Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson

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Writing Challenge

It’s only mid-September, but I just finished co-hosting one fiction exchange and next on my agenda is NaNoWriMo. I’m trying not to lose the momentum I have going.

To that end, I’m hosting a writing challenge (Dreamwidth | LiveJournal). I invite you to join in! If you don’t have an account at either of those places, never fear: I’ve turned on anonymous commenting on Dreamwidth, so you can link to your own story wherever it might be as a comment to that entry.

You can also post it right here and I’ll link to it for you in both places. The more, the merrier. If you have any questions I’m happy to answer them.



Where do you find inspiration for characterization? Does a character come to you fully realized, presenting themselves as if you were meeting for the first time at a party? Do you get snippets of understanding about them that deepen over time? What tools do you use to round out your character’s personality?

From the time I was young, I’ve had a strong interest in astrology. One of my favorite tools to use in writing is determining a character’s astrological work-up (this of course requires more than a passing familiarity with the subject). Once I’ve done that, I can go to my favorite reference book, Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, and use her insight as a way of rounding out my character’s personality. Yes, the book is dated, but her descriptions are vivid and wonderful and if you see her work the way I do, you’re presented with at least two dozen fully fleshed-out character studies.

Another fun tool is the Meyers-Briggs assessment. For me, this is better in retrospect than when I’m actively trying to create a character, but it gives me as a writer plenty to think about: introvert or extrovert? Sensing or intuition? Thinking or feeling? Judging or perceiving? What a wealth of detail we can bring to the page simply by deciding which of these tendencies are strongest in our characters.

I’ve also been known to use enneagrams to flesh out my characters, but since that’s a tool with which I’m less familiar, I tend not to use it as often (I’m much more at ease with numerology if we’re going by numbers).

There are so many other tools out there to help make characters realistic. What are your favorites? Which ones have I missed? And finally, how many hours have you spent taking online personality quizzes as your character(s)?

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Don’t pay attention to Polonius

…go on, be a borrower and I’ll be the lender by proxy.

You can now borrow both Dragonthology and Happily Ever Afterlife from Amazon if you’re an Amazon Prime member with a Kindle account.

(Sorry, for taking your character out of context, William Shakespeare. But imagine if Polonius had an e-reader: would he still have spent all that time eavesdropping from behind the tapestry?)


What writer’s block.

Every now and again we hear something we really need to hear in that particular moment, something that wouldn’t have the same impact at all if we ran across those same words in another time or place. What I heard the other day was this, from a friend:

“It’s always good to remember that writer’s block is basically a response to stress.”

She was speaking of her own situation, but those words made so much sense that I’ve decided to keep them in my pocket at all times. I don’t have to scold myself or penalize myself or be angry or mortified with myself for not having had the focus to write for a while. I have plenty of ideas, I just haven’t been able to muster the self-control I know I need (or put aside the time) to make anything of them.

I suspect that most of us who write have trouble finishing things. One thing I loved about NaNoWriMo last year was the sense of accomplishment when I hit that 50k word count. Of course, that was just the beginning before the hard part started. I’ve been lucky enough to have received varied feedback from the not-so-helpful (“you need more characterization”) to the extremely useful (“this paragraph doesn’t work for me, but here’s a way it would”). Synthesizing it all isn’t easy, but I’m finally at a place where I believe all the comments have sunk in as far as they’re going to go. That means I can move forward.

Between then and now I’ve taken a few online workshops and while I didn’t agree with all the feedback I got, I do agree with the sentiment behind it and can see the common threads from different people. As summer ends and the toughest things (a death in the family, many hospitalizations — though luckily none for me — and the resultant continual travel) lose their sting, I look forward to getting back to my very own rhythm. I’m not sure I’ll put the word count tool back up as a motivator, but I hope to be back to slow and steady, improving this book. I still have faith in it and believe with a little TLC it will be submission-worthy.

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I’ve been so sadly neglectful. My apologies.

Due to some critical family matters, I haven’t been keeping up with the goings-on here. I haven’t been doing much of anything aside from the family stuff. It’s tough to want to carve out time to write and be creative, but all my emotional energy is drained and I feel about as creative as my shoe. No, wait, I feel less creative than my shoe (it’s a pretty snazzy shoe, to be honest).

I actually wrote a little yesterday, about 1500 words based on a prompt from my friend Megan. Every word was a struggle, so I know I’m low on flow. I’m low on flow because I haven’t been sleeping well or enough. The creative juice will come back, but I am just out of ideas and energy.

At least I got a new sketchbook and some pens. I ought to try them out and see if anything comes of it. Wish me luck.


Time for Something New

I’ve been dragging my feet long enough: it’s time to start writing a new book. Recently I’ve received some valuable feedback on my writing and that’s rejuvenated me. It’s a gift to know where my strengths and weaknesses lie when it comes to the stories I choose to tell.

What will I write next? I don’t know yet. Ideas come to me at unusual times. I sit on them for a bit, parse them, and see what comes of them. I believe I know which direction I’d like to go, ultimately, so I’ll see what I can do.

Wish me luck.


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