Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!!! / Hiatus

     Hi everyone! It'll be a quick post today, because of the crazy busy season it is. I hope you're having a wonderful break or holidays, and will keep having it through Christmas and New Years'! It's been an amazing year on this blog, and I can't thank you all enough for all your support. I love all of you, seriously.


   I'm at a very big transition phase in my life. In case you're not aware, in mid January I will be moving from Thailand (after 14 great years living here) to Australia, which is where I was born. I'm a mix of terrified, excited, dreading it, looking forward to it, and grieving my leave. For this reason I'll be going on a hiatus until the beginning of February, so I can focus on myself and my family.

   Merry Christmas, and see you soon!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Let's Talk Editing: Is Your First Draft Totally Useless?

     The Let's Talk Editing series is back! I realized it'd been ages since I'd written a post for Let's Talk Editing, and with me slowing sinking back into edits for Draped in Deception, we've ended up with the next installment! If you're interested in the other posts on setting and first chapters, you can click here and here

     Today's topic, and something I've been thinking about a lot recently, is, is a first draft totally useless?



     When writers mention the words 'first' and 'draft' together, you will definitely get some screwed up faces and winces. First drafts are imperfect, gaping with plot holes, and the POV's voices run together into an indistinguishable mess. NO ONE sees the first draft except the writer. 

     The purpose of editing is to fill those holes, clarify characters, and polish the thing till its shine is blinding, right? So once you've moved past cleaning up the first draft, and you're on your third or fifteenth draft, why should you ever return to it?

     Well, you should.

     And here's why: if your final draft is a cut, polished, and sparkling diamond, then that makes your first draft a gem hidden behind rocks and blemishes. You must have seen something in it to take the time and effort to transform a hunk of mineral into a glimmering necklace.


     A few weeks ago I was squinting at my computer screen which held an attempt at planning my massive rewrites of Draped in Deception. I was majorly stuck on how I was going to show a character's change now that the main instigator of it was cut out (as a result of me scrapping the ending third of my novel). As my mind often does, it started to wander down its little creative path while I went off to do some unfortunate life responsibility.

    Then: Aha! My mind brought up a key world-building element I had all but forgotten in the second draft, but in my first draft, it was a huge part of showing my characters' a different side to their world. Now, I know this sounds sort of vague, but I can't go around letting you know all the spoilers can I?

    What I'm trying to get at here is that don't forget about your first draft the deeper you delve into editing. Remember that the first draft is raw, and honest, and true to themes that poured from your heart. It has both good and bad elements. When you return to it ignore the plot holes and look to its core. You wouldn't forget about the diamond underneath all the grit when you were polishing it, would you?

    So when you're stuck in your edits, go back, and take inspiration from the rough gem it is, because no, your first draft is not totally useless. It may need a little or a lot of work, but it is beautiful, because it's raw, and because you wrote it.
   


Have you ever returned to your first draft for inspiration? Do your edits stick close to your first drafts or do you go waaay away from them? How's your writing going?
Let me know in the comments, and have a wonderful day! <3

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Character Guest Post: Isla

      Greetings everyone. I'm Isla, and it really is so wonderful to meet you. *offers a cup of ginger tea* I'm so glad we could sit down and chat today. How are you?

      Once again, I'm going to interrupt our lovely guest speaker here today. This is Melissa speaking in italics, by the way. Today Isla from Safe-House will be answering a few questions about her personality, job, family, etc. I did a previous post with a similar format with Mercy if you'd like to check it out, and here's some background on Safe-House.

     Okay Isla, are you ready?

    Of course!



1) What is your role in the Safe-House?
     
      I'm the maid, or overall helper, though technically I'm not paid, as I'm an indentured servant.

2) How did you become an indentured servant?

     I lived with my uncle growing up, and he was big on gambling. From betting on knuckle-bones, to card games, to how many days it would rain that month. He was a good man at heart, really; he took me in after my parents caught a deadly disease that swept the city, but he didn't know when to stop betting. He got in some deep debts with those in the Rat Guild, and when he couldn't pay them he...well, he sold me, to put it quite simply.

