Tag Archives: writing

Changing Character Names

2 Sep

Announcements:

The Examiner posted their 3-minute review of Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “‘Take Me Tomorrow’ is a fast-paced, character-driven thriller that drops the reader into the middle of a simmering American revolution guided by a well-developed but unknowing protagonist who’s as unpredictable and complex as the plot.” But you can read more about how the “rebel heart beats strong” by clicking here for the full review (or here for the novel on Amazon.)

I would also like to thank Deby Fredericks for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the One Lovely Blog Award. I filled out my seven facts on my Facebook page (which includes a pretty crazy story about Elvis Presley) but here are my three nominees: Fiction Favorites, Joyce H. Ackley, and A Writer’s Life for Me.

Changing Character Names:

Now, I’ve talked about this briefly before in my post, Naming Your Characters, and I think it’s important to check that out if you’re struggling to pick out names. I explain how to consider history, time, culture, and websites to help you find appropriate, memorable, and symbolic names for your characters. But today, I’m going to go beyond that and assume you now have names. Even if you get a list of symbolic names that fit the characters’ needs, there is still some work that has to be considered. Most of the questions below are ones I have to ask myself, and most of the time, I have at least one of these problems, and – yes – I rename characters when that happens (unless there is a purpose, which I will get into below.) But it’s important to follow step one before continuing.

Create two lists with ALL of your characters names

All includes minor. It even includes that random girl at the coffee shop your protagonist called by name because he read her nametag. It includes that barista, even if you never see her again (or she dies the second she appears.) Why? We’ll get to that in a second. First, you need to make the two lists. One list needs to be an alphabetized list. When characters begin with the same letter, keep them in the same line. When I use Minutes Before Sunset, a small section looks like this:

  • James, Jessica, Jonathon, Jada
  • Luthicer, Linda, Lola
  • Mindy, Mitchel,
  • Noah
  • Pierce

The second list organizes your characters by importance. (It can get tricky, and this one isn’t exactly necessary, but it does help when you’re trying to rotate, cut, or change names and you know you have to sacrifice someone else’s.) Again, if I were using Minutes Before Sunset, that small section above would be very different.

  • Jessica
  • Pierce, Jonathon
  • Luthicer, James
  • Mindy, Noah
  • Linda, Lola, Jada
  • Mitchel

This might help later on if I wanted to cut an “M” name, and I saw Mitchel at the bottom. (He’s actually a student we only see once in Seconds Before Sunrise.)

Original picture by name berry.com

Original picture by name berry.com

But now that you have the lists, here are some questions to consider:

  • Are all of your characters’ names similar in sound?
  • Are all of your characters’ names similar in the beginning or ending?
  • Are all of your characters’ names similar in syllables?
  • If they are similar, is there a purpose behind it?
  • Have you used these names before?

Now, unless there is a reason – like two brothers having similar names because they’re named after the same person – then, these issues are…well…issues, especially if 13 or your 20 characters start with the same letter. But there is no reason to panic. (Even if you are attached to the names you picked out, it’s okay. I promise.) I know I have had almost all of these problems, and when I faced them, my cast of characters became easier to decipher and understand. In fact – here’s a fun fact – I write almost all of my novels with the exact same character names: Magatha, Laurel, Tyler, Anthony, “D” names for the male protagonist, and “S” names for the female protagonist are just a few of my habits. This almost always happens, despite the fact that the characters aren’t similar to previous characters at all. So I write my novels without worrying about it, but I force myself to go back and change everything later. Why does this happen? I have no clue. I think it’s just how my brain works. But I know that I can’t have the same names in every book (even though the name Noah appears in both The Timely Death Trilogy and Take Me Tomorrow) and I know I can’t have too many similar sounding names. For instance, in the original version of Minutes Before Sunset, the Stone brothers were named Brent and Brenthan. (Yes. That seriously slipped my mind.) However, in the published version, the Stone brothers were renamed Jonathon and Brenthan. I kept similar endings to retain the similarities I wanted for the brothers, but I changed enough so that they were no longer confusing. Do I still accidentally type Brent every now and then? Yes. It’s embarrassing when an editor finds it. But I change it and move on, and I fall in love with their new names, slowly realizing how confusing their similar names once were.

