Character Development

Two Days Ago Was The Day…

I thought today was the day, but I was wrong. My plan was to finish up with characters after the gym. I knew I only had a few more things to do and was excited to get to work.

The smile on my face as I walked into my writing spot made strangers stare. They probably thought I was crazy but I made them smile too. I pulled out my laptop and my notebook. While waiting for the computer to boot up I turned to the page I knew I was on and stopped in surprise. I’d already finished up that character Tuesday, cool right? So I went to the next one. It was done too. Man I must have lost my mind between then and now. I completely forgot I’d gotten so far.

It meant there was only two more characters to work on. Or not. On the third discovery I was laughing (again with making strangers question my sanity). On the final guy I just sat back and stared at nothing, actually some random stranger but I was zoned and didn’t know it until he smiled hahaha.

How on earth could I not remember I finally reached a major goal? Pain, as it turns out. On Tuesday I was still in a lot of pain from whatever I did to mess up my middle back and I had physical therapy late in the afternoon. It went okay until the doctor worked on my back. I went home sore and grumpy. To be honest, when I finished writing for the day and had to stop to go to therapy I was already grumpy.

I wrote in a new, miserable place that day. The chairs sucked, not helping the pain at all and there were bugs. Two flies made it their life mission to irritate me for the duration and I was forced to murder the weirdest looking ant I’ve ever seen, on a page I was writing on. Afterwards I kept thinking there were ants on me, just like every time a bug gets closer than 20 feet. I was miserable and distracted by the time my “stop what you’re doing and leave now” alarm went off.

Now looking back through those last few things I wrote, I can see my mood reflected. My handwriting is readable, but only to me, and with a lot of effort. The last sentence I wrote was: “It’s very upsetting!” I’m almost positive I groaned when I read it. First, I try not to use the word very, especially not in dialogue, because I’m only going to edit it out later. Second, it was said in this characters adopted persona (a big baby, and super annoying), but I was writing from his real viewpoint. Still, I’m not disappointed with what was written.

The most important thing is I’m done with character building! Now it’s time to write. Hopefully what I write will be nothing like this post. I’m glad I’m not writing this in Word, which would yell at me for how many passive sentences I used.

Wish me luck. I’ll need it because I’m nervous about digging into this story again after so long. It’s changed so much since it was first conceived, I hope I know where I’m going with it. I’ll roll with it and knock this story out!

Sidenote: This is day four of my eye twitch!

Photo by Ryan McGuire

I Guess This Is An Update – 6/20/2016

Today started with me not wanting to get up. I stayed in bed for at least forty-five minutes after I fully woke up. This is unusual because it hurts my back if I don’t get up quickly. I didn’t care. I played silly games on my phone for a while, stared at the ceiling, and did my at-home physical therapy exercises. Still I didn’t sit up, I just felt off, weird.

One eye was twitching and both felt swollen and dry. Aha! Allergies! Technically I have allergy issues every day, so I should have figured it out sooner. Today is a special day for histamines. It must be since they came out to play in full force. It’s one of those days where my body laughs at Claritin and betrays me. Now, hours later, when the meds should have kicked in, I still feel yucky.

I also decided this would be a good morning to not take a muscle relaxer. I can’t blame allergies for dumb choices.

I managed to drag myself out of bed and eat breakfast before going to the gym. While there I made another bad decision, but I didn’t know at the time it would work out that way. I got on a regular elliptical for a while, then switched to the arc trainer. I felt decent afterward so I moved to the recumbent bike. This was the bad thing. I set it for a fairly low intensity, the one I always use. Normally I go for about ten minutes, or until I reach a mile because if I stay on longer it hurts my tailbone.

Since nothing about today is normal, after five minutes my back started hurting again. You know, as if I hadn’t taken a muscle relaxer or already done cardio. I don’t know if it was a one time only happening or if the meds were masking problems caused by using this equipment all along.

What I do know is I’ve been going to the gym for a while now and when I leave I have almost no pain but after a couple of hours it all returns. It’s bad enough I’m in physical therapy. So I’ll talk to the therapist and see what he thinks.

Speaking of therapists, let’s talk about another potentially stupid decision I made. I started going to therapy a couple of weeks ago. My therapist set up a program, including him being okay with me doing cardio at the gym every day if I wanted to. Then he went on vacation. Last week I worked with a different therapist and she told me not to go to the gym on days I have therapy.