     The Rat Guild takes criminal activity that one step across the line. While the Desirable Goods Guild sells drugs, and illegal goods, the Rat Guild deals in people. Selling people. Because they bought me for such a high price, it took several months to find someone who would double that price to buy me. But Zelma--she's the founder and headmistress of the Safe-House--paid it, so now I work for her. The pay I would receive every month if I was a regular servant is instead crossed off of the debt I now owe to Zelma.


Symbol of the Rat Guild
3) Three quick facts about you?

     #1: I believe strongly that if you do good for others, then good will come onto you, whether in this life or the next ones.

     #2: Ginger tea is my absolute favourite drink of all time

     #3: I'll take harmony over intrigue any day

4) What's your greatest fear?

     I guess...that I won't be able to fix things. That conflict will just keep happening, continuously getting worse, and that I won't have a positive impact on any of it--and everyone will hate me because of it. That would be a nightmare.



5) Any passions?

    Creating things gives me a lot of joy. I love to be able to take what other people might discard and recreate it into something beautiful. Everything deserves a second chance.

6) If you could leave the Safe-House a free woman, what would you do?

    Wow, that's difficult. I suppose I've always been thinking about how long it will be until I've paid my debts, not what comes after. I'd like to leave Low End, where all the Guilds are based and hope seems forgotten, and get some sort of creative job if I can. Nothing feels as good as creating, you know?

    I do indeed Isla. Thanks for joining us!


How is your WIP coming along? Are you editing or drafting right now? Any suggestions for which character I should have guest post next?
Let us know in the comments, and good luck with your writing! <3

Saturday, 3 December 2016

What My Stories Have Taught Me

      When I think of the word 'writer' a thousand different images pop into my mind. Someone typing in an aesthetically pleasing coffee shop, a person griping about characters while eating chocolate, frantic typing as someone wears a NaNoWriMo shirt and pretends they've slept, and on and on. But another picture that comes into my mind is of a person sitting down at a desk, carefully arranging a story to share their life experiences and what they've learned from them.

     I'd like to say I'm always the last image, but that's not true. I reflect some of my life experiences in my writing, of course, but it's never been just about me teaching my characters; they've taught me.

     Here are just a few things out of many that my stories and characters have taught me:



1) It's okay to feel like you're a contradiction

    In my first draft of Draped in Deception, there is a scene where Lissaer shares all her contradictions, such as being a warrior who never wants to kill, and how alienated she feels because of them. Her physician friend Adam, who's with her, says, "When I was working in the labs, they had us experimenting with these two dull looking chemicals. The only thing they had in common was how completely different their properties were. When we mixed the chemicals together, they exploded. Not in flames, but in colour. They were a rainbow in a test tube. It's ok to mix opposites, Lissaer: you get something beautiful."

   Maybe it isn't the most remarkable piece of dialogue, but the conversation struck me hard. I was going through a time where I was insecure about certain aspects of my personality, and this story helped me through it.



2) Standing up for something you believe in doesn't always mean starting a war

    I can't say too much about this one because of spoilers, but this has to do with Safe-House. In it is a character called Clyde, who battles with drug addiction, and how he is being controlled by others because of it. Clyde is so brave even after all he's been through, and it's so inspiring. Violence isn't always the best route; being non-violent can be an even stronger protest.



3) Patience and endurance

   I'll be the first to admit I am far from a patient person. I get irritated when things aren't done quickly and sigh a lot when someone else is late. So it surprised me when I wrote my first novel how long it took--and how willing I was to stick with it for such a long period of time. Throughout my years seriously writing I've learnt to accept that some things will take awhile, and that's okay. As long as I keep working at it, keep going, it will be worth it in the end.



What have your stories taught you? Did you expect finishing a book to take so long when your first started writing? What's your WIP about?
Let me know in the comments and good luck with your writing! <3

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Am Currently... #5

    Welcome back to another Am Currently! November has been such a crazy month, with NaNoWriMo, moving preparation, and a build-up of tests and exams. I haven't been as productive as I would like to be, but I've managed to sneak in some reading and writing.


    I finished 'Pride and Prejudice' a few weeks ago! I absolutely loved it and I swear I was silently laughing throughout the whole thing. The humour is so great, and I have such respect for Jane Austen's writing skills now. 