But – speaking of similar names – you might have noticed that there was a new name on the list I used from The Timely Death Trilogy. Jada hasn’t been seen yet. She will be introduced in Death Before Daylight. For those of you who are wondering, I hit the 40,000 word mark yesterday, so I’m about halfway through, and I have updated the progress bar on the right side of my website.

I’m looking forward to giving you more updates, but I’m also looking forward to seeing your writing tips! Share your experiences with changing names once you chose them below, and we’ll help others who are struggling to find that perfect fit.

~SAT

Guest Post: Top Productivity Tools All Writers Should Know About

16 Aug

Shannon, here, for a quick introduction. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Robert Morris from Ninja Essays. He wanted me to see the info graph Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors, and I am beyond grateful that he showed it to me. It is amazing. Seriously. Check it out by clicking here. But – onto the next part – I asked him to write a post for you all, and he agreed, so I hope you enjoy his post, Top Productivity Tools All Writers Should Know About.

Top Productivity Tools All Writers Should Know About

For writers, the usage of the Internet can go in two directions: it can either be a great resource for the work they are producing, or it can turn into a black hole that consumes their productivity by luring them with endless distractions. An average writer spends more than 50% of their time on the Internet nowadays. If you belong to that category, then you would surely want to be protected from the overwhelming interferences. The following list of tools will help you increase your willpower and start using the full potential of the Internet.

Anti-Social – Be honest: aren’t social networks the main culprit for your lack of productivity? Anti-Social is a tool that every contemporary author should start using (you hear that Salman Rushdie?). It will eliminate the temptation of checking what’s new on Twitter while you’re in the middle of writing a chapter. You can set the timer and become anti-social for the time planned for working.

Ninja Essays logo

Ninja Essays logo

Ninja Essays – How many times have you wished for an affordable, but effective editor who would get their work done as quickly as possible? Hiring a personal editor is quite expensive, but it’s also something that gives you constant headaches. At custom writing service Ninja Essays, you can put the torture to an end by hiring an online editor who will do an amazing job without spoiling your work with unnecessary “improvements”. The best part is that this is the most affordable editing service you could ever hope for.

There is another way to use this website for the sake of producing better work: you can hire MA- and PhD-holders in nearly all fields of study and get relevant information about the plot you are working on.

OmmWriter – Now this is a real writing tool! Wouldn’t you love to be able to focus while working on your computer and simply ignore all online distractions? This is the right software for you! As soon as you start using OmmWriter, you will limit the fruitless hours spent on your computer and you will start using your time productively.

Xero – As any other writer, you surely have a practical side and you like getting paid for your work. However, not many writers are capable of managing their finances well, so they need a little help from the outside. Instead of hiring an accountant, you can start using Xero – an online accounting tool that you can access from anywhere.

10FastFingers – If you want to increase your productivity, you have to become a faster typer. This tool will help you test and improve the speed of your typing with awesome (and free!) games. This is the best way to spend your free time and use the Internet with a good purpose. Although the games seem silly at first, they will definitely enhance your productivity and train your hands to follow the speed of your mind. You can switch between various typing tests to improve your accuracy and speed of using the most important writing tool – the computer keyboard.

The Internet has a lot of potential. Start using it!

It would be a shame for a writer to have access to Internet and waste its entire potential without benefiting from productivity-improvement tools. You can not only type your novels in a safe and clean environment that’s free of all distractions, but you can also use the advantages of technology for all other aspects of your career as a writer, including editing, accounting, learning, proper relaxation, and everything else you can think of.

The selection of tools provided above will help you use your time at the computer more effectively. You and your readers will notice the difference!

