In Honor of the Day of the Dead (November 2, 2019)

day-of-the-dead-1868836_1920This beautiful image comes from Pixabay.com

 

From 1999 to 2005, I was a proud member of the Seattle Latino literary troupe, Los Nortenos. We gave performances (songs, poetry, and stories) for the Day of the Dead in the Seattle area.

For each performance, we wrote pieces that were juried by other members in the troupe. Here is one of the poems I recited during performances.

Spider Man & The Shamans

By Patricia L. Herlevi

Sometimes when I fall asleep, I fall deep into the heart of Africa.  Wooden men with painted faces conjure spirits forth into the starless night. They pound out rhythms with their bare feet and their shrill cries echo into the chambers of the forest.

Ancestors enter the circle as ghosts. They enter into our souls as we breathe them in and they blow wisdom into our hearts thus allowing us to teach the next generation. They educate us about our ignorance and illuminate our individual paths.

The shamans recite the legend of Spider-Man. The shamans warn us not to be tricked into Spider Man’s wicked web of illusions.  For once we enter into this illusion we are tempted to destroy the planet and other lives. Spider-Man, the trickster mirrors our deepest fears, our most vengeful anger as well as, our greed and our lust. We find him hard to resist since he presents himself in a glorious light promising us treasure.

But once we fall for the trap, we sell our souls for the smallest trinkets.  We sell our children to slave labor, our forests to the highest bidder and we slaughter the animals while leaving no place for the beneficent spirits to enter or the sprites to reside.

This is why the shamans dance tonight as if our lives depend on it. They’ll dance for twelve hours, pounding their aching feet on to the hard soil and chanting songs until their throats become coarse and raw. They tango with death and drop into the underworld where they plead with the spirits to save us from illusions. And in the end, they set us free from Spider Man’s dark ways.

Spider-Man can be tricked and he can be blinded through the strength of our ancestors.  Tonight Spider-Man will be sedated as he watches the shamans spin and gyrates around a fire.  Tonight Spider-Man will be hypnotized into a deep sleep that will last for centuries. Tonight the shamans will set their people free from their inner and outer oppressors.

The dance ends when dawn arrives and the dew appears on thirsty leaves and animal spirits return in full force reclaiming the earth, water, and sky.   The dance ends after I awake and face my daily life.  And yet, the raw pounding feet and shrill cries linger in my conscious brain reminding me that I must face my daily duties same as the shamans who wash the paint off of their bodies and tend to their harvest. I must stay awake and not fall into Spider Man’s illusions by honoring my ancestors and nature’s spirits. And by following the heart of a shaman, I sidestep the traps of greed, rage, and cravings.  I too hypnotize Spider-Man and dance with spirits at night in the manner that the Africans have taught me.

This story was originally performed with the Latino/Latina literary group, Los Norteños at North Seattle Community College, 2000.  While I was reciting this story on stage, my necklace (a beaded one from Peru), broke and beads fell on the stage.  Therefore, I feel that this is a powerful piece that should not be taken lightly.

 

Write It–5 Tips for Rebuilding the Fantasy Novel

Reflection Moi

 

At a writing conference recently, an instructor told authors about a practice that involves cutting out 30 percent of a novel. This practice works for authors who overwrite, use too many filler words, include too much exposition, and dialogues that don’t propel the story forward. However, what happens for authors who underwrite and fall short of the genre word count?

When I revised my novel Enter 5D, I came up short 10,000 words. This started the wheels of my mind to churn ideas of ways to add more content to this fantasy novel. Here are five tips.

1. Add action and description to long dialogue or paraphrase the dialogue in chunks instead of as single sentences of direct speech.

I have been reading Sarah Addison Allen’s Lost Lake and this author uses this practice throughout her novel. She also includes different points of view while including pieces of backstory for several characters. Some experts in the industry advise against several points of view in a novel, but this is also my style with writing novels.

2. Spread chunks of exposition on the characters and even the setting or place throughout the novel while still moving the story forward.

Again, read Allen’s Lost Lake or her other titles for a good example of how this is achieved.

3. Spread the plot out by adding new twists or suspense. Keep the readers with a question in their minds for more chapters.

4. Add new characters for the protagonists to respond to but only if this doesn’t block the progress of the story.

5. Lengthen an important scene by highlighting the characters’ hopes and wishes or by them ruminating on their greatest fear.

