More than just Volocio out here…

Genesis

On How to Put Together a Character Biography…

So while reading books by James N. Frey, I came a crossed my favorite
bit of advice on character building that I would like to share with
you today.First off, creating a character bio has turned out to be a huge help
for me.  I thought I knew my characters.  I had been around them for
over a decade, I know them so well. And yet, when I started on their
bios, I actually learned even more about them!
It’s all very exciting.
So I wanted to share the three dimensions in creating your character
bio thanks to Mr. Frey:
1.      Physiological – This has to do with what your character looks like.
Age, weight, shape, appearance, whatever.  Even if it may not be
useful in the story, put it in there.  Because society shapes a
person’s personality based on their appearance.  Here are some
examples that he uses:
“Where would Jim Thorpe have been, for example, had he been born with
a club foot? or Marilyn Monroe, had she turned out flatchested? Or
Hank Aaron, had he had a withered arm? Or Barbra Streisand, a small
voice? Obviously, not only would their choices of profession have been
affected, but their personalities would have been shaped differently
as well. A small man cannot “throw his weight around” as a large man
can. Pretty or ugly, short or tall, thin or fat—all of these physical
traits affect the way a character would have developed, just as such
physical traits affect real people.”
2.      Sociological – This concerns the society that your character grew
up in.  Where did they go to school? What were their parents like?
What were their parents views on politics, sex, or money? Did they
even have parents? If not, where did they grow up and what was the
overall atmosphere in that place?  This also helps shape your
character in the same way that it helps shape a real human being.
3.      Psychological – This last dimension is a culmination of the other
two.  As a result of their appearance and societal upbringing: what
makes them tick? What are their fears? Desires? Fantasies? Phobias?
IQ? Special Talents or Soundness of Reasoning?
Frey also advices writing a character journal.  This means writing a
journal in the voice of your character.  This is said to be helpful in
creating a villain.  This will help you find their voice and they even
reveal some odd skeletons from their closet that you didn’t think
about.
Like I said, it has helped me tremendously even though I have been
surrounded by these characters for well over ten years.  They are
still surprising me today.
Anyway, I hope you guys found this helpful!
Until next time!

On Why I start with Episode 4….

So you may have seen quite a few posts on Book of Tas’und’eash which
is intended to be the first book of my Volocio Saga but now I am
talking about a novel called Volocio…..which is actually book 4.

What the hell would I do that?

Well, I had originally thought about puuled a George Lucas and
starting with my Episode 4.  Remember in an earlier post how I was
really inspired by Star Wars?  Well, when I first started writing, it
was also the time that ‘The Phantom Menace’ came out in theatres.

I love genesis stories.  I love knowing how things grew to where they
were in the main story.  I loved the idea of how Anakin became Vader
(I may not have been a total fan of the execution); I love the idea of
how Aslan created Narnia.

But what I really love are the Easter eggs.  If you’re not familiar
with the concept: they are little details that may be an homage to
something earlier or later.  The point is that it is subtle.  Perfect
example: the origin of the lamp post in The Lion, The Witch, and the
Wardrobe.  In this book, the lamp post serves no other purpose than
to stand there and be the starting point where Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus.
But in its prequel The Magicians Nephew, you find out where this
lamp post came from.  It’s such s small detail but I love it.

So I knew I was going to have a prequel in mind and I wanted my own
little Easter eggs for my readers.  I still felt that Volocio wasn’t
ready so I put it aside and started working on the prequel trilogy
with Book of Tas’und’eash being the first.  I have spent over a year
writing that book and carefully crafting the two subsequent books.
They are almost completely mapped out and I have already picked out my
Easter eggs.  So what to do now?

I remembered a conversation I had with an old friend while in New York
City this last April.  JB had pointed out that my episodes 4, 5, and 6
were to be my true series and the prequel trilogy will be great
stories to enhance the main series.  That’s when I realized that he
was right and that now my Easter eggs are in place, I can go back to
Volocio and add the final touches.

I can be like other authors who did not write their series in
chronological order such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover, or
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, or even Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan.

So while I am still working a little on Book of Tas’und’eash, I will
be putting my efforts into ‘Volocio’ in order to get that world out
there to my readers.

What do you think?

Until Next Time!


On Sailor Scouts and Heroes’ Journeys….

I started writing Volocio when I was about thirteen.  When I started
to write it, I was literally just writing down my daydreams, the
adventures I wanted to have.  My two obsessions at such a young age
were Star Wars and Sailor Moon.

SMVolume1.jpg
SMVolume1” by Book. [1]. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

What I loved about Sailor Moon was the power over the elements,
reincarnation, fighting evil by the moonlight, winning love by
daylight, and finding your true love against insurmountable odds.  Of
course my favorite Sailor Scout is still Sailor Jupiter (this is why
my main character Rei can wield lightning)  It’s also interesting that
Sailor Moon has been re-released in a new version.  I am twenty-eight
now but I feel like I am thirteen again.

Sailor Jupter 01.jpg
Sailor Jupter 01“. Via Wikipedia.

