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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pieces of Me

Somewhere in the writing spectrum between NaNo and line-edits -before-publishing is a place where you have a story, it's clean, the commas are all in place, and yet the story lacks something.

This draft, while grammatically flawless and technically accurate, lacks the oomph a story needs to be enjoyable.

Have you hit that point?

Than it's time to take a hard look at your characters. What is your main character's defining quirk? What makes them special? What makes them a real person?

My friend, Amy of Inkfever, posted a series of articles on the Sweet Spot Map some months ago. After NaNo I hit a slump, writing 50k in a month wasn't a challenge last year. This year it was like pulling teeth. And hitting December 1st was like smacking into a massive concrete barrier. My brain just stopped.

So, after much cajoling, Amy convinced me to give the Sweet Spot Map a try. I did, and I realized that I was already putting those pieces of myself into the characters I love. I love water, the ocean is my ideal environment, so I suppose it's no surprise that a marine scientist is a main character in one series and that I have a water planet in another series.

I love Latin, the language fascinates me, the history thrills me. The one historical I have partially written and worked out is set in Alba as the Legio II Augusta retreats to Gaul.

I love flurries of gold autumn leaves flashing as they fall on the lawn when a storm rips into town, dark and threatening. I have that scene in a light urban fantasy set in southern Alabama.

I hate poverty, the idea of people going hungry makes me furious. I hate to see people suffer. I hate when people abuse and hurt children, intentionally or not. And all of those show up as themes in my writing. People living paycheck to paycheck, going hungry, running from abuse, standing up to indifference and corruption that prevents people who need it from getting help.

I'm tied to the army by marriage, there's something of the military mindset that bleeds through. As does a love for good war stories. I have The Art of War on my shelf. I love military style novels, especially in a sci-fi setting, and even more if they are done well.

I love funky socks and beautiful, unique, jewelry. Believe me, you'll see that in my writing! My main fairy godmother character always wears dark chokers, sometimes with gold pendants. I haven't given the funky socks to anyone, but it will happen. And that ring?

That is the ring my husband gave me for our fifth wedding anniversary. The original stone was a blue opal, beautiful, but soft and it chipped within a year. So for our sixth anniversary DH put the opal in a necklace and put the garnet into the ring. In the books I write the ring is worn in several different books in the ViS universe.

In the latter part of the ViS series this ring rests on the hand of Virginia Victoria Dare, alpha of Clan Dare and the first werewolf to graduate from the Felinium Enforcer Academy. It comes to her from a long line of female antecedents that include Doctor Mai Schneider, a main character in Finn Genesis.

The opal necklace also appears in the series, on the neck of Maggie Finn, Which means my two favorite pieces of jewelry will show up in the same scene at least once!

Now, tell me, what pieces of you go into your writing?

P.S. Watch for the second part of this series next week when I discuss the "bonus round" of writing and reading.


  1. Having fun editing my post? Amy did.

    Here's the rule to the contest: the person who finds ALL the mistakes will get a special treat from me. :o)

    Enjoy editing kids!

  2. So, does this include me? Because, you know, I can run through it with a red pen in like 10 seconds flat...

    But I have a head start on everyone else :o)

  3. I'm not sure I want to know...

    Things that show up a lot?

    - eyes/blindness
    - zombies
    - suicidal characters
    - psychopaths
    - scimitars
    - demons
    - velociraptors

    Now, ask yourself, do you REALLY want to know which of those things come from me? %-)


    Fun post, Lei, and the ring is gorgeous. :)


  4. I have zombies (with resumes) suicidal characters, pyscopaths, swords, and dragons.... hmmm... I do want to knwo where the eye thing comes from.

  5. Interesting question! I just finished a new post... so you tell me!! =)

  6. Eh, no editing for me. :)

    I LOVE the socks! And here I thought you were going to put a picture of your face on there...darn you.

    Here are my quirks:

    books/classic literature references

    And my father in law has The Art of War on his shelf, too. I think you two would get along really well.