Monday Musings: 5 Tips for Continuity Edits Pt. 1

Monday Musings: 5 Tips for Continuity Edits Pt. 1

Right! Sorry there was no update last week for this blog. I’ve been under the weather for about a week now with the flu so while I posted two blog posts for last week as I usually work on them during the weekend, this weekend I was not able to work on them. And then at the end of the week my brain decided that a migraine would be a welcome addition to the collection of medical oddities for me this month. 

This week I’m going to talk about editing. In my creative writing class we’re doing a writing workshop and my piece is going first. I chose to use the first two chapters of my novel, which is approximately 11 pages of writing. Now, I wrote this novel over the course of about a year so there are portions that I wrote before I outlined and those that I wrote after I outlined my novel.

There were two different paths for my main antagonist in the frame of my story. In one he is the head of campus security and in the other he is a deputy for the sheriff’s department. Now, as I was compiling this piece for my creative writing class, I realized that I had him in two different roles: both as the head of security and as a deputy of the police force. Now, for ten pages that wasn’t much to edit, but for the entirety of my novel, that’s a lot to edit for continuity.

Now, aside from just sharing my novel with my creative writing class I am starting the process of editing and revising it now. The first step that I am taking along that path is going to be in the timeline and character continuity edits.

The first step, at least in my editing process is to create a spreadsheet. I don’t create anything too fancy, just a list by chapter that contains the places, dates, times and characters that go into each chapter so I can track everything and make sure that I’m not creating timelines that cross or that are conflicting.

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As you’ll notice here, the last two entries are in fact almost a month behind and are something that I nearly didn’t catch before I turned in my paper because of how I write, in bursts and not in linear progression. (Which I can do because I outline. So I know generally where I’m going and where I’ve been and I can cross of major scenes in the outline as I write and know what’s left to do.)

The second step is to figure out why there are discrepancies in the timeline. For me, it was that the scene in 24 Hour Fitness and the one that follows were written before the one in Johnstone Center and thus there was a time discrepancy. Now, in another life, that may have been okay, but as these scenes take place directly after, or are supposed to be directly after an attempted murder,  I need to first correct the timeline with the correct time-stamp in universe and make sure that there aren’t details that changed between writings.

The third step in this process is to track your characters. For that I use my character interviews. Now, in this case, the problem is that I have two profiles of David. In one he is campus security and in the other he is a Sheriff’s Deputy. So now I have another error that I have to track and correct throughout my novel.

That’s it for today and I’ll be putting the rest of this up on Wednesday for Writing Wednesdays. Let me know what you use for your continuity editing.~Jessica.

How to Do Character Interviews Pt 2

How to Do Character Interviews Pt 2

Hello, and welcome to part two of this character interview post series. Here’s where we get down to the nitty-gritty. What is a character interview and how to do it? How do you know that your character is actually speaking in their voice and you’re not just answering your own questions? Those, I think, are the essential questions when you’re talking about a character interview and how to do one. 

HOW TO DO A CHARACTER INTERVIEW

The first step in doing a character interview is to know what you want out of it. Do you need to get to know your character for the first time? If so you’ll need to do a much different kind of interview than a character that you’ve written four previous novels about. Getting to know someone for the first time is after all a different conversation than you have with your friends after knowing them and going back to catch up with them after a while.

The second step is to come up with a set of questions for the interview. I find it helpful to have a set for each type of interview (ie new character, recurring character, first interview, villain).  I’m going to attach a PDF of questions that I use for my own interviews to the end of this post.
The third step is to have some beginning steps complete before interviewing your character. Well, what I mean is, ask the basic questions first. Name, age, height, etc. so you can form a clear picture in your mind and learn to hear their voice as they answer the deeper questions. If you hear them say something in a certain accent or way, try to write it down or note it so that you can remember it when you go to write your story later.  

Your character’s voice will come out in the pauses and the way that they speak, the slang, the word and sentence choice and even the length of the answers. It may sound weird, and even downright odd to think of your character as speaking to you if you’re not used to is but, we are writers and weird is kinda what happens. That being said here’s a sample of a recent interview with the protagonist from my screenplay:

What’s your name? Riccardo Ciardino

How old are you? 30

What do you look like? I’m 6’ tall. I’ve got brown hair. Kinda skinny and I gotta wear glasses cause I can’t see for shit from far away. Blue eyes that everyone else says are striking whatever that means.

Where did you grow up? In Italy and Nebraska. Dad got stationed in Naples when he was in the Navy and I ended up living there for a few years so I got ta experience tha Italian culture for six years. It was even better than Nona’s cooking. I mean I knew we was Italian but living there, it really brought the culture to life.

What’s your favorite childhood memory? Family dinner on Sundays. Nonna used to make lasagna or gnocchi or something y’know? And everyone would be there. We’d be talkin bout what had happened that week or history, or living in Italy.

What do you do for a living? I’m a priest. Don’t know how that happened. I started out wanting to be a counselor but ended up in seminary an one thing led to another so here I am a full blown priest now.

What’s your least favorite thing about your job? I don’t know that I would say… One…. Probably taking confession. It’s a burden to hear these people’s confessions and I have to hear them and not tell a soul. I know so much about so many people, and I see them and know everything about their lives. I’m ah, just, so young, an, *sighs* it can be a lot to bear y’know.

What’s your favorite thing about your job? Being able to help people. When they come to the office for something and I can give advice or help em, especially the ones in college, cause I just graduated so I know how that can be.

Where do you live? Now, I was just transferred to a parish outside of San Francisco. It’s a big change. I mean from Italy to Nebraska to the big city. I live in uh the rectory of the church there, so a small apartment really.

