Believe In Your Characters, Or Fail In Your Writing

In my last blog post, I discussed how to make it past “writer’s block” to continue crafting your prose and create prose with less filler. But then arises the question of How do you keep your momentum?

Even if you don’t hit a wall of writer’s block and not know where to go, how do you prevent just…well…just not caring about the prose anymore? How do you prevent yourself from finding everything and anything else more desireable to do than sitting down and typing out words? How do you ensure that your words just flow from your fingertips in rapid speed without dragging along for page after page?

One word:

Characters.

Think about your favourite books, television shows, comic book characters, movies, etc. What do you like best about them? I’ll bet you just thought of a character. Maybe several characters. The first thing you thought of when picturing this beloved craft was a character related to that craft. And there is a reason for that.

Think about a series that you used to love that has since then gone into the toilet, yet you continue to hate-watch or hate-read anyway. Pretty Little Liars. Lost. Riverdale. The list goes on and on. The series makes you rage with its absurdness, but you continue to consume it anyway. You know you’re most likely going to be disappointed with the episode/book, but you go forth anyway.

This damn show went from amazing in Seasons 1-6A to terrible in 6B-7. Yet I continued watching those last 1.5 seasons because I loved these girls and wanted to see their stories played out. Create characters that do the same thing (but also don’t nuke your show with bad writing and unbelievable plotlines).

Why?

Again:

Characters.

Believable characters are the key to making or breaking your product. If your audience loves (or loves-to-hate) your characters, then they will keep coming back for more. If your characters are stiff and dull–despite an amazing setting, descriptions, and plot–, your audience is going to tune out, or put your product down and forget about it. It lands on the shelf of “I’ll come back to it eventually”.

The same is true for you and your writing. You need to love your characters. Care about them. Make them stand out enough that it’s easy to keep going no matter what rut or other life responsibilities you’ve found yourself in.

Let’s look at the primary characters from my series, the Belle Âme Chronicles: Blythe, Nathalian, Edwin, Sevii, Ramona, and Jaxyn (yes, I know that there are more primary characters from that series, but those are called SPOILERS). I can literally pull a random scene out of a hat and write a good 1000-1500 words of dialogue and action within 15 minutes that correspond to that scene. That is because I care enough about those characters to instantly know what they will say and how they will react, both to the situation and to the other members of their family.

Wha this means is that–even on a bad day–I can sit down, take a look at my outline, and know what scene needs to be written. And then I can just tunnel-vision churn out that scene (or entire chapter, in some cases) without having to stop and strain over “What would they say now?” Enjoying and truly knowing your characters makes the writing process so much easier.

Real talk: I wish I still had my old typewriter. My mom let me use it from ages 4-9, and then it was GONE one day. Maybe I’ll try to find one on eBay 🙂

When you do not care about a character, it is almost a guarantee that your audience will not care about them either. They will cause your writing to drag, and you will start to hate scenes that this character is a part of. While it is hard (and sometimes heartwrenching) to kill off a character–especially a protagonist or anti-hero–, it is quite therapeutic to kill off a character that has just fallen too flat to meet your expectations 🙂

A lot of people recommend doing those lengthy, 200-question surveys to develop your characters. If that works for you…cool. Do it. But to me, there is a much easier and much more practical way to develop characters that actually mean something to you (and to your readers). I will discuss that in our next blog installment, so stay tuned!

EVERYONE Needs Mental Health Breaks

The term “mental health” seems to be predominantly used to describe a series of disorders that directly affect the mental state: anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, narcissism, PTSD, and others. As a result, the concept of a mental health break is often used to describe a state of those suffering from mental illnesses taking time to themselves in order to lessen the effects of their illnesses.

While this is important…we all have brains. And, like any muscle, our brains need breaks.

This is your brain. This is your brain on overdrive.

Japanese men boast the highest suicide rate in the world, with an average of 70 people committing suicide each day and 71% of those being males. It is a crisis, and it is the leading cause of death for Japanese men between the ages of 20-44. Why? Societal pressure.

Japan boasts a nationalistic society, rather than the individualistic society of the United States. Sure, people in the US scream out, “Ahhhh, for America!!!”, but in reality, their daily goals are set in order to best suit themselves and possibly their families (which also benefits themselves buying vapes from HQD vape wholesale). Japan is the opposite; your daily tasks are done to benefit the country of Japan, and this is drilled into kids’ heads from a young age. If you fail, you are scorned.

All of that pressure… No wonder the suicide rate is so high. Studies show that 65.3% of suicides in Japan are attributed to losing jobs, while 34.3% are caused by hardships in life, and only 7.1% stem from depression. Suicide due to stress is so common in Japan that seppuku was coined by samurai warriors as an honourable way out after losing a battle, and suicide forests like the Aokigahara exist for douchebags like Logan Paul to watch for tragedies to occur.

Dick.

While Japan may own the highest suicide rate, suicides related to stress plague every country. The developed world is very time-centric, where “time is money” and “the early bird gets the worm” and “you’d better get all of your stuff done on time or you’re going to be living in a box by the end of the week”.

