Archive | February 2014

February Writing Prompts: Creating Characters

q-writerswriteCreating characters for stories is never an easy thing to do. It’s not easy to just come up with a character off the top of your head and slap a name on him or her and call him or her ready to go. Creating characters are much more complex than that. Essentially, writers are creating real living, breathing, and well rounded creatures, just like human beings, and breathe life into their characters. They come with full backgrounds, families, personalities, looks, likes, dislikes, and so on just as real people, such as you and I, do. In order to create believable, honest, and real characters for your stories, you have to practice at building people out of nothing. You can pull ideas on characters from everywhere around you: people you know, people you see walk passed you, yourself, and every corner of this Earth, as well as from your imagination.

Let these writing prompts for this month help you gather ideas for the characters you wish to create and write about. Get to know these characters as if you were meeting someone new for the first time. Know your characters as well as you know yourself, your family, and your friends. Characters are just strangers that come into your life and you, as a reader and as a writer, get to know them better than you know anyone else on this Earth.

Here are the writing prompts on creating characters for the month of February:

  • Write a story/scene/poem/etc. in which the main character is based on yourself, but when you’re 55-70 years old. How have you changed? What is your personality and demeanor like, as opposed to now? Have you accomplished the things that you wanted to? What do you look like? Where do you live? Who are the people in your life?
  • Write about someone who hides his or her, physical or emotional, pain in the work they do. Does someone notice and try to help them with getting rid of the cause of the pain?
  • Write about a main character discovering his or her doppelgänger. How would your character react? What is the doppelganger like personality, physically, etc?
  • What emotions motivate your character’s journey? Show us without saying the emotion. Have someone read it when your done and see if that person can distinguish which emotion motivates your character.
  • How did your character overcome their obstacles and set backs in the story?
  • What would your character say, or how would your character react, if his or her dark secrets were aired for all to know? Show us in a scene or two, or simply write out a summary.
  • Would you consider your character a threat to others? Write a summary or brainstorm of how your character is a threat, and how your character is not a threat.
  • What do you think your character’s breaking point is? How would you show that in a scene?

Get to Know Your Characters:     

(www.writingforward.com)

Background and Family

  • Unearth your character’s roots. What is the character’s ancestry or cultural background? How does ancestry shape your character? Is the character at odds with family traditions?
  • Write a series of short paragraphical biographies of each of the character’s closest family members: spouse, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, close friends, etc.
  • Write a monologue in which your character summarizes his or her life story; be sure to write it in the character’s voice.

Motivations and Goals

  • What motivates your character? Money? Love? Truth? Power? Justice?
  • What does your character want more than anything else in the world? What is he or she searching for?
  • What other characters or events are interfering with your character’s goals? What obstacles are in the way?

Flaws and Fears

  • What is your character’s single greatest fear? How did your character acquire his or her fears?
  • What are your character’s flaws and weaknesses?
  • How does the character’s fears and flaws prevent them from reaching their goals?

Appearance

  • What does your character look like? Make a list and include the following: hair, eyes, height, weight, build, etc.
  • Now choose one aspect of the character’s appearance, a detail (bitten nails, frizzy hair, a scar) and elaborate on it.
  • Write a short scene in which your character is looking in the mirror or write a short scene in which another character first sees your character.

Personality

  • How does your character feel on the inside? What kind of person is your character and what does the character’s internal landscape look like?
  • We don’t always present ourselves to others in a way that accurately reflects how we feel inside. We might be shy or insecure but come across as stuck-up and aloof. How do others perceive your character?
  • Write a scene with dialogue that reveals your character’s external and internal personalities. Good settings for this dialogue would be an interview, appointment with a therapist, or a conversation with a romantic interest or close friend. Write the scene in third person so you can get inside your character’s head as well as the other character’s head; this will allow you explore how your character feels and how he or she is perceived.

Enjoy these writing prompts. May they bring you insight and understanding into your own characters. Write on, my fellow writers and readers.

-Jessica.

