Life cycle considerations for character creation

Everyday life provides countless opportunities to make us better people—and writers. Use these three tips to make the most of them.

Take in the situation

I’ve got this neighbor. A beautiful soul at the ripe age of 89. A Holocaust survivor. A mother and grandmother with a million stories and tribulations that show her strength. But she almost died last year, and she tells me that a lot of her friends are already gone. She’s tiny and wears purple eyeshadow and calls me “my Lindsey.”

I’m a new gradI’m going to keep calling myself that until I’m not allowed to use it as an excuse or because I’m the CEO of a huge company and no longer just feeling my way around life—and living alone for the first time. It feels like my friends are gone (friends, if you’re reading this, I know you aren’t gone. I love you and love how we’ve managed to stay in touch).

This old woman and I are in completely different life phases but we connect. I’m there to hear her stories and make her feel less alone. And she’s there to remind me how magnificent it is to live a full life. Still, though, we both have these feelings of loneliness and a—sometimes—crippling inability to move on.

Savor the details

It never struck me just how much more there is to miss as life goes on. Even though I miss a lot now at 23, I thought this nostalgia is something I’d grow out of. It’s hard to move on at any age. Whether you’re reminiscing on last week or the last decade.

Life has so many beautiful moments worth missing. And how we decide to look at those moments—as debilitating or as wonderful glimpses into a great past life—says something about our character. Not good or bad. But how we cope. What our specific lenses of the world are like, regardless of age.

Apply it to your writing

Getting behind that lens is how we can make beautiful characters that remind us of the people we know in real life. Don’t be afraid to borrow from the beauty of those around you. Because writing about people, time periods, and experiences is the only way to keep them going. 

“It’s magical to do something when you think no one is going to care.”

The above is a quote from Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket, AKA a genius, AKA author of my favorite children’s series: A Series of Unfortunate Events) in an article from Stanford Daily.

I stumbled upon it because recently I’ve decided to start writing a middle-grade novel. Naturally, I wanted to seek out advice from the brilliant MG authors before me, and Lemony Snicket just happens to be one of the best. His quote reminded me of something I’ve been telling myself for a long while, which is to stop focusing on perfection and just focus on telling the story that I want to be told, to not worry about how it will be received or if anyone will pick it up for publication.

The real beauty of creating stories is that they’re your stories. Don’t take that magic away from yourself. If you love them and nurture them and go to bed at night knowing you did your best, that will bring more satisfaction than writing towards what you think everyone else wants to read.

It’s really hard to silence the pressures around us, but I’m going to read this quote when I’m going through one of those hard patches and remind myself to keep trucking along with what I think needs to be said.

Pay attention to the movement of your story

I’ve been contemplating pace in my stories. How the language of my work aids the flow. Words create momentum and momentum propels the story through time.

How does your work get from the beginning to the end?

 

Consider this passage I wrote:

My toes sink into lush red carpet. A boxy old TV sits like a lost dog in the center of the room, and flesh-colored couches sway and topple when used. The sound of parents comes from a nearby kitchen – clank, swish, crash – as they create a meal.

Wait, no, the smell emaciating the living room is something much sweeter.

“She’s always over here,” a voice says. Metal hits the counter.

“Yes, she’s always over here.”

*

I cough, unsettling dust from the TV stand in the middle. Years later, after everyone died, the poor thing still sat in denial. Denial that anything is different. Denial that the flesh-colored couches were replaced with brown leather ages ago. Denial that after the family cleared everything out, it’d been forgotten.

The outdatedness of the house is palpable, like I could reach out and touch wrinkles on the wall and inhale the scent of decay and neglect.

Dust settles on the beaten red carpet. Out of nowhere, the TV crashes to the floor to join the dust, giving up.

 

How did the flow of this effect the way you read it? Is there anything you’d change or adapt for your own work?

I encourage you to write a scene or take a look at some old ones. Really dig into what’s compelling to move your story along.

The Writing Life

Insightful and just what I needed to hear! I hope someone else finds encouragement and the strength to keep writing in these words.

Libby Sommer, Author

pen and cup of coffee on cafe table

It’s a tough gig being a writer. Lots of isolation, lots of intense concentration, lots of rejection from publishers and agents. Sitting in a cafe with coffee and fountain pen is one of the good bits.

