What does your Character Represent?

When you answer this question, you hesitate. What does this character represent? Why am I writing this character this way? I will have to confess that coming up with a theme of your character is tricky, but I believe a well-developed character grows when they have a theme.

Examples can include:

ich.jpgIchigo Kurosaki from Bleach – his theme was to protect. He wanted to protect a mountain load of people after his mother died protecting him. It is an important note of him throughout the series, his downfall, however was the ending when his character was literally trashed to the point of no return.

bell

 

Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time – as one of my favourite characters, I couldn’t not include her. Her theme is about being the saviour, the product of True Love (A.K.A the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming). She starts off as a lost girl, an orphan who believed that no one could love her. As the seasons go on, she finds her parents, reunites with her son that she sent away and the love of her life. This allows her to grow into her theme, which falls into hope. Hope that could grant the happy endings.

A theme of a character can tell us so much about them. It could range from anything – from their name, unique marks, personality traits and even their thoughts. We can see their problems and their complications through the story, especially following with the ‘show don’t tell’ rule. It brings out their relationship with other characters that we probably wouldn’t see for others.

By showing us the representation, this can also help the reader identify with the characters. I believe that many people feel inspired when the main character is played by someone who the audience can connect to. It was the reason why Wonder Woman became a massive success; it most likely helped a lot of young girls find the strength to do the right thing.

When creating a theme for your character, my advice would be for you to look at your character truly. Learn about them. Just because you created by them it doesn’t mean you know them. They have different experiences than you and me – unless, the story is about yourself then that’s a different conversation.

I would love to see all writers to create a theme of their characters, to help support someone for when they need a helping hand.

~ Annalise

Annalise is the author of the Sacred Stone books

Visit Annalise’s bio here

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May the Fourth be with You…

A long time ago, in a galaxy so big we can see an arm of it across our night sky but which is in fact not that far away at all since we’re inside it, cinema was introduced to an orphan farm boy from a desert planet whose elderly neighbour coerces him into a questionable space mission to rescue a princess from their estranged villain of a father. Along the way, our plucky orphan befriends a cheeky criminal, sees his dad murder his neighbour, joins an ancient cult, discovers superpowers, kisses his sister, loses a limb and saves the galaxy a few times. Who doesn’t have problems, right?

received_355394421757931No wonder it seems to be the most relatable story told in recent western culture. At the very least, it’s one of the most viewed and loved. Somewhere between a little genre film some forty years ago that by all rights should never have gotten off the ground, two trilogy revivals, successful transitions to books and games, a multi-billion-dollar buyout and countless Lego sets, we find, arguably, the largest media thing our world has ever seen.

It’s hard to calculate the total cultural impact of a media franchise giant like Star Wars. We can count up the dollars, but even that takes a while, with $7 billion made at box office alone, with the video and DVD releases, merchandise sales and book royalties not counted in that. We can count the views, and find that according to a survey taken of US residents following the release of Rogue One, 40% of Americans have seen the original Star Wars film, with similar numbers for the rest of the franchise, but this doesn’t represent anyone else in the world where Star Wars has a similar foothold in mainstream media culture. We can look to the internet to count the number of works of fanfiction to have been archived under the Star Wars banner, but while the 50.8k count on FanFiction.Net is the largest number under their ‘Movies’ category (beating even Avengers) this doesn’t come close to encompassing the untold hundreds of thousands of drabbles, vids, meta discussions and multimedia works of fan art and fiction floating around other platforms like Tumblr or old forums. We’ll never count the impact, at least not without a really amazing algorithm that hasn’t been theorised yet.

59525141_3012177608799954_6703421575040860160_nInstead we’re better off looking at more qualitative research methods, observation being key among them. Note the consistency of Slave Leias, Darth Vaders and Jedi robes in Comic Con cosplay parades each year, never affected by the rise and fall of other major fandoms. Note the permanence of Star Wars classic lines of dialogue in the western vernacular. Luke, I am your father. Do or do not, there is no try. May the Force be with you. Note the familiarity of young children with characters from films they haven’t yet seen, toting Han Solo lunchboxes and Finn backpacks to school after having absorbed their parents’ and older family’s love for the franchise.

