Saturday, October 10, 2015

Why I Love Being a Writer

I am a writer. I manipulate words to spin tall tales of adventure and magic, love and betrayal, tears and giggles. I can communicate what I want to say better with a written word, but telling stories is what I love. I love the characters, the settings, the worlds where everything happens. I love connecting plot events and seeing it all fall into place. I've written a lot of stories. Most of them don't really go anywhere, others I might be saving to publish later, most will probably never see the light of day. Those would be from the writing days of old. Those are scary.

So today, I thought I would ramble-- I mean share with you just why I love being a writer. All of the little things that makes me happy to write stories and meet the quirky characters roaming in my mind and following them through their worlds. It's awesome fun, and if you ever read what I write, I truly hope you have as much fun as I did. :3

First off, characters. I love creating them. I love naming them, deciding what they look like, how they behave (often they'll throw me off track here, but they mean well). I love the realness they take on. In my novel, I am not an unbiased mother with my dear characters. I love them all, but I have favorites. These favorites and the others have all grown in ways I didn't expect, but getting to know them, writing them, they've become a part of me. I've experienced their joys with them, and I've seen them through their grief and fears (yes, I give them those, but that's another story).

My darling, yet conflicted assassin. :3

They have become dear to me, even the villains, and I love how real and how complex they are. Sometimes I see parts of myself in them. I see the need to be nearly always doing something with my fingers when sitting in one character, or I see my love of animals in a character who can also be quiet like me. And there's the character that's basically me if I were a social butterfly.

Sometimes they will confuse you, or sometimes they'll do things you don't expect or plan. That's another part of writing that I love. The unexpected. I don't plan or outline, at least not very much. I have a general structure, but then I jump right in. And then I'll encounter unexpected twists. Characters show an unexpected moment of fear, or a fight scene took a turn and while a character wins, he's now got a broken arm. It's part of what makes them real. They tend to develop minds of their own, and I love it.

Sometimes we have little control. It happens.

One part of characters that I enjoy is giving them names. Character names seem to come easy for me most of the time. For normal human names, I have a lot of my favorites (my siblings would say the names I like are odd, but pffth). For Earth characters, I like to pick a favorite name, especially if it's a main character, but sometimes other names fit better. It probably depends on my mood or the character's personality.

For fantasy (and science fiction when I dip my toes in it), I think my naming process is literally slapping together vowels and consonants and voila! I have a name. But I still love it. I love the sound it makes, the way it feels right with the character, like a nice-fitting shirt. Recently-ish I've enjoyed coupling name meanings to fantasy names. I went on a name meaning spree last year for my novel, and one of my favorites is "bane of fear." It fits him well, because he's always on the lookout for adventure. Danger doesn't scare him away from something new very easily.

Usually, I tend to not have a theme or moral set for a story. They usually appear and develop on their own. One particular theme that crops up quite often in my stories without my conscious developing of them is the concept of family, both family by blood and the family you make from friends. It's everywhere in almost any of my stories, and it plays a big part in my novel. And I've loved seeing it play out in so many different ways, sometimes I never even planned for it to happen in some ways.

But the best part – the exciting part – is that I did very little to make it show up. It just came as I wrote, as I let the character do their thing. And that is exciting when it comes naturally in my writing.

As any fantasy or sci-fi writer knows, worldbuilding is crucial to a story. Worldbuilding is crucial even to historical or contemporary stories, but especially to fantasy and sci-fi. I love creating worlds and entire cultures by mixing or modifying real cultures and traditions from our own world, or just spinning them up on their own. It's fun creating new cultures, even if parts don't appear in the story, knowing about them gives the setting and the people another layer of complexity. Again, being the biased writer I am, I have loved developing my race of half-elves. They've turned into a resilient people, with adoption and lack of last names playing a big role in how they live their lives (again, the aspect of family). I love them dearly, and they're one of my favorite peoples I've created.

One part of writing I most love is when I see things fall into place. They just click and make sense. Whether it's a crucial character development point or something random like a character's birthday. It feels right inside, like it's always been this way and I've only just now learned about it. I love that feeling. It gets me so excited, even if no one else will know, or care. I know it, and I care. It's what makes my characters special to me, that spontaneous receiving of information about them. It's the same with the plot, when events come together smoothly. It's a satisfying feeling.

