My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘characters’

Yet Another One

I feel like the cat in this picture. Unaware of the characters that wait to ambush me.

I love how characters  literally come out of no where and ambush me.

I think writing my first draft helps to stimulate the creative juice and then it doesn’t stop. I came up with an idea on a whim while I was trying to fall asleep–I swear that’s when all the ideas come alive–and most of the time I forget them, but this one–this one has teeth and claws and won’t let go.

The strange thing–it’s a contemporary setting. My first one ever. Though of course there’s some world travel in it; I just can’t seem to stay away from traveling to another culture at some point, even if it’s for a relatively small segment of this yet-to-be-fully-formed idea.

Oh and it’s gonna be a romantic suspense. Although I’ve no clue how to even begin writing one of those, nor can I remember the last romantic suspense I’ve read (on a related note, can someone recommend to me good romantic suspense novels? Thanks :)).

No character names as of yet, but I do have three main ones that have developed. And I pretty much have their personalities too. Some what.

Also, this book is one I’m thinking will be “just for fun”–meaning I’m writing it solely for the purpose of getting the story out and no intent on publishing it. Saying that already puts some sort of stress off me. 😛

Sigh. But I must relegate it to the background while I finish my first draft. Then perhaps I’ll take a little break and focus on this one just for fun. We’ll see!

Character Woes

Why is it that as I’m trying to finish Lady of the Snow, my characters from my last WiP keep demanding that I switch focus to them? 😛 Specifically little miss Naomi, who’s quite the demanding young lady.

No, she couldn’t be happy when I was actually working with her, trying to coax her–and the rest of her fellow friends–to tell their story. Naomi flatly refused to say anything, being the supremely stubborn and sometimes childish person that she is, telling me she was too tired of always having to be center stage. So, I let another story take root, giving Naomi and her story time to relax.

Apparently, she demands I start paying attention to her. Now. 😛

And my ever fearsome, ever volatile Miyuki/Yuki-onna, has seemingly disappeared. Perhaps she got tired during NaNo and decided to go rejuvenate by basking in the frigid air that has been Ohio weather the last few days.

Seriously, they all drive me insane. Either they won’t shut up and give me a moment’s peace, or they decide to just disappear without any warning. Where’s the happy medium, huh? That’s all I’m asking for! ARGH.

Such temperamental characters I have…why can’t they ever cooperate??

(BTW,  comments for my contest have been closed. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who participated!)

My Cast of Characters

I’m a very visual person. It’s hard for me to picture characters in my head unless I have some sort of guide–a guide being a photo of an actual person who I think looks as close to my character(s) as possible.

I realized I never actually set aside time to do this for Lady of the Snow. Guess where two hours of my Saturday afternoon went 😛

And in that two hours I really only found four or five character “look-alikes”. Better than none, right?

Anyway, are you curious? I’ll post the three main ones that I have: Miyuki/Yuki-onna, her love interest, Kazuhiro, his f and her rival, Hatsuyo. Oh and another important player in the story, Daisuke (a friend of Kazihiro’s). I’ve got others too, but I can’t remember the names of the actors and actresses right now and all the pictures are currently on my home computer.

So, without further ado, my “main”  cast:

"Hatsuyo" : Sachi Tainaka

First, the rival, Hatsuyo. She’s the “town beauty” before Miyuki’s arrival. She’s often called “The Flower of Gokayama” (since that’s the current name of my village…although it will probably change later).  She and Kazuhiro were planned for one another at a young age, although it’s never been made official. She’s vain and thinks herself higher than many of the villagers since her family is one of the few farmers of the valley that actually own their land (along with Kazuhiro’s family). She immediately despises Miyuki because she sees how beautiful she is and she notices Kazuhiro’s obvious attraction to her. She’s also determined to figure out who Miyuki truly is, for she’s fairly certain she’s more than she seems. However, Hatsuyo’s not truly evil. If anything, she’s just insecure and comes from a family who only sees the value in her beauty as a bargaining chip. While she cares for Kazuhiro, she truly loves his friend, Daisuke (who is also part of one of the few land-owning farming families, although not as prosperous).

"Daisuke": Satoshi Tsumabuki

Daisuke is Kazuhiro’s good friend. He’s a known as the town flirt 😛 He can be a little on the overbearing side and a has a bit of a temper. He’s a little self-centered, but not to the extent of Hatsuyo. He’s loud and boisterous and loves to have fun, almost bordering on irresponsible.  He’s easily influenced by a pretty face though, and Miyuki uses this weakness of his–as well as his feelings for Hatsuyo–to her own advantage.

