Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Creating Setting Part II

To see Creating Setting Part I, go to Skulljuggler's post

The key thing to remember about setting is that it goes deeper than just location or political structure. Setting is an emotion. Setting is mood. A setting tells us whether we are reading a horror or fantasy, whether it is going to be a happy scene or a sad scene. There are several ways you can set the tone of the scene using setting and a variety of tones can be used from a single setting.

Let's take an example, a meadow for instance. If you wanted to make a happy scene or an idyllic scene you could have the meadow lush with green grass and sprinkled with flowers, a strong sun shining and a warm wind curling through the air. If you wanted a sad scene you could have the meadow barren or the flowers looking dull and droopy on their stalks, the air still. It lends a sense of oppressiveness, of loneliness. Now of course there are a variety of ways to play with different thematic devices, but most importantly, the most effective setting will reflect back on the character.

What I mean is simply this. To make a truly effective setting, you should consider how your viewpoint character feels about the place and what mood they are in.

For the first, consider how much different it feels for you coming home to your house where everything is yours and you set your own rules compared to going to another's house, even a close friend's. There are things there which have histories you don't even know. It is stiffer. Mostly polite. You are unsure whether or not you should move things. This varies, of course, depending on the level of friend and your own disposition.

For the second, playing on emotion, if you're going home after a long days work and are tired, depending on your disposition, you might take comfort in the familiarity of home, or you might feel oppressed by it. Going to a friend's house might be your place away from home, where you can crash and not worry, or it could be stiff and awkward and a torment, depending on how your feeling.

As a writer you need to be aware of both how you react to places and, in turn, how your characters feel. Different characters should be able to look down the same street and feel differently about it depending on their disposition, how they feel at the time and even the history that street carries for them. For example: a young man in a good mood who enjoys architecture might stroll down the sunlight street, looking at edifices and enjoying the sun on his face. Another young man who say had gotten mugged before might feel exposed in the sunlight and see only the shadowy alleys and the dinginess of the storefronts.

In summation, don't be afraid to use scenery as more than just a painted backdrop. Make it come alive. Make it mean something. Create layers so the readers can come back again to the same spot, same story, same words but knowing the characters disposition, can understand just a little more of the world you've laid out.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What's Love Got to Do with It?

So I'm reading a book and it's pretty good. I like the protagonist, I like the writing style, the plot is gripping and intriguing. Mid-way through the protagonist is being lead somewhere and realizes this boy he only met once and barely had any interaction with is a woman. Well no problem there, how he recognizes her gender is pretty well thought out. And then, from out of left field, he thinks she's the most beautiful thing in all creation and I want to throw the book across the room.

Another book, a fascinating guy, an interesting character, sees this beautiful healer and BAM instant I'll die for you I love you blah blah blah allow me to scream bullshit and another book dents the wall.

I hate this trope. I hate it so much. So so much. It's as if the men only fall in love with the women because they are beautiful and the women, naturally, love them back because it is true love, love at first sight and blah blah blah. Can love at first sight happen? Sure I guess. I'm not debating it. But there are two things about this trope that really grind my gears.

1) The woman gets no characterization other than how she relates to the male lead.

No really. She's beautiful/sexy and that's it. Oh, sometimes they'll throw in things like, she's really not a stereotype because she can fight. Fighting ability does not a character make. I don't care how many hobbies you give her, if she is just there for the hero to bicker with/save/have sex with/whatever--with no problems of her own except to serve for angst fuel or a chance for the hero to save her she is a token chick, flat and thin as cardboard.

In relation to this, she is almost always beautiful, the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. I realize beauty is in the eye of the beholder but how funny, everyone else seems to think she's beautiful too.

I haven't seen this trope too much reversed. Like a female heroine falling in love with a man just because he's hot. Usually there's something about his personality that attracts her. Of course this leads to the girl loving the guy who is an asshole but at least he is more developed than simply being a beautiful woman.

2) It's lazy. So lazy. Oh they love each other. The only arguments they have is because she is a spitfire and doesn't need help from any man! rawr rawr! The fighting is lazy conflict. Oh but they do love each other because of course after that they sleep together. That's not love, that's lust and it's also lazy.