Nearly every writer loves to make their readers go into deep anxiety over the characters. Giving the readers "feels" is fun, because we get to see them writhe and want to know what happens to their favorites, or shake their fists at us for killing the darlings off. I have done both. As writer I've received these reactions, and as reader I've done these. But while giving readers these feels is fun, I like giving them to myself. When my characters get hurt or are sad, I partly revel in it and partly feel like the world's worst person ever. I both liked and disliked the way my throat got tight while I wrote the first death in my novel. But, it's for the good of the story. It has to happen, even if I feel like I'm a horrid person.

I know, I already used this. But it still works.

I get attached to characters (it's not that weird sounding if you're a writer. Bear with me), and I feel for them when I make them suffer, or die. But, I do hope that because I feel these things, my readers will too. I loved hearing when readers of my Fence Jumpers serial story gasped in surprise or shed a tear or two. It means I've done my job well, and I love that I have. Plus reader feels. They are excellent. B) Because I feel for the characters, it makes developing them even more enjoyable too.

I also love using words to create vivid scenes and images. It's fun when I finally get to put in words the "film" I see play out in my head, choosing just the right words to describe what I see. I get to see it take to words on paper or a computer document, putting "film" to paper.

Similarly, it's fascinating to learn fun new words to try to use when writing. For example, scuttlebutt is a really fun word. Scutter is a real word, and I love it too. Words are fascinating, fun, and sometimes hilarious. It makes writing colorful, and I feel clever using them.

I enjoy looking for soundtracks, mood music, and songs with lyrics for my writing, for scenes, themes, or (especially) characters. I enjoy writing to music that fits the mood of a scene, like a death scene. It gets me in the mood to write that scene, and I get more invested in it. I love finding songs that fit the personalities of my characters, too. There's a lot, and the characters seem to come even more alive when I listen to those songs. It's like a theme song, only more feelsy most of the time.

Lookit me being so fancy with video in posts. B) This is kind of the theme for my novel's two protagonists.

Story ideas abound. Everywhere. At all times. Random ideas and random times (often – bless that muse – at night before sleep). Any situation, any phrase, and any person has the potential to strike a chord for a story with me. That waiter at P.F. Chang's? That snatch of conversation about flash cards between college girls? That crazy-expensive prom dress or those Goodwill butterfly-embroidered jeans? All story material for me. I usually don't know where it goes in a story, but it just has that aura of story about it.

I can learn from watching TV shows and movies. It be considered research, or I can learn how good character arcs or relationships are done. Also what not to do. That can also be learned.

I also really enjoy casting real actors and actresses as my characters. If my novel would become a movie, I like to pick out which actors to play them. Unfortunately the cost would be huge, but hey, it's dreamcasting. Dreaming doesn't have a budget. ;)

For example, I have cast Richard Armitage as my emperor villain.

I don't (entirely) feel weird about the majority of my reading habits being YA and, especially, middle grade novels. Young adults and middle graders are the audiences my writing might appeal to, so I learn from both categories. I learn what aspects I love about them, and what don't sit well with me or what doesn't seem to work. I learn what makes a YA romance so appealing (the land of love triangles, it seems), or what makes middle grade so exciting and engaging. Yes, I, a twenty-three year-old adult, find middle grade novels more appealing than YA. There's more adventure and danger to be found there than in teenaged angst and romantic subplots (not saying all YA has this, just from my personal forays into YA). Classics and middle grade novels are often favorites.

I like to pick out what seems to work for a story and what doesn't, and I think doing this stores up knowledge for my own writing. What makes that villain so deliciously creepy to me? How do the flaws and vulnerabilities makes this protagonist so appealing? Why doesn't this seem to work well in my mind? When I do this, I learn how to advance my own writing skills. How I can make my villains creepy, or how I can give my protagonist flaws. They're fun to read as a whole, and, like film and TV, can teach.

Everyone should read this series. Just saying.

I might seem weird sometimes. As a writer, I know things people who know me personally probably wouldn't expect. For example, I know how to make someone swallow (my brother doesn't believe me, but it's true!), or how to get the fastest results with a sedative. I'm still learning to be comfortable with this, being sometimes random or feeling weird that I know these things, but it's also kind of fun. It's useful too. You never know when a character needs that knowledge. >_> Like I said earlier, they can make unexpected detours in the plot and that information could be handy.

So these are the reasons I love being a writer, why I love writing. I believe God has given me this gift of the written word, and I've loved it ever since I started, years ago. With stories that will never be spoken of. Ever. >_> But I have gotten better and the newer stories are more audience-worthy. ^_^

Points to those of you who stuck with me this far and reading why I love writing so much. :3 Some of you probably knew I loved it, others didn't. To those who didn't, now you do. And to those who did, now you probably know more than you wanted. ;)

Image courtesy of Pinterest.
Video is not mine.

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