I was not happy! I’m not addicted to the gym but I am a creature of habit and I knew not going would throw me into a tailspin. It did. I didn’t go on Tuesday or Thursday because of the therapy. On Saturday I didn’t go because…I have no idea! Time just slipped away from me. I never made a conscious decision not to go, that I know of. I simply didn’t make it to the gym. I tried at one point, was almost ready to leave. Then I realized it was almost time to go pick up my husband from work, something I don’t normally do on the weekend. Why didn’t I go after that? No clue.

Sunday’s workout was hard. Really hard. I struggled with the elliptical and arc trainer both. I got it done but it was a struggle. In fact, as I realized on the way home, it was hard on Wednesday too, and Friday.

This bring me to my potential stupid decision. The two therapists have opposing opinions so like most humans I am going to go with the one who said what I wanted to hear. I’m not skipping the gym again. I’m finally getting stronger and it’s not hurting me to go daily. Today was an exception but I think there is a fix.

Now I’m at my favorite writing spot. After I finish this post I’m hoping to either finish working on my characters or get close. My time is limited here because I have photography class live online at 1:00. I’ll get as much accomplished as I can while out though because it’s so much easier to work away from home. The class lasts an hour and I hope to finish up whatever I need to with characters.

If I can finish this part today then I can concentrate more on just writing. I still have some world building to do but I’ve got enough to start with. I figure I’ll build more as I need it. This appeals to me more than spending months building the world only to have half my work go to waste as the story changes. My muse is a tricky bitch so I have to be cautious.

Building characters has already taken much longer than it normally would. If I’d only worked on a protagonist, antagonist and a couple of major characters it would have been fast. I needed to build six main characters for an ensemble, and two bad guys. I’m writing a trilogy so I’ll have a lot more players but I don’t need to do deep building for each. The characters I’ve spent so much time on are all very different. Three are from the same place but the other three are all from other lands so their cultures are nothing like the first three.

Working on them was beneficial. There were two characters who were important but I hardly knew them. Sure I knew what they looked like and what they would do in the story, but they were so generic. It was like having two level 100 human paladins. Each was just a representation of a trope. Now they are fully fleshed out characters. Each is a person, with hopes, dreams, flaws and needs. Coincidentally they can’t stand each other, which was interesting to learn.

When I started writing this story, more years ago than I like, all I had was one character (one of the ones I felt like I didn’t know actually), and some dragons. I didn’t know it would be a trilogy or have an ensemble cast. I was pleasantly surprised when some demigods showed up and astounded when they morphed into real gods.

The biggest shock was when the first character I came up with turned out to NOT be the main character! All these awesome changes happened when I decided to spend some time planning instead of trying to write by the seat of my pants. It’s been worth it to build each major character and their realms.

Now, well hopefully tomorrow, I can write the story without working myself into a corner. I know where I’m going, what I want to happen and how it will all play out. There is even plenty of room for my muse to swoop in and make major changes. Planning hasn’t destroyed the magic of writing, it’s made it possible to concentrate on only the magic.

I don’t do real outlines, I make index card outlines instead. There is wall across from my bedroom door where I’ve put up large cork board squares. I write a one sentence (most of the time) scene description on each index card and pin them up. This helps me see holes in the story and it’s easy to rearrange or replace cards if I make changes. I can hardly wait to do this.

The original boards I did for each of the three stories are pinned over my bed. I made them with poster board and Post-It notes. For the new one I’ll only be working on the first story in the series. When I have it finished I’ll take down the originals and make new ones for the last two books. I will only fill them in with what’s necessary though.

I’ll post another writing update on Friday if I can to let you all know how the story is coming along. I’m going to try to write in a linear fashion. Jumping around is more natural for me but it also gets me in trouble.

Unimportant sidenote: My eye is STILL twitching!


Is It An Update?

For at least an hour I sat in my regular writing spot away from the house not writing. Instead I was agonizing over a character’s name. I changed it five or six times before today so this was particularly frustrating.

The original, from too many years ago to think about, was Darian. I love it. Unfortunately it doesn’t fit the naming culture I’ve worked out. Also I must love the letter A because most of the major characters have it as either the first or second letter of their names. Also, there are too many with the same vowel sound in the first syllable. Did I mention I’m a creature of habit? Well it’s a problem in this case.