The trick is not to pad the novel with unessential material. Also, use discernment when adding more words or pages to a novel. While many publishers have a minimum and a maximum word count, if a novel feels complete at 70,000 words or 75,000 words, adding more material might destroy its flow and deter readers with a short attention span (which is many readers including me).

I hope these and other tips on Belle Author are helpful for you as you craft your novel. I have been writing novels since 2005 and I’ve learned from pitfalls along the way. I never earned a Master’s degree in creative writing and I didn’t earn a BA in English.

However, I have received compliments from professional editors who have encouraged me to keep writing novels. Obviously, there is no shortcut to writing and publishing a novel. And even some of the novels that have been published were done so prematurely while many great stories have yet to become published books.

 

 

5 Must-Have Tools I Acquired at a Writers Conference

John Williams Waterhouse “Pandora”

I returned from the Write on the Sound conference held at the Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds, Washington. The conference attracts around 250 to 300 writers in all stages of their careers and representing a variety of genres. Although most of the writers I met were working on their memoirs.

On Friday, participants sign up for a half-day or a full-day workshop. I signed up for the half-day Think Like a Development Editor workshop taught by Shirin Bridges. I gained insight from that workshop and much of what the instructor-editor shared with us was repeated by other instructors throughout the conference.

On Saturday we attended 4 workshops from blocks of 4 workshops (it was hard to choose in some cases). We also were invited to the keynote speaker event featuring Retired UW Professor Charles Johnson. And the conference hosted a reception or the authors teaching at the event. A private group hosted an open mic in a cafe. I didn’t attend the open mic because I had too much information to digest from the day’s events.

On Sunday, my first workshop started at 9:30 and by the last workshop at 3 p.m. I wasn’t able to concentrate. Fortunately, that was a lighthearted panel discussion on travel writing in this modern age.

Here are the 5 Tools I acquired at the conference that every writer can use for writing, revising, and editing manuscripts.

  • Delete 30% of the completed manuscript

(Yes, that’s right. Eliminate filler words, an overabundance of adjectives, adverbs, and passive phrases. Eliminate long passages of exposition or backstory. Eliminate scenes that don’t propel the story forward).

  • Map the scenes

(Write all the scenes down and what occurs in each of the scenes. This is best done with a software program like Scrivener or you can write them out in a notebook by hand. Then make a note on whether the novel requires each scene. Delete repeated scenes or scenes that are blocks of expositions).

  • Watch out for pet words and don’t overuse them

(Every author has favorite or pet words that they overuse in a manuscript. Since they the words are red flags to a reader, find other words to replace the pet words).

  • Show, don’t tell

(For me, this is not a hard and fast rule. I think it’s best to include both showing and telling in a narrative non-fiction book as well as, a novel. However, if you can show the story and not just tell it, you’re more likely to engage readers).

  • Consider the modern attention span

(While this one mostly refers to younger readers who want authors to get to the action, many authors include too much detail which slows the pace of a story. Obviously, if you write literary fiction you can include more details and meander a bit. However, if you write genre fiction or YA fiction, cut to the chase or lose your readers).

After three days of attending intensive writing workshops, I gained more tools than what I mentioned here. I hope these tips are helpful and even new in some cases. The show versus telling and the refrain from using adjectives and adverbs have been rules in the book publishing world for some time. They are still relevant today.

Also, make sure that you are not following trends. It can take up to 5 years to complete a manuscript, 2 to 3 years to find a publisher and another two years before your book hits the bookstore shelves. By that time, zombies or vampires would be passe. Always write what’s in your heart and not what you think will contribute to your bank account. Write because you enjoy the craft because writing and publishing are always hard work.

Acknowledgement to four friends who donated money to me through Go Fund Me and by private checks that paid for the registration fee, a manuscript critique, and two nights at the Best Western Harbor Inn.

Thank you to the kind folks at the Harbor Inn, the volunteers, staff, and faculty with the conference. I hope to return.

 

 

Prologue to my Memoir “Bitch”

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Bitch

Fostering a Dog; Fostering an Attitude (By Patricia Herlevi)

 

Prologue

The day I dreaded arrived. Three weeks had passed since my brother and I signed the legal papers with the Seattle Purebred Rescue organization so that the senior German shorthair pointer could go to a new home. Although I had only known Sobaka for a year-and-a-half, I had fallen deeply and madly in love with him in the way that dog-people bond with their canine friends. But like other types of love affairs, I also knew that each day had a number on it. My elderly parents were unable to take care of an active dog and I was in no position to take Sobaka. I had no permanent home.