    My current read is 'Riders' by Veronica Rossi. It's going pretty well, and the POV has a distinct voice which adds some excitement, as does the unconventional start of the book. I'm hoping it finishes on a high!


    Sooo...NaNo. Currently I am 20,788 words into the first draft of Safe-House, which is far behind the 50K most people have already or are going to reach. My plan for this month wasn't to reach the 50K though; it was 15K. I knew the ridiculously busy month I was going to have, and while I'm happy I reached that goal, I can't help feeling a little disappointed I haven't gotten more done. 


   I always enjoy listening to Casting Crowns, especially 'Broken Together' and 'Dream for You'. Their lyrics are beautiful. Since Christmas is approaching I've also pulled out Pentatonix's wonderful Christmas song covers again to get me into the mood.


    Very, very tired. I have a huge dance performance on Thursday, and so from Monday to Friday we had after-school rehearsals until five. This, combined with teachers deciding it would be a great time for last minute projects, was the major force that prevented me from churning out more words for NaNo. Life seems to be getting the better of me for the moment, which is why I have an announcement to make.

    I'll be shifting my blogging schedule. I want to get the best content possible out to you guys, so now I'll be aiming to blog once a week on Saturdays, which means no more Wednesday posts, until I feel like I can get the best quality ones out. Right now I'm struggling to keep up with everything.


How are you? Is life getting the better of you as well, or are you soaring? (I hope you are!) Read any amazing books I just have to read?
Thank you for all the support on my blog! Have a great week <3

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

How to Choose What to Write Next

     One of my favourite writer terms is 'plot bunnies', which it used to describe new ideas. I can just picture little bunnies poking their heads out of their burrows, and instantly commanding all your attention. It's the same thing with story ideas: once they get stuck in your head, its hard to shake them off and put effort back into your WIP.

     Another thing about plot bunnies is that there are too many to count. When you've finished a project, which one do you focus on next? How do you choose?

    There are two questions I ask myself to decide.



1) Which one excites me the most?

    Whenever a plot bunny pops into my mind, it seems like the best book idea ever at the time. It'll be a bestseller! I'll become famous! Twenty-four hours later...yeah, not so much. For me, time is a big factor in determining my excitement. I've developed a system that when a plot bunny comes, I focus all my thoughts and creative energy on it for a day or two, jotting down everything that comes to mind.

    Then I leave it.

    When I'm ready for my next project, I browse through where I store my story ideas, and read through them all. Usually I won't have touched them for a month or even six, so by refreshing my mind on the concepts, I will immediately latch onto one that I'm desperate to write.



2) Can I combine these ideas?

   Sometimes answering the first question will be hard, because I might be equally excited or intrigued about several. If that's the case, I'll see if there is a possibility to combine the ideas into one large novel. Some of the ideas might be small aspects like a world-building feature, while others could be a plot.

   Here's an example. You might remember me talking about Golden Revenge a few months ago (it's currently waiting to be edited). That story was a combination of many separate ideas or concepts I wanted to write about.


Refugees + civil war + gender-bent retelling of King Midas + mercenaries = Golden Revenge

   Some of the ideas worked more naturally together, but others seemed like there was no way they could co-exist at first. But when I challenged myself to craft a story out of this mishmash, I ended up with a story I loved all the way to its heart.

How do you deal with plot bunnies? Do you take time to consider which story to write next, or do you jump straight in? 
Good luck with your writing! <3

Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Character Karaoke Tag!

    The wonderful Ellie @ On the Other Side of Reality tagged me for the Character Karaoke Tag, which a mix of talking about music and your WIP! I always love giving characters theme songs, and since I'm in the midst of NaNo, I'll be sharing about Safe-House again. (Let's be honest here: my mind can't juggle two stories in November. It's literally impossible).

    To the tag!



What song best describes the mood of your novel?


    The lyrics fit Safe-House super well. There are dark moments where the characters feel like: 

I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don't change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you're taught to cry into your pillow


    But at the end of the day:

I'm still breathing
I'm alive

    That is, except for the dead characters...

Pick a character and a song to describe them.