I want to see characters who build up a romance. Who are both unique characters in and of themselves with good sides and bad sides. I want to see compromise. I want to see them trying to build a relationship and go through all the ruffles and problems real people going through a relationship have. Otherwise, I cannot and will not buy it as any sort of romance. I want them to know each other, get to know each other, be there for each other and not take any bullshit from the other. I want to see partners as well as lovers.

Also it would be nice to see a little less heteronormativity but that is another rant for another day. But at least in the few non-hetero fantasies/stories I've read such as The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling or The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon, the couples know each other as people before they fall in love and forming that love and keeping the love going is a work in progress. It never becomes perfect. They always have to work at it. I couldn't say this is true for all non heteronormative fiction and I doubt it is but these are the best examples.

The point is love is stronger when it has to be worked at. Love is stronger when you know your partner. Love is a continuing process. It's compromise, it's hard, it's more than just she's beautiful/he's dangerous we snipe but I really love him/her forever.

Don't be afraid to take that leap...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Write On

There are a plethora of writing rules out there. Do this, do that, show don’t tell, don’t overuse exclamation points, etc etc. But, I think that there are two that need to be mentioned repeatedly, just to remind us and to inform everyone who doesn’t know already, the real secret to writing. These two rules are write and keep going.

On the outset, the rule a writer must write, is kind of a ‘duh’ moment. If a writer doesn’t write than they are no kind of writer at all. So what do I really mean by this? I can’t seriously be suggesting that the greatest secret to writing is…well, writing. Yes that is exactly what I’m saying. It’s like this, do any of you draw? Throw pottery? Try to learn another language? You may become quite good at it but if you stop for a long length of time, you lose the knack for it.

Now, I’m not saying that if you used to paint like van Gogh you’ll go back to stick figures but what I am saying is that when you get back into, say, painting, you won’t be as good as you once were. It takes time to get used to things again and to work back up to your previous level. Writing gets rusty as well. Just as the hand forgets how to form the shapes with the exact precision it once knew, the brain forgets how to place sentences just so. You lose sense of the story, the rhythm of the poem, it’s a slog to get back to bat again. To quote Inger Mewburn, author of the blog ‘The Thesis Whisperer’ “writing breeds writing.”

And it does. The more you write the easier it becomes to write and not only can you write with more ease but you’ll also improve. In order to get the best out of your ability you must practice practice practice. Try to write something every day. It doesn’t have to be on your current work in progress. It doesn’t even have to be perfect. It can be absolute crap. But don’t let fear of failure lead you to stop writing so that your mind rusts.

Of course there are the times when writing seems to be nothing but an uphill climb through sucking mud and sharp rocks. You know what you want to do. You know where the story is going but for some reason you just—can’t—get it and you’re not sure why. The emotion isn’t there. There is one small piece you are missing, like a tiny key to a gigantic lock. When I hit these times, which I inevitably do, I whine to Skulljuggler and she—being the wise woman she is, tells me to keep going. It is the best advice I’ve ever been given.

Keep going can be used in two senses. The one Skulljuggler generally means is just move on, keep writing—you might get an idea further down the line. And this is helpful and often very correct. But I like to employ another version of keep going, that is, keep going at the problem. Keep picking at it and picking at it until you can crack it open. Try every method you can think of. Holly Lisle’s "Create a Plot Clinic" has some pretty useful advice for that but you can always Google for advice, turn to friends, do guided meditation on youtube, go for a walk, do yoga, freewrite, –rest if you have to, put the problem aside if you must but only for a little while. Any nut can be cracked if you peck at it long enough.

Remember, no matter how stuck you are, no matter how desperate you are, this is your story. The answer lies within you and you can bring it out. Whatever you do, don’t give up and just keep on writing.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reader's Manifesto

I am a very picky reader. No, really picky. It takes me a lot to get invested in a book and keep on reading til the end. The writing has to be good. The characters have to be good. I can be forgiving excellent writing... But there are a lot of books out there I simply can't read. So here is my manifesto, as it were. The things that I would really really love to read and really really hate.

Romance that doesn't rely on "just because". I really hate this. No, I mean, I really hate this. I was reading a book, recently, and the male character saw this female character and fell in instant love with her. He was blushing. All he wanted to do was appease her and she was so sweet and innocent and I wanted to strangle him and her both. She was a side character and could have been interesting in her own right but she will never rise above the status of love interest in my eyes because he fell in love with her for no discernible reason.