"Kazuhiro": Jun Kaname

And we can’t forget Kazuhiro, Miyuki’s love interest. He’s incredibly handsome, with dark and distinctive eyes (which is one of the factors that led to Miyuki transforming from her Yuki-onna self to a human). Despite his good looks, he’s one of those that doesn’t really think of himself that way (often he thinks he’s quite plain).

He is kind hearted and easily taken advantage of because of his loyalty and his willingness to help anyone who asks. He’s contemplative and generally likes to keep to himself. Though quiet, he’s not nearly as silent as his cousin Seitaro (who I don’t have a picture for yet and who’s really just a minor character).  However, he tends to be consumed with all the responsibility placed upon him and often lets it out by an occassional intense outburst.

And last but certainly not least, my main character, Miyuki.

"Miyuki/Yuki-onna": Hikaru Utada

Obviously beautiful, she definitely uses this to her advantage. She can be vain as well, but is pretty good about hiding it. As she’s been hired by Kazuhiro as a servant–and looked upon with some trepidation by the other villagers because of Kazuhiro finding her alone on a remote mountain road–people tend to avoid her. Many think she’s some supernatural demon come to curse the village. Even though they aren’t that far off on this assumption, Miyuki tries her best to appear as human as possible and eventually manages to gain the villagers’ respect, while slowly succumbing to the “mortal” aspect of life herself.

I think this one captures the "Yuki-onna" side of Miyuki...

Though she starts off as cunning and evil, it’s quickly revealed that there’s much more to her than originally thought, especially as she realizes what she was before her transformation into the Yuki-onna.

Anyway, my characters don’t look exactly like these J-Pop singers and actors–all of them are in modern clothes here, so use your imagination and make the guys’ hair longer and more unkept, tied back in a pony tail, as well as the girls’ hair being a little more on the untidy side too. Remember, they’re farmers, so they won’t have all the beauty techniques we have today, nor will they have beautiful kimonos like those of the samurai class. They’d be dressed in pretty drab garments, like grays and browns, and possibly made out of cotton and/or hemp material.

But this is a rough estimate of what they’d look like. 🙂

Now, if only I could draw, then I’d be able to really show you what my characters look like. Alas, I’m not that talented.

The Death of a Character

Yesterday I was pretty frustrated with my NaNo project. That generally occurs at least once during the month of November, and the second week is right around the time it hits me.

So I took a step back, wrote a little over 700 words, and let my mind just rest. And when I didn’t concern myself with all the book’s issues, the ideas for the rest of the book were born.

I have to kill off one of my characters.

As in the case of most of my mini-writing epiphanies, the idea came to me while in the shower. Perhaps it’s the hot water or the steam stimulating the creative juices.

The others I just systematically got rid of as they were adding nothing to the story; this one however will actually die in the course of the story. It’s heartbreaking I have to do this, especially since I know how hard it’s going to be on my one character, but the story advances better. If anything, it’ll also help make Miyuki more human after she witnesses how a family is affected when a loved one dies–something she never gave any thought to before.

This will be, oh, probably the third or fourth person that will end up dying over the course of the book. I don’t like killing off my characters like that but if that’s where the story is taking me, then that’s what needs to be done.

So Many Characters!

I find it interesting how our different main characters from stories can be–and how much we as writers are still connected with them, despite their differences.

I have so many characters floating around in my head, all clamoring for my attention. The two loudest though, are easy to recognize: Miyuki (also, Yuki-onna) for Lady of the Snow, and Naomi Rochester, who’s from my other WiP Promise of the Plum Blossom.

Miyuki is relatively new (only a few months old) and I’m still trying to figure out key aspects of her personality. She’s easily the most complex character I’ve ever tried to figure out. She’s manipulative and cruel, yet towards those around her, she appears as loving and graceful. It initially starts out as a facade, but over time, she transforms into that which she once hated. Her human side constantly battles the Yuki-onna nature–a human side where she’s vulnerable, unsure, and desiring love. Her whole story is her battling with these two extremes–the more powerful nature of the Yuki-onna, who’s cruel and vengeful, and her human nature, one who is really just a scared and damaged young woman. It’s going to be difficult to balance, and even in my thoughts her whole personality is so turbulent. I’m really hoping I can do her story justice.

Then there’s Naomi Rochester, the young woman who’s been developed and re-developed in my head for easily three years now. She’s been mostly the same over the years–a young woman of two different cultures: an American mother and Japanese father. She’s always been rather sassy and temperamental, although that sass came out much more strongly during NaNo last year 😛  She’s always been an outcast because of her heritage, simply because she was born in a time and place where that was frowned upon by both cultures. As a result, it takes her time to actually grow to like people. I’ve also seen her grow up too–from a rather childish 21-year-old young woman, who tended to throw tantrums at times, to a more refined and graceful woman.

