Getting Fuller Story Characters

Achieving characters that are well-rounded takes effort.  You have to know the nuances of your character as well as you know your best friends’ quirks.

Who is your character?  Create a childhood, a history, some secrets, a true past for your character and write it all out.  There are a ton of checklists and charts to do this.  You can find a number of them by clicking on the following links:

Attaching Flesh

GURPS Character Sheet

What I like to do is write about my character.  You could even write a short story about a particularly interesting time in their past — or their future!  Then, you can use this to peak the interest of new readers to introduce them to your new book, story, novella, etc.

As you’re writing about your character, think about how he/she grew up.  What’s your character’s favorite color?  Does your character have an endearing lisp?  Does your character like to drink alone?  Is your character a closet freak??  Find out what makes your character tick.  What turns him/her on — and what doesn’t.  While most of this information does not and will never see the light of day in your final story, it informs you (the writer) what is ‘believable’ for your character.  Sometimes the most interesting dialog or plot twists stem from weird junctures in your character’s past.

I’d suggest that all of your main characters and your supporting characters have this full sketch so you can refer back to it in order to build a better fuller story that has sub-plots that turn the wheel for the larger main plot driving the story.

Depending upon your story, some of your minor characters may need to be fleshed out a bit as well.

Remember that physical attributes (flaws, ticks, unusual features) all can be a part of your character’s story and create issues for the character and your story.  Just like in real life, your characters are not perfect and its that imperfection that makes all the difference in the world.

For other great articles on this topic please click the links below.

8 Ways to Flesh Out a Character

Rounded Character

Fleshing Out Characters

Fantasy Faction’s Fleshing Out Characters

One more thing, before you head off and begin sketching like mad.  There is a woman who is a master of creating almost human protagonists in her stories.  Her name is Jacqueline Lichtenberg.  She is my friend and mentor.  Please read her fantastically detailed and informative lesson on “Choosing A Protagonist” and leave a comment here and let us know what you think! 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

 Or, if you just want to go ahead and take her writing course, Essence of Story, click here.

New Motherhood & Writing

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for – Unknown

While trolling the internet, I found this quote and fell in love with its truth immediately.  I am a three-time Mom and the power of the above quote still applies! 🙂

My daughter is almost a month old now and my head hurts now because of the long night we had and the really short day that was jam packed with admin stuff to do with the birth, insurance, etc.  I am so ready for a nap — a LONG one!  But, I know that’s impossible.  I need more diapers (even though I bought a jumbo pack the day before yesterday) and I need papaya tablets because my long night was caused by colic (gas).

So, napping is out of the question because she’s sleeping now.  I need to get to the health food store and back quickly.  Yet, here I am sitting and tip-tapping away at my keyboard to record these thoughts and emotions as they roil through me.  Why am I doing this?  Because in addition to being a new mother, I am a writer.  A part of me was fast asleep for the last 6 weeks because I was in full nesting mode then went straight into giving birth and the postpartum stuff.

I’ve already had the obligatory blow up/out that was totally hormone dropping related and I think I’ve alienated at least 1 friend for the same reason.  I am fiercely independent and want to go back to ‘my normal routine’ as quickly as possible while knowing I need to absorb every moment with my daughter that I can.  The joys (and woes) of being a writer still plague me throughout all of this.

Earlier I read a blog post by Bushra Rehman about her new mommy-hood and writing.  I read with interest (read: envy) that she published her first book 11 weeks after giving birth to her daughter.  Even though my daughter is not even 4 weeks old yet I felt like such a slacker!

My writing bug has been kicking into high gear since NaNoWriMo last year.  I want to do things that I only dreamed about in the other decades of my life.  With a new little one here with me, she has shown me that anything is possible…even what we think is impossible.  My daughter has made me dream and hope again.

Whether I realize it or not, my daughter has already changed me simply by choosing me as her mother.  She is an amazing gift.  She helps me to look at the world with optimistic eyes once more.  On this day where we are remembering Dr. King’s and his Dream my daughter inspires me to dream the dream again.

So, while I may not publish my book (a supernatural cop thriller) in another 7 weeks, I am open to the possibility of it happening.

What’s your dream?  Are you still striving for it?  Great!!  If so, what steps are you taking towards your dream today?