 

Vestige Novel Chapter 2 (Reworked and Edited): Rena’s POV

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Chapter Two: Rena’s POV

How could this have happened? I watched still as stone as Amos and Constantine reach out and catch Jamie before she hit the ground. She had fainted. Much worse than that, she knew about the Dark Ones now. A dangerous force in the world that Vanessa never wanted her to know the existence of. What was Jamie doing in the woods at this time of night? My mind whirled as I ran my hands through my long dark locks.

            I had met her a few times before when I went to visit my old friend, Vanessa. Jamie was Vanessa’s seventeen-year-old adoptive daughter. As hard as this was going to be for the both of them, and more so for Vanessa, Jamie knew about them now, and something had to be done about it.

Amos and Constantine looked up at me with the same matching expressions on their faces of concern and shock. Neither of them had ever seen a human be so bold as to attack a Dark One without fear. I had never known humans were strong enough to actually take one down without dying in the process.

Gazing down at her now, a silent sigh of disappointment slipped between my lips. Jamie was still out cold. Her dark golden hair and her life drained face was covered in beads of sweat, matting strands of hair to her forehead.

“Is she alright?” I finally asked them, not bothering to check myself. Their guesses were as good as my own.

They placed her down carefully on the ground and looked her over. Amos put two of his fingers to the main vein on the throat of her neck to check her pulse. “She is breathing; unconscious, yet breathing. She will live to see another day.” He examined, his Spaniard accent clear in his voice. He met my gaze with worrisome eyes. “What should we do now with the girl? She has seen too much for human eyes.”

I knew what he meant.

Constantine’s eyes rounded and bulged at the same time we heard his sharp intake of breath.

“What is it Constantine?” Amos and I asked in unisons, stepping closer to him.

“Her arm! Look at the girl’s arm! Tell me it isn’t what I think it is.”

At my son Constantine’s request, I walked over and bent down hovering over Jamie like Amos and Constantine were now doing. He pointed a shaking finger to the nape between her upper and lower right arm. “There,” he pointed.

We followed his gaze and direction with our eyes. Amos positioned his flashlight on the section of her arm, so we could see it better under the fluorescent light. When the light shone over the area, we saw what Constantine meant. In the nape between her upper and lower arm were three distinct needle marks. They were surrounded by bruises and her veins were a vibrant violet color at the moment in hand.

It was clearly obvious to Amos, Constantine, and I what the marks meant. We all stood back up.

“The girl has been marked. She probably fainted from the pain of the change,” Amos shook his head. “She’s so young. They always are.” His gaze fell on her. “The world will never be the same for her again.”

Constantine nodded in agreement. “Because she is going through the change that must be why she had the strength to take down that Dark One. Strange, but intriguing. However, even those going through the change shouldn’t be able to be as strong as she was.”

It made complete sense if one looked at it that way. Still a newly changed Immortali shouldn’t have the knowledge it would require to defeat a Dark One or kill it, let alone one who’s still going through the change.

Amos yawned. The dark lines under his eyes were evidence of his exhaustion. We had been tracking the Dark One for days and chasing him for hours. Ours wards were waiting for us to return home.

“What should we do with her now? We can’t just leave her here and have humans find her. We would be risking exposure.” Amos was right. We couldn’t just leave her here.

I thought it over briefly though I already knew the answer. I knew the answer the second I realized that the girl was Jamie. “We will take the girl to her adoptive parent’s house and see where to go from there. Her house isn’t far from here. A few miles at best.”

Confusion was written in the furrowing of their brows and the stillness of their movements.

“You know this girl and her adoptive parents?” Amos wondered.

I nodded my head in her direction. “Yes, I do. Her name is Kathleen James McKenna, though she prefers to be called Jamie. Her adoptive parents are Mark and Vanessa McKenna of Trenton, New Jersey. They adopted her two years ago.”

Understanding flashed over their features the moment I said Vanessa’s name because they knew Vanessa as well.

Amos kneeled down and slid his hands under Jamie, lifting her off the ground, and put her into his arms without waking her up. She was still out cold.

Constantine’s eyes flickered down to the unconscious Dark One and up to me. “What should we do with him then?”