Even though these two characters are different in many ways, I’m still connected to them. I still want to tell each of their stories and pray that I’ll be able to.

Of course I’ve got other characters too, bouncing around in my head. There’s the newest one, whom I’ve nicknamed “Maggie” for the time being (at least until I can find a better name). She’s the one whose story I saw in a dream not too long ago. She’s definitely a calm and quiet girl, one of those less feisty heroines. Yet she’s got an inner strength and perseverance that I don’t think I could ever have. She’s been through a lot of tragedy, from losing her parents in a raid by the Indians, to becoming crippled (also from said raid), to being placed with a relative who’s emotionally and physically abusive. I know her story is going to be difficult for me to write, but it will end happily, as all romances do 🙂

And I have so many others from other different stories: Taliah, who is a witness to many of the miracles of Jesus (and also healed by Him),  Eleanor (or Ellie, as I like to call her) from my American Revolution story, to Milena, the immigrant girl from Eastern Europe, who’s been with me since I first wrote a novel when I was 11.

Hopefully I’ll get to write each and every one of their stories. And I know plenty more characters will pop up in my head over the years too!

Character Names Again

I promise this will be my last post on names 🙂 I did a lot of work yesterday narrowing down a few name choices for my characters (at least the ones I can think of now). I still haven’t been able to decide which name to choose for my MC; I keep going back and forth between two or three. So, I’m going to ask you, my faithful blog readers for an opinion. You know what that means? Polling time!

Feel free in the comments to let me know why you chose it. Of course, don’t feel obligated to do this last part but you know I’ll appreciate it!

Character Name Hunt

I’ve been actively hunting for names for the characters in LotS (ha, I love the shortened version of my book’s title :P). I’m one of those writers that has to find names that are symbolic for the characters, too, so it makes it even harder than just searching for names.

Oh, and the names are Japanese, so the hunting has been even harder. It’s not like searching for a name in English where despite the spelling, it generally means the same thing. For example, in English,  my sister’s name, Caitlynn, can be spelled many different ways: Caitlyn, Caitlin, Kaitlyn, Kaitlin, Katelyn etc. But the variants are all based off the Irish or Welsh version of Catherine, which means “pure.”

 However, from what I’ve found, Japanese names may sound and be spelled the same in English, but it could be totally different Japanese, depending on what kanji is used in the spelling of the name.

For example, one of the names I’m considering for my MC:

Spelled “Miyuki” in English. However, it can mean anything from “beautiful snow” with the kanji 美幸 to “deep snow” with the kanji 深雪, to “beautiful fortune” or “beautiful happiness” with the kanji 美幸. That’s not counting the hiragana and katakana spellings. And even these may be wrong; I can’t read Japanese so these characters can be completely off.

Anyway, I’ve decided to try and not focus too much on the techinical aspects and just focus on the English spellings, at least for now.

Here are some of the possibilities for my MC, the legendary Yuki-onna. I’m giving her a human name, for much of the book she’s going to be human:

Chiyoko (child of a thousand generations, child of forever). This one could be interesting since she spands at least three centuries.
Kasumi (mist) I like the way this one sounds, but mist is appropriate in some ways because as the Yuki-onna, she’s not made of much more than that.
Mayumi (beauty, wonderful). Just because I like the name 🙂 And the fact that as a human, she’s renown for her beauty.
Miyuki–silence of deep snow/beautiful snow/deep snow . This one is fairly obvious; I’m leaning towards this one the most because of the “snow” aspect, and it’s more elegent than just plain Yuki.
I’m also in the process of picking out names for the minor characters, but I’m not as concerned about the meanings for them. The only one that’s close to certain will be her husband Minokichi, whose name is taken directly from the myth in Hearn’s Kwaiden, which I’m using as inspiration for the second half of my novel. Even then, I’m not 100% certain on keeping the name, but we’ll see.

Do you put a lot of work into finding the perfect names for your characters? How do you go about it? If your characters are set in a different culture, how do you overcome the hurdles of the language barrier?

As always, I love to read your comments! And I don’t mind hearing any constructive criticism on the names I’ve chosen here, too 🙂

Character Blog

I encourage everyone to check out the blog, Come in Character, developed by Mira (a frequent commenter on agent Nathan Bransford’s blog.)

It’s a creative way for you to go and come as a character from one of your stories.  It’s a good exercise for you to understand those characters of yours and perhaps discover something you never knew before. I only just found it today, but I’m thinking it’ll quickly become one of my favorites.

Go ahead and check it out!

Name Change

It looks like I may have to change the name of my MC in my book.