Movie Review: Vegucated

Watch Vegucated, a documentary about trying to convert three traditional eaters (read: carnivores) into vegan in the space of six weeks.  I was sparked to watch this film by a tweet I received a few days ago.  Being a reformed vegan of over 12 years, I decided that I wanted to watch this one and see how it was presented.  After my own self-education back in the day (Diet for a Small Planet, Diet for a New America, etc.), I wanted to know if people were still being converted (coerced) into a new way of thinking and eating through fear.

Vegucated is pretty good in that the goal of this film is positive motivation.  They use your future better health as inspiration for going vegan.  They do show and tell about the facts of traditional American meat and poultry production however the message is coming to you from three people in conversion.  These three people were hardcore meat-eaters and their refrigerators at the beginning PROVE this! LOL.  One of the three guinea pig meat-eater converts didn’t even cook for herself — her Peruvian Dad did all of the cooking for her.  This made eating meat not even a question for her — until Marisa Wolfson asked her to try going vegan for six weeks.

This film does not go into heavy visual detail about the practices used in commercial meat production but it does show some very graphic and disturbing scenes of animals going through various steps of the process (a pig being lowered into a vat of boiling water and the carcass being de-haired by a machine.  It looks very painful…).  So, viewers you will not be spared some of the realities of how your meat and poultry get to your dinner table.  However, it is not slammed in your face; it comes towards the end of the film.

The entire beginning is about the health benefits of becoming a vegan.  How you can lose weight almost effortlessly, how your body’s vital signs improve in a short time (blood pressure, cholesterol levels…) and how much better and healthier you will feel.

Vegucated is focused primarily on accentuating the positives of being a healthy eater that consumes fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes.  The normal American eats only 9% of these things which is extremely unbalanced.

While I am no longer a vegan I still consume A LOT of veggies, grains, salads, and fruit.  I drink plenty of water and make sure to eat fish and poultry as my main sources of proteins along with root vegetables and ground foods (for complex carbs that take longer to burn than rice or grains).

Being a vegan made me a much more conscious eater.  I understand the purpose of food and try to balance out my carbs and proteins.  I also know that I have to watch the idiot foods.  For me, idiot foods are the sugar-filled stuff that makes me smile.  But, it’s bad for our bodies over the long haul.

I think everyone should watch Vegucated so they will not be in the dark about how their food is being handled.  However, what you do with that information is your own personal choice — however educate yourself so no one can surprise you, terrorize you, or preach at you.  Be an informed consumer about the most important thing in your life — what you put in your body.