    Ash's optimistic perspective basically embodies this song. He has a love for thrill and adrenaline:

There's a moment
In your bones when
When the fire takes over
Blood is running
Heart is pumping
As the battle gets closer


    And he believes he can do anything:

Keeping us down is impossible
Cause we're unstoppable


One of your characters is at a karaoke night when-gasp! They've been chosen to get up and sing! What song do they choose and how do they perform it?


    Mercy would knock this out, perhaps not with the best vocals ever heard, but with a lot of aggressive passion. She would really connect to this song on a personal level from being in a past relationship with someone who was a lot of 'trouble.'

    Also, in the music video (which wouldn't let me put it in this post) several of the lines said in the beginning are very true for Mercy as well, like:

I think that the worst part of it all wasn't losing him.
It was losing me.

Go-to song for writing battle scenes?


    Though the song starts off a little slow, there is a build-up I love which rolls into an awesome explosion of music. Always great for those epic battle scenes.


   I tag...
And anyone else who wants to join in!

What kind of music do you listen to while you write (or are you a writer who likes silence?) What song defines one of your characters?
Let me know in the comments; I love hearing from you! <3

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

WIP Snippets!

   How dare life take place in November. Doesn't it know that I have NaNo writing to do?

   I guess it doesn't, because it hit me straight in the face last week. I was whisked away on a mandatory field trip for three days where I had no access to my laptop...so no writing. It was horrible. And now school has slammed a load of work on me and I have late dance rehearsals every day next week and...enough of me complaining. Simply put, I'm very behind.

   But! Being behind doesn't mean I can't share with all of you some snippets from my WIP, Safe-House. If you don't know what Safe-House is about, the simplest way of describing it is: Cluedo meets Six of Crows.

   All the snippets are unpolished due to NaNo so be warned!


   I really love this first one, said by Ash's sister Catfoot as a warning to him:
"The optimistic cat lost all nine lives jumping from the top of a five-story building because it believed it could land on its feet; the cautious cat didn't lose any because it took the stairs."
     From Mercy's POV:


 If Mercy's father was there, he'd call her into his study. They'd sit on the herringbone patterned floor, in the midst of a cloud of her cigarette smoke and his tobacco leaves, polishing daggers and sharpening blades. They'd toss about ideas for creating new weapons. Knives hidden in hairbrushes. High heels with actual spikes for support. A recipe for a metal that could pierce armour like it was nothing but air. 

But it was if Ash had found the recipe, and his masterfully crafted sword of smiles, touches, and warm words ripped straight through her chain mail. It sunk deep into her chest, piercing her heart. Blood spewed everywhere, painting her emotions with red tears. 



   I love the dialogue I get to write between Mercy and Clyde. 

A holler echoed from upstairs. "This guy keeps thinking I'm going to kill him! All he'll mutter in his sleep is 'mercy, mercy, mercy.'"

Mercy rolled her eyes. "He's calling for me, you idiot."

    Some more Mercy and Clyde banter...

Clyde watched Mercy with high eyebrows as Ash stormed off. "Nice boyfriend."

She huffed and stabbed the bottle of ink with the quill. "He's not my boyfriend."

"If he's your cousin the both of you are messed up."



    Description from Hood's perspective at night, after an invitation from Mercy to sit with her.

The two sat in silence as time ticked on to the thud of their hearts. The clatter of dishes and gurgle of water rushing out from the upstairs bathrooms to the nearby gutter mingled with the fading cheers of a distant bar. Newness, neither shiny nor gritty, drifted with the humid wind and settled on Hood's tongue. 
Mercy tipped her head up to watch the pinpricks of stars. "They remind me of my sister. Gorgeous and peaceful, but so far away."
Hood's words changed into a sweet, mellow tune with help from the voice box tucked into her collar. "Is she dead?"
"Maybe. I don't know."

How is NaNoWriMo going for you? Are you conquering it like a master or falling behind like me? Feel free to share snippets of your work in the comments too; I love hearing about your writing! <3

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

How to Write Romance (When You've Never Been in a Romantic Relationship)

   I'll be honest with you; I've never been in any kind of romantic relationship. No kisses either, or hand holding on the beach, or passionate hugs, etc. (unless you count a skit of Sleeping Beauty where I got kissed on the cheek in Pre-School). I have no problem with this, but it has presented one particular challenge when it comes to writing.

