Ruminate – definition: 1) to chew the cud, as a cow does 2) to think over and over again : ponder
Is it counter productive to ruminate over a story idea? Are we in danger of over thinking the story, it’s plot and characters? Out lines are one thing but can we lose the essence of the creative process by pre-planning too much detail?
As you all know I write by the seat of my pants and let my muse have free rein. The idea grows naturally with my characters telling me their story. Once the tale is completed then I go back to edit and revise. This way, I feel I have not lost anything and can be pulled along with my protagonist.
We all have a process unique to our creativity. Recently, I attended an interview with Alistair MacLeod, a Canadian author of short stories. His technique of editing line by line would cancel out my creative process immediately but it is the way he has worked for decades. I can’t fathom how he can retain his idea, if each line has to be perfect before he continues.
When creating characters we must remember to ensure that each character acts and responds true to their given personality. Character profiles are a good way of ‘getting to know’ our characters. Here are a few examples but obviously you can tailor make your own depending on your genre.
With such a guideline our characters become clearer. A lot of the details will never reach the pages of our manuscript but knowing our characters well makes for a more believable personality as they struggle through the trials and tribulations we subject them to. As most of you know I am a ‘free flow’ writer so everything is by the seat of my pants until the editing starts. This is where I find character flaws or great character traits that I can correct or build upon. My characters live with me during the writing process and usually lead me in directions I had never considered – I’m sure many of you can relate to that. As these personalities gain strength they become more ‘real’ and that is the moment their true selves appear.
Do you have any tips regarding character profiles or character building?
To honor Ian’s favorite character, Sup Sup Rose, I have paired his interview with today’s word – Panacea – definition : a remedy for all ills or difficulties : a cure-all.
a) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
That’s a tough one. If I have to choose one then it has to be Sup Sup Rose. He’s quiet. Stays in the background but is very knowledgeable of all things nature. If there are any injured animals, then he’s the one to help them out. Any questions about herbs and flowers, Sup Sup will know it. He’s very gentle, shy but very loyal.
b) Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
No, I like to look into different genres as I think it helps with your writing. I’ve focused on children’s stories at the moment, but I have some horror novels that are in different stages of edits. They are the two favourite genres. I have partly written a bio-graphical account of a relative of mine fighting in WW1. His and his wife’s accounts of being apart. That will take some time to finish.
c) What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being able to put into words the images I see in my head. I’m very visual so I get excited when I am writing and acting out the scene at the same time.
d) Have you got a favorite place to write?
I do most of my writing on a large table in a spare room, during the day and at night when I have time. If not, then I always have a pad and pen, but lately I have been trying out some writing tasks on a tablet I bought. That is working out quite well.
e) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
The first book was on the seat of my pants as I more or less have had the whole story in my head for the last 30+ years. Book 2 and 3 have been planned. I have a few diagrams I have mapped out for book 2. It helps me to see where each character is going and how they deal with problems. I also need it to show where in the story the highs and lows are. So, if I can map it out I will.
f) What inspires your stories?
As soon as I visit the countryside then I have a story in my head. I love trees and grass and everything nature. Sometimes if I see an image then I want to just jot something down. As I love photography then that is happening a lot.
g) What are you currently reading?
Cricky! The Hobbit. Stardust. Dead Hunt (An indie book by Kenn Crawford) If you like to be scared then this a great book or e-book to read. Crafting scenes by Raymond Obstfeld and the proof version of book 1 of my story. It’s nearly ready for Amazon’s POD service.
h) Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
Just before I start to write, I have to have everything around me neat and tidy. I can’t help tidying things up before I write. Probably as my mind is so jumbled up with ideas and stories I just don’t want the physical world around me to be the same. My writing space really has to be neat.
i) Do you have any pets?
Not now. I use to have a Rough Collie called Toby. Blind as a bat but the most amazing dog I have ever come across.
j) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
A few. They are on LinkedIn. They are very good and give great advice. Write It Down, Aspiring Writers, Authors and Publishers Association, Authors, Writers, Publishers, Editors and Writing Professionals, Book and Writers, Children’s Book Authors, Informed Ideas. Just a few.
k) What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I started when I was kid about 12. The first one was about an alien that came to earth to hunt. A couple of years later a film came out called ‘Predator’ I wish that was me. As soon as I started higher education I just stopped. The idea that my writing is not very good probably had some influence on me.
l) Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
The Faeries of Birchover Wood, The Bad is book 1 and is downloadable for Free on Smashwords
The blog is about e-publishing. It has tutorials, written and video on how to get your written book into a professionally formatted e-book so that it can be given or sold on any of the e-book stores.
q) Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?
Loads! Book 2 of the faeries is a little darker. A few upsets and shocks are installed for the humans and faeries. Not looking pretty for any of them.
I am working on re-writing my horror novel from 1st person to 3rd person and I need to finish a vampire novel I wrote about 6 years ago. There are times when I wish I was an octopus.
r) Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
Without doubt my wife and my father. My wife who has had to go through some of my ‘What!’ ‘I don’t believe you can’t…’ ‘Come on, can you read it faster!!’ times. She understands I am passionate about what I do. She’s great and very patient. My father who always believed that I should ‘go and do my thing!’ He loves my stories. Probably too much as he never gives me any criticism. That’s why parents are the worse readers of your book if you are looking for a critique. He wrote the poem at the very beginning of Book 1.