4 Blogairy Notebooks

Short Story: Come From Behind the Chair

Title: Come From Behind the Chair
Author: Rochelle Campbell 
“Come from behind the chair.  You’re being stupid,” he leered at her drunkenly from the open door.  She stood behind the green velvet monstrosity that also happened to be a chair and kept her shirt tightly clasped to her budding chest. 
Heat rose to her cheeks as she looked everywhere but at him.  She knew this couldn’t be happening.  Not again.  It wasn’t supposed to be happening.  Life was supposed to be simple.  Easy.  Like a book.  Life was not supposed to be this dramatic.  It wasn’t supposed to have this too seriously real 250-plus pounds of mature male directly in front of her that wouldn’t easily go away…without force.
She dared glance at him and found him staring at her.  “I said move from behind the chair!  I’ve known you since you were a little thing.  So, ugly and skinny and nothing’s changed.  What’s wrong with you?  I’m like your father!  Come from behind that chair and let me see if anything’s changed.”  He took a step into the room, his feet sinking into the piss yellow-green colored shag rug.
The rest of the house was empty.  Nothing moved or creaked as it usually did.  Even the birds stopped chirping even thought it was only a little past three o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon.  The only day she had a half a day of classes.  The only day she had to be home with him alone.  Mother told her never to be in the house with him alone.  Mother said to go to the library and wait until she got home and then come.  But, he wasn’t there when she first had walked in.  The whole two-story ranch corner house was all hers for a blessed couple of hours before the front door banged open and she knew he had arrived in a foul mood.
She looked out the window and the filmy green and yellow floral curtains lifted gaily in the slight breeze that came into the attic sloped room.  She loved the room.  It had character – like she did.  She didn’t like the color scheme.  Her favorite color was pink but Mother said all little girls liked pink.  Why couldn’t she like a different color?  Maybe blue?  Or, possibly red.  She still had no idea what was wrong with pink.  Maybe pink had done something to her Mother sometime in her mother’s childhood.  Or, maybe pink reminded her of the blanket she was swaddled in when the nurses brought her squalling to her Mother for the first time.  Pink could have been maligned in that traumatically emotionally post-delivery and medicine-induced haze.
“What’s wrong with you?  Are you deaf?  I said come FROM BEHIND THE CHAIR.” 
Her gaze snapped to him.  His voice was too close.  He was by the foot of the first bed in the room closest to the room’s door.  He was a mere six feet from her.  She trembled visibly.  Her lip parted and a half-yelp escaped her.
“Please don’t hurt me, or touch me.  Please…I didn’t do anything.  Mother will be home soon…”
“Touch you!?  TOUCH YOU?!  You’ve got nothing for me to touch!  Not like your Mother who’s a real woman with curves!  You?  You’ve got no shaped no bumps or curves.  Who would ever want you?  You’re ugly, you can’t dance, you have no personality and you smell.  Why would I want to touch you?  You disgust me.  You’re just here because of your mother.  Oh, and you pick up my son and all I have to do is feed you, cloth and house you.”
He sneered at her and took a swig from the long-necked dark brown bottle.  He burped noisily and took another step closer.
She screamed, inadvertently taking a huge step back.  This put her very closer to the window.  Any passerby could easily see her from the street and either ogle or wonder about her semi-nakedness.
 “Stop that screaming!  And come away from that window!!  No one’s doing anything to you!  Why are you acting like this?  I’ve taken care of you almost your entire life.  Why are you acting as if you’re afraid of me?  What’s wrong with you?”
Clutching her shirt closer to her chest, tears slid down her cheeks as she began to cry fearing the worst was going to happen.  She closed her eyes and shook her head from side to side.  She couldn’t live with herself if he did anything.  If he came closer.  She would just curl up and die.  She would run away.  She would kill him.  She would…
The door slammed and shook the whole house with its force.  His angry steps pounding their way down the stairs and down the narrow hall to the kitchen.  Another door slammed open and she heard him thrash his way down into the basement.  Moments later loud music country music filled the clean, light and airy house with the Homes and Gardenfeel. 
 Shaken to her core, she dressed quickly grabbed her bag and ran out the house and headed for the library.  She was safe…for now.
“So how come you’re not going home?  You’re going to get in trouble.”  She looked at Dane and looked down at her smooth brown knees and said nothing.  The warm June sun shining on her curly hair.  She had just had her hair done the day before and it hadn’t turned back to its normal frizzy state yet. 
“You want me to go now?  You’ve got another girl on the way?”
He sighed and reached over and hugged her small stiff frame.  He knew things were worse but she wouldn’t tell him what was going on.  He was older, by three years, but he felt imbecilic and useless.  She shut down anytime he asked about her Mother or him.  He learned to ignore that part of her.  When he did, she was so much fun to be around.  He liked that girl.  The one sitting before him was way too much work.  He didn’t want trouble.  He wanted an easy, unloving chick to spend time with.  Sighing when she didn’t relax into him, he let go.
“So, what do you want to do today?  Go to the videogame hall?  Or, are you hungry?  Hmm?”
“Can’t I just sit here in your room?  Do I have to go?  I just need some quiet time.  Alright?”