I had looked forward to Sobaka’s birthday which falls on May 4. I had plans to take him to a special place and I had even bought two giant dog cookies and salmon sticks to mark the occasion. Then, the prospective pawrents (parents for dogs) asked the organization to set up a meet and greet with Sobaka on the last week of April. At first, I thought they just wanted to meet the dog and then return later to pick him up. However, the retired couple didn’t want to make two trips to Whidbey Island so they had plans to take Sobaka with them, thus interrupting my birthday plans and my goodbye gifts for the dog.

I wept for most of the week prior to Sobaka meeting his adoptive parents. I had wished that he would’ve been adopted by a family closer to me and not across Washington State. I wondered about handing the leash to the retired couple who responded to the Pet Finder ad when I clung to it as if the leash were my lifeline.

I knew I was doing the right thing for the sake of Sobaka’s wellbeing, but I experienced a hole growing inside me—a hole where my heart should have been. Wasn’t it me who placed the ad portraying Sobaka as a Bach Connoisseur and portraying a dog that enjoyed the finer things in life? He looked regal in the photos I took of him in his favorite armchair lying on his ratty blanket he had since his puppyhood. What the people viewing the photo would never know is that Sobaka also had a favorite couch and another chair he enjoyed stealing from my father and then anchoring his large body into the cushions while digging his claws into the armrests. This drove my father nuts every time the dog snuck into the chair and refused to budge. Sobaka was going places even if he refused to budge.

The people who viewed the ad also didn’t know about Sobaka hoarding crackers, potato chips, and candy between the cushions of the couch now covered in tiny white hairs and drool stains.

As the dreaded day approached, I feared that my bones would shatter. I felt pissed off at my brother for abandoning his dog and leaving me with a heart wrenching decision. In contrast, I also thanked my brother silently for blessing me with the best friendship I had experienced in 54 years—not with a human, but with a canine.

The weather forecast for that April day predicted rain and wind. I thought that would have deterred the couple from driving from Olympia to Whidbey Island and that I would have been able to hang on to Sobaka for another week. But then the sun appeared.

I spent the morning cleaning Sobaka’s bedding, sewing his toys and his pillow which he had ripped apart. I gathered all his belongings and placed them in bags and boxes while trying not to cause Sobaka anxiety. He knew something was up because I wept more than usual. He also noticed the tension in the household when my father protested the adoption. After all, even though he complained about the vet bills and fed Sobaka junk food (leading to an obesity problem) he said that Sobaka was his friend. But before sympathizing with my dad, you must understand that he thinks everything is about him and he didn’t acknowledge the anguish I experienced. Blame it on his Depression Era childhood or his stint in the Navy. I might have well been a captain of a ship witnessing mutiny.

So, I packed the car and I had several conversations with Sobaka using words and telepathy. And when I spoke to him, he trembled and his eyes pleaded with me to let him stay with us. The problem remained that he did not get enough exercise and his weight problem placed him in danger. I had gone over all the options and I pleaded with my parents to hire a dog walker, to pay for the flea prevention, etc. Although my mother was sympathetic and she was the one who paid one-thousand dollars to have Sobaka’s rotten teeth removed, she also thought Sobaka needed to go to a wealthier home with healthier people.

And prior to his final day with us, I spent quality time with Sobaka that week in April. I created Easter treat hunts in the backyard to put his nose to good use. I took him for longer walks to his favorite places in the neighborhood. I sat with him and played classical music for him (which he loved). And my mom and I took him to a beach when the tide was out where he ran free. In fact, when he ran on the beach whimpering and barking with delight, I realized that Sobaka needed to experience that freedom every day just like he needed to play with other dogs.

So, I packed him in the car while wiping tears off my face. I chose Bowman’s Bay in Deception Pass State Park to meet with Sobaka’s prospective parents and the dog rescue volunteer. I also like the fact that Sobaka got to ride in the backseat of the car listening to classical music. He remained calm for most of that journey until we turned on the road to Bowman’s Bay and he picked up the scent of the giant cedar and pine trees. He sat up in the backseat which he had never done before when the car was moving. Then when we turned into the park and we heard the wind and the waves beating against the shore, Sobaka barreled out of the car and he pulled me onto the beach. I had hoped that the couple would have showed up late, but as Sobaka and I walked away from the car and onto the beach, they approached us. I worried that I would have lost the strength to hand over Sobaka’s leash. Was it too late to change my mind?

