Tag Archives: creative

Character Bible Part 1 – Joss

Now that you received some background on the story in the form of my last post, I can begin my character bible.  This is a YA Sci-Fi which, for lack of an actual title, is called Bamboo Pole.  It is called that because I had a dream about a girl who had a bamboo pole that she kept with her at all times.  She had a list of rules associated with it, something you’ll notice I tried to mimic in its first draft.  Anyway, I woke up and forgot everything except Girl+Bamboo Pole.

So the girl in question is Joss.  Here is what I typed up about Joss in the Word doc I made for the characters:

Name: Joss

Age in Earth Years: 18

Species: ????

Powers:
Basic telekinesis.  Mostly used to fly/hover, but can be used to deflect melee weapons.

Backstory:
Her mother was a refugee, fleeing from her oppressive homeland in a basic shuttle.  Unfortunately,  she flew too close to the prison planet, Burg.  The planet’s automated defense system shot the shuttle down, and she crash landed.  The mother survived with her newborn (Joss) for several days in the wild.  She had managed to guide the shuttle into a cave where it wouldn’t be immediately obvious.  Unfortunately she couldn’t make repairs and she was injured.  Eventually she was found by Enforcers, who took her into custody.  The baby they were going to kill when they heard reports of rebel activity in the area.  They decided to set up a trap using the baby, knowing that would lead to the baby’s death as well as a rebel or two.  The woman was taken away, to be executed.  They never found her shuttle.  The shuttle was recording the incident from inside the cave so Joss could eventually find it and learn the truth about her origins.

Joss is found as a baby by Kanid and Thea and is brought back to Rath’s* camp where she is raised to become a rebel.  She is profoundly deaf, but makes up her own sign language and proves to be very skilled with staffs for fighting.

Appearance:
Coppery skin and light brown hair with some golden strands that glow in the sunlight.  A little on the shorter side, but very sturdy.  Muscular.  She has pointed ears and orange eyes.

After drawing my best approximation of Joss, I realized two things.  1. Copper doesn’t come across too well in Photoshop Elements.  2. Copper skin and light brown hair tend to blend in to one another.

So I kinda gave her dirty blond hair, and you’ll have to imagine her skin is a little more coppery.

Joss

She was drawn with a bamboo pole because I still haven’t decided what her staff is going to look like.

When I think about Joss, I think about someone who  is mischievous and headstrong.  She is one of the main characters because she is an alien among aliens.  (The prison planet has many species of alien on it, but Joss’ species is not among them, hence the ????)  Her deafness does not prevent her from becoming a good fighter and friend.  She is intelligent enough to develop her own sign language, so that says something.

A couple notes: First, if you ever see a name with an asterisk by it, that means I want to change the name but haven’t come up with a suitable replacement yet.

Second, profound deafness is actually incredibly rare.  Usually Deaf people hear some sounds, but not enough to make out speech.  In this case, I’m taking artistic license to make Joss one of those rare people who hears nothing at all.  Also, she’s an alien in a fictional universe so… yeah.  She probably doesn’t follow human rules.

I think one of the main things I have to concentrate on with Joss is why the story follows her half the time, instead of one of the other characters.  Part of it is that she and Paxton both hold pieces to a puzzle that solves the rebels’ problems.  Her mother’s ship is transportation and proof that other species can still make contact with the prison world.  Paxton’s part you’ll find out next time.

But other than that, I don’t have a character arc for Joss right now.  She will struggle when her adoptive father gets captured, and when she finds out what happened to her mother.  However, that doesn’t create a character arc.  She needs to have flaws and weaknesses (besides a hearing disability) or something else about her that changes as the story progresses.

I will think on it more.  Safe to say this blog character bible idea is working, because I didn’t realize the aforementioned problem with Joss’ character development until I started typing out my thoughts on her.

Neat.

Next time – Paxton, a boring human.

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A Simple Little Flow Chart

I was thinking a lot recently about cliches and how hard it is to avoid them.  Romantic cliches are particularly tricky.  In order to illustrate this, I decided to create a nice, little flow chart that explores some (but not all) of the common romantic plot lines that can be found in books and movies.