- Robert Morris

Various Stages of Writer’s Block

12 Aug

Announcements: 

The latest review of Take Me Tomorrow is in! Trials of a wanna-be-publisher writer states, “Take Me Tomorrow asks a lot of questions around thorny issues in today’s society without becoming preachy in its message…As I have come to expect from Shannon, this book is well-crafted, engaging and very well-written (pretty much a given for this author). While the genre may be classed as ‘Young Adult’, don’t let that fool you; Take Me Tomorrow is an intelligent and thought-provoking piece of writing and one I highly recommend you check out.” And I highly recommend you read her entire review by clicking here

Various Stages of Writer’s Block

Oh, the dreaded writer’s block. The horror of the static pen. The silence of untapped keyboards. The banging of your forehead against the desk.

We’ve all been there – some of us more than others – and that’s why we can all relate to it (and hopefully laugh at it). So I wanted to share the various stages of writer’s insanity.

Stage One: Staring (a.k.a. denial)

Oh, no. Oh, no. This is not happening. This cannot be happening. I have a deadline. An actual deadline! (Okay. So I set the deadline myself, but still!) I do not have time for this. I NEED to be able to write.

Computer Guy Meme

Computer Guy Meme

Stage Two: Pacing (a.k.a. panic)

Why is this happening?! ::breathes heavily for five minutes:: Okay. I got this. I will get through this. I just need to walk away for a little bit. Okay. Never mind. I need a drink. Drinking is good. Ernest Hemingway used to drink. “Drink write, edit subor?” Why can’t I write drunk? I can’t even spell! Oh, god. I’ll never be good at this.

Photo by Reddit

Photo by Reddit

Stage Three: Running away (a.k.a. more panic)

I just need to relax. How do I relax again? Reading! I love reading. I can tackle the TBR pile in no time. ::sits down with book:: Who is this author? Why do they write so…so perfectly? Why can’t I write like this? I’ll never write something this lovely. ::throws book across room:: I can’t read right now. Who am I kidding? I need to step away from the books. I know! I’ll go for a walk, and I’ll look at the stars. The stars are nice. ::goes outside:: It’s cloudy. Great. Of course, it’s cloudy.

Photo from addfunny.com

Photo from addfunny.com

Stage Four: Return (a.k.a. facing the problem; then, letting it go)

All right. ::sits down at computer:: What the hell is wrong with this manuscript? What is wrong with me? (Two hours pass, nothing changes.) ::finally puts computer away for the night:: I just need a break, a nice dinner, a good night’s sleep.

Stage Five: Acceptance (a.k.a. overcoming it!)

::wakes up in the morning after the worst day ever:: I feel rested. Why is my protagonist sitting in my computer chair? ::stands up and crosses the room. Protagonist types with one hand and hands you a coffee with the other as you stare over their shoulder:: “Oh! That’s what I did wrong.” I forced everything, but now it’s resolved. Writer’s block, you silly thing.

Photo from memorise.org

Photo from memorise.org

Time to sit down and write again.

~SAT

For Writers: Exercise your body, exercise your brain

7 Aug

For Writers: Exercise your body, exercise your brain

Exercise. The dreaded e-word. I get it. People are busy. Between working and managing a healthy diet, finding the time to go for a run is difficult, but – ::sigh:: – it is important for many reasons. Taking care of yourself is vital to maintaining a healthy brain…and (spoiler alert) that healthy brain can be the make-it-or-break-it point for a writer on the verge of insanity. I figured this out after I broke my sanity and had a sob fest in a public gym. (Cute, I know.) You can only sit in your plush rolling chair and stare at your computer screen for so long, and getting up and out might help you surpass that writer’s block you’ve been battling for three weeks straight. So here are three, helpful tips I wish I had that I think pertain to many people (but especially writers.)