He sighed again.  He couldn’t stand when she was like this.  She could be like this for days until she figured out internally how she would deal with whatever was going on.  This was her thinking.  She closed out all other input.  It was a serious downer.  There would be no sex today.
Sitting under the overhanging trees in the center of the campus lawn by the big boulders, she studiously avoided looking into her friends’ eyes as they blew fragrant plumes of cannabis smoke towards her.  An ephemeral fluffy while ring floated by her head and she swiftly turned her nose up and moved her nose out of its path.
“So if you don’t like it, why you here?”
She turned back and glared at Henrique, the swarthy and handsome guy that she was playing around with trying to figure out if he would be better in bed than Dane was.  But today, she didn’t care about his physical attributes and appeal.  She only cared that he insulted her in some nameless way.  She was hurt – by what, she couldn’t say for sure.  The surge of emotions came so quickly they surprised even her.
“I like you guys – not the stuff you do.  And sorry to say it, but you guys tripping and falling all over yourselves is not cute.  I prefer to be in control and remember the good times I had,” she stood up and slung her bag on her shoulder.  “You probably won’t even remember this conversation tomorrow.  Look, I’m outta here.”   She waved dismissively at them and strode off not looking back.
“Uhm, I need some money,” she squeaked while looking at the roses on the bush beyond him.  She made sure to be outside, in the open, in front of the house with the door open before asking him.
“Speak up.  I can’t hear you,” he said already leering.
“Mother won’t give me money for a new pair of jeans.  My old ones have a hole in them.  She said to ask you.”
“Oh, so now you need me?”
She told me to ask.  So, I’m not asking.  She is.”
“Is that how you see it?”
She didn’t answer.  He had stepped closer.  She didn’t dare step back but dropped her head and stared at the toes of her beat up Keds.  Besides, people were passing by.  He couldn’t do anything.  Could he?
He knew she wouldn’t answer.  She had gone into that damned shell of hers.  He wanted that laughing sweet girl that was so full of life and energy.  Her mother used to be like that but work and the long commute to the City had ruined that in her.  But the daughter?  She was life.  He held his breath for a moment forcing himself to calm down and make himself less aroused.  Scaring her wouldn’t work.  Hell, she asked him for money in public.  He wasn’t stupid.
He glanced down at her snug t-shirt.  Her chest was getting fuller.  There was a twitch in his nether regions.  He shifted and stepped back; digging into his pocket he pulled out a few bills and shoved them at her looking down the street.  The money stayed in his hand and she didn’t take it immediately.
“What’s wrong with you?  Didn’t you just ask for money?”
“Maybe you should give it to Mother?  I think she may want it that way.  Yeah, I think that might be better.”
She curtsied and skirted around him and headed off to the library with a quickness in her step; her heart pounding.
The coughing kept her awake.  She cried herself to sleep from the pain in her stomach and her throat.  She couldn’t take the change of seasons.  It threw her equilibrium off.  She had to stay home because she couldn’t move.  Everything ached.  At 4:00 am, Mother had bustled up the stairs and inculcated her with things to bolster her system, or so Mother said.
Mother said to call her if she didn’t feel better.  But she knew better than to call Mother from work.  She would have to be on her death’s bed for Mother not to kill her when she got in.  Weak and sick she laid there semi-conscious.  The day passed and she noticed only small bits of it.
Something flicked her nipple.  It tightened and furled upon itself hardening.  It made her surge up from sleep.  The flick came again.  That’s when she felt the hot breath on her face.  She stiffened.  How could she have been so stupid and irresponsible?  Now, it was too late to move.
“Wake up, sleepyhead.  Let’s play.”
She shuddered knowing that there was nothing in his tone that would bode well for anything fun happening for her.  She knew her shirt was lifted up and her chest was open for his viewing pleasure.  Without her knowing it.  The tears slid down her face.
“No, no…we were beginning to have such fun.  Shhh.”
He pushed her onto her back.  She tightened her body and her eyes.  She refused to look at him.  The aches still very real from a few nights before.  He pulled the blanket down slowly and slid her pajama pants down.  She began shivering uncontrollably.  He straddled her and stroked her down the center of her sternum.  His other hand reaching between her legs.
She thought of Dane.  She thought of Henrique.  She thought of Mother.  She thought of his son.  She just thought.  It was better than feeling.  She imagined she was a princess in a full tulle skirt in fluffy cotton candy pink with a shiny bright tiara.  She imagined she had a wand and that she could make her every wish come true.  She wished now for a miracle…none came.  He did though.   She imagined she was the beautiful swan in Swan Lake.  She danced furiously, beautifully as he collapsed onto her.  She wondered if he was done but within a few minutes she felt it stirring again as he flicked and nipped at her now sore budding breasts.  She wondered if other girls had a life like hers and what they did about it.
When he finally left more than an hour later.  She just laid there.  She felt nothing.  She was nothing.  She had finally decided.  She would let Mother find her like this and see if she could deny it then…
#womens #fiction #short #story #creative #writing #urban #AfricanAmerican #Black #domestic #violence #drama