I want to SEE why characters are in love. I want to see what they have in common. On that note, love is more than just blushes and arguments and sex. Love is about touching and closeness. About getting through things together. I want to read about a couple I can really see together--even if they're not perfect together and, hell, I don't think they should be. I believe the greatest love is one you have to work at.

I want characters. No. Not characters. Real honest to goodness people. I'm tired of reading about heroines who serve either as Love Interest or Xena. Even a woman who can kick ass has got to have other things in her life. Give her a hobby. Make her passionate about comic books. Say she can play a musical instrument well. Give her a life outside of the story. Give her a background and not just the tragic childhood bullshit but friends, too. Teachers. Guides. Enemies. Frenemies. And this applies to your hero, too. Give him a life, hobbies, a job, that doesn't directly influence plot. This makes them well rounded. This makes them surprising and fascinating. This makes me want to give a damn.

In that vein, I want to see main characters with flaws that make them less heroic. I don't mean like klutziness or being bad at piano, but things like anger, like not being able to get along or let go, like fear, cowardice even, wanting to run away. These aren't pleasant emotions, no, but they are human emotions.

I want minorities to stop being relegated to the sidelines of fiction. The token black person, or, dear god the token gay person. The gay best friend. That man over there he's gay. Gay characters, even minor ones, can and should be just as well rounded. Minorities and gays alike (and I'm speaking of all LGBT not just men) are more than just the lables that we impose on them.

For example, suppose you have an Asian man in your cast. Don't just slap a Japanese name on him, give him a dojo and make him a master in martial arts. He can have all that if you want but give him a hobby. Make him like Nascar. Give him real problems. Give him things in his past he has regretted and not just cutting someone up but hurting someone emotionally. Make him human. Even if you aren't of that particular culture and are afraid to be wrong, remember that NO ONE is the same no matter what culture but humanity is something everyone understands.

Same thing with LGBT characters, especially if they're you're main characters. Being LGBT is not the be all and end all of their existence. It should be relegated to the background noise of their lives. Who they look at when they pass on the street. Some of the choices they make but dear god not all of them. Even the most flaming gay man--if he is well rounded and human--will be accepted as not a stereotype but a character. You don't have to understand an LGBT lifestyle in order to make that character human. As I said, everyone is different.

Creating well developed characters isn't always easy and the time and effort in making them consistent can sometimes make you want to tear your hair out but I believe it's worth it. My rule of thumb is, if you can explain a character in one word, one sentence even, they're not complex enough. You have to be able to say, it's complicated.

I want to read a story that I can't see the end of. This is harder to advise for and the the only thing I can say is don't be afraid of your story. Don't be afraid that it might not sell if it ends on a downer and no one will like this character. As I've said in every post so far and as I will keep saying, write the story that's inside you. Let your imagination take you.

This is what I want to read and so this is what I write. Lately, it's been easier to find these kinds of books. Maybe it's a shifting trend in publishing or maybe I just have friends who can rec really awesome books. Anyhow that's my manifesto. What's yours?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Top Ten Influential Books

Okay, well, riding on the coattails of Skulljuggler and Marissa Meyer I thought I would list the ten books that influenced me. It's rather funny because I see a lot of similarities. The numbering is mostly there to look pretty.

1. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

This was my first foray into chapter books and I adored them. The intertwined stories of the Pevensie children along with Eustace and Jill stuck with me throughout my childhood. Looking back I think I loved it because there wasn't much handholding. Sure Aslan was there when he needed to be but for the most part these kids faced hard situations. War, fear, Aslan 'dying' and they always suffered the consequences of their actions yet the end was always a good one. It taught me to enjoy the bittersweet in life.

2. The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I loved these books. I loved how Laura got older and I loved reading about her life which wasn't always easy. I enjoyed the descriptions of frontier living as well as the closeness of their family. She was an awesome heroine to me. She was tough but at the same time just an average girl and still this story pulled very few punches. I understand that it was semi-autobiographical but still...her sister goes blind. Show me that in a MG series these days...