1. Special stretches for people who sit at the desk all day

This is what I feel like we should all feel like when leaving the desk. (Definitely not what I look like though.) Photo from Huffington Post

This is what I feel like we should all feel like when leaving the desk. (Definitely not what I look like though.) Photo from Huffington Post

Yes. These exist. And they are lovely. (And really horrible if you accidentally attempt these immediately after sitting all day.) But I’m a writer. Other than standing by the coffee pot, I am sitting almost 24/7. Is it healthy? Of course not. So I ventured into the yoga-sphere with a mat in hand, and I found a few fantastic sites that I think really help. I’m not a professional, but I expect to fit into a shoebox by the end of the year. (Just kidding, of course.)

And if you’re feeling REALLY adventurous: stretch right at your desk by checking this article out: Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Steps.

2. Cardio Exercise

I struggled with this one. I used to be a long-distance runner until my knees and ankles started falling apart. (Seriously. How am I only 23 years old?) So I stopped running for a long time. Almost one year. And I truly hesitated to get into anything else because I was already in pain, but – eventually – I had to admit that I was using my pain as an excuse, and I overcame it by researching exercises that were healthy for my body, including my back injury and legs. Now I go swimming and I use the elliptical more. I don’t run anymore, but I keep myself moving. (In fact, I’m heading to the gym right after I write this.) So here are some websites, but – remember – find what works for your mind and your body.

This does not count as exercise. I’m sorry. I really am. (Photo by Globe University)

This does not count as exercise. I’m sorry. I really am. (Photo by Globe University)

3. Eat Well and Relax (a.k.a. put the books down.)

I’m a serious workaholic. I stare at my glowing computer screen way too long, and I often give myself work nightmares. You know the classic show up to school naked nightmare? I have those with work, and I don’t even have a building I go to! I work from my house, and they’re still terrifying. In this case, I’m working too hard. I’m not allowing myself to rest. I don’t clear my brain or enjoy the sunset or just close my eyes. As a writer, this “closing your eyes” thing seems like a cruel joke. If you’re working, you’re using your eyes, and if you’re relaxing, you’re probably wanting to read for relaxation. But sometimes you have to force yourself to step away from the books. (I know! The horror.) But it’s true. Let your brain relax, let your eyes close, and drift away.

Basically, we have to remember to take care of ourselves. No matter the profession, work won’t be done well (or at all) if we continue to wear ourselves out. Let yourself forget the deadline in order to go for a little run. Pretend the deadline is chasing you on the treadmill if you want to. Just have fun. Enjoy the oxygen. Take a nap. And tackle your writing with a refreshed mind tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe we can change Twitter’s #writersblock to #writersyoga and free ourselves from those pens that are chained to the desk.

~SAT

My 11-year-old self was a better writer

5 Aug

Announcements:

Tamara Morning posted the latest review of Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy, and you can read the full review by clicking here, but here is a small excerpt, “Ms Thompson has done a superb job of bringing both of her worlds to life, both the magical, and the mundane. Seconds Before Sunrise is an engaging read sure to appeal to fans of both fantasy and young adult, with a twist that makes it different from other novels in these genres.”

My 11-year-old self was a better writer

I have a confession to make. I am struggling. A lot. So much so that I was tempted to go to a thesaurus to find a synonym for “a lot.” (Okay. So not that bad. But I’m still struggling with my writing.)

You see, I’m in-between wanting to rewrite November Snow and getting my content edits for Death Before Daylight complete. From a publishing standpoint, book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy should come first, but my little writing heart wants to ignore Death Before Daylight for two main reasons:

  1. In the first few chapters, a really controversial scene happened. That’s right. Happened. As in, not anymore. The original version is very different from the version coming out in the future, and I’m happy with this severe change. Even though I did cut out this controversial scene, there is a new scene, and I like the new one a lot more in the sense that it is more honest to the characters and the storyline. That being said, I feel as if I have killed off a character by cutting that original scene out, and I haven’t quite mourned it yet, so it’s hard to move forward at this moment in time. (But I promise I will.)
  2. November Snow is still my favorite novel of mine. There. I said it. I kind of do have a favorite child. Does that make me a bad parent? Maybe. That’s probably why I don’t have children. (Just kidding.) But in all seriousness, I have an urge to write in November Snow right now, even though my publication goal is to release that AFTER Death Before Daylight.