To read more of my short stories, pick up a copy of Leaping Out on Faith today! 

Plotting Genie for Book 2…

The outline for book two of my supernatural cop thriller was harder to write than the outline for book 1.  I thought it would be easier!  However, I was caught up in what was ‘too easy’ (plotting-wise!) and what was expected.  I did not want to be predictable.  So, with all of those considerations along with the normal plotting woes it took me over two months to create the outline’s first draft.

I’ll see how it reads later in the week and make changes but for now let’s just say I am thrilled to have gotten this far!  I worked with my plotting genie and Mother Nature and gave birth to a daughter earlier this month and a new outline.  Hope you’re having an awesome summer as well!

Exciting Life Gone Normal?? Or, Normal is as Normal Does?

So, the exciting part of my life may now be over but now I can focus on the ‘normal’ life that I seek desperately.  To back up and explain, my daughter is 14 days old.  I am over 40 and have two teenage boys.  (Now you see what I mean by ‘excitement’ right?)

Last year, I thought I had a ‘life plan’.  I was writing The Great American Novel (aren’t we all??) and I had a great start on it with NaNoWriMo — wrote the first 50,000 words last November.  Then, somehow it all got blown to smithereens when I found out early this year that I was pregnant.  So, I finished the novel, got it edited and began sending out to beta readers.  Once I had feedback from my readers I began submitting it to agents.  Shortly thereafter, I went into nesting mode and then right after I went into labor and gave birth.  So, how can my life become exciting ever again??  LOL.

I can’t wait for the normalcy to return!  My brain is 75% back.  I can keep my eyes open for more than 10 minutes at a time.  I can recall what Social Media is!  What I don’t know is what’s next?  I know I am working on the plotting for my next book.  I have a plan in place to work every day from now on my book and other writing projects but that ‘life plan’ eludes me now.

At one time I thought I could map out my entire existence and make things happen.  In the last year, I see that was a fallacy.  That was just my brain having one of those rare fart moments where it thought it was in charge.  (Funny, that fart moment lasted most of my adult life…)

So, without my brain telling me what’s next how does one live life?  I can almost hear my Grandmother saying, “One day at a time…”  But what does that look like for a wanna-be Type-A personality?  It’s a conundrum and a game/life changer of a question.

I’ll post from time to time on how I’m doing with this project. 🙂

Oh yeah, Happy 2-week birthday my newest little one!

Ta-ta for now,
The NoteBook Blogairy

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A good friend of mine suggested I read Deborah Harkness’ book A Discovery of Witches, part of the All Souls trilogy.  My friend cajoled me on so many occasions that this is the book to read (she also wanted someone to discuss it with!).  Well, after many months I caved in and began reading book 1 of the series.

Initially, I was totally underwhelmed.  Ms. Harkness (a New York Times Bestselling author) is also an historian.  In my experience, historian-turned-writers have the need to explain all of the minute details and provide the proper context for everything.  Ms. Harkness does this to an extent.  Not so terribly that I wanted to put the book down but enough that I would fall asleep in the first few chapters of A Discovery of Witches.  Once the historical throat-clearing was done and the setting up of the initial conflict(s), the story took off and I was hooked!

The story focuses on a witch — Diana Bishop — that does not want to be a witch.  She does everything in her power to avoid and NOT use her witch-ly powers.  While the majority of readers will wonder at this seeming paradox, as the story moves along, it becomes clear why Diana strives to be as human as possible.  However, the reader finds out soon enough that Diana is pretty much only fooling herself!  Others notice her unusualness and her otherness becomes the true focal point of the story.

The supporting POV character — Matthew — happens to be a vampire that is over 1500 years old.  He has been a part of every major world incident (very much like Forrest Gump) but this vampire has a heart and it belongs to Diana, the would-be, maybe-could-be witch.  Their slow dance into romance is enchanting and will have you rooting for them as if you knew them in real life.  Ms. Harkness portrays this couple well!

I love that this trilogy came about by Ms. Harkness wondering, ‘If there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?”(Check out Deborah Harkness‘ website for more!)

I do not want to give any spoilers but I have to say that the intricate world of other creatures in this story world make for great page-turning reading fun!  Again, I have an issue with the sheer amount of back story and historical data dump but that my pet peeve.  Ms. Harkness is a bestselling author and she has written a top-notch book that makes you yearn to read book 2 of this series which is Shadow of Night

Definitely a great read!

4.75 Blogairy Notebooks