He’s not the only one giving me problems. Another doesn’t have an A but it still rhymes with too many others. UGH!

So instead of catching up on writing the story, I’m trying to come up with unique monikers. Oh and I suck at it. I narrowed it down to fourteen names but none of them really grabbed me. Well one was awesome but I am saving it for a different story. Writer problems right?

Finally, I came up with something I am almost positive will stick. Ironically it’s a variation of the original. I started changing the spelling and substituting letters until one stood out. I’m not posting it because I need to hold onto it for a while and let it make up my mind for me, or not.

As for actual writing, I’m still world building and half writing scenes that spring up from it. The process has been slow because I’ve been busy with other things.

Last week threw me off because it was the last week of school, which meant two early out days. This in turn meant my writing days were shot. It also meant the house was much louder than normal.

I keep thinking it will take forever for me to adjust to it but then I remember I go out to write in a place that gets packed with loud people at lunch and I still manage to work. Perhaps my kid being home all the time will actually be helpful, assuming she doesn’t interrupt every ten minutes.

I wrote several short stories – flash fiction actually. Two of them I posted recently. One titled Tauria and the other was The Key. The third isn’t where I want it to be but I’ll polish it up soon and post it. Writing shorts while working on a novel makes me feel like me again, almost normal.

All this writing happened despite a return of massive back pain. Something has either happened to the disk site or it’s typical pain to feel at this point after surgery. I go see the surgeon on the 7th and get an x-ray. Hopefully he’ll say the pain will go away. Or maybe put me in physical therapy. Either way, I’m not going to let it stop me from writing.

Oddly enough, the one thing that makes the pain better is going to the gym. I have to be careful not to overdo it but it helps a lot. The people who work at Planet Fitness probably think I’m addicted since I go every day. My reasons are silly. I’m not an outside kind of person. I do like going outdoors, but in limited doses. Besides, the elliptical is better for my back than regular walking.

So there you have it. I’m not sure if this is an update of simply me complaining. It’s probably somewhere in between. Now I’m going to try to write something other than a list of names or blog post!


Update – May 16, 2016

I made a lot of progress on my work in progress. Then there was the backsliding. The story itself is moving forward well but character and place names are giving me trouble. A couple of major players needed new monikers as theirs didn’t fit their respective culture. Plus I had too many names with similar sounds.

Over the last two days I’ve agonized over them and researched names and finally I think I have most of them where I want them. For now.

Taking the time to do some world building has really helped the story. I did this when I first started writing it but over time it’s changed so much I figured I should start over, concentrating on new cultural stuff. Religion specifically plays a huge part. Not real life religion, although I pulled from many actual religions to make my own. My villain is worshiped fanatically by her followers in a world where honoring the gods has become more of a habit than a belief system.

So I’ve spent a lot of time on what motivates these people. It’s interesting work. On the other hand figuring out what motivates, or doesn’t, some of the cultures where religion isn’t as important in daily life is fascinating. There is even one part of my world where the humans live with their god and mourn his murdered mate with a deep abiding sense of loss.

I hope I can do this world justice as I write it.

On a personal note, I’ve been working out on a regular basis and I’m getting stronger. An added bonus was the return of my concentration. I go from the gym to wherever I’m going to write and I am able to stay focused. It doesn’t hurt that I’m sleeping better since starting this exercise business. Flightiness is still an issue but not in the mornings.

Normal is getting closer to reality for me, well as normal as I get. It also helps to not be taking anything other than muscle relaxers and Tylenol for my back pain. My last follow-up with the surgeon, assuming all goes well, is next month. I’m hoping by then I won’t need any meds.

More writing updates will be coming soon!



Nanowrimo Day 15 w/Bonus Epiphany

I did what I promised myself I wouldn’t do. I switched projects, a little. Everything was going well on The Ghost War until suddenly it wasn’t. I had some decisions to make that I couldn’t seem to figure out. Instead of waiting until I had it nailed down I wrote a few scenes as if I had made a decision, both ways. Unfortunately I like both and it didn’t help me pick which way to go.

I also jumped ahead and wrote the big battle scene and then had trouble going back to the middle. I’ve never written anything in chronological order until this project. When I skipped ahead in the timeline it really threw me off. I was stuck for three days, only writing a few hundred words a day.