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I loved the language in this book. This book set in me a sense of wonder. A sense of wanting to travel. Everything was amazing to me, fresh and new. I loved the song of the dwarves and I loved the epicness of the tale and how Bilbo was hardly a conventional hero. He wasn't very strong and his bravery was debatable at points though quite fearless. I love the world building which was rich and detailed. I never quite got into Lord of the Rings the same way for some reason.

4. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
Man these books were freaking epic. I loved the idea of Ged and all the adventures he went through and his trials...though most of the trials he had to endure was because he was a little snot who didn't want to listen to anyone. Still he was a great wizard who talked to dragons and all sorts of things. This is the book series that inspired me to write...or at least I started on my first idea for a novel after reading it while blatantly lifting ideas from it. (I was young) and the worldbuilding is awesome. It is richly detailed and elegantly written.

5. The Arrows of the Queen Series by Mercedes Lackey
Here was a heroine who was a scared, oppressed, kind of emo but in love with stories. She was often frightened due to her rigid upbringing but had the courage to runaway and become a Herald (well she was chosen for it but still) I remember she was everything I wanted to be at that age and the trauma of her story moved me appropriately. This is one of the few books I read the covers off of. The worldbuilding is unique and there is always the mystery of what the Companions are really.

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Oh this story. The pages were thin the writing exploded all over the page and it took me several tries to get through but once I did I loved it. I love Jane herself, quiet, bookish, but with a spine and Mr. Rochester was darkly handsome (with perhaps somewhat questionable taste in women) I loved the psuedo-gothic feel of it. The will they and won't they romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester. And of course I loved hwo they got over themselves and got with each other in the end.

7. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Whoever knew this was going to show up raise your hand! No cookies for being right. :p Harry Potter was the series that freed me. Being raised in a religious household (though not too oppressive though severely anti gay) I read the first book and liked it well enough but then decided it was witchcraft. (or rather everyone else did) and threw it away. I more or less forgot about it for a while until a friend made me read Prisoner of Azkaban. And I fell-in-love. Remus was awesome. He was mysterious, he was warm, there were things HAPPENING. He was wicked cool. And of course I was afraid of Sirius, him being the villain of the piece and then at the end-- just-- all my misconceptions blown out of the water. So I went back to read the first book and plow my way through to the third again and wait on pins and needles for the rest of the damn series. Annd I started to ship Sirius and Remus, like, seriously (haaa) hard and once that door was flung open all the rest were. I realized there was so much more to the world than my narrow confines of my upbringing told me about.

8. Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
This is the first of Anne Rice's books I'd ever read, let alone vampire books. This was my eras version of Twilight, yo, at least to me and my friends. Lestat would kick Edward's ass. -coff- Anyhow, I had no idea what the hell was going on or who these people were, but I enjoyed Lestat as a hero. He wasn't perfect. He was far from perfect. He was a smarmy arrogant git and really damned proud of it. He was a beautiful narcissist and I loved every minute of it.

9. Star Trek: The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Crowes
Why, yes I am a trekkie. I read this story as a kid (in fact that's when the bulk of my Star Trek reading happened) more than once in fact. It's essentially Saavik's story. For those who aren't familiar, Saavik is Spock's protegee, appearing first in the Wrath of Kahn played by Kirstie Allie and then in Search for Spock by Robin Curtis who does a much better job. Anyhow, Saavik is half Vulcan and Romulan and lived on a planet where Romulans had Vulcan slaves and then...I'm not sure what happened but a bunch of half breed kids were just left there to rot. Anyhow she grows up with them kind of and is really a feral little thing until Spock comes along and saves her and takes her in and teaches her. It was a long, hard process and Saavik is in a constant battle with her emotional v logic, much like Spock though she has an even harder time since Romulans (being a distant cousin to the Vulcan) have the same tendency toward brutal emotion. It was a story about love and being able to make it even though it was hard.

10. The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flwelling
This is probably the most recent on my list. I admit, on the first few pages of the first book in the series, Luck in the Shadows, I was kind of hesitant. There were all kinds of fantasyish names flung about and hints of a evil overlord and I am kind of annoyed by that trope. I honestly only got the book because the guy on the cover was cute. Then I saw Alec, shivering away in a cell and I was intrigued...especially since he had no idea what was going on and was often tortured. Then some weird bard guy was shoved in with him...who was more than he seemed and I was hooked right on through til the end of that book and the second, and the third. Well not the end of the third yet because I haven't finished it because I didn't want it to end...but now that there are two more books in the series and Skulljuggler will kill me otherwise I figure I'll go ahead and finish. Seregil and Alec are unconventional heroes. They are heroes in their own way and I highly HIGHLY approve of the romance. These books gave me the courage to write characters that were just themselves without worrying if they were too bad or too good, too gay or too straight. I would read them again and again and again.

