Write It–5 Ways to Get to Know Your Characters

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As writers, we deal with constant challenges developing characters, constructing workable plots, and keeping our readers engaged as they travel through 300 plus pages. For this post, I’m focusing on developing fleshed out characters.

  1. Create vision boards with your characters in the center. I prefer to create one vision board per character. However, you can create a vision board for up to three main characters of your novel. Cut out images from magazines that reflect the personality traits and passions of your characters. Make sure you include their occupation, marital status, and dreams on the board.
  2. Pretend you are a journalist and interview your characters. Ask them what motivates them to get out of bed each morning. What do they desire most? And how will they strategize to reach their goals?
  3.  Design a chart with your characters’ strengths and weaknesses. Make sure that you include their blind spots such as weaknesses seen and witnessed by the other characters. We all have blind spots. And these blind spots help us develop our stories.
  4. Write lists of the characters’ physical attributes. This includes hair color, eye color, body type, and their clothing style.
  5. Write a chapter in the first person so that you can get into the character’s head. You can continue writing your novel in the first person or return to writing in the third person.

Creating fleshed out characters means that we step outside of our own minds and hearts. We birth characters from our imagination and yet, they are separate entities from us. Characters should surprise and shock us instead of coming across as navel-gazing. Just like a parent must let their children find their own way in the world through making mistakes and taking risks, so must our characters. It’s only our job to create worlds, experiences, and problems for our characters to experience.

I’m available for coaching you on your artistic and personal journey. I use astrology, channeling, and other metaphysical skills with my coaching practice. Sign up at Whole Astrology. I am also available to teach workshops.

Write It–Using Mercury for a Writer’s Advantage

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The planet Mercury is either a writer’s best friend or worst enemy. What I mean by that is this small personal planet rules communication and technology. When Mercury goes retrograde three or four times a year for around three weeks, technology breaks down, computers slow down and freeze and people don’t make sense. Emails get lost and communication seems garbled at best. It’s as if the planet plays tricks on us. And Mercury is known as a trickster anyway.

As a practicing astrologer (and writer), I have learned how to use Mercury retrograde to my advantage. When any planet goes backward or is in retrograde motion, we naturally turn inward. We seek clarification for happenings of the previous three months. We return to edit or proofread work we wrote during those past three months. We can rewrite speeches, polish presentations, or go on a book tour for a book we published in the past, such as a new edition of a previously touted title.  However, don’t expect travel plans to go smoothly since Mercury rules travel too.

Mercury retrograde asks us to revisit, edit, rewrite and rethink previous work. It’s not a good time to start on a new project. We can use this time to clean up blogs, websites, manuscripts and other written work. We can also use this time for research for new projects, especially if we are doing historic research or reflecting on our past for a memoir or autobiography. Read old journals, letters and sort through old photographs.

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Journalism suffers under the Mercury retrograde unless we are revisiting an old story. We don’t have our heads on straight. Mercury rules the brain too and the thinking process. However, we might discover clues or make corrections to work we did in the past or had errors in our thinking about various topics that are cleared up during the Mercury retrograde. We might even go back and fix spelling and grammar errors in our work that we didn’t see previously. However, editors and writers born under the Sign Virgo catch those errors even when Mercury is transiting direct.

If you are a Gemini Sun or Virgo Sun working as a writer or editor, the Mercury Retrograde literally gives you tension and headaches. Gemini and Virgo co-rule Mercury. Your thoughts seem cloudy at best (Pisces) or exaggerated (Sagittarius). And during the summer of 2016 when Saturn in Sagittarius was in a square with Neptune in Pisces and Mercury was retrograde, anything we wrote during that time required major rewrites and rethinking, not to mention restructuring. Anything we wrote during that time if we could write at all now seems muddled in confusion or a Neptune fog.

If you are a Virgo or Gemini Sun or (Sagittarius or Pisces), sign up for a personal astrology reading or coaching session. I will teach you how to work with the cycles of Mercury. When you tame this planet and work with its cycles, your writing and editing skills will improve tremendously. You will know when to pitch to agents and editors, when to rewrite, and when to hold back and rest.

And don’t write a blog post on Word Press when Mercury is RX unless you want to run into glitches, lol…

Mercury is RX in 2017:

December 2016 to January 5, 2017

April 9 to May 3

August 13 to September 4

December 1 – 21, 2017

Sign up for an astrology reading at Whole Astrology

Write it–Crafting Dynamic Sentences

While we can write usable and adequate sentences, why not raise the stakes and craft a vivid sentence that also gets to the point? Here is an example.

Her skin was the color of milk.  Or her skin was milky white.

This sentence is adequate and we understand that this woman has white skin. I find the sentence flat and too passive. My eyes want to skim over it as opposed to seeing the image.

Here’s a better sentence using a metaphor.

The skin on her arms was like milk.

This sentence seems cliche to me even if it gets its point across.

This next sentence gives us more vivid details and has a photographic effect. This is what I aim for in my own writing, at least in theory, if not in practice.

The vendor reached out her arms to grab the bagels on the table–her milky flesh highlighted by the July sunrays.

True, the sentence is a bit longer. This is because it is a complex sentence with concrete details. The readers don’t have to think too hard as they see a woman vendor with a paler complexion. (Of course, she could have skin the color of chocolate milk too!)

I hope my suggestions prove helpful for you or inspire you to write sentences that pop off the page. I think that my job as a writer is to provide visuals as well as, fodder to seduce all the senses. Don’t we wish to engage our readers?

Check out my narrated stories on YouTube. And feel free to leave vivid sentences in the comments below. Thank you for stopping by Belle Author and for following this blog. I am also on Facebook.