And of course, there’s the little aspect of the dedicated day. The Americanism of pronouncing dates in the order of month-day makes today May Fourth, which is too hard to ignore as a close-enough match to the famous phrase. Thus, May the Fourth be with you. The phrase, playing on the then-recently released space opera film, is first recorded on 4 May 1979, published in The London Evening News congratulating Margaret Thatcher on her election as Prime Minister. It took until the age of the internet for the day to really, properly take off among science fiction media fans, with early Facebook groups celebrating ‘Luke Skywalker Day’. Though this was short-lived, it provided the foundations for a fan-run Star Wars Day in 2011 in Canada, and by 2013 it had grown enough that proud new owners Disney observed the day with celebrations in their theme parks. By now, it’s known the world over. Eateries create specialty menus for the day (Brisbanites – see Netherworld’s Hoth Dogs!) and media-oriented businesses use May the Fourth Star Wars buzz in their advertising. Fans hold themed games nights and movie marathons (I imagine these are reaching a point of needing to start very early in the morning or pre-selecting a handful of films for said marathon). California even made Star Wars Day an official holiday this year. All this for a little movie that everyone thought would fail, made in the wrong time, unrelatable…

59276198_840690239637359_8072619177199796224_nPossibly the most significant indicator of the cultural impact of Star Wars is its complete lack of visible impact. Like an asteroid so big it flattens an entire landscape, the impact of a media giant isn’t in dents and craters observable to the naked eye. There’s no pocket of nerds whispering about Star Wars behind artfully constructed walls of upside-down textbooks. There are no petitions being pushed around the internet by desperate fans trying to save their fandom from cancellation. And there’s no word for being a Star Wars fan. While Trekkies reading this are already mad with me for referring to Star Wars as the world’s biggest media franchise when theirs obviously started even earlier, the fact remains that their fandom has remained securely in nerd hands throughout the decades. This has its own field of benefits, and I could write an essay about Star Trek possibly being more of a science fiction fandom while Star Wars is definitely a media one, but I have enough essays to write that I’m ignoring in favour of this blog post. Contrary to Trek, George Lucas’s more fantasy-styled sci-fi has, somewhere along the way, transitioned from nerd territory to mainstream. When someone says they’ve never seen *insert science fiction film title here* you usually cut them some slack on the account that not everyone is a genre fan. When that title is Star Wars, you usually assume they’ve been living under a rock. Like, you have to have been actively avoiding it to have missed it for long, right?

The influence of Star Wars on culture as a whole is impossible to quantify, but its influence on the one is relatively easy to get a handle on. Just ask. Most people (except those rock people, who may have other interesting stories to tell about all the near-misses of their Star Wars­-less lives) will have a specific memory of the franchise to share that brings them joy or excitement. Seeing the movie for the first time. Playing lightsabers with their cousins in the backyard. Building a Millennium Falcon Lego set with their dad. Hearing John Williams’ score and feeling your heart soaring. Wanting to write a story as epic as that one, with unlikely heroes and villains that seem insurmountable and incredible intergalactic worlds to explore and all the hope and wonder of a billion billion billion stars out the windscreen of your trusty hunk of junk spaceship, accompanied by the best and weirdest friends you could ask for. Something about Luke Skywalker’s struggles and his pure-hearted tenacity speaks to us as an audience, and brings people together, and back to themselves, in some really beautiful ways. This May the Fourth, ask someone about their favourite Star Wars memory, and exploit its massive potential for sparking human connection.

How has Star Wars influenced you?

Meet the Author: Sabrina RG Raven

meshopped.jpgWith over 10 years’ experience in the independent publishing field, artist, writer, editor and book designer Sabrina RG Raven has learned to mix her passion for art, design and the written word not only to create her own works of fiction but to help publish other authors.

Her art and writing styles vary from fantasy and sci-fi to portraiture and book covers. Her first two novels co-written with Mitchell Tierney make up two thirds of the Everdark Realms series. Her first solo novel, Blank, is now available, as is her first illustrated work, The Monsters in My Head, an adult picture book about mental illness. She is currently working on book three of Everdark Realms and the follow-up to Blank.

Favourites

Favourite book/s: (This is barely skimming the top of the list) All of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, anything by Stephen King, Seven Ancient Wonders series by Matthew Riley, The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling, (this is like telling me to pick a favourite child) The Voynich Manuscript, most of Shakespeare… That’s a good start (honestly, I own over 3000 books).

Favourite film/s: The Crow, Alita Battle Angel, Dumbo, Jurassic Park, anything Ghibli, Lord of the Rings trilogy… nope this is too hard too. I inhale media.

Favourite television series: Doctor Who, Torchwood, Brooklyn 99, Castle Rock, Stranger Things, Lost, Masterchef… again too many to choose from.

Favourite colour: Red, Black, Purple and clear.

Favourite Sesame Street character: Miss Piggy and Snuffy.

Favourite subject in school: English.

Favourite special place: Tokyo.

Ideal holiday destination: Japan.

The best birthday party would be: potluck with my nearest and dearest, although my book launch/birthday last year was pretty epic.