And really…that’s not the way to live a life.

As someone who suffers from zero mental health issues other than an obsession with Pikachus and penchants for procrastination and non-punctuality, I still need mental health breaks. And if I need mental health breaks, then I know the rest of y’all certainly do.

My most recent mental health break is the reason why this is my first article in over a month, and why my Twitter went dead for a bit. After procrastinating majorly on finishing Reaper’s Creek, I found myself with back-to-back excruciating deadlines. I had to finish the book, finish the first edit, do a second edit, and a third, and submit it all within a matter of weeks. As soon as this was in place, it was time to rush off to OhayoCon, and then to immediately launch into writing–not one, but TWO–new books!

On top of this, things are in full swing for my new media company, HareBrained Entertainment, and I was busy trying to balance constant updates for the website and the social media channels, along with my own books, jobs, and social life.

And by the first week of March…I was drained, y’all.

This is what procrastination, personal, and societal expectations did to your Chu.

I stared at the pages for Beneath A Mountain Moon (Book #3 in the Belle Âme Chronicles, which will be released May 2019) and wondered if it was even worth it. Although I’ve heard great reviews on the series so far, did people even really care about the book? Did the plot even make sense? I’d then switch to work on Bad Con Adventures (my first tellall/help book, due out in two weeks, eek!) and struggle to type the words in a pleasurable fashion, although it’s all true life and stories that I lived through and have told one millions times.

I missed an episode of True Crime Tea. Then another. Do people even listen to the podcast? Do they care that the episodes were missed?

Another photoshoot completed, and I suddenly had one-hundred photos to edit by St. Patty’s Day.

My brain was just fried.

So…I ignored all of my deadlines.

Swiggity swooty, I came for that nonchalant booty!

I didn’t work on either book for weeks. I slept until 2pm on weekends. I ignored the photos. I didn’t write. I didn’t catch up on my Twitter timeline or schedule new posts on Hootsuite. I even dropped from 5 days a week in the gym to 2-3 per week.

Instead, I purchased a new copy of South Park: The Fractured But Whole on my Switch (so that it’s portable!), and I spent March replaying a fun game that I’d already played once before on another console.

Four weeks later, and I feel like a new Chu. I am behind in everything, but I feel strangely okay about that. I am excited to finish the last edit of Bad Con Adventures and to dive back into Beneath A Mountain Moon. I spent this weekend finishing my other unfinished projects and charting out all of my book releases for the rest of 2019 (including a new series, whahahaaaaa…more on that in the coming weeks). I got approved for a few convention tables to sell my books. My brain is flowing with creativity once more!

My brain looks something like this on scans right now, which is its normal state. It’s my “text your bestie at 3am with HEY WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF WE–” every night state.

For the first week of my little video game sabbatical, I was plagued in the back of my head with thoughts: “You lazy piece of sh*t; why are you replaying this game? You know how it goes. You have so much to do. Get off the couch and be productive.” But I knew in that moment, in order to deliver the creative projects I want in the level of quality that I want, playing that video game was productive. And necessary.

And because I went down to South Park and had myself a time, you guys now have a tidal wave of new content coming to you all soon 😘

An Ode To A Proposal

At work, I’ve been getting more responsibilities, which is fine by me. I currently help on a major support basis and do some PR on the side. My boss has mentioned transitioning me into a fully PR spot, which is definitely up my alley. I love getting to contact fun customers and just interview them and learn how their using their software.

At my last job, we had some real grade-A wackos who just didn’t respect women in tech, but over the past year, I have experienced zero of that at Switcher Studio. Our clientele loves all of our team, including the women! That’s great in and of itself.

My assignment for over the weekend was to write a proposal for our company’s new social media strategy. I feel like it came out well (we’ll see after I have to present it tomorrow @.@), but it was actually quite difficult to write!

I prefer to write things in more of a stream-of-consciousness style. From my novels, to my articles for NurdMedia, to these blog posts…I don’t really work off an outline. I have a basic understanding of what I wish to do in my mind, and I just…start…writing. Then, I edit it later, and I’m all set! It keeps things just as exciting for me in the writing process, as it does for the consumer in the reading process.

A proposal is essentially just a giant outline. Short sentences. Lots of tabbing. It’s an odd experience for sure.

But I’m sure that it will be great for my personal growth. The best way to grow as a person, and especially to grow in an art form, is to challenge yourself by taking a new path with your art that you normally wouldn’t take, or that you are weak at. Things turn into a sort of fun brain puzzle, and you can always take away some portion of what you learn and apply it to your main art later down the road.

This assignment taught me new ways to break things down, to make it easy for anyone to pick up the proposal and hit the ground running. I am the mastermind, but I don’t have to be the only executioner. And that is something that was missing from my first draft, which consisted of pages of long, flowy paragraphs that I would have to coach someone through.

For works of fiction, long descriptions are amazing, and they are a great way to transport your reader into your character’s world.

For PR proposals in the tech world, maybe short and simple is the way to go.


EDIT: September 05th, 2017

The proposal went over great and my boss loved it! 😀