My muse apparently didn’t like this down time because all of a sudden I had this amazing idea for a fairy tale, with a twist. I tried to squash it at first because I promised myself I wouldn’t work on other stories during November. I failed. Finally after my days of nothingness I decided I would put down some of the ideas I had on paper. I knew better but I did it anyway. Now I have the first act (first draft) completely written and I started making an index card story board for the novel. I have some great characters (with cool names), although I haven’t fleshed out the big bad yet. It’s got some classic fairy tale stuff: some royalty – one who’s foolish and one who is not, an angry witch, possibly a sorcerer, a prince going on a quest, a dark and dangerous forest,  and a weird curse. Most importantly, it’s got a built-in twist and I love it!

I don’t know everything yet but I know the basics. I do not know what age to gear it towards. Part of me says – hey it’s a fairy tale, make it for kids. The other part says – um, the old school fairy tales were Not Disney movies and were horrifying, write for adults. I’m leaning that way. We’ll see how it plays out.

Now that I’m excited about the story I feel okay with switching to it for now. I stalled on the ghost story and wrote next to nothing for too long. I can’t really be mad at my muse for making me write something else. Instead of thinking of it as self sabotage, I’m  content that I’m at least writing!

If I count the words from the new story (and I am) then my Nanowrimo word count is 26,904 as of last night.

When I said I switched projects a little I meant even though I am working on something else right now I still consider The Ghost War my main Nano story. If I finally get unstuck I will put aside the fairy tale and go back to my original work. At least I think I will. The way I keep jumping around I’m either going to never finish any books or finish eight at the same time!

Tonight is the Night of Writing Dangerously event for my Nano region. I might go. I definitely will if I end up working on the ghost story today. For now I’m going to put aside writer’s guilt and enjoy my craft.

Long Sidenote: As I reread this post checking for errors I had a moment of clarity. I was thinking about the stories I’ve had problems with and I see they have something in common: Female protagonists. I normally use male protagonists, partly because I read a lot of fantasy and there are limited choices for good female leads, and partly because I have always struggled to write women. I grew up around pretty much all boys. My house was the communal house for my two brothers’ circle of friends. In a sense I had all the boys in my small town as big brothers. I couldn’t help but be a tomboy. As I grew older I got more interested in feminine things but I never lost the tomboy core. The most obvious result was my inability to understand the behavior of the girls around me. It influenced what I read, the shows I watched, and the people I surrounded myself with. It’s kind of hard to understand a friend’s excitement about purse or shoe shopping when there is a quest line I need to finish in World of Warcraft or Doctor Who is on. I have no idea how to overcome this but as a wise G.I. always said: Knowing is half the battle.

Last Day Of NaNoWriMo Prep

Today will be a busy one for me. It started with me getting up early to take my husband to work, which I don’t normally do and usually would not want to! I’m glad I did it though since I didn’t stay a zombie for as long as I do in the mornings. It helped that it was a bit chilly outside — I love fall weather, so my mood was good.

I’ve tried to finish up a story board for my Nanowrimo project since I got home. I think I have it mostly figured out, at least enough to get me started. I fully anticipate my plan blowing up once I actually start writing the story.

This afternoon I have to take my cosplaying daughters to some event they’ve got going, then pick them up three hours later. Then I need to make dinner and pick my husband up. At 9:00 I’ll go pick up a friend and go to the last-minute planning event for my Nanowrimo region and hopefully avoid passing out before midnight so I can participate in the kick off (and not snore while out in public).

In between all of this I’m trying to finish reading Stealing Hollywood, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. I’ll be reading it/working through it during all of Nano. This year I’m limited on how long I can sit and write because of back pain but I have the time to write. To avoid frustration I plan to read about writing when I’m not doing the physical act during my writing time. Most of the last third of the book consists of breakdowns of movies to show the structure. I’m interested in this but if I somehow write longer than I plan in a day I’m not going to feel guilty for not reading it. On the other hand since reading these breakdowns can only help me with my story and in the future, I don’t have to feel guilty for reading it when I can’t write.