   ...I write romance.


   My books aren't necessarily based on one romantic relationship, but each one has speckles of romance in it. So when I heard the advice "Write what you know" I sort of panicked. How could I write romance when I hadn't experienced it personally?

   If you're in a similar situation to me, don't worry. Think about it like this: Are you a fantasy writer? If yes, if you were following that tip, you wouldn't write about magic or well...anything at all really, would you? The point of that advice is to write about human emotions.

   Here are a few tips on how to write romance when you've never been in a romantic relationship yourself:

1) Read a LOT

   The majority of writers that write romance novels, or novels with romance, have dated, married, kissed, and so on. These experiences reflect in their writing--experiences that you can pick up on. The more you read, the more you can get a general knowledge of what a kiss is like, the pitfalls and highs of dating, and every aspect. It will also show what readers expect for how a couple develops over a story.

  BUT you need to remember that in stories romances can often be dramatized, which leads me to the next point...



2) Observe

   Some of my closest friends in real life have dated, and those relationships were far from easy. I've also seen multiple love triangles exist and complicate things. People all around you might be romantically involved, so talk with them. Ask them questions about how they were feeling at times like their first kiss (I've done this) or be there for them in hard times. This will build up your understanding of romance. Just make sure to be a friend first, and a writer second!

3) Write it as a Friendship

   In my opinion, a romantic relationship is a friendship taken to a more intimate level. You (hopefully) have friends, and so you know what friendship is. Why can't it start as that for your characters? I always try to make sure my potential couple could be friends and only that, before I plan all their romantic scenes. If they can be friends, then in my mind I believe that they could travel to the next level: a romantic relationship.



   Thank you for joining me for today's post! I hope this helped you with your writing. 

   A small announcement: I won't be able to post on Saturday due to a filming field trip where there won't be any internet, and my replies might be delayed. Thanks for understanding, and have a great week!


Do you struggle to write romance, or are you a pro at it? Have any of your characters ever surprised you with who they liked? What is your favourite book romance?

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Beautiful Books: Safe-House Update

    If I was a coffee drinker, I would be cradling some to my chest right now. But I'm not, and so I'm sipping water and pretending I'm awake enough to write right now. Why am I so tired? 

   NaNoWriMo. I think we should rename it "30 Days of Exhaustion".

   I'm (trying to) write the first draft of Safe-House during NaNo, and will be linking up with Beautiful Books today to provide you all with an update. If you'd like to read last month's Beautiful Books explaining Safe-House, click here. As always, the link-up is hosted by bookdragon Cait @ Paper Fury and Skye @ Further Up and Further In.

   To the questions!


1) What is your overall mental state, and how is your novel going?
   
   I feel kind of drained, because I usually work at a much slower pace, but Safe-House is actually going along great! I love writing the first few chapters because when I describe characters I come up with all these future plot twists and get to add foreshadowing.

2) What's your first sentence (or paragraph)?

   It's a single line of dialogue, said by Hood:

"Someone's trying to kill me."

3) Who's your current favourite character in your novel?

   ASH. He's pretty much the opposite of me and though it can be hard not to write his optimistic thoughts as ridiculously cheesy, I love him. He has such devotion to his sister and Mercy; he stays loyal to them when no one else does. 


4) What do you love about your novel so far?

   Honestly, I'm really enjoying all the elements of my own culture that I can build into the world. Sometimes I struggle when my worlds are based on more Western countries, and with this novel's South-East Asian culture and food with touches of Australia, I've forged a special connection with it.

   And the sass. There is so much sass.

5) Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

   Sorry, not really. I write so slowly I always notice in a few seconds and go back to fix it.

6) What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end -- and why?

   EVERYTHING. I'm going to detour from the question a little (look at me, such a rebel) because for me it's not about where I am in the book plot-wise, but where the characters are. I love writing the parts when I can pick apart my characters' brains to find what they're feeling and string it out over a scene.

A lot of Safe-House's scenes take place behind doors...doors they should probably think about locking

7) What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best?  