Dislikes

Food you can’t stand: artichoke, pawpaw and brussels sprouts.

Something you’d never be caught dead wearing: a bikini.

Fears: Losing the people I love.

Least favourite sport: Most of them, and any I am made to participate in.

A really annoying mantra, saying or piece of advice: Chin up.

Quirky questions

An age you are not: 21.

Least favourite Disney princess: Jasmine (not sure why, she just irks me).

Third favourite fictional character: Oy.

A Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavour named after you would be a combination of: Chocolate fudge, peppermint, macadamia nuts and black sesame ice cream (it would probably be gross).

A job you definitely wouldn’t have been suited for: athlete.

A random hobby you had for like five minutes once: bought a ukulele.

The most attractive punctuation mark is: interobang.

Best Skittle/jellybean flavour: skittles are gross. Buttered popcorn jellybelly.

Writing related

What inspired you to write your current work: Blank was actually a writing prompt so the sequel follows on from that.

What genres do you read and write: Read: sci-fi, fantasy, horror mainly although I’ll attempt most books. Write: sci-fi and fantasy.

When did you start publishing with Ouroborus: I formed Ouroborus back in 2007.

What do you hope people associate you with: my compassion.

Current work-in-progress: Marked, Everdark 3, about 10 paintings and a crochet project.

What can readers expect from you in future: I want to delve more into sci-fi.

Which of your own characters do you relate to most, and which is your favourite to write: Almara from Blank. It’s hard being different and she embodies the strength I hope to have to get through.

Either or

Hardcover, eBook or paperback? paperback.

Chocolate or chips? chocolate.

DC or Marvel? Marvel.

Blue ink or black? black.

Indoors or outdoors? indoors.

Spotless work space or is there a desk under all that? Either although the latter is most likely.

Coffee or tea? Either or.

You can find out more about Sabrina RG Raven at her website, facebook or instagram and her books can be purchased from the Ouroborus Books online store.

Supanova Fun

Some of you may know that April and November are big months at Ouroborus Books. Does anyone want to tell the rest of the class? Yes…? Nice work reading the title – ten points to *insert your selected Hogwarts house here*! The Force is clearly with you.

Yes, April and November for south-east Queenslander nerds are big months because that’s when Supanova comes to the Gold Coast and Brisbane, respectively. Ouroborus secures a good-sized spot in the Indie Press Zone with the other authors, illustrators and comic writers to sell our fantasy, paranormal, dystopian and horror themed books, as well as fandom and fantasy art by Sabrina RG Raven. If you’ve somehow never noticed us raving about Supanova before, here are a few reasons – provided by some of our authors – as to why you might want to check your schedule on Friday 12, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 of April this year and perhaps pop on down to the Gold Coast Exhibition Centre for a looksie.

 

Danica
danica

“I love the environment of Supanova. Connecting with other artist and authors. For the weekend I feel a part of a community.”

 

J.J.
JJ

“I love Supanova because it’s such an incredible event where everyone from all walks of life can come and be encapsulated in the nuance of pop culture. I love how there’s something for everyone. And it’s such a FUN event!!”

Shayla
shayla

“I really didn’t know what to expect the first time I went to Supanova, but I knew from that first day that I never wanted to miss one again! So much colour and fun, and so much acceptance. I love how everybody can enjoy themselves – families, young people, couples, older people; proper nerds, casual nerds, mums of nerds – without having to compromise on the integrity of the event. It’s such a lovely crowd and a very multi-faceted event.”

Robert
rob

“I remember my first Supanova, being blown away by the people. All my life I’d been isolated in enjoying the things I enjoyed. I never really shared my pop culture loves with other people. So, to suddenly be in a giant haul with hundreds of other people all there to see the same things I was there to see. Loving the same things I loved, wanting the same things I wanted. It shook me up in a delightful way.”

Annalise
Annalise

“I was introduced to Supanova back in 2012 by my cousin. At the time, I was looking forward to meeting Masakazu Morita, voice actor for Ichigo Kurosaki, and I still have his autograph in my car. It was also one of the few times I didn’t feel like an outcast. I never realised I would like a social interaction until then. However, it was also the first time I caught con-flu. That was a bummer for me.”

Sabrina
sabrina

“My first Supanova was back in the days it was at the RNA Showgrounds (at least 12 years ago) and it felt like coming home. These were my people. And back then it was so hard to get collectables at a decent price because they all were double the price from imports.