When I took Sobaka to meet his new parents he sniffed at them and allowed them to admire him. He had no idea he would be leaving with them. And the message I received from Sobaka was, “Thank you for introducing me to your friends. Let’s go play on the beach and let me run on the trails.”

I kept the leash for a bit longer as the couple walked with me through the wooded area. Sobaka pulled me up a trail causing my arm to ache. He yanked on my arms and I couldn’t get him to stay still. He was anxious and in one of exploring moods after all, he loved the wild waves crashing on the shore and the pine and cedar trees perfuming the air. Since his sensitivities are acute he picked up on my emotions. “Why are you doing this to us, human?”

So we headed to the minivan where the representative asked me to give a final signature on the adoption papers. I legally released any ownership of Sobaka (not that I ever owned him). And while I did this, Sobaka saw the open door of my mother’s car inviting him to return to his old life. He yanked on the leash wanting desperately to run to my mother’s car and hop again in the backseat, another place he loved to relax and shed his fur. Plus he wanted to say goodbye to my mother who advocated for him when my brother stopped buying food for the dog or taking him to the vet when he suffered from ear infections and other health issues.

I realized that Sobaka didn’t die that day, but part of me did. Sobaka left in a minivan to a new adventure and a new life. Meanwhile, I wondered if I would ever heal from a broken heart much worse than any breakup with a boyfriend, the loss of a job, or even the loss of a home. I hugged Sobaka for as long as I could before he was hoisted into the minivan. I petted his velvet ears one last time and I experienced pangs of jealousy for the retired couple who had the right home and the right resources to take Sobaka as their own. I sacrificed my happiness and some people thanked me for my selfless act. But those hollow words hardly soothed my heart.

Nothing or no one will ever replace Sobaka.

All Rights Reserved Copying Not Permitted C 2019 Patricia Herlevi

Kudos from The Missouri Review

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I entered the Miller Audio Prize competition for the third time. This year, I received a scholarship so that the entry fee was waved. I didn’t win the prize, but I’m pleased with this critique of my story, “Tropical Blizzard” which is semi-biographical.

Thank you for your Access for Artists submission, “Tropical Blizzards (Return of the Ancestors),” in the prose category of the Missouri Review’s 2019 Miller Audio Prize Contest. Below is what our staff had to say about “Tropical Blizzards (Return of the Ancestors)”:

We especially admired this story’s concept as a journey through America in order to find one’s own identity and heritage. We particularly appreciated the honesty and complexity with which the childhood memories of racial discrimination were written. We suggest that the narrator read at a slower pace – as listeners, at times we felt that the story was being rushed. We also suggest that the project might utilize the audio format to its advantage here; sound can add depth to this already complex story, it can emphasize the piece’s important moments or build the characters even more vividly in the listener’s mind.

Overall, we felt that this was a strong entry and we appreciated its complexity and its journey from start to finish. While “Tropical Blizzards (Return of the Ancestors)” was not selected for the prize this year, we are quite interested in reading and listening to more of your work soon and hope you’ll considering sending more of it our way.

After the competition ended, I uploaded the audio on my YouTube channel. I did rush through the narration to fit it into the 15-minute maximum audio allowed by the competition judge and editors. I just noticed that this is not the same audio track I entered in the contest. I recorded this one much earlier.

Also, I wrote the story in 2003 after I discovered my Saami ancestors.

Help me to attend a Writers Conference

DSCN4890I started this fundraiser on Go Fund Me to raise $300 to attend the Write on the Sound conference this October. Registration is open now so my deadline for raising the funds on June 29 so I can register for the three-day conference early.

Any amount will help me out and I’ll include your name in the acknowledgments with my YA novel or memoir when they are published.

I raised the money for the registration fee. Now, I’m raising $200 for the hotel room for two nights.

Or you can mail a check or money order to Patricia Herlevi, PO Box 370, Port Townsend, WA  98368

An Accidental Memoir about Fostering a Dog

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As I have reached the completion stages of my first YA novel, Lately, Queen Mamadou, I started work on a dog memoir. This book was not in my plans and in fact, I was going to rest after completing the YA novel. However, as I heal my grief from adopting a dog out that was a dear friend to me, I also have the motivation to write a dog memoir.

My working title is “Bitch” because this word has the usual interpretation such as what I’m sure family members were muttering underneath their breath when I took the dog’s fate into my hands and found a better home for him. And then there is a new meaning which I describe as beautiful, intelligent, talented, creative, and holistic. Fostering any dog whether that is a family companion or a stray dog in need of a temporary home, involves some spunkiness. People-pleasers should not apply. I have journeyed from a people-pleaser to a spunky b-i-t-c-h. We all need to embrace our inner bitch.