   I always have a glass of water nearby, but no hot drinks or snacks. For me eating is distracting. I do listen to music though--whatever songs catch my fancy at the moment. Afternoons and evenings are my best writing times, because I'm not a morning or night person. I'm an Afternoon Person.

8) How private are you about your novel when you're writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone?

    Oh, so private. I'm not even sure if my family knows I'm doing NaNo this year. Most likely this secrecy happened because I was slightly alarmed with my lack of plot...


9) What keeps you writing even when it's hard?

   Sheer determination, and a love for the story. I feel like I owe it to the story and the characters to finish telling it, and dropping it half-way seems like a betrayal of sorts.

10) What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

   - Don't be afraid of getting pulled in a different direction by your characters

   - Remember that for each action scene, there should be a reaction scene. (In other words don't go from one giant fight to another without showing the readers how the characters are feeling in between)

  - First drafts don't need to be perfect, so just WRITE   

How is your novel coming along? Do you have any amazing pieces of writing advice? Were there any typos that made you laugh because they were so absurd? 
Let me know in the comments, and good luck writing! <3

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A Little NaNo Inspiration

    NaNo is upon us! Whether you are ahead, on track, or behind your word count, you're amazing. Seriously. NaNo is not about the winning, but about the participating and trying. Do I think I'm going to win this year? Probably not. Do I mind? Not really, because as long as I try my hardest, I consider myself a winner.

   Here's a few quotes that I love that will (hopefully) inspire you to keep going! (All of them were found via Pinterest)






Which quote is your favourite? How is NaNo going for you? How do you keep inspired through November?

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Take a Breath

   Take a breath.

   What do you smell? Is it the gritty burning of petrol, the tickle of too much perfume, or the zing of raindrops bejeweling leaves? 

   Take another breath. A deep one. 

   Does this breath come easy as your lungs swell, or does it falter in your throat, caught between a whirlwind of emotions thundering through your thoughts? 

    I know mine is the latter. For the past three days I've been at a Youth Retreat; talking, singing, learning, connecting, growing. It's hard to explain what it feels like to feel so connected with both people, and God. For this time I had only about two minutes total to access the internet, and even then I just glimpsed at my e-mails. 


   I've grown. I'm still figuring out how, exactly, but I know the change, even if slight, is budding inside me. I shared personal information I never thought I would with people I've known for years, and those I'm just beginning to. 

   I feel like I've taken a deep breath, and caught the whiff of renewal on the wind. Life was and is crazy, hectic, wild. It tossed me around like roaring waves, but for three days, I paused. Took a breath. 


   I let the social media, the Youtube, the instantaneous need to turn on my device at any blip of silence fade away. There is nothing wrong with technology, nor is there with finding enjoyment in it. But sometimes you just need a few hours, a few days, to pause.

   In this pause, think. Be with those you love. Be with yourself. Be with God. 

   Yes, the world will come rushing back in, pulling you in different directions with constant 'nows' and deadlines. But cling to that memory of that breath, that pause, and the peace and understanding that came with it.

   Remember, you can always take another one.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

5 Ways I Develop Characters

   I have strange methods for developing characters. Or maybe, 'unusual' compared to other writers I know. I don't go down the route of filling out lengthy personality/character questionaires with questions like age, favourite colour, appearance, etc. Those, for some reason, don't help me connect to my characters at all. 

  Every writer has a different way of developing their characters and stories. There is absolutely no wrong way to do it, only the right way for you. So today I thought I would share 5 ways I develop characters in case you'd like to experiment with some new methods. 


  1) Character Interviews

   I know, I know, this seems really similar to those character questionnaires, but the way I do my interviews is in first person, not third. I like to write them from my character's perspective as if I was writing a story about them going to an interview. I include everything from how they act before the cameras roll on, during, afterwards, their thoughts, everything. This really helps me find the voices of my characters. (And what they would lie about...)

  If you'd like to see a simplified version of how I do my interviews, I recently did one with Mercy.

   2) Tension Maps

   I also call these Relationship Maps. I'll get a piece of paper, write all my characters down from one novel (a little spaced out), and draw lines between them. Usually I have four categories: romantic, friends, acquaintances, and enemies/strongly dislike each other. Each one I'll do in a different colour, and maybe write a reason why their relationship is like that.