As an exhibitor, my first ‘Nova was Gold Coast ‘Nova in 2014 so that makes this Supanova number 11 for the company. We started with two titles and no idea what we were doing, and I’m pretty sure I nearly had a heart attack from the sheer level of stress I put myself under getting everyone organised. That ‘Nova was a biggie for me because not only was it our first time as exhibitors but I also got to meet one of my top 5 (living) authors, Mr Jim Butcher. I fangirled and I’m pretty sure I clapped like a seal after he told me a secret about a character that I had guessed correctly. I was lucky enough to speak to him for about 30 mins about writing and I even scored a photo (while dressed as Totoro). But my main takeaway from ‘Nova is the sheer love from complete strangers, people who come back year after year to say hi and see what’s new. And they’re my people. The nerds, the geeks, the dreamers and the freaks.”

Hemmingway Was Wrong About a Few Things

Hemingway On SafariIt is customary to hold the great authors up as the sources of all wisdom in our craft and we can’t have a conversation about the greats and the wisdom they bestowed on us without bringing up Ernest Hemmingway. So, despite my status as a mere mortal I would like to raise a few objections to some of the facts that we now take for granted because a genius said them.

Keep in mind I’m not saying he was wrong, but I would argue that his advice was only right for people like him. He was a genius with a pen, but we are not all Hemmingway. The good, even great writers of our age are all very different people so what worked for him won’t necessarily work for us.

First of all, the first draft of everything isn’t shit. That’s so incredibly unfair and dismissive of one of the most beautiful things a writer can make. Yes, the first draft is often rough and messy but it’s full of great things. It’s full of half formed ideas, fledgling characters and silly throwaways that you put in just because they made you smile. Maybe those things will be built on in later drafts and maybe they’ll be removed completely but they are beautiful in their imperfections.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to treasure your first draft. You don’t need to overedit it, examine it or make it perfect but as you write it appreciate how wonderfully flawed it is. Your first draft might be the truest expression of who you are as a writer, with all of who you fear you are and all you hope to be included.

Supernatural-Authors-Montage1This isn’t just about Hemmingway either, it’s about all the greats. A lot of great writers gave a lot of very good advice but not all of it applies to you. People give advice based on what’s worked for them in the past and maybe it helped Hemmingway to believe his first draft was going to be garbage no matter what he did but that doesn’t mean that’ll help you. You can take advice from Stephen King, Shakespeare, Terry Pratchett, all of the above or none of them but the idea of idolising great writers until everything they say is unquestionable gospel is harmful to you as a writer.

Unless I’m wrong in which case feel free to ignore me too.

I’m not saying you need to trust yourself only, just pick and choose the advice that’s right for you. My first draft is my precious baby and building on it is an act of nurturing and love that I couldn’t hope to do if I really believed it was shit.

Oh, and don’t write drunk, even Hemmingway rarely actually did that according to his family. He drank after he was finished for the day or during particularly foul cases of writer’s block.

Opinion: Why I Hate Fanfiction

I can’t say I’ve read much of it, if any, but I already hate it. But why is that? I would say if you have time to write, work on your own story, with your own characters. I know it may be fun to use pre-existing characters, but you’re not going to get better at writing if you use characters and settings that someone else has already created.

When I first started to get serious into my writing, I sat down and thought of all the aspects of writing I needed to get better at. One thing was length. My chapters started to die off after about two pages. So, I set myself a task; Write a book that is ten chapters long, focusing on ten characters, and each chapter must be ten pages long.

I named the book Bloody Cape, due to two reasons. 1. It was the name of a Deftones song I was listening to at the time, and 2. It gave me an idea.

The idea was a small town where a murdered child had been found in a box in a drain. The child was wearing a version of a superhero suit. The first chapter was based around three children who are playing on an abandoned tennis court and end up finding the child. As it was so long ago, I can’t recall all the characters, but I know one chapter was based around the murderer, going back to work and mowing lawns, one chapter was from the perspective of the newsagent who gets told about the murder by the customers who come into the store. Another was the police officer called out to investigate.

What I found was, I was automatically wrapping up each chapter after a few pages and I had to keep pushing, keep writing, until I reached ten pages, which was extremely difficult to do. I got through it, and ever since then I was able to predict where I want chapters to go and learn when they need to end. Some of my chapters now can be one page long, or over ten, it all depends on what you want to reveal in that chapter and its purpose. I can write length now and know I can do so, because I’ve done it. I know the pitfalls, i.e. revealing the point of the chapter too early. I’ve learnt to start a chapter way before the point, and slowly get there. It’s a book, not a movie, you don’t need to jump scenes, you can build them up.

My point being, if you have time to write other people’s characters, you have time to work on your own writings. Don’t waste your time. Practice coming up with your own characters, your own settings and your own plot lines. I fail to understand why you would spend an hour or two writing about the characters in Twilight or Hunger Games, when you could be creating your own world.

~Mitchell