In the meantime, I’m reading other dog memoirs. I read Lauren Fern Watt’s Gizelle’s Bucket List and I started on Kay Pfaltz’s Flashes Song. While I have a different writing style than these two amazing authors, I’m learning about different structures and attributes for a dog memoir. And yes, I read Marley and Me years ago. Didn’t everyone?

DSCN1733I hope I make it through the crazy rough draft writing stage without drenching the world in my tears. I’ve never written a happy memoir. I even placed my memoirs about homelessness on the backburners. I have another memoir slated for me to write in the distant future called Lit Up (From Rock Musician to Spiritual Channel) which chronicles my days as a rock musician in 1980s (1990s) Seattle and my journey into new age spirituality.

But for now, I give my loving respect to Sobaka, a quirky and anxious German shorthair pointer who taught me how to love unconditionally.

BTW, dogs like bitches.

Write it—Tricks to Writing Dialogue

 

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First, I’m glad that I studied acting and playwriting while I earned my BA because those experiences help me write dialogue. Second, all writers need to know that dialogue is not filler for a story.

The best novels fit the dialogue into the glove of the characters’ background, dislikes, passions, and psychological architecture. And finally, writing compelling dialogue propels the story forward, gives the reader insights into the characters’ motivations (and hidden motivations), and fuels the conflicts that eventually lead to resolution.

So, the author must give thought to the dialogue. I prefer to overwrite the dialogue and then condense and delete during the rewriting process. By this point, I have a good grasp of my characters, their backstory, their conflicts with each other, and their motivations. I also enjoy my privy to the plot, the subplot, the climactic moments, and the resolution, especially when I’m writing a third person narrative.

A background in journalism comes in handy too. As a journalist, I interview each of my characters. Actually, I grill them and draw every ounce of humanity from them. I ask them their intentions, their hidden desires, and their motivations, especially in connection with the other characters, even the supporting characters.

Charles Dickens

While I wrote the first two drafts, of my  YA novel, “Lately, Queen Mamadou,” a conflict between best friends, Maggie (the protagonist) and Meghan (a fellow dancer) developed. The eating disorder that Meghan succumbed to heightened the conflict between the two women and also brought the main climactic moment.

A subplot revolves around Danny and JC, two gay dancers and the conflict they experience with ballroom and non-ballet dance. And then to add to the colorful dialogue, I included diverse points of view in the novel because Danny and JC are gay, JC is Puerto Rican, the dance character Monique is of mixed African descent, and another character Deva is an exchange student from India.

But the most fun dialogue to write revolves around Celia, (Maggie’s mother who is a new age hippie) who channels an ancient African queen. Writing that dialogue (of the channel sessions and telepathic conversations) involved channeling on my part. But isn’t that what we do as authors? We’re not just writers by profession. We also include journalism, spiritual channeling, and playwriting in our work. If we observe and listen well, then we also play the role of a detective and sometimes, a psychoanalyst.

Getting back to the topic of writing dialogue. It takes practice. It takes good listening skills and that includes listening to our still inner voice, aka, our intuition. I think that that it’s a myth that writers work in isolation. Yes, we spend time alone with our fingers riding the laptop keyboard. We spend time alone during our research.

And yes, we spend time alone working out the plot, the story, and the other elements of the story. But in order to write compelling dialogue, we must get out in the world and tune our ears to natural dialogue. Watching dialogue on television shows or in movies or even studying the dialogue in novels, won’t help us write our own dialogue. We must also dig deeper into the souls of our characters while keeping our ears tuned to the world around us.

Dialogue creates a dance of ideas between characters. Dialogue lives and breathes as well as, kicking life into our characters and into the stories we write. Dialogue has rhythm, melody, and harmony along with silence as in pauses for the characters to reflect.

Finally, don’t write down the inner chatter in your head and call that dialogue. Don’t send your characters off in a rant about the stuff that matters to you, but might not resonate with your characters. Bad dialogue is the author speaking from their own mind instead of the characters’ hearts. Avoid your ego getting in your way or your dialogue will fall flat. The critics and the readers will notice that the dialogue does not sound authentic coming from your characters’ mouths.

