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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Struggling with the Cursed Writer’s Block?

Believe it or not, but everyone has it at some stage of their writing career. Especially to me – sometimes things get in the way of life when I can’t focus on anything in my story writing, then I go check for cute animal pictures as a distraction. Let me tell you a few things that helped me through the stages of writer’s block.

First of all – Your path

Now I’m a writer who has to have a plan for their story. If not, then it ends up dead before it began. If you’re like me who needs to have this path set out for them then I strongly recommend for you to stop and read over your work. One of the major things about my block is because something is missing in the story or I could perhaps extend a part for another character that I forgot to include three chapters ago. So if your path is going in the direction of destruction and you don’t like it – cut it out and do it again. I know this is a painful process, but there’s still a chance you can reuse the deleted part for a future scene.

Inspiration 

Have you ever been in a place or heard a song that simply spoke to you? You could be inside a nice bar and an idea starts to merge in your head. Commonly, many writers get inspiration from their dreams. Ideas are born through inspiration and by watching or listening to the world around us, we can get bring life to an idea that has been dormant for so long. Most of my scenes are brought on by music, so perhaps if you’re struggling even with the music you have currently then you look up for something refreshing. I work best with instrumental music, as sometimes I’m listening too deeply with the words and I may accidentally write the lyrics instead of my intended part. So, my advice for inspiration is to go outside to take a break from your writing in order to get a better feel of new ideas.

Looking from a Different Point of View

Sometimes, even I admit that this is a little challenging. When I offer my work to read, there are plenty of people who care about me who are willing to sell their arm to do so in a heartbeat. The problem lies within your bond with other readers however. If the story isn’t good and readers are just saying that it is then it’s tough to be able to work from it. Yet if there’s honesty and it’s bad, then the critique can embarrass you and shy you away from the chance. I won’t deny it – it is hard to give your work to someone and get feedback, but my advice would be for you to ask the reader of what they think needs to happen. It is however, completely up to you whether you take their advice of the story as you have the final say.

Writing Small Projects

I know that not many people are a fan of changing topic so suddenly… which is why I included it as a small project. A perfect example would be a possible snippet of your story that has nothing to do with the main plot (A.K.A – fanfiction involving your characters). While I rely on this from time to time, this isn’t my most used tactic. I often do alternate scenarios or side stories of the characters I never use. It is a skill that I often enjoy and sometimes it brings me back to my story which is something that we all need sometimes.

~ Annalise

Annalise is the author of the Sacred Stone books

Visit Annalise’s bio here

In the Case of Stuing the Sue

Once upon a time (ignore the cliché) many characters were unique, interesting and most importantly they had depth. You may not know this, but many of those amazing characters were in fact Mary Sue or in the male case, Gary Stu.

While everyone has a different opinion on them, I’m determined that the Mary Sue can affect my mood for a story. In my eyes, they are very repetitive and they are more common than you think. They are consistently expressed as beautiful, with a sad ‘poor me’ tale, have no flaws, has everyone’s immediate attention that even bad guys are interested and the most common theme is that they are incredibly overpowered!

Known examples of these characters are:

  • Bella Swan from The Twilight Saga (I mean the name pretty much starts with warning bells)
  • Regina Mills/The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time (Literally a person who is always the victim, then blames other people for her problems – but the best part is that everyone lets her do things without consequence)
  • Richard Rhal from The Legend of the Seeker (While I’ve only seen the first season and never read the books, he does have obvious elements of a Gary Stu)
  • Superman/Clark Kent from Superman (Alien orphan with incredible power – it’s safe to say I never liked him… No offence to Superman fans)

As you can see, there are several well-known characters that are Sues/Stus and I’m here to hand out advice to stop them from taking over our writing community.

I won’t say that my characters are non-perfect little angels – because they’re not always in that case. But I do work hard to make sure that they are dimensional with real struggles and pain. The only advice I can offer when creating a character is giving them a balance. If you feel like your character is a Mary Sue, take an online test and find out for yourself before giving yourself some time to give a certain character flaws.

With that, I must advise you to not give them so many flaws. If you hand them too many flaws, then they become the anti-Sue which is the opposite of what we want.

For example, make a character intelligent and insightful – but perhaps making them not street smart or a little awkward due to the lack of experience.

However, despite that Mary Sues exist, you can make them better by making them realise their flaws and that they’re actually human (or… inhuman in some cases). Even now, I learn more about my characters – about their fears and hopes. Perhaps in the distant future you will be able to see it as well.

~ Annalise

Annalise is the author of the Sacred Stone books

Visit Annalise’s bio here

Ten Years Later

If anyone knew me from my early teen years (okay so not many people were aware of me writing back then) they would know that a decade ago, I decided to move on from writing roleplaying by moving onto my own personal projects.

Now first off… yes, I did a lot of written roleplay. I look back at some of the old stuff and it’s just cringe – and no, I will not be showing anyone.

But on a serious note, after taking my adventure away from roleplaying, I had three friends that I was close with while going through school. If they’re reading this, they know exactly who they are. Now, I wouldn’t try to base my characters in my stories on my real-life friends because I like to bring life to my own characters and it prevents constant requests, but back then was a different story (pun unintended).

I began writing my Sacred Stone series, which originally started with a title called Rising Winds. I had grand plans and before I really got to know my characters, I may have drawn a little on people I knew in real life! The series was going to take off with the characters already grown up and established, and include a prequel at the end to explain their backstory. Later I realised that this backstory was important and really needed to be told first.

The difference between these two ‘first’ books, Reflection of Fire and Rising Winds, was… basically everything! I had different protagonists; Laria Alfero is RoF’s because the protagonist of RW was someone I didn’t like. I mean, she was okay, but overall she was rather bland. The storyline was vastly different compared to the original, having the story based on two races fighting for a land away from the humans (on a side note… I still find this concept interesting, so who knows?). In my current version, the story is about reuniting a mysterious stone and everyone is forced to face the worst parts of themselves. Each of my characters has changed significantly. Originally, Laria’s first love interest was to be her childhood friend (shock factor) and back then she had more of an open mind as opposed to her now stubborn self. The me of ten years ago could never have guessed how much she and her cast would change.

Despite the differences, I tried to make sure that I followed the original plan – people with the ability to turn into animals. Werewolves were most certainly out of the question, as I had intentions of writing a future trilogy (which is still within reach – it has potential) so I went with shape shifters. The character of Lesley has technically been one of the few things that haven’t changed – her fate has stayed the same across all versions. Maya, Brodie, Jason and Jenna were all in the original version with different names and they were all shifters. The difference became obvious when I discovered I liked writing the interesting plot twists and surprises, that included killing off beloved characters that I’ve learned to love. I never would have done this in roleplaying, and I never would have guessed how much I love the characters that had grown to be my own.

But in the end, while Rising Winds never became the success that I dreamed of, I’m glad that Reflection of Fire was able to take this place. Ten years has gone by so fast and I know for a fact that I would never be here if it wasn’t for those early stories that lifted me up.

If I were to advise anyone about writing, if you finish your story but find it off – rewrite it. Just remember you are not writing to please everyone. Writing is the one industry you’re allowed to be selfish because I can tell you that someone will like it, even if it’s 1 person in 1 000 000. I couldn’t count the amount of times when I had to rewrite my stories simply because it wasn’t right. I’ll casually ignore the virus deletes… those were dark days my friends.

Even now, I’m finally finishing off the series. My final book, Pride of the Light, has literally been the hardest thing to write not because I am terrible with closing, but because I have to say goodbye to the characters that have been with me for ten years.

~Annalise

Annalise is the author of the Sacred Stone books

Visit Annalise’s bio here