As for my story this year, as mentioned I have the plot mostly figured out but I’m still struggling with character names. I may have to pick really bad place holder names for now. You know the kind you would never actually use in the finished story. Right now I have a character I only call ‘2nd wife’, two potential love interests called ‘male love interest’ and ‘female love interest’ and one ‘guy in charge.’ I also haven’t named any of the necessary minor characters. Hell I haven’t even fleshed out any minor characters. Most don’t show up until the second act and I’m enough of a pantser to be okay with figuring them out as I go along.

My biggest fear for Nanowrimo this year is life is going to get in the way of me writing every day and I might not finish. I don’t mean I’m afraid it will. I mean it definitely will so I’m worried about it. I will have two medical procedures that don’t take long but will leave me loopy afterwards, although maybe I’ll writing something interesting during those times. It’s more likely I’ll want to sleep. Also between my daughter’s orthodontist appointments and Thanksgiving break from school, there will be many interruptions. Plus stupid little things like eating, bathroom breaks and showering and my limited ability to sit in one position for long.

Honestly I don’t think I’ll win this year but I want to write as much as I can. My daily goals are small and manageable but I’m still nervous. There is something about Nano that brings out obsession in writers. I don’t want to fall victim to that again because disappointment sucks.

I’m going back to my book/prep.Good luck to everyone trying their hand at Nanowrimo this year.

Quick Writing Update

I am still working on Nanowrimo prep. As usual, every time I do a little planning my muse throws out a million new ideas. Some of these ideas were for my Nano project but mostly I keep thinking up either new stories or changes for other projects. This is nothing new. It’s why I have so many projects in various stages of completion.

I’m going to have to very hard to keep on track. Since I can’t write for hours and hours at a time I need to find a way to stay focused on the story I’ve chosen to write. I’ve jotted down these stray thoughts so I don’t lose them forever but I don’t want them to take over!

I’m using the three act structure for my story this year. I am also using index cards instead of a traditional outline. A couple of days ago I decided all of act two, part one needed to be moved to act one. Act two is looking sad and empty. It’s more work now but I’m glad I figured it out before November!

My biggest problem at the moment is I need a villain. At present my antagonist is more of a supernatural force: ghosts. It’s not wrong to do it this way but I think I need at least one person/thing/whatever to have a little more focus. The story is missing something and bad guy might be it. Since I’m a write by the seat of my pants person at heart I have faith that I’ll work something out.

I’m going to try to write some flash fiction this week. I haven’t done it in a while. I was avoiding writing shorts because I get into it and was afraid it would take away from my prep for Nanowrimo. Now I believe it could help wrangle in all these random ideas and keep my muse happy. No one wants a pouty, pissed off muse! I’ll post any I write soon.

Writing Update

I’m reading a book about writing with the longest name I’ve ever seen:

Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!): STEALING HOLLYWOOD: Story structure secrets for writing your BEST book, by Alexandra Sokoloff

I’m of the opinion you can read a million writing books and only take away a few things for your own writing toolbox. I also believe this is a good thing, as long as you spend more time actually writing than reading about it.

For most of my writing life I’ve been a ‘pantser,’ which means I write by the seat of my pants. This is great for a lot of writers. A famous example is Stephen King. He is also prolific so clearly it works for him. For me, not so much. I am great at coming up with ideas and starting stories but they fall apart at some point or end up going nowhere or change so much from what I envisioned in the beginning I don’t know where to take them.

I have tried doing some serious planning like my literary idol, Brandon Sanderson. It seemed to work better until I realized the story was too rigid and I hated it.

Finally I realized I am a hybrid, or as the people at Nanowrimo called me, a plantser. I do need some planning but not too much. I’ve studied various story structures to see if I can pull from them without being weighed down by them, hence the long titled book mentioned above.

Sokoloff uses the three act, eight sequence structure screenplays use. When the book was recommended to me I was wary because I thought I would feel hemmed in since I wasn’t quite reformed from my pantser ways. However, with the story I’m writing for Nanowrimo this year the 3 act structure is perfect.

What is great about doing it the way Sokoloff does it is you’re mostly using index cards pinned on a board, which I already do. It wasn’t too hard for me to then try the other steps she talked about. She instructs the reader to make lists, a lot of lists. If you know me at all you know I love my lists! This book is perfect for me.