   I find this super helpful when writing a scene, because I can pull it out and get a feeling of who tension would be between in a conversation. It can also make interesting relationship dynamics between a group of people.

Quick snap of Safe-House's tension map
   3) Make Their Strength Their Weakness

   Any strength can also be a weakness. For example, loyalty. It can be an awesome trait in a character when they stick by their friends, but what if they're so blinded by loyalty they fail to see what their friends are doing wrong? I don't necessarily make all my characters have their strengths be their weaknesses, but I like one or two to be in order to create a depth of personality.

  4) Define Their Fear

   Not just the fear of snakes, or eating apples, or similar fears. I mean finding their deepest, darkest fear that they try to hide--even from themselves. We all have one. What if I'm not good enough? What if I'll be forever alone? What if I fail? Both characters trying to avoid this fear, and trying to tackle it, create huge story conflict.

Fear is a powerful thing
  5) Write Them

   Seems a little obvious, doesn't it? But apart from these four ways, my best way of getting to know and developing my characters is just to write them. Get fully immersed in their personalities, responses and conflicts. First drafts always bring more to light about a character than all the planning in the world can. 

How do you develop your characters? Do you love character questionnaires or do you have similar methods to me? (Or are you both!) What has been your favourite character ever to write?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Am Currently... #4

    Wow. Everyone, my life is about to get crazy. Correction: my life is crazy. The last week has been an onslaught of emotions both good and bad. I've had really low points one day, and one of the highest I've ever experienced the next.

   That's not even including the approaching NaNoWriMo, but more about that later.



   I'd like to apologize in advance if posts are late over the next week. I'll be attending a slew of conferences and retreats back to back, and it's uncertain how good the internet is going to be. Because of this the blog and my twitter might be a bit quiet.

  Anyway, to the am currentlys!


   I'm so glad my English teacher decided that we would be reading 'Pride and Prejudice'! For years I've tried to avoid the temptation to pick up a copy and read it myself, simply so I could experience it with my class for the first time. (I did watch one of the movie adaptations though. I'm not that good at avoiding temptation)

   Hopefully I'll be able to read 'Empire of Storms' soon, but we will see if it's arrived in my local bookstore yet. I'm hoping for a gorgeous hardback to match the rest of my set.



   So...I'm not sure how to announce this part?

   I'm a semi-finalist in the GoTeenWriters #WeWriteBooks contest! How did that even happen??? I was far from expecting it, as I know what an amazing community of writers it is. I kind of cried. From happy tears, you know. It was such a confidence boost for me, and the story I entered, Golden Revenge. The feedback was wonderful and so helpful as well. I just...feel so overwhelmed. And grateful. (Congrats to everyone who entered too!)

   Editing for Draped in Deception has slowed due to NaNoWriMo prep and a ridiculous amount of schoolwork which took away any spare editing time. I really need to focus on fleshing out my characters for my NaNo novel Safe-House because...guess what? I don't plan my books.

   Sorry/not sorry. I mean, I like a general idea of where I'm going and have a few scenes in mind, but honestly, I leave it up to the characters. They have almost total control over my first drafts.



   Sabrina Carpenter's new album 'Evolution'. It's so good! I have been listening to all her songs and just loving them. My favourites so far are 'Feels Like Loneliness' with its catchy beat, and 'Shadows' for its heart-felt lyrics. 



   Tired. This week was the last one before my October school break, and like I said in the beginning, everything has been accumulating into craziness. Tests, projects, personal drama, relationship problems, amazing writing feedback, late nights studying... I feel exhausted just writing that. And then there are more long-term problems like my family's move soon to an entirely different continent and culture.

   Sometimes I want to be like Sleeping Beauty and sleep for a hundred years without having to worry about these problems, but sadly, I don't live in a fairytale.