So where am I going with this?

Well, here’s the uglier confession: When I picked up November Snow, it terrified me. Yes. Terrified. I had to force myself to put it down, and it has been sitting on my desk all week. I have barely touched it until I picked up last night, which is probably why I’m writing this.

Why did it terrify me?

The story is controversial. It’s dark. It’s violent. And it’s honest. It forces me to face the facts. I’ve lost a part of myself in my writing. I used to write darker stories, and I want to continue to write them, but I’m afraid to now. There is no easier way of putting it. I have hesitations. I keep worrying about what my readers will think of me, what my family and friends will say. Even though I’ve always thought I have surpassed this, I think I’ve been lying to myself a lot. I keep coming back to that time in high school when classmates and teachers thought I was disturbed after they read November Snow. I keep reflecting on that judgment, but – even worse – I’ve placed that judgment on myself.

So I stopped writing my darker stories or I started censoring the more “twisted” moments. When did this start? I have no idea. I honestly don’t. I know it didn’t happen after November Snow, because I wrote that scene in Death Before Daylight that was very controversial, and I wrote a few more things I wish I could reference but I cannot yet (simply because they have not even been mentioned on this blog before, let alone published.)

But I did learn one thing the other day. I have two different types of censoring:

  1. Necessary – it needs to happen. A scene isn’t good for the story. It doesn’t mean anything. The characters never put it there in the first place. I did, which also means there isn’t a reason for it. (This is what happened in Death Before Daylight, so please don’t think that I’m censoring book 3 in The Timely Death Trilogy at all.)
  2. Unnecessary – this is my big problem that I’m currently going through. This is when I’m holding back the truth in November Snow because of various reasons. This is when my 11-year-old self – the girl who started writing this story – is sitting somewhere inside of me and screaming at me (or laughing at me, either one) because she knows I’ll get over it before I even know I’ll get over it.
I was twelve here, but close enough. :]

I was twelve here, but close enough. :]

I feel slightly insane right now, arguing back and forth with my past self. But it’s the truth. She may not have been grammatically correct. (Okay. So she desperately needed an editor.) Her prose may have been so poorly written that it makes me roll my eyes. But she was fearless. She was capable, and passionate, and raw, and she could care less what a reader or a classmate thought as long as she was true to the story. But me?

I am terrified.

I don’t want my female protagonist to be weak. I don’t want readers to think I’m white-washing my characters. I don’t want a reviewer to think my characters are sexist or prejudice or disrespectful or gratuitously violent. I don’t want the message to be misconstrued. But – most of all – I realized that I was so worried about these topics because I was afraid that a reader would reflect their thoughts of my novels onto what they think of me. I returned to what happened with November Snow: I don’t want the reader to judge the book like they are judging me. But I shouldn’t be worried about me when it’s truly about the story.

I find myself fighting these parts in my stories because of how someone might take me as an author when I should be more focused on just being true to the story. It’s never been about me. It’s about the story. If my female character is weak, well, then, she’s weak in the reader’s eyes (and she might, in fact, be weak.) But you know what? She’s a human to me. She’s real to me. And real people can be weak. Just like I have been recently.

It takes a lot to admit how weak we can be in order to become stronger, so I hope this helps me face the facts and begin to grow with my eleven-year-old self again, but I ultimately hope it helps writers who’ve struggled or might be struggling now. I hope every writer who struggles picks up their pens when they know they’ve dropped it somewhere along the way.

~SAT

Author Announcements

24 Jul

Author Announcements:

I am back! And my little vacation was pretty perfect. I ended up in Branson, Missouri. I’ve never been there before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I visited a wax museum, the Titanic museum, and a maze of mirrors. (They are seriously difficult to get through.) And I ate a funnel cake that was the size of my face, so the past few days were truly fantastic.