There are some things I won’t use and some I will. I call that a win. I added to my arsenal and since I’m not finished reading it yet I anticipate adding more. I’m plotting my Nano project as I read and do the exercises and my planning is coming along nicely. I have a visual, flexible outline and while I know everything will change as I write at least I know where I mean to go and I can get back on track if I go in some random bad direction. Also, index cards are cheap. If I scrap the entire second half I can make new scene cards easily.

To be clear, I’m not trying to sell you a book. I’m talking about it because it’s working for me. It won’t for all writers. If it does for you then awesome!

Now about the actual story I’m writing this year. I many ideas and a few problems to work out. If you want a small sampling of what it’s about click here for a short story about the main character. The first problem I’ve encountered is main character’s name. Right now it’s Drae. I like the name but when I write about her I’m not sure it fits her. Also, my muse can’t decide what she looks like. I know she’s short, thin (tougher than she looks), shortish dark hair, dark eyes, slightly dark skin. I thought she was at least part Native American but now I don’t know. I’ve looked up pictures of famous Native American and Latina actresses to see if anyone fits how I picture her but I haven’t found anyone yet. No matter how I search, all I see is Selena Gomez and Victoria Justice and Drae is nothing like them.

That’s probably what made me start questioning her race. If I can’t find someone she resembles then maybe I’m wrong about who she is. Plus the name thing. Sometimes a name is a cultural thing and it’s important. I’ll eventually work it out but I hope it happens before November. How on earth am I supposes to write about someone I don’t know very well? It’s made even more difficult by a plot twist I can’t give away so I can’t even ask anyone for advice! Ah, writer problems, what a joy.

Other writing update: I haven’t written any short stories since the Story A Day September Challenge ended. I did write some notes for one but I haven’t taken the time to finish it because I’ve been busy with Nanowrimo planning. I hope to write a few pieces sometime this month. I’ll keep you updated. As for my main WIP, I’ve put it on the back burner until December or maybe January. Also I’ve toyed around with putting all my Wednesday and Saturday prompts together in e-book form and putting it up on Amazon. I’ll let everyone know once I make some decisions about it.

Minor medical update: I finished physical therapy and it didn’t work. I’ll see the pain doctor at the end of the month and we’ll see what he says. Cross your fingers for me.

Random Sidenote: I’m so happy it’s almost hot tea weather in Texas!

Excerpt From My Fantasy WIP

The story a day prompt is late and once again I’m feeling impatient. I considered writing a horror story about what happens when people are late to what they think is a normal job but after jotting down some notes I realize it will be a longer story. Since I want to take my time with it and think some more I decided to work on my fantasy story.

The part I wrote today will be a prologue, probably. I might redo it from the man’s perspective and make it a flashback. For now I’ll call it an excerpt. It needs a lot of work, as it is first rough draft stuff, but I don’t want to get into editing mode at all this month since I’m doing the story a day thing.

She held in a scream the contraction tore into her. Her blue eyes were clouded with pain. It wasn’t supposed to be like this she thought again and again. The woman was lying on furs and saddle blankets against the wall of a cave several miles south of the tundra that was her destination. She had tried to go further but the baby’s coming stopped her flight earlier than she expected. She couldn’t be sure the people of the trading village so the cave would have to do. She moaned through another wave of pain as her husband appeared at the entrance.

“I’ve got as much firewood as I could find.” He laid the wood in the pit he’d made earlier. “I have no flint.” His face was panicked.

“Help me up,” the woman requested. He helped her to the wood piled in front of him. She placed a hand on the nearest log for several moments. The wood reddened and caught fire. With her husband’s assistance she went back to the furs. He put their cook pots, already filled with water, on the fire and started ripping her extra skirt into strips.

She wished they’d left earlier. For the first time since marrying she wished she hadn’t turned her back on the sight. She’d only had occasional glimpses of the future for several years. Those she usually ignored. Two weeks before she started getting hints that she couldn’t stay home to give birth. Her husband’s people held to the old ways. The visions told her that if she had her baby in her husband’s home, her child would be killed. It has frightened her but she convinced herself it was just pregnant delusions.

