Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


NaNoWriMo Again

What do you do when you’re planning your NaNo novel but can’t start writing yet?

Easy: edit something old. I’m in the process of getting an old novella set up properly in Scrivener (by the way, I tried Scrivener last November and bought a full copy as soon as I was done with NaNo, it’s wonderful and forces me to be more organized). During this process I’m becoming keenly aware of the way my writing habits have changed. For example, I use both colons and semicolons a lot more sparingly now than I did just a few years ago. The book I’m looking at is filled with incomplete sentences. They’re not quite fragments, but they’re not necessarily grammatically correct either. Missing pronouns and the like. I wasn’t intentionally trying to be edgy – it was more like stream of consciousness. Reading it now, though, I find it jarring. My job between now and November is to soften those rough edges that scream first draft to me now.

In the meantime, snippets of what I want to write in November keep tugging at my heartstrings. I have to bat them back down and away, and I hate doing that. It’s all for the good, though. 50,000 new words means 50,000 new words.

I can keep notes, though! I don’t want to lose any trains of thought for the novel. By the way, I’m in the camp that says 50k words is too short for a finished conventional novel… but it’s a hell of a good start.

Happy planning, everyone! I support all my fellow NaNo authors, so if there’s anything I can do to help or just to cheer you on, let me know.


Getting ready for NaNoWriMo

In years past, when I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo, I would get so tired of hearing about it. Maybe I just felt left out: all these people all over the world working apart-yet-together on this massive goal. I didn’t have the time for it. I didn’t want to work to someone else’s schedule, for heaven’s sake. I didn’t need the artificial encouragement. I found hundreds of reasons not to participate… and then last year, due to a little nudge from my long-time writing friend Amanda Davis, I decided to take a stab at it.

I had so much fun. That’s why I’m prepping for this year’s round of NaNo. My checklist so far:

  1. Pick a genre – check
  2. Pick a title – check
  3. Come up with a vague concept for a storyline – check
  4. Come up with a vague backstory for the protagonist – check
  5. Come up with a vague backstory for the other main character – check
  6. Start researching – check

Things left to do:

  • Outline the plot arc
  • Come up with the secondary complication
  • Decide how this is going to play out
  • Name the characters

I’m coming clean with things here. I’ve been very vocal about being completely done with paranormal stories, particularly paranormal romances. Yet here I am thinking of writing a sort of romance with a paranormal slant to it. What can I say? Never say never!

Which of you are going to participate in NaNoWriMo next month? I’m myself over there. If you’d like to be writing buddies, I will be extremely encouraging. If that’s something you need, don’t hesitate to add me.

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I’m brand new on Ello now.

Do you ever get social media paralysis? At new sites, we have the opportunity to rebrand ourselves. What we post becomes a part of who we are and how we act. I like to consider what I put on sites like Ello and Twitter before I let them become a part of my public record.

What to do! Staring at the blank page anywhere fills me with more than a little bit of apprehension.

(If you’d like an Ello invite, let me know.)

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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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