Let's talk about you! How are you? How is your writing going, and have you read any showstopping books recently I must pick up? Any new favourite songs or albums?
Let me know in the comments; I always love hearing from you! <3

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Character Guest Post: Mercy deVie

    Why, hello there. I'm Mercy deVie. *offers a hand with more rings than fingers to shake* A pleasure to meet you. Might I make a suggestion on your wardrobe choice? I mean, it's pleasant but--

   *COUGH COUGH* Right, I'm going to cut in before she starts insulting everyone on their wardrobe (everyone, I tell you. She criticized me in depth on my choice of t-shirt colour this morning. It didn't work with the weather or something). 

     This is Melissa talking here. Today I decided to do something a little different, and have a quick interview with my character Mercy from Safe-House. I'm calling this a guest post because she'll be controlling it for the most part. I'll ask her a few questions so you can get to know her, and so I can understand her better in time for NaNoWriMo.



   This post was inspired by my lovely friend Jeneca when she had her novel guest posting on her blog, so please go check her amazing post out! And if you're curious about Safe-House, click here for the story's details.

    Right, first question for you, Mercy: what's your role at the Safe-House?

    Officially, my title is "Receptionist and Weapons Carer." Unofficially I'm the person who yells at guests when they ruin a knife, keeps notes on who wants to kill who, and tries to make sure the guests don't murder each other 'accidentally.'

   How did you end up there?

   Must I tell this story?

   Um, yeah. It's important backstory.

   *muttering* Writers *louder voice* Well, so I don't take up several hours blathering on about unnecessary details, to sum it up nice for you, I got kicked out of my guild. The Guild Master's daughter and I were never on great terms since I first became a part of the Murderer's Guild, but when she asked to borrow my best dress for a disguise--a personal dress too! I mean, had she ever heard of the Guild's wardrobe department?--I may or may not have gotten into a fight with her involving scissors. And permanent scars.

(Image is not mine. Found via Pinterest
If you are the owner and would like the picture removed, please let me know)

   What was your first impression of Clyde?

   Ugh, really? Clyde? My first impression was he insulted my name, which would've been offending if he wasn't so amusing when he called me ironic. I tried not to laugh. I think I managed to turn it into an angry splutter.

   Just so everyone knows who Clyde is, could you give a brief description of him, and of Ash and Hood?

   Clyde is basically a permanent guest at the Safe-House. He has a talent for aggravating every single person alive--probably because he's always looking for volunteers for his "bathroom emergency" poison experiments, and can never find any willing ones. I think the longest he's been out of the Safe-House was...two weeks? Something like that. 

   Hood and Ash are other guests. It's hard to describe Hood when everything about them is uncertain. No one knows their gender, what their face really looks like, what their true voice is, where they came from. Everyday Hood greets me with a different face. And Ash, he's...nice. A thief with a appreciation for expensive jewelry; he moves like liquid and when he bends over his muscles show and his jawline is...

   Can we not talk about Ash?
   
Ash
   ...Sure. Can you tell us a little bit about your family?

   I'm no longer in contact with them. My father and older brother are both involved in law enforcement though. My father handles and cares for the City Watch's weapons, while my brother is a recruit in the City Watch--at least, he was when I was still with them. My mother is under a tombstone, and as for my sister, she was planning her wedding. No doubt she's married now. 

    Did they cut you off when you joined the Murderer's Guild?

   I would say it's the other way around; I cut them off. I didn't go straight from working with my father for the City Watch to suddenly being a criminal in a couple of seconds. There was a long period in between where I was with this guy--who'd I'd rather not talk about right now--and they didn't approve of him, so I slowly broke contact with them. Later this guy convinced me to join the Murderer's Guild with him.

   Are you still with him?

   No. He broke it off shortly after I joined--or should I say got bored of me. Despite my attempts to make him jealous, he moved on to another girl within a day.

   Finally, to wrap up our questions, what are five quick facts about you?

   1) Despite my Murderer's Guild tattoo, two out of three people I killed weren't murdered on purpose.

   2) My favourite colour is red, without a doubt.

   3) CATS ARE SO ADORABLE JUST AGHHHH I'M DYING




   4) I judge a person first and foremost on their wardrobe.


   5) My prized weapons are rings that double as iron knuckles. They will leave bruises on your face, guaranteed.


What do you think about Mercy? Would you like me to do more character guest posts? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? 
Let Mercy and I know in the comments; we love hearing from you! <3