This was a job they could do without me for tonight at least. My current job was to make sure Vanessa knew what happened to her daughter. This is going to break her heart, I think sadly, but it has to be done. I held out my arms extended. “Give her to me,” I told Amos. He placed her into my arms, and I held her tight against my chest, so she wouldn’t fall. “I’m taking her to Vanessa. I’ll call you when I’m going to return. You two can deal with the Dark One without me for tonight. This is much more important than him.”

Neither of them contested my words.

Amos put his hand on my shoulder gently. “Be careful and return back safely to me, Renata,” he whispered. He worried too much. He knew that I was more than capable of taking care of myself.

Without another word to them, I carried Jamie back to her car on the side of the road. I found it easily in the night, and I put her securely in the backseat. I shut the door silently without waking her. Looking around, I see no one in sight for miles. Thinking over what I should tell Vanessa, I got into the driver’s seat, shutting the door, and I turned the key in the ignition. As the car hummed to life, I drove off on a new mission. A mission that I didn’t want to do, but I knew I had no choice.

Communicating your thoughts and ideas onto the page

Soul of Planet earth is in each of usWriting is simply a voice retelling a story to the audience in a way that is compelling, honest, and they can connect themselves to. Readers should feel engrossed in the lives of your characters, curious to see the outcome, and willing to take the journeys down many pathways with the characters. If writing does anything at all, it should move the reader to think deeply by giving them new insights and ideas into aspects of life that they already are going through, possibly could go through, or they will hopefully never go through.

All writing effects readers and should allow them to feel something. Writing should make readers feel, whether those feelings are happy, sad, angry, or what have you. Good writing should convey those moments in time with a clear view of all the circumstances and events and obstacles the characters go through on their many paths. Readers should see how the characters develop, change, and take solid shape from the beginning to the end, and at the conclusion, they should understand and feel that the characters were real, honest, and their choices were what they really would have done.

Characters are meant to be relateable, loved and hated, by the readers. They are essentially symbols for the many facets of humanity and inhumanity that we as people harbor in some respect within ourselves; the many shades of humanity wrapped up in creativity, imagination, and possibility. Readers should see this in the characters. However, it is not always easy to convey those ideals into your writing. Some times it’s hard to figure out where to start, how to move it along, and when to end their stories.

In my time being a writer and reader, I have found a method that works best for me, and that method is what I call the Movie Transition Method. The Movie Transition Method is when I take the basic essential format of how a script or movie film is made and transition it into a time frame of events that really elaborate and relay the story of my characters in a way that keeps readers reading and myself writing.

How I plan out what I need to put into my characters story is as follows:

1. I make a time line. I draw one long horizontal line three-forths of the way across a blank, clear paper. Then I draw three vertical lines on the page, so I have three sections, which I label as: The Setup, the Conflict, and the resolution.

2. I add in events and important information that I feel need to be included in the story.

The Setup includes:

-Introducing the characters and their situations

-Bringing the readers into the characters’ worlds

-Setting up the foreshadowing of events to come later

The Conflict includes:

-Getting deeper into the characters’ thoughts, life, and their struggles

-How the characters react to the events occurring

-How and why things are happening  to these characters

-The conflict that the characters go through and what their lowest points are

-The build of suspense and mystery

The Resolution includes:

-The lowest, darkest, or troubling times for the characters

-How the characters react to the situations and how their behavior ultimately leaves them to the end, or next chapter, in their lives-The climax, or the defining moment(s), that resolve the conflict and shape the characters into the change or same individuals they are

-The summary, wrap up of events, ending note, or cliffhanger that leads into the next chapters in the characters’ lives.

3. The Movie Transition Method of outlining leads into the outlining phase.

This phase is especially important because I take the meat, or content, of the Movie Transition Method timeline and write out the content that will be included into the story in an outline. This later leads me to write the first draft of my characters’ stories and life.

It’s important that I make a note here to tell you that an easier way to think of writing your characters’, or even your, stories is by pretending it’s a movie film. You have your beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should be informative, the middle should be interesting and enticing, and the end should be moving, critical, and it should end after the important chapter does. Do not prolong a character’s story for better length. Content is what is key in your writing.

