Monday, January 26
Friday, January 16
Have you ever experienced writing a novel with colorful characters, and after the twentieth chapter, completely went off tangent on them? If you were me, by the tenth chapter, my characters would all be slightly inconsistent. For example, one of my characters started of with blue eyes and fair skin, and ended up with brown eyes and tanned skin with a foreign accent to boot--not even I knew how that came about. But then I realized the source to the problem.
With my busy schedule and my day job, I only wrote when I could. And sometimes, it would be days in between writing. Although my plot was consistent, my characters surely were not! They were here and there, spilled all over my manuscript like disobedient ink. They could be so random sometimes I wasn't able to catch up. Like a confused parent, I would often call my characters by different names or give them different idiosyncrasies. Which was a terrible, horrible, vile thing to do as a writer. So I decided to stop and come up with a solution to all this before continuing.
Sure, I could have pages of notes regarding each of the characters, but I knew myself too well. I would never in a hundred years refer back to those thick pads of notes I wrote. Neither would I remember to look at them. I tried sticking sticky notes all over my work station, and by the end of the week, I was tired of looking up and down to search for names and identities. So here is what I came up with. A picture board.
First, I am a visual person, and everything I write is completely drawn out like a movie. My characters have faces, and I like to pin them up for reference. I liken my characters to people I know--friends, family members, enemies, politicians, celebrities and so on. Then I'd search for these people in magazines and photo albums, cut their faces out and stick them on a picture board. Under each of the pictures, I write their names and certain particulars, such as dates of birth and things I want to remember about them. I don't make the list too long, just enough to trigger my imagination and memory. And that's it. So easy.
Every time I write about a certain character, I look at the picture board and imagine his face and his smile and everything else that comes with an expression. It's easier and more consistent. A right dimple will remain right and not roam into the left. The more I look at the faces, the more I know them, as if I am face to face with them. This way, characters will indeed be more consistent and real. It's almost like describing a friend.
Let me know different ways you conceptualize and frame your characters, and if my method works for you. Happy writing!
Posted by Christopher Loke at 4:33 PM
Saturday, January 10
After writing and revising my novel every day since last week, I am finally able to say I am not afraid to write anymore, haha! You ask, why was I even afraid to write? A writer who has a fear of writing? Well, it's true. Before my strict writing routine, I was a professional procrastinator. This habit of mine started way back in my college years, like many eons ago.
I used to not do any of my reading or homework until the day before. I sometimes even skipped exams. How stupid, right? Yeah, exactly. I was stupid, no other better words to describe me then. But all those procrastination and waiting and halting were just part of my fear of confronting the fact that I might not be able to write as well, or even write at all. Every time I had an idea, I just lay there in my lazy bed and imagined the words. I would have chapters written in my head, and they were good. But the ultimate problem was, they were ONLY written in my head. So, after lingering, and more lingering, I finally got sick of my attitude and decided to make a change.
This year, I have been writing every day now, and it felt good. My wife would wake me up from my nap or interrupt me from my computer "work" to remind me of my commitment to the family. Yes, she makes it a big deal if I do not write. She is planning to bank on my selling my first manuscript this year. By summer, she said. Which is good, because if not because of her, I would not have overcome my fear of writing. I used to think I was too tired to write, and would put the whole task off until the weekends, and come weekends, I played more than I did anything else. But interestingly, after writing for so many days now, I am not able to stop. It's like an addiction of the strangest kind. I am closer to my characters and do look forward to seeing them everyday. Now I'm really writing and it feels good.
My revision of my novel is coming along pretty smoothly, I have to say. I am excited to complete the ever-so-daunting final revision and rewriting process. My novel looks good and I am confident that finding an agent for it is not difficult. (Pat on my back!)
Recently, I've just finished reading "The Reader," and am now on a new book, "The Emperor's Children." I just love reading and can't stop. Perhaps that is my inspiration. But my muse is definitely my wife, ha! It's true, love can make you do things you never think is possible.
And to my friends who are doing very well in their writing and pursuit of a career in writing, I offer you all my support. A shout out to Amber Smith! Way to go, girl. I've always said you'll make it first, and am I not always right?
Posted by Christopher Loke at 3:21 PM