Thank you all for understanding my time away. One of these days, I’ll write about why stepping away is one of the best things a writer can do, but today I really wanted to thank all those bloggers who kept things going while I was away. Because so much happened, I’ve actually organized the events into categories. I hope you’ll check out these fantastic websites.

It is good to be home,

~SAT

P.S. I’ll share photos in between categories, so here’s a picture of me at the Titanic Museum.

10526190_2408854499429_3953314505803884170_n

Guest Post:

Pau’s Castles invited me to write a guest post about how I managed my writing time during my time as a college student, so I wrote a post, and here’s my first piece of advice from that article:

“First Step: Figure Out Your Schedule

And I mean really figure it out. How many courses are you taking, and how many hours do they truly demand? What days are your busiest? Factor in midterms and finals. Don’t forget about family birthdays or how professors sometimes give out MORE work during extended holidays. Now, figure out when you’re most available. Is it at night? Is it before classes start? Is it only on the weekends? Once you have your responsibilities figured out as well as your free time defined, it will be easier to factor in your writing needs – which brings me to my next point.”

Click here to read my next point. 

Here’s a photo of Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe at the Hollywood Wax Museum

Wax museum

Wax museum

Interviews:

The Starving Bibliophile asked me many questions this week, but my favorite one involved POV in my works. I finally explain why Noah didn’t narrate Take Me Tomorrow, because – surprise – he, originally, did tell half of the story, but I also talk about the one career I wanted before I wanted to be a writer.

HeiBooks is a new website that features all kinds of writers, and they invited me on for Take Me Tomorrow. On my page, you can read about our interview, and you can a scroll around their website for many other novels, including many AEC Stellar books. Click here to check it out.

Here’s my giant funnel cake.

20140721_211450

Reviews:

Diary of an Eager Reader is the latest reviewer on this wonderful list that I’m truly thankful for. She read Take Me Tomorrow, beginning her review with “I have to consider myself to be pretty lucky since some of my favorite stories come to me through the help of authors who are looking to get buzz for their books.  9 times out of 10 they are great stories that i’m more than happy to talk about, and this one falls right there with those 9.  I really enjoyed this story.” And she tells you why in her review here.

Inkwell & Paper also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, titling their review “One Pill Makes a Difference.” The review begins with, “Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson is a book that unfolded like an action packed movie.” And her review reads like an action packed movie, too, which you can read by clicking here. But I truly appreciate that she pointed out her two favorite quotes. Click the linked numbers to read them on Goodreads:

1. “The emotional toll was enough to put me to sleep, but my anxiety was enough to keep me awake.”

2. “Behind his gaze was a memory that I wanted to snatch from him.”

Ray’s Works – the website of Matter of Resistance author Raymond Vogel, is my next reviewer, stating, “Expect vivid images, creative characters (with even more creative motivations), and a complex web of connectivity that’s hard to guess. Well done!” But you can read his full review here.

And finally, Things Matter, wrote “The tone and content are very similar to The Hunger Games, and I recommend Take Me Tomorrow if you’re looking for a read-alike to that or if you just like YA dystopia in general!” But you can read all of her thoughts by clicking here.

Here is a car outside the Uptown Cafe where they sing live while you eat!

20140722_174657

Feature:

I was also author of the week on Books to Curl Up with Blog!

Have fun checking out these great websites!

~SAT

Writing Tips: Character Profiles

12 Jul

Lots of announcements today before I share my thoughts on creating character profiles:

ShannonAThompson.com hit 17,000 followers! This is truly amazing, and I cannot believe that we’re continuing to grow. I started this little blog without any expectations, but if I had started it with expectations – I’m positive you have surpassed even my wildest dreams. Thank you for your continued support!

Other than that, I partook in an interview with Lit Chic. You can read what I think the hardest part about writing is, but I also have a shout out for all of my readers :D So click here to read the entire interview.