On the other hand, what I loved about Stars Wars I later learned came
from Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero with a Thousand Face.’  I mean the
architypes you find in most classic epics.  There’s the hero’s
journey.  You can take a look at this awesome chart I found.

Heros JourneyYou can compare this with a lot of epics.  You will find that, for the
most part, they fit. Try is now with ‘The Matrix,’ ‘The Hobbit,’
‘Divergent,’ ‘Narniva,’ and ‘Song of the Lioness.’ They work because
the writer intentionally or unintentionally drew from the architypes
to give you the story you are familiar with.

If you are not familiar with Joseph Campbell then I highly recomment
that you either pick up ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’ or (if you can
find it) the PBS interview with Joseph Campbell called ‘The Power of Myth.’

Very cool stuff! You will learn a lot.

Until Next Time,


On Where I’m Going…

So how are things with Book of Tas’und’eash?  When I had my writing
group in Chicago, it was going well.  Unfortunately since the move, I
have started to lose momentum.  I haven’t been editing my book the way
I should and the writing group truly works best when you are there
physically for dialogue.  t least with the last group I wasin.  I will
keep tryin to post with them.  I really should, even if only one
person reads it.

I have gotten good feedback with it so I know people will want to know
what happens next.  I owe it to them to keep working.

The truth is, I found myself re-reading my first novel Volocio and I
think with a little more work this one will be ready soon to try and
find an agent.  I think because it is so cose to being done that i
really want to focus my energy on it. So now I will go back in time
and start talking about Volocio and my process.


On Small Writing Groups….

Hello world,

This has been a long time coming post.  I have spent the last several weeks in Germany (for both work and play) and with the holidays crashing over us, it has been constantly keeping me away from posting.  So here I am wanting to talk about a very VERY useful tool while writing:

Writing Groups.

A few years ago when I still lived in Bloomington, IN I was part of a writing group with a few other writer friends.  We would get together once a week to discuss the sample we chose for that time.  It was great! I really missed that.  It took me time before I finally got around to finding a group (or two) here in Chicago.  I will say that it has reminded me of the benefit of having more than just one pair of eyes looking at my work.

I really enjoyed working with a group of people to look over some of my work.  When looking for a group, it’s important to find people who are kind and supportive.  Fortunately, most people looking for such groups are such people.  The people I have met ask the necessary questions about my work, they are supportive of my ideas but still give great suggestions that are worth considering.  When writing, it’s always a great idea to have someone outside of your own head to look at what you have done.  This will help you see outside of the box.  This does not necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice your own stories or overall idea because someone may not see or agree with your overal vision.  But the right group of people can really help.  They may see something in your story that you may not have noticed before.  They may ask questions about your world that will make you delve deeper and discover more than your anticipated.

And being part of such a group can enable you to be that sort of help and support to fellow writers.  You too can ask questions and be as supportive as they are to you.

Whne you find the right grou, the process will be symbiotic: you help them and they help you.  I think being around sch creative is better than any creative writing class I have taken.  These people don’t necessarily have to be writers of your own genre.  In fact, it may be better that they write different.  They may not be restricted to the confines of your genre.  Again, this means thinking outside the box.

That being said – if being in a creative writing class does help you then great! Keep going.  But I still supplement it with a writing group.

What about the rest of you?  Have you found writing groups to also be helpful? Let me know your thoughts.


On Music as a Source of Inspiration…

I do most of my writing with a playlist in the background. I have always had a thing for soundtracks and when I was younger (actually I still do this today) I would listen to a song an imagine scenes played out. In fact there have been a number of songs that have really inspired some scenes. Currently the ones I have been listening to the most are the following:

The Fountain original soundtrack by Clint Mansell
Civilian by Wye Oak
Last of the Mohicans original soundtrack by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman
La Concha Perla traditional song of La Marinera
Viento de los Andes a CD of various traditional Andean music
Songs by Loreena McKennitt
Songs by Nuttin’ but Stringz
Wuthering Heights original soundtrack from the Masterpiece Theater version by Ruth Barrett

What about you guys? What songs inspire you? As you can see, my list is sort of all over the place and these are songs that help me in my current project. I have a list for Volocio but since that book isn’t out yet there is no point in telling you that list until then.

I may revisit this post later once the book is out there and then I will give you a more accurate list of what songs help inspire what scenes.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I know it’s been awhile and I promise to write more!

Until next time,
Cheers,
MLT


On New Books…

So I have put aside my Volocio trilogy for a bit because I have had a HUGE influx of ideas concerning other projects. When I was originally writing, I was planing to pull a George Lucas. What do I mean? Well, my saga so far will span 6 books and I wanted to start with book 4. Then work my way back to the beginning.

But here’s the rub…

While Volocio is finished, I am having a hard time getting an agent for such a complicated piece of work. It is a very complicated world with a lot of the groundwork yet to be laid out. So now i am just biting the bullet and going all the way back to the beginning.

Where the Volocio came from.

Well…I am not going to tell you everything here, but here is a hint as I went about doing some location research yesterday with a friend:

20120715-094512.jpg

I think that’s a damn good hint for now.

Until next time,
MLT