Why do I write? It’s a good question to ask yourself.

  1.  Because I’m a fool.
  2.  Because I want to impress my old school friends.
  3.  So people will like me.
  4.  So my friends will hate me.
  5.  I’m no good at speaking up.
  6.  So I can invent a new way of looking at the world.
  7.  In order to write the great Australian novel and become famous.
  8.  Because I’m a nut case.
  9.  Because I’m an undiscovered literary genius.
  10.  Because I have something to tell.
  11.  Because I have nothing to tell.

Hemingway has said, ‘Not the why, but the what.’ It’s enough to know you want to write. Write.

One of my favourite books on the writing process…

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How to Overcome FOMO as an Independent Author

A great article and reminder for independent publishers.

A Writer's Path

by Kate Colby

How Indie Authors Get FOMO

If you choose the path of independent publishing, you’ll quickly learn that you have a lot of responsibilities. You’ll need to write your book, manage the editing, cover design, and formatting, and handle the publishing and marketing. While you can (and should!) hire professional help, in the end, you’re the one who makes the big decisions. This pressure alone can make you feel like you have to be a super human to make it as an author.

The good news? There are thousands of books, podcasts, blogs, and other resources ready to help you in your journey. The bad news? Each one exalts a different method of writing, publishing, and/or marketing – and new tactics emerge almost daily.

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Writing Tip: 3 Steps to Deeper Creativity

Writings By Ender

*This was pulled from my post on Millionaire Digest*

When one pictures creativity the stereotype is often an artist or writer. Though these professions have creativity in common, they aren’t the only ones who can take advantage of this skill (pay special note to skill, rather than talent). People in business, lawyers, mathematicians, scientists, doctors and many others can reap the major benefits of creativity. After all, creativity is simply the ability to think outside of the box, and the ability to combine dissimilar thoughts. When expressed this way, the inherent importance of creativity is near-palpable. This article serves as a guide to deepening, or even jump-starting, your creativity.

Step One: Change Your Mindset

Echoing back to calling creativity a skill, it is imperative that you alter your mindset. Creativity is more than an innate talent. It is an all-together achievable skill you can hone. People have come to…

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Dealing with rejection (as a writer and a human being)

Rejection: when it hits, it hits hard.

I’ve been in a slump lately. A guilty one, admittedly… I’m in ITALY for Heaven’s sake. I get up, show up, and try every day. I spend hours doing research, seeking inspiration, and trying to meet new people. I write, I write other things, I delete, I publish. But there is an email folder full of rejections on my laptop. No matter how many times I edit my latest book, no matter how much I feel I’ve improved, I keep getting that dreaded “unfortunately, you are not what we are looking for.”

Let me tell you: it really freaking sucks.

At first, I try to look at all of the progress I’ve made.  But I don’t feel any closer to my goals. Instead, I have the urge to work harder, longer, to find a way to do more. Needless to say, this cycle is tiring. Always on the hunt for perfection and never realizing my dreams. Always coming up short.

Are my hopes too high? Do I expect results too fast? I’ve been writing and getting rejection emails since I was ten, so I don’t believe that’s the case.

In life too, searching for people who click with you is exhausting. It’s tempting to think: you get me or you don’t; you fit my life or you don’t. But that’s harsh and unfair. It can be tricky for me to make solid friends because I’m tempted to rush the process, to already be as close to people as I am with my best friends back home. When I don’t feel that “vibe” I think it’s hopeless.

Finding the right people takes time. That’s why I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made in college. They’ve (quite literally) seen me at my worst and at my best. Two of them are putzing around different parts of Europe too, and that’s pretty fricken neat.

This brings me to my latest realization: sometimes your friends are stronger than you and that’s okay. It’s okay to borrow some of their strength until you can get your own back. Because you know that when they need you, you’ll give them everything you have.

I keep reminding myself to be open-minded in the adventures of mind and heart. I don’t have an answer, or a quick way to heal the wounds of failure. But I can keep writing, keep putting myself out there. That’s all any of us can do, isn’t it?

How do you handle rejection, in life and in your personal endeavors?