Writing is a road to mastership. It takes practice and years of developing characters and compelling stories, whether you write long or short fiction. The best authors combine raw talent with the willingness to hone their craft. And part of that involves getting feedback about the story development, the character development, and the dialogue. And the best question to ask is “Does this feel real to you?”

I am currently working on the third draft of my sixth novel. I also channel spirits, work as an astrologer, and as a journalist. I coach creatives to be their best selves and to show up fully with their work. Sign up for a session which includes astrology, channeling, and or card reading (along with practical everyday advice for authors). I also accept donations through PayPal if you find these articles useful.

 

Write it—The Process of Writing a Novel

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Perhaps, the excuse why many aspiring writers never write the novel in their head revolves around the messy process we call novel-writing. But if we break the process into steps and navigate through those steps by treating the steps as guideposts, it becomes easier to complete the novel.

After all, navigating your way through 300+ pages and 80K words starts to feel more like a chore or housework with words than it does about following a dream. Yet, authors chug out one novel after the other and keep pushing through the barriers until completion. You can also complete your novel even if it feels like you’re walking on a long road to nowhere.

Five Stages of Writing a Novel:

1. The brilliant idea comes with characters, a general plot, and inspiration.

2. We sit on the idea while it germinates like a seed underground. We procrastinate or we research to build our characters and storyline.

3. We write the first and second drafts and it feels like plowing through a swamp of words, syntax, and worries about writing beautiful sentences. In other words, this is the time when most writers toss in the towel.

4. Then if we make it through the swamp, we begin the revision process which is like cutting a diamond into shape. We toss out perfect sentences, delete characters (who don’t contribute to the story), or we combine characters. We sharpen the storyline. We also perfect the beginning and end of the story.

5. After (if we choose to) having other experienced eyes read and critique our novel, we may or may not do one more revision. But this is also the part where we see the finish line, and we race towards it with the same excitement we experienced at the birth of the story.

This process works for memoirs too.

 

Sign up for a creativity coaching session with me. Or check out my Patricia Herlevi channel on YouTube and follow Belle Author on Facebook.

Write It–Embracing Detours

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You’re on track with your character development and you carefully drew out your storyline on a whiteboard or on butcher paper. Then, all of a sudden, your character(s) take a detour. What do you do?

First, don’t panic. Detours often bring a richer story with them and you go deeper with your characters. If the detour is at the beginning of your book then rewrite the opening chapters with the new character insights.

If you reached the halfway point of your novel or are close to the end of it, then keep going with your new story and character development. Then when you start your rewrites, start from scratch. Otherwise, you’ll deal with a chaotic manuscript fraught with errors.

Often times when we rush in and start the novel before the story becomes solid in our minds, we run the risk of characters taking detours. Even if we do wait until we’ve mapped out our storylines and developed our characters, they keep evolving as we write and we still encounter detours. However, I think detours are actually a sign that we are on the right path.

If you work with storyboards then note the detours on the boards and then go back later to rectify the story that occurs before the detour. Sometimes the detours add a nice plot twists and you change little in the early parts of the manuscript. It depends on the story and the type of character involved.

I still think it’s a good idea to get fully acquainted with the characters. Interview them to learn about their thoughts and feelings; likes and pet peeves. Write down their physical attributes (petite, blonde, with fuller lips, and small feet). The color of a character’s hair matters since hair color is often linked to cultural references or perceived personality types such as the bubbly blonde or the fiery redhead.  A character’s ethnicity matters too and we often work harder at researching their identity to avoid generalizations.

Hair color and body type also define a character’s experience and perception of the world as well as, how other characters perceive them. Even the readers of the book have biases towards hair, skin, and eye color or body weight. One annoying detour happens when we created a character with cropped blonde hair and later learn that she has long red hair. We thought the character came from German heritage but she came from an Irish family of immigrants. See how that changes the story?

Other detours occur when we learn that the character works at a different profession then we first imagined. Or the character who we thought was heterosexual joins the LGBT community and rushes out of the closet. This happened with at least two of my characters during my novel writing endeavors.

Detours happen and often time the change of direction brings deeper meaning and more depth to a story. Some spiritual teachers suggest that characters represent hidden parts of our psyche or our unclaimed shadows. Whether that is the case or if the characters live outside of us (but still in our imagination), embrace the detours. Just like in life, those detours rescue us from another fate or in the least, lead us to the real treasure.

Need inspiration, sign up for a creativity coaching session with me. I combine channeling, cards, and astrology as tools to help you become the best writer possible. I charge $100 an hour for a Skype session. Payment.