i think that’s where the big misconception is. People think this is just something I do. They think that it’s worthless.That it’s all the papers you throw away at the end of the school year (sure you used them once, they meant something once. But no one else will want them, and eventually you’ll realize you don’t need them, and you’ll just toss it out with the trash)

But it ISN”T LIKE THAT.

Writing is something that you have to commit to. ESPECIALLY as a teen! School, sports, friends, family, clubs, a part-time job, applying for college (if your a Jr./Senior), and church (if your into that) is all on a teen’s plate. Add writing to that and, well, you could just about drop dead at the end of the day. At least I could. I suppose this isn’t just teens, but every writer with a life. (haha, what life?). What I’m saying is it’s easy as a teenager to steal every spare moment of  the day to just catch your breath, but teen writers don’t and that’s what people don’t get.

Most of the time writing isn’t fun, and we have to MAKE time to do it. We have to force ourselves to do a lot of days. And anybody who writes will tell you that isn’t easy. You have to take yourself very seriously to do it.

I take myself seriously, and I just wish other people would to. I’m not asking you to tell me I’m amazing. I’m just asking you to give me chance.