Think of your writing as a movie. Write out the important scenes: delete scenes that have no real connection or importance to your characters’ motives or actions, extend scenes that have power over the characters’ journeys, and highlight the reasons why your characters’ stories are important for your readers to read and accompany your characters on. All of that is how you can communicate your thoughts and ideas, which essentially are your characters’ thoughts and ideas, onto the page and visible for your readers to see, feel, and understand.

 

Vestige Novel (ReWorked and ReWritten): Chapter 1 Jamie’s POV

Chapter One: Jamie’s POV

    “Not again! I can’t be late again!” Pressing my foot further down on the gas pedal, I knew that I was going to get in trouble with Vanessa for being out passed my curfew for the third time this week.

     It had only been a week after my seventeenth birthday and already I had broken my promise to stay out of trouble and behave myself.

    She’ll have my head on a stick this time, I thought frantically.

    As I drove out my frustrations, I began to notice the headache forming like a storm could in my mind wasn’t helping much either; not that a headache ever helped anyone. The headaches have gotten worse in the passed four days since I first noticed them coming and going. I prayed that it would disappear by tomorrow’s soccer match because the team was depending on me to carry them to victory. What’s a team without its best goalie?

    With eyes still focused on the road ahead and hands still placed at ten and two on the steering wheel, I carefully maneuvered my cotton sweater off without so much as swerving on the road. I wiped at my forehead and removed the beads of sweat building before I glanced down at the heat settings and saw that it was off. I inhaled a small gust of air and had a hard time breathing without finding myself wheezing. I hoped that I wasn’t getting sick, that it was just allergies, because I would miss out on too many things if I was coming down with something.

    No other cars or people were around on this old dirt road as I powered through it. Hardly anyone took this route anymore because the highway was faster, and also due to the fact that this road was said to be dangerous because of all the accidents that occurred here when it was a busy road.

    The lonely dirt road sat beside a forest on both sides. A few houses popped up here and there; otherwise, it was abandoned. Rushing and driving fast was a given for me. I knew no police cars would be sitting in wait. They never patrol this road anymore.

    Coughing hard, I closed my eyes for a split second. When my eyes shot open, I was blinded by a big flash of fluorescent white light that shone through the forest off to my right. The car shook slightly beneath me; enough for me to notice that it wasn’t natural. Something was happening.

    Startled, I panicked and found the brakes with my foot and stomped on it, putting the car into a complete stop, while I shielded my eyes with my arm from the bright illuminating light. My head felt like it would explode with pain as it pulsated against my skull. Barely seeing around my arm, I saw the light slowly faded away through the overgrown trees after a few seconds.

    Removing my arm from my face, I looked at the area where the light was still fading back into the darkness of night. My eyes finally adjusted to the sudden shift in light and my ragged breathing made each wheeze hurt worse.

    “What the heck was that?” I asked myself, still in shock.

    When I finally calmed down to what I thought as reasonable, I put the car back into drive and pulled off to the side of the road and parked the car. The flash of light was completely gone when I got out of the car and shut the door. Looking around in the dark of night vigilantIy, I headed into the forest with quiet steps weary that I was alone. It was too silent for a location where many animals inhabited. The forest wasn’t just silent, but it was absolutely creepy. My heart pounded against my chest, telling me to get out of there. Something about the forest felt wrong, unnatural. The pit of my stomach twisted into knots and dropped into an abyss of uneasiness.

    After minutes of walking, I reached the exact point where the light had originated. I leaned against a tree trunk to steady myself as my body begun to sway and my mind swarmed, losing balance. Unsuccessfully, I tried to shake the headache and the vertigo away.

    The tournament must’ve taken a lot out of me.

    The silence in the forest stretched on with only the sounds of my labored breathing and heart pounding loudly in my chest present as I attempted to catch my breath.

    The sudden sounds of tree branches and twigs breaking or being moved made my head shot up alarmed. I listened closer to the noises in complete stillness. The noises were getting closer to where I stood shaking with fear. It sounded like the branches and twigs were being stepped on.

    Someone or something was running fast in my direction.

    “Hello? Is someone out there? Hello?” I yelled, trying to see if they were alright.

    No one answered back.