And if you are just now checking in and you’re curious about The Timely Death Trilogy, you’re in luck:

Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2) – Mindy says, “If you are a Young Adult fan and love a book that can make you feel like you are part of the story and part of a different world you have to read this trilogy. I know I love it!” But I have to share her favorite part of book 2. This excerpt happens when Eric is talking to his guard about Jessica and deciding if he should tell her the truth.

“I don’t know how she’d take all of this at once, especially without proof.”

“So, transform in front of her.”

“And give her a heart attack?” I couldn’t imagine her reaction. “No, thank you.”

“At most, she’d faint.”

Read her favorite romantic moment as well as the entire review by clicking here.

If you haven’t read book 1, My Library in the Making reviewed Minutes Before Sunset this week, stating, “One of the top reasons why I enjoyed this book was all the conspiracies.” But you can read the full review, including her favorite quote and favorite scene by clicking here.

Hope you check out Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise! Your growing support is the ink in my typewriter. Without you, my words would be invisible.

Now, onto today’s post (thank you for sticking with me!)

Writing Tips: Character Profiles 

A few weeks ago, I wrote The Beginning of my Writing Process, in which I revealed many details about how I first start off creating a novel. In the comments, I found a fantastic question about building character profiles, so today – this post is dedicated to Taking on a World of Words. I’ll be discussing three key elements I focus on when building a character profile – something I do BEFORE I write a novel – and I will be using Sophia Gray, the protagonist of my upcoming novel, Take Me Tomorrow, as an example. If you are interested in reading my dystopian book, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for an ARC.

1. The Basics

I suggest covering these first when taking down notes because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by trying to cover a vast amount of complicated information first. So – even though I know the complicated stuff first – I always begin taking my notes with the basics. This includes a small physical description, strong personality traits, and background. This is sort of like taking your driver’s license and adding your personality to it. If you like using pictures for inspiration, then grab some from Pinterest, and build from there. (And never be afraid to change things as long as you take note and edit it in your final draft.) Here’s an example of something you might come up with:

SEG

I don’t normally create photos such as that, but I wanted to show what can be done. Below you’ll find some information from my notes about Take Me Tomorrow. (I had to cut a lot of it to avoid spoilers, but this shows my organization process)

“Sophia (16) Sophia Elizabeth Gray

Physical: always wears her mother’s necklace, curly, brown hair, barely 5 foot, three small scars on her neck from Lily’s black cat, Saga. But she also has scars on her arms and legs from the forest.

Personality: loves running, close relationship with her father and Lyn, a stubborn heart. Prefers sweaters and jeans over dresses and heels.

Background: Born in Albany Region, moved to Topeka Region when she was seven, currently lives with her father, Lyn, and Falo.”

2. Timelines

Create a past, present, and future timelines. This is where things begin to get complicated, but don’t fret. Start simple – with everything you know – and make sure nothing contradicts anything else. From there, I would suggest figuring out things you don’t know (when did your protagonist meet their best friend?) Don’t forget: if you write it on your timeline that doesn’t mean you have to write it in the book, but it is safe to know everything and anything you can think of. I would even go as far as saying you should create separate timelines for each character while also creating one large timeline that shows overlaps between characters. Below is a VERY small example of Sophia’s past timeline. This includes the top five major events that happen before the novel ever takes place.

timeline3. Cover Everything 

I mean it. I know it sounds like a lot of work – and it is – but it will save you a lot of trouble in the end.  I create so many maps it’s ridiculous. I even have a “height’s map” which shows what characters would look like standing next to one another. Another example of a character map I had for Take Me Tomorrow is a map with every character’s home (past and present), and routes that they took from home to school to work (basically, anywhere they walked.)

Basically, you can never have too many notes. If you want to graph out the neighbor’s life who is never mentioned, then do it. In fact, you know the years that I picture Take Me Tomorrow to be in, but the actual years are never mentioned in the novel. Most of all, have fun! Never forget to have fun.

~SAT

goodr

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,748 other followers

%d bloggers like this: