Well rounded characters

One of the things that I struggle with sometimes is creating characters with depth.  It’s really easy to fall into superficial stereotypes, descriptions and reactions.  One of the things that I try and do is figure out what kind of intelligence the character has.

The summer before I started High School, I got enrolled in a mentorship course.  I had zero interest in taking it but my mom told me that my best friend really wanted to but would only go if I went too.  So, after arguing for a while, unsuccessfully, I agreed to go but only to hang out with him.

My best friend at the time was Pablo.  His mother was one of those types that had his entire future planned up until University, which classes, sports, and extras he would take to set him up for success.  She had a ten-year plan for him, made sure he knew it, and always pushed him to achieve perfection in everything.

Almost as soon as I arrived at the class and sat down with Pablo, we realized that our mothers had set us up.  He hadn’t wanted to take the class either but his mom told him that I wanted to.  She’d convinced my mom that the class would look good on our college applications and they tricked us into going.  We spent the next six hours stewing.

The mentor ship class was some kind of new age thing based on pop psychology, it was really weird.  At one point they had us all laying on the floor, eyes closed, imagining that we were walking down a corridor filled with doors.  When you open the first door, what do you see?

While most of the class was fairly ridiculous to a couple of fourteen year-olds, the portion on different types of intelligences was interesting.  According to the teachers there were seven different personality/intelligence types and they were arranged by colors.  I think I was a green, if I remember correctly.  Each type learned in different ways, had different strengths and weaknesses.

Neither Pablo or I signed up for further classes and we both refused to enroll in the follow up program in High School.  When our mother’s came to pick us up, we had some harsh words for them.

As much as I didn’t like the class, the perspective I gained on intelligence/personality types has served me well over the years.  It made me think about how I might be better at sports than another kid but that he was probably better than me at something.  Or the kid who gets straight A’s on tests is probably not as good at something as a popular kid with bad grades.  Each different type has strengths and weaknesses.

That perspective also helps when I’m trying to write full characters.  Maybe I’m writing about a character with a weakness, I don’t want him to be flat so I balance that out by figuring out what he’s good at.  If the guy can’t count to twenty without using all his fingers and toes maybe that’s balanced out when he can paint like Picasso.   Or fix diesel engines like a pro.  Or he’s a shark at the poker tables.  Even if those things never make it into the story, it gives the character more depth in my own mind which helps put more depth on the page.

Pen and paper

edited-paper

I’m a little over 200 pages into my sci-fi adventure story and I’m already looking ahead to the daunting task of making it readable.  By making it readable I mean editing, because it’s going to need a lot of work.  I purposefully didn’t do much in the way of editing while I was writing because I wanted to get the whole story down before I started going through it.  Knowing myself, I probably would have gotten so bogged down by the revising that I would have gotten fed up with the project and never finished it (I’ve made that mistake before).

The longer the story gets the longer the process of making it readable will be.  For as long as it takes to write a page, editing and shaping that page will probably take twice as long.  At least.

As I’m thinking through this process, one thing keeps coming to mind: there’s no way I’m going to be able to edit this on a computer.

For the most part, I’m a Luddite when it comes to technology.  I’m interested in it only so far as it can improve my life, no further.  For example, writing on a computer is far faster for me than writing with a pen and paper, so I write on the computer.  It’s also far easier to edit and produce short works on a computer, like blog posts.  However, with longer pieces in the past I’ve always printed them out to edit them.

I’ve always edited on paper because being able to flip through the pages, make notations in the margins, put sticky notes on the important scenes, and physically hold the papers has been a vital part of the editing process.  So, I can’t imagine trying to edit this 200+ page story on a computer screen.  There’s no way.

Yet, printing out 200+ pages and going through them by hand -only to make the corrections on the computer and have to reprint the entire manuscript for the second phase of editing- seems incredibly wasteful and inefficient.

So, where’s the middle ground?  I’m thinking that I will end up doing as much of the editing as possible on the computer, spell check, grammar, etc.  Then when I’m through with the minor things, printing the manuscript and looking for the bigger changes.  It still doesn’t seem very efficient but I’m not sure how else to do it.

Is this something that other authors have faced?  If so, I would love to hear suggestions because I’m still very new to this and I’m already feeling a little intimidated.

 

**Photo from Curriculum Design for ELL**

How to create a Kindle ebook with Scrivener

There are a lot of tutorials online that go over using Scrivener to format to .mobi, the problem with most of them is they’re written for Mac, not Windows.  Scrivener was originally a Mac-only program, so a lot of the support and information isn’t applicable to Windows users.  I wrote a little bit about this in the previous post, The coolest thing I’ve ever seen.  Eventually, I figured it out and put a draft of Larry’s Dead onto my Kindle.

The process isn’t difficult but it was tricky, so I thought I would write out specific instructions.  If you have any issues, contact me and I’ll walk you through it. Continue reading “How to create a Kindle ebook with Scrivener”

The coolest thing I’ve ever seen

I had another post I was working on but this was just too cool to put off.  Seriously, probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.  It might not be all that big of a deal to anyone else, but it’s definitely high on my list.

Alright, I’ll start at the beginning.  A couple days ago I read a post about how Scrivener (the writing program I use) can format to different ebook types.  I started playing around with it and got really frustrated.  To format for Kindle you have to download the KindleGen program from Amazon, then go back and link Scrivener to the program before it’ll work right.  I’ll probably do another post specifically on that process later, it was kind of a pain.

So, I got all that set up and went back to trying to compile the manuscript for Kindle.  It asked what I wanted to put for the cover, so I messed around for a while and made up a draft cover.  I did the drawing by hand, edited it on the computer and did the formatting (1:1.6.  Best for Kindle is 2820 x 4500 according to their site, that’s what I used). Continue reading “The coolest thing I’ve ever seen”

Scrivener

The other day I was complaining about the many little frustrations I had with the basic word processing program I was using to write.  Once my draft got long enough, jumping back and forth between different chapters to reference previous scenes became quite the headache.

I was with a writer friend at the time who suggested I check out Scrivener.  She showed me a couple of the basics and it seemed promising, so when I got home I downloaded the trial version.

I played around with it and for the first fifteen minutes I absolutely hated it.  Everything was laid out so differently than I was used to I couldn’t figure out how to actually do anything.  Eventually, I looked up a “how to” on youtube that showed how to use the program.  That made a huge difference. Continue reading “Scrivener”