    The running kept aiming in the same direction. This time the sounds of whomever or whatever was coming became more persistent and grew louder.

    Another thought dropped into my mind. One thought I should’ve thought of sooner. What if they were the ones who caused the flash of light?

    A thought I should’ve had much sooner, because now it was too late to run. I could hear them too close now. I wouldn’t, couldn’t, let my fear be the death of me. My instincts and teachings consumed the fear building inside of me like a typhoon as I prepared in case the person or animal was going to attack me. Everything about its approach felt wrong. Digging my feet into the ground, leveling my arms, calming my nerves with shaky breaths, and suppressing my aches, I positioned my body into a defensive stance as I had done many times before during tournaments. I worked myself up for an encounter by praying “you can do this, you can do this” repeatedly in my head. Even though I felt like crap, my every nerve was on end prepared to fight just in case.

    Once again my eyes swept over the direction where branches and bushes were beginning to tremble. I could see small pebbles and rocks and little sticks quaking on the grass and in the dirt because of some force. Squinting, trying to narrow my sight in the darkness, I saw the distinct silhouette of a man in dark clothing running towards me. A short distance behind him, three figures with flashlights were pursuing him.

    As he got closer to me, one of the figures chasing him, a woman, shouted out to me catching my attention for a split second. “Run away from him, girl! Don’t let him touch you! Run now!” She yelled breathlessly.

    I couldn’t make out her face though I heard the panic and anger ringing clear as day in her voice. She was right to say it. I should’ve listened but I was too stubborn and it was too late. Running wasn’t an option now. The unsettling feeling deep inside of my soul said that this man they were pursuing was a very bad guy. Shaking my headache away as best as I could, I got back into a defensive battle stance.

    He came into complete view and I watched horrified as he growled at me, gritting his teeth like a feral animal. The inhuman growl that yelped from him threw me off guard, yet not scaring me enough to get me out of my stance. I didn’t move an inch. I was too afraid to. He came charging at me at full speed with his arms outstretched and tackled me to the ground before I could make a move to defend myself. His attack blew the wind right out of my body.

    He was so fast that I barely saw his attack.

A few labored breaths later, I gazed him dead in the eyes. An unusual feature of his stood out immediately. Strange dark red rings around the irises of his clearly amber eyes caught my curiosity. It was weirder than his pale skin, drained of most color.

    Another menacing growl, in my face this time, rippled through his mouth as he struggled with me and he attempted to stand back up. He was stupid to think that I would just give up and surrender. I used all the body strength that I could muster to wrap my legs around his and disabled him from getting to his feet. Doing that only frustrated him more.

    The dark rings around his eyes grew larger and slowly overtook the amber parts remaining, consuming them completely. My mouth dropped open. No way was is that possible! It can’t be real! Human eyes could never do that. It just wasn’t physically possible.

    Laying my rounded eyes on him, reality cracked inside of me at the reality of the existence of other worldly creatures. I was still in shock, yet I knew that my eyes weren’t deceiving me. This was really happening. He was real.

    The three figures that were previously chasing him halted to a stop nearby. I glanced at them briefly, but not long enough to see them and who they were. He caught me off guard in that split second and took advantage of it. Before I could turn back to him, he had already unwrapped my legs and hold on him. I turned back around in time to see him hiss inches from my face like a snake ready to strike.

    Trembling, I shut my eyes tight over my eyelids and waited for the death I knew was coming for me.

    With little effort, he got a good grip on my arm with his hand and flung me in the air. The impact of colliding with a tree trunk ended my flight. The fall and plop on the hard ground of dewy grass was agonizing. It was hard enough that I felt beaten and bruised on impact. Ten times worse than the sickness I already felt beginning to brew inside of me. My glassy eyes of tears blinded my sight. I blinked my eyelids rapidly in order to see through the haze of tears.

    Only a few seconds since I was immobilized had passed, still I had missed a lot. The man was standing up facing the three individuals with flashlights in a feral crouch. Watching the man with an intense unblinking stare, I stood back up, leaning against a tree for support, and shook my head. I set my view on the scene playing out before me when the dizziness begun to fade.