You’re gonna want to click on that image to make it bigger, obviously.  Don’t worry — it’ll open in a new tab.  You should also be able to click on it once it’s open in a new tab to zoom it in even more.  I think you’ll be happier with it then.  Have fun!

Boy-Meets-Girl-Flowchart

Please note the disclaimer in red in the lower left corner.  I just couldn’t cover everything.  This process was exhausting enough as it was.  Hell, the computerized version wasn’t even my first draft.  I did it all on paper first.

See?

I threw my ruler on there for a size reference.  I had no banana for scale.  (Very few people are going to get that reference, I fear)

I threw my ruler on there for a size reference. I had no banana for scale. (Very few people are going to get that reference, I fear)

But the reason I did this was to show you that avoiding cliches is hard, and you shouldn’t be expected to do it perfectly.  That’s why I talk about taking a cliche and making it your own.  At this point there aren’t many more options.  You’ll note I didn’t really have examples for the “They’re both gay” storyline.  That could use some exploring.  And, of course, my own novels — Hellbound, Grotesque, and The Dreamcatchers — can be found in there.  Because I am not above these cliches at all.  I just try to make them as fresh as possible.  You will also note that many titles appeared multiple times.  That just serves to further illustrate how complicated something as seemingly simple as a relationship between two people can get.  It might also help you to develop some ideas for your own characters and stories, I hope.  Try exploring multiple story arcs at once, or turning a cliche on its head.

Also I did not include the following story line for what I hope are obvious reasons.

Boy and Girl Meet —-> They do not develop a relationship —-> They never see each other again

In a story, if you bring up two people meeting, it has to be relevant somehow.  So….yeah.

I want to talk a little bit about the art of criticism next, so that’ll be coming up.

Ta ta for now!

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This is my brain on movies

Sometimes I wonder about my own brain and why I’m creative and why I want to write.

I just finished watching a movie you may have heard of called Stranger than Fiction.  I like it a lot because it’s about writing and the creative process.  It also happens to be the only one of Will Ferrell’s movies that I can actually stand.  I like him in this movie because he proves he can act, and not just as some ridiculous caricature of a person, but as a realistic, believable human being.

There are some movies out there that just set the creative part of my brain to whirring the moment they begin.  Stranger than Fiction is one of them.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because, as I said, it’s actually about writing.  But I really think that it’s just that type of movie.  It’s supposed to be thought-provoking, which for me means that I end up wanting to write really badly.  Unfortunately, it’s 1:52 AM right now, so writing is not something I can really do, at least not well, because sometime after 1:00 AM, my brain does this:

Despite that fact, my brain also feels the desperate need to write, and it’s very hard to convince it that maybe writing isn’t the best idea when it gets like this.  I’ve already forgotten what I was saying….OH right, okay, so what do I do when I want to write but my brain has shut down?  That’s right, I turn to blogging.  At least here I can be a little more informal, but I can also be writing and stuff, so maybe that’ll satisfy my creative urges.  (No I don’t know why I capitalized “bunny,” but maybe if you look at the picture of what my brain is doing right now, you’ll be able to forgive me for that small slip-up)

Here’s another thing about Stranger than Fiction: It’s all about an author whose main character is alive, and that character seeks out the author and they have a nice chat.  Now, not all authors want to meet their characters, (I’m sure Stephen King sleeps better at night knowing that his creations are going to stay firmly embedded in the paper) but I think I would love to see some of mine come to life.  It’s something I’ve often thought about.  What would I say to them?  What would they want to ask me?  How would we get along?  One of the requirements would be that they understand that they are fictional and that I am the author and that’s just how things go.  Otherwise there could be thoughts of rebellion, and I’m pretty sure most of my main characters could kill me quite easily.  There’s also the fact that I’ve killed some of their loved ones, so they might feel a little sore about that.  And then there’s Serrafiel.  I feel like he might be a little miffed that I knowingly brought him into a world of torment and servitude…

It’s a scary thought.  But also so cool!  Anyway, I think I’ve got the writing bug out of me, so I can finally go to sleep.

 

 

Shut up, brain.

Word of the Day: Trebuchet (n) – a medieval engine of war with a sling for hurling missiles.

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