So there are my top ten influential books, what are yours?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Circle of Editing

Right now, I am working on editing Twisted and man, if you think it’s easier now that the story is finished, you’ve got another thing coming. When writing, it’s important to remember that, really, the story isn’t completely finished until it’s being shipped out to stores. There will always be edits, edits and edits again. And even then, if you happen to become as rich and famous as Spielberg you can fiddle with the source material. However, I’m banking on the assumption that most of us won’t be and, in any case, most of us are just concerned with getting the story done and out. Though I am more of a writer than an editor, as a writer I have to do both. Skulljuggler has helped me edit a lot of my stuff and she’s broken it down into four parts, book edits, chapter edits, scene edits and line edits. (Be sure to check out her companion blog on the topic.)

Book edits are just like they sound. They are the easiest edits and the hardest ones. You read the whole book and you think about it what the book needs and if you’ve gotten across what you wanted to get across and if you have all the scenes you need or if you have more scenes than you need. If you know exactly what kind of story you have in mind, then this part can be easy. If you’re not sure what you want to do exactly, now is the time to start thinking about it but you don’t and probably shouldn’t make a definite ironclad decision right there and then. The hard thing with book edits is getting hung up on phrasing or sentence structure and you need to learn to not pay attention. No, seriously. Don’t. Worrying about the nitty gritty stuff like that will come later. Right now, you’re just looking at the story as a whole.

Chapter edits and scene edits are pretty much the same as book edits but here there’s an extra step added. In chapter and scene edits you actually get right in there and revise, again, not for sentence structure, but so that the story fits with what you want. Here is also where you add chapters or scenes where you think you need them. Not sure if you do or not? Add it anyway. You can take away chapters/scenes here, too but don’t delete them. You can always use that material later, and if you change your mind, a deleted chapter is just going to cause massive amounts of frustration.

This kind of editing can also be the most time draining because adding or changing scenes/chapters can add a ripple effect. For example, you have your character do something really cool in this new scene, but this really cool thing majorly affects the way other scenes flow so you end up having to change them too. The ripple goes backwards as well as forwards so often you have to change the beginning of your narrative as well which just causes more ripples and between one breath and another, you’ve got an almost completely different story than you started with. This can be good or bad but at this stage, don’t worry about it.

Also, though I’ve clumped these two stages together remember to take them one at a time. First look at the chapter and see if there is anything that needs to be fixed and then fix it scene by scene. Another word of advice, in relation to the ripple, is that don’t try to stop the ripple. What I mean is, don’t try to force your story back onto the path that it was in before. Try to take all the implications of what changed and go with it, even though a lot may change from what you’d originally written.

Finally, there are line edits. Line edits are more than just fixing grammar/spelling mistakes and awkward sentence structures. Here is where you thread in lines of your theme, where you perfect character voice. This is where you fine tune every sentence and phrase so that your book is the best that it can be, you say exactly what you want to say in the best way you know how to say it. This can be the most fun out of all the editing stages because by this time you know your character and plot really well. This is the place you can play with words and just have fun.

So line editing is done. The last i is dotted, the last t is crossed. Now what? Now you go right back to book editing, or global editing as Skulljuggler calls it. This is to make sure you have your book exactly how you want it. You may find that, yay, you do! In which case it’s time to ship it out to perspective agents/publishers/what-have-you. You may find out that you still need to fix some stuff and then you go right back into chapter/scene and line edits. There is a real danger here, though of it becoming an endless cycle of editing. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and let go and work on something else. It’ll be okay, no really. Unless you want to keep writing the same book forever at some point you have to say, this is it. When you’re finally done, take a deep breath, congratulate yourself and start right in on something else. With luck you’ll get an agent and get to go right back into editing.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Characterization Blog with Skulljuggler

So how do I write characters? Since I suppose that I’m good at it, well at least SkullJuggler says so and who am I to debate someone so wise? Check out her blog entry here. Essentially I write characters that I want to read about. Characters that I care about. All writers do on some level. After all if you look at Bella from Twilightor even Anita Blake from Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, they have often been accused of being Mary Sues. You could say that, yeah they are unique in some way, but to many people they’re just an echo of the author's wish fulfillment. I guess any characters is but the trick is to move beyond echoes into actual living breathing character so that you can feel the throb of their pulse through the pages and hear the brush of their breath as their dialogue whispers in your imagination.