    He was too focused on the others to pay much attention to me at this moment It’s now or never, I thought to myself as I worked up the confidence to outweigh the warring terror in my body. Releasing my jagged breath, I slowly drifted away from the tree and over toward him without making any sounds. In close proximity to him, I started running at him now with my arms outstretched. Clashing with him, I used the full force of my body to take him down. It was like hitting an immoveable object ,but somehow I managed to get him off his feet.

    We fell onto the ground hard with a loud plap. My attack had caught him completely off guard. He immediately tried to untangle me with his hands. Unlike before, it wasn’t going to be so easy with me focused. Whether he was a delusion or real didn’t matter to me in this moment. I wrapped my legs tighter around his waist and maneuvered my right arm around his right arm and neck, then I squeezed hard. I couldn’t let him get away from here and hurt anyone else.

    I squeezed and squeezed until my entire body was engulfed in a burning pain. His groans made my skin crawl. He wiggled around trying to break free of the sleeper hold I had him trapped in. His teeth chomped were mere inches from my face, with only my arm keeping him from turning in my direction and biting me.

    After a few minutes of struggling, his body finally became completely lax as he drifted into unconsciousness. Exhausted as he entered submission, my heart rate slowed and sweat clung onto my forehead. I released my hold and dropped him to the ground. Staring down at him, I  stood up brushing dirt and leaves off my clothes and out of my now tangled dark golden blonde hair. The brain splitting headache and dizziness rushed back into me. It was a thousand times worse than before.

    Now the pain was almost intolerable.

    The three formerly pursuing the man stared at me with their eyes practically bulged out from their sockets. Then they dropped their gazes down to the unconscious man–well I wasn’t sure what he was, but I knew he most certainly wasn’t human.

    The wheezing cut at my throat, making it harder for me to breathe right. A searing pain slithered up my spine and spread throughout the rest of my body. My bones and joints kept cracking like they were going to shatter to bits. They were much worse than growing pains. An agony close to how death would feel, I imagined.

    The woman stepped forward, so I looked her over closely through burning blurry eyes. Her face was familiar to me. That long curly black hair, those yellowish-green eyes, and her beige skin set tiny alarms off in my mind. I stood as still as stone, taken aback a moment. She was too familiar and I knew exactly who she was. I had seen her many times before with Vanessa. What is she doing out here at this time of night chasing that awful creature?

    “Rena? Is that you?” My voice sounded hoarse as I called out to her.

    She didn’t reply back to me. All she did was watch me. Her lips parted, yet nothing slipped from in between.

    Just as I got ready to ask her again ,I broke out into a harsh coughing fit.

    She took a slow step forward, moving out of her stone state. Recognition flying through her.

    “Kathleen? Kathleen McKenna? What are you-” She started.

    Her voice cut out and disappeared into the wind as the dizziness finally won and I fainted, barely seeing the other two with flashlights running to catch me as I slipped into unconsciousness.

Poem: Her (Edited and Revised Edition)

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I loved her not just for the way she lit up the darkness in night, but for the way her love and presence silenced my demons.

She veiled the darkness around her like the stars she used to cast shadows into paths every which way; the way moon she held like her heart, beaming with a luminescence that made the ordinary appear extraordinary; the way her clouds hung above her diadem, yet she drove them away with a loving kindness, instead of hateful wrath or spiraling fireworks, always ready to burst at a clock’s passing tick; and for the way she voyaged through storms of thunderous obstacles and rainy qualms and always comes to a deeper atmosphere where galaxies form.

Her burning love never fading as she danced with darkness to embrace it with the brilliance she harbored within. A beacon of solitude when the demons seeped from the shadows within me. The fight for the sanity and insanity of my mind, and the fragility and destruction of my very soul. She carries that ethereal beauty inside of her and consumes the shadows in her movements, in the echoing of her breath, the beat of her heart, and in the way her essence mingled with my own -touching every part of my soul- and stripped the demons of their grasps on me.

She silenced my demons and hung angels at my shoulders. She was my keeper, and she nestled the silver thread of dawn in her perfectly imperfect hands. Her love kept the wicked inside of and around me at bay, and I loved her more with every glance and with every thought.