Then, two nights ago she had a vision so strong that she could no longer deny it. She had to leave. She packed some clothes for her and the baby and a few essentials. As she prepared to leave her husband caught her and demanded an explanation. She told him everything. He tried to convince her that he wouldn’t let anyone hurt their child but refused to change her mind. She told him she was going back home to the tundra to give birth. He finally gave in and packed his clothes, insisting on going with her. The baby was due in a few weeks, but they left that night and rode hard. They were forced to stay off the road, so they followed a game trail through the forest heading north. She didn’t know if it was the hard riding or fate, but when they stopped at a cave for the night, her water broke.

Her labor pains were closer together and she knew the baby would come before morning. She glanced at her husband. The firelight reflected in his gray eyes and she saw the fear he tried to hide. Let the baby have his eyes she prayed. In that moment she knew she would not survive the birth. She was consumed by fear for a moment, but she wasn’t afraid to die. She was worried for her child. If the baby had the wrong color eyes, anyone would know the child was a half-breed. If her husband took the child home, the baby wouldn’t be allowed to live.

“You must take the child to court,” she rasped at him.

“What are you talking about, you hate court.”

She saw it in his eyes, he knew it too. “It’s her only chance.”

He smiled his lazy charming smile. “So you know it’s a girl?” He brushed her pale hair out of her eyes.

“Do not pretend with me, husband. You know it goes badly. Listen to me closely, it’s almost time. You cannot take her home. I’ve seen it. She will be killed. Go to your cousin and ask that she be cared for with the princes. She will not betray you. Most people in the capital ignore the old laws. Our child will be safe there.” He nodded silently and she was glad he respected her enough not to argue. He trusted her sight.

“Is there nothing I can do?”

She shook her head and he held her until she told him the baby was coming. The birth was difficult but the child was well. Her husband wrapped the crying infant in furs and blankets, then placed her in his wife’s arms. The child stopped crying and stared at her mother. She had one last vision of her daughter as a young woman. With one last relieved sigh, she stopped breathing.

The man took his daughter from his wife’s arms and looked closely at her as tears fell down his face. Grief and determination replaced fear. She needed his protection. He would do as his beloved asked and go to court to hide his child in plain sight until she was older. Looking at her small face he knew his wife had been correct. The child was in terrible danger. One of her eyes was gray and the other was blue.

As you’ve probably figured, eye color is a big deal in my story. The various races of man are forbidden from marrying outside their own race. Skin color means nothing to them but eye color indicates which god they worship and the gods themselves issued the law. A child born of two races is somehow dangerous, but I can’t tell you why yet!

This is a glimpse into my writing process. First drafts are extremely bare-boned. I generally leave out all description, except generic stuff like: forest, cave, tundra, etc. I might throw in a hair color here and there. Also, super emotional stuff, like this man losing his wife, I save for revisions because this kind of thing needs a lot of attention and care to be done right. If I spent all that time now, I’d never get the story written!

You’ll notice most of my sentences start with he, she or the. This happens because at this stage it’s all about getting the words out as quickly as possible. My mind forges ahead but my fingers can only type so fast. MS Word tells me I’ve used 9% passive sentences. UGH! I shouldn’t have looked.

Most importantly here, my two characters don’t have names! I always struggle naming fantasy characters. In later parts of the story I call the man Joran but I don’t know how I feel about it yet. The baby is named Aevith and I can’t for the life of me figure out what to call the mother. I have one restriction. Her name needs to be one syllable. It’s a tradition of her people. None of the one syllable names I’ve thought of seem to fit her. If anyone has any suggestions (for the man or woman) they would be more than appreciated!

Amendment To Previously Posted Writing Updates

One small, yet huge addition to my Writing Updates post from yesterday. The main character in my fantasy series, named Darian, was abruptly kicked to the curb today. At least, that’s how it felt. This has really been happening for months, but it took some time for me to face the facts. His younger brother, Caeleth has taken his place as my protagonist.

There are six main characters and Darian still has a place in that. However the story really centers around the brother. They’ve both been trying to tell me that for a long time and, as previously mentioned, I’ve been taking steps toward listening for a few months.

I have many reasons but one that stuck with me was there are so many stories with royal brothers told from the perspective of the crown prince. Also a lot of them pit the brothers against each other. I like the idea of the story coming from the younger sibling and he doesn’t want to kill his brother and take the throne.

I’ll tell you all more about Caeleth in the months to come. I put the poor guy through the ringer. He’s the best character I’ve ever written (my bias is showing) and I’m embarrassingly proud of him.

Back to writing for me!