Since this is a joint blog, I will move off of Skulljuggler’s point, (or maybe she moves off of mine. With the magic of the internet you’ll never know. Mwa ha) You have to make the characters real. Well so how do you do that? Do you rip personalities right from the headlines, so to speak, of your friends or family? Do you spend hours reading books on psychology painstakingly trying to reconstruct the perfect psyche? Well, you can do all that. Everyone has their own methods. Not one of them is perfectly right. For realism its important to remember a few basic things.

Firstly, a character, like a real person, does not exist in a single point in time. What I mean is that a character has a history, a past which has shaped him or her to what they are when the story begins. All these events, both significant moments and tragic back stories need to be threaded into everything the character does, part of their every day makeup and how they look at the world.

Does this mean that the character should use twenty pages to think about how they lost their mother? No. Okay, can they talk about it to another? No that’s still cheating. I mean, take a look at any stranger on the street and can you tell they lost their mother just by looking at them? In the first ten seconds of meeting will they tell you? Likely not. However, if you saw him watching a mother and child, turning the channel when a particularly poignant commercial with a mother came on, or even something as simple as being uncomfortable around women of a certain age… you might get some hints and good fiction is all about hints. Good fiction, sometimes, is letting the readers draw their own conclusions rather than hammering them n the head with them.

Another thing to remember about realism is that no man is an island, or woman or werewolf or two headed alien president of the cosmos. Even if the character is floating alone in the depths of the sea, there will still be people in the past that have connected with them. Most characters are not in the sea though. Most characters interact with others. How your main character thinks and treats those others can tell a lot about your main character. Going with the angle that he lost his mother, maybe he’s fine around authority figures but he’s stiff and uncomfortable around doctors, maybe the medicinal smell about them makes him nauseous. Use this. Your character should not react to everyone the same way, or react to them solely on gender lines or good/evil lines.

Finally, no one is perfect and you shouldn’t let your character be either. It’s already been covered to let them have some flaws but giving a character flaws can be a dangerous business. You can very easily say, yeah you think my character is perfect BUT she bites her nails OR she goes into a psychotic rage whenever there are certain tunes whistled (though actually that might not be a bad idea using themes of control and lack thereof and how she feels after the bloody massacre…well…never mind…) A flaw has to effect a character in a negative way. Let me repeat. It has to effect the character. For instance, if a character is afraid of something like, trains, but there are no trains anywhere in the story, not even in the character's head, it is not a viable flaw. Characters must live with their flaws, rise above them or not it’s up to you but it’s important that they impact the character in some way.

Two more points.

Firstly, Socrates said that: “an unexamined life is not worth living.” In order to create realistic characters is to realize the realism in yourself. To know why you do what you do. What are writers, after all, but studiers of human (or alien or vampire or magic talking dog) nature under varying conditions? So a great way to start creating characters that leap off the page is to look at what characters do it for you. Take your favorite character from any kind of media and examine them on two levels. First, what do they make you feel? Why do you like them so much? Is it because of who they are? What they represent? What they look like even? The second step is to read analytically. How did the author put this character together? How did the author weave their back story? How does the character interact with others? How do others interact with the character?

Last, but most important, write the character that is burning in your heart. The character that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you want to throw yourself into your narrative so you can sit beside them and talk for hours. Don’t worry if the character is too flawed for a hero or too good for a villain. Don’t worry if the character seems too childish for a woman of thirty or too wise for a girl of five. Will everyone love it? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they will years from now. Maybe you won’t even like them the next go through. It doesn’t matter. If your character is vastly unloved, at least you had the experience of laughing and crying and talking and spending time with them. And who knows? You could have the next Harry Potter or even, yes, Bella, that sets the world on fire.