Apparently, it’s not accurate to the language. That’ll teach me to ever trust any name website 😛 I remember when I first went searching for a name, I looked to see if there were other sites that had the same on it. They did, but apparently they must have copied off of one another for they were all wrong.

This is why I should stick to keeping my stories set in an English speaking country 😛

Anyway I am really grateful to the writer who pointed this out to me (they currently live in Tokyo and have for some time). I’d much rather get the name changed now than have it historically and culturally inaccurate.

I did ask my other friend who speaks Japanese what she thinks, but I am still waiting for a response. It’s going to be difficult to see my MC as anything other than Kaiyo, but I am sure I can do it.

I have a few names that could be possible. I am leaning towards just giving her a standard Victorian era name since her mother was American and it would be more likely that she has a Western name. Some of the ones I thought about were: Eliza, Rose and Naomi. The last one would be a good name because that’s also a name that is Japanese as well. I’m not sure which fits her best though, if any at all.

Sigh. It’s a bit frustrating, but I’m sure there will be many more moments like this in the course of writing and editing this book.

Foundations of Good Literature

I must admit, lately it seems I am becoming somewhat of a literary snob. I don’t want to be this way, yet I have the hardest time finishing a book, either due to the actual story not fulfilling up to its glowing reviews or because the actual writing is so poor, I get frustrated with it.

Seriously, it’s been a couple of months since I last finished a book.

Perhaps it’s because of my degree in English (which has yet to prove useful in life, lol) that I find myself more critical of things. Then again, half the books that are considered classics that we were made to read really weren’t, in my opinion, “classic” at all (case in point: anything by Hemingway. I seriously cannot understand how his work has become so lauded in literary circles).

So, I was thinking about it, and I made a bit of a list of what I consider to be the foundations of a good story. It’s pretty simplistic.

  1. There must be a character the reader can identify with. This has been something that I think has been neglected in many popular books and the “classics.” Perhaps that’s why I dislike Hemingway’s stories so much–I cannot identify with his main characters–or any characters really–that he writes about. Example: Frederick Henry in Farewell to Arms. Throughout most of the story I’m pretty disgusted by him and his actions. How then am I supposed to enjoy the story if I’m reading about someone I could care less about?
  2. The story must be compelling. I may really love the character, but if the story isn’t compelling enough for me to keep reading, I won’t finish the book. For me, this is typical of some chick-lit books I’ve read (or attempted to read and just couldn’t get past the halfway point). I’ll love the character, but his/her story just doesn’t catch me enough and the book will seem neverending. This also goes hand-in-hand with #1. If the story is compelling but the characters are distant, it also falls short.
  3. Will I be able to understand the message? Perhaps I’m not a “deep” reader, but some literary fiction (I say some because I’ve read a good number of literary books that don’t fall into this category) makes my head hurt. Questions are good to have throughout a story, as long as they are not drawn out or never answered. This is what I found particularly frustrating when I took a Contemporary Lit class in college. One of the books we read was Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It was so confusing I would literally have headaches after reading it. The only reason I was able to make any sort of sense of the book was because of my lit teacher (and some of the more talented lit majors :P). Perhaps I’m just not cut out for such “deep” prose, but I do not care for books that need a doctorate to understand.
  4. Is the message too blunt? The opposite of #3 but are you being inundated with the message at every page? This is something I know as a writer I need to work on as I’m afraid I may be making things too deep for the reader to catch on to. But you have to give readers credit; they can figure things out if the message isn’t too deeply hidden.
  5. Is the story too cliche? Is it a story you can figure out the ending from the first few pages? I know nearly everything has been done before. However, a story could be the typical boy meets girl type yet be original in how it’s presented. It’s difficult, but not impossible–I’ve read a good many books that manage to present what could be a “cliche” topic yet are still successful in my opinion–at least to the point where I finished the book.

Does the story stick with you long after you’ve finished? I believe this is one of the most important aspects of a great story. If it’s a book you’d want to pick up again and again, a story that haunts you hours, days, weeks after you’ve read it–then it’s a great book. Many stories are good but the truly great ones achieve this aspect.

I know as a writer this is everything that I need to live up to as well, at least if I want my book to be moderately successful and not one that people wonder how it was published in the first place 🙂 I think as writers, these are things we should keep in mind.

I realize that all of this probably makes me sound even more like a literary snob/elitist when it comes to reading–and perhaps I am in a way. But as a reader, I’m spending valuable time with an author and their story. It can be incredibly disappointing when the book you had great expectations for turns out to be a dud in the end. Truly good literature can be hard to come by, but when it’s found, it’s equivalent to gold 🙂

Anyway, any comments? Any suggestions of a good book are welcome too as I am always willing to try anything.

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