I thought I said this would be brief. Clearly I lied.
So where were we? Ah, the sharing of my stories. By the time I was ready to share my stories with someone other than my best friend, we were in college. The time between the comics and sharing short stories was spent drawing. Somewhere in this house is a folder filled with things I drew freehand or traced into something different. I was getting really good at it too, but my true creative passion was writing.
My friend and I took a once a week creative writing class together. We had a short story, between 1,000 and 5,000 words due every class, a story I usually wrote either the day before or morning of (even a few hours before in some cases) and always got an A. Here was where I really started to open up about my creations. Being in a room with other creative people, some of who felt the same way I did about sharing, really helped me out in that area. I learned that I could share things, hear their thoughts, and I wouldn’t die.
One day, the teacher told us she didn’t want us to be stuck in the same genre for the entire semester and our next assignment was to write a story in a genre that was outside of our comfort zone. (And apparently, according to her, I’m too lovely a lady to write such gruesome stories anyway.) Pretty sure I got a B on that story, but it made me think. The teacher had mentioned that everyone’s grades fell on that assignment, but she wanted us to do it once more because she saw that the exercise made us all extend our range and would make us better writers in our own genres. We could choose the same genre we tried before or choose a different one. I gave fantasy a shot. It was so much harder to write, but I enjoyed it.
From there I wanted to try my hand at an epic fantasy. Seems like a leap, but The Lord of the Rings came out around then so….
Well, that first fantasy turned into a world of nonsense and pain. I wrote more trying to figure out this place I created than I did actually writing about a plot. Then once I figured that out, I found that the story couldn’t start where it did. I went back and restarted at least three different times before giving up and leaving it for dead, but fantasy had grown into my system by then. So when I learned about National Novel Writing Month, I always tried fantasy again.
Many of my ideas come from weird dreams, so fantasy was the perfect outlet to feature those dreams. What I find extremely odd about most of my dreams is that they seem to happen in the same place. There’s a little town built around one large building that’s a school, movie theater, and hotel all in one. It also has an Olympic sized indoor pool and the town recently put up a Wal-Mart in a cul-de-sac. I wasn’t aware Wal-Mart was looking for locations in people’s dreams. Weird.
I find that keeping track of my dreams and writing down all the mundane things that happen during the course of the day really help my creative process. I’m not sure why. I’ve heard that doing boring things can spark the creative side of your brain. I suppose it’s like turning the creative center off and then back on.
Another thing that helps my creative process is a character interrogation. Back when Facebook was in its infancy (only for college students), and MySpace was a big deal, there were a bunch of “getting to know you” type questionnaires floating around. I copied several of these and pasted them in a word doc with a few questions of my own. I ended up with over 100 questions to ask a fictional character.
Things like appearance, likes, and dislikes are basic things on the questionnaire, but I doubt I would’ve come up with asking a character how old they were when they got their first kiss and who it was with without some of those questionnaires. It never seemed like an important thing to ask, but it really helps when I’m trying to understand their mannerisms.
At one point during a character interrogation, one of my characters formed directly in front of me and we had a conversation. I was halfway through the interrogation before I started to think that maybe I was insane and should seek professional help. He disappeared then, but I could still hear his voice. I can always hear their voices.
Eventually I edited that epic fantasy I started several times and now it’s going to be a published novel in August. I suppose I should finish up at least one of the sequels that was started before this one. I’ll get around to it. I never really gave up on it, I just put it on the back burner to simmer for awhile.
Well, I suppose that’s good enough. Maybe next time I’ll just post my character interrogation. The more a writer can learn about their characters the better, even if it’s not something that’s ever going to be revealed unless the author just feels like it later in life in another medium like a blog or interview.
Apparently I’m ending all the blogs this way now, so…
Let’s all work together to make a better world. We can be each other’s cheerleader. We all rise together.
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YA Fantasy author and amateur photographer living in New Mexico. A reflection of herself, her characters are timid at first but tend to stand up and push through when times get tough.