What do you want? I want to help people, the troubled ones. Counsel people in the church. I mean, if I wasn’t a priest I’d like to have kids, but vow of chastity. It’s hard to uh stay like this as a young man.

So, as you can see, that is not what I sound like. I don’t know where it came from but, it seemed to fit for this character. He’s a priest, and in this screenplay, which is a horror one, he will be possessed. For this interview I’m just trying to get to know him and where he came from. He’s going to be the protagonist so it’s important to know who is and why he’s the main character, and not say, someone else, who’s witnessing this possession. This is not the entirety of the transcript for both the reason that it’s not entirely done and I don’t want to give away all the secrets of this character just yet.

In this interview, for example, I discovered that he’s overwhelmed by his duties as a priest and that, that is an interesting detail that I can use in this screenplay to motivate Riccardo. Especially in that he will end up possessed in this short script.

I’ll attach the PDF that I use for character interviews to this post. Just know that these are basic questions. For this specific interview I’m going to add questions like:

  • Why did you choose to become a priest?
  • Do you believe in possessions?

Hope this helps you in building your characters now and in the future.

characterinterview

~Jessica

Five Reasons to Do a Character Interview

Five Reasons to Do a Character Interview

So, this is my last semester as an undergraduate in college. I’m taking classes in Creative Writing and Writing the Screenplay and by some miracle (even though they’re in different departments) they’re talking about the same things at the same time. This last week we were covering characters and character building. So now I want to share what I learned along with what I usually do while I’m writing to create a character interview and profile.

Top five reasons to do a character interview:

  1. It gives you an idea of who your character is, their flaws, likes, dislikes, goals, and more.
  2. It allows you to hear your character’s voice as they answer your questions about themselves.
  3. The details you learn in your interview will bleed seamlessly into your story and create a more vivid and realistic character.
  4. You’ll have a physical profile of your character in his or her own words.
  5. You’ll have a record you can go back to throughout your writing and can reference whenever you need to know something about your character.

 4 Books to read about character building (Before I go any further I will say that I make no money from these links and they are not sponsored whatsoever):

  1. Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Authors Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland – K.M. Weiland is a writer whom I am very grateful to have found. Her books and workbooks have improved my writing and converted me from a certified pants-er to a plotter and I couldn’t be happier with the results. This book is newer, and I has help me to see how a character arc works and how I can use them to plot out my character.
  2. The Weekend Novelist by Robert J Ray – I found this book on my dad’s bookshelf when I was a kid because the edition I have is from 1994. I took it to be one of my writing bibles as a kid. Now, the entire book isn’t about creating characters but there is a section devoted to character building in the book and it taught me the first things I learned about writing characters. He speaks about a character sketch, back story, dream and dressing your character in the section entitled weeks 1-4.
  3. A Writer’s Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, And Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development by Victoria Lynn Schmidt – This book is one that I acquired recently in my effort to expand my writing bookshelf. At first I thought it was odd to compare characters to archetypes like the female ones, males ones, then broken down into animal archetypes, but it makes sense as she provides specific examples and each animal and character (For the fox she uses Bilbo in The Hobbit). It provides something interesting and unique that I think helps to craft more interesting characters. It is published by Writers Digest books.
  4. Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints (Write Great Fiction) by Nancy Kress – This book is another fairly recent purchase that is again from Writers Digest books. What I enjoy about it is the exercises that are included at the end of each chapter to work on the concept that she talks about with character building. She also talks about how to choose the right POV for each story and how that will affect the character and use of character building exercises.

Top 5 Things I learned in Class:

  1. Character building is essential for all forms of writing (movies, novels, short stories)
  2. There are so many different ways to build character.
  3. It helps to have a standard form to build your characters.
  4. Sketching out a character’s private place is one of the best ways to learn more about your character.
  5. Sometimes the best way to create a believable character is to take a small detail you see somewhere and use that in the story.

 

Now, I’ve discussed the importance of character interviews and character building in this post. On Wednesday, I’ll post the next part of this series and have part of a sample interview that I’m using for my DFM Screenwriting class as well as a PDF for my character interviews and character sheets that I use for my stories.

~Jessica.

 

Why I Keep an Idea Journal

Why I Keep an Idea Journal

Hello everybody, and welcome to February’s first Writing Wednesday. This week we’ll be talking about an idea journal.

First, what is an idea journal?

An idea journal is, to me, where writers keep their ideas, research, and little kernels that will eventually make their way into your writing. It is one place that all ideas go to be collected. Before I had an idea journal, I kept ideas everywhere. There would be scraps of paper, multiple journals, ideas lost because I couldn’t remember where I wrote them down. I can’t tell you how many ideas I simply can’t find because they were on a post it that has somehow been lost to the mess that is my desk and creative mind.

Second, why use just one?

I find using one and dividing it into sections: ideas, kernels, research and blog posts is best for me. That way I can carry one thing with me and have everything I need for my all of my various writing duties in one place. I can keep my blog ideas in a section and check them off as I write them, adding more as I come up with ideas, add ideas for novels and short stories in another section and keep of track of research like where I looked and what I have looked up in one place. It means that I have to only grab my notebook and I’m good to go. My kernels are little details I notice like when someone in one of my college classes pulled a pair of sweatpants out of his backpack. That will find its way into one of my stories somewhere.

Third, what kind of notebook?

I just use this. It’s a simple notebook I was given for my birthday that I divide with some post its. I could use a fancier one and I’m sure once I’m done with this notebook, which works for now, I will. A three ring binder or multiple subject notebook like I use for class would work better. But for now, Darth Vader serves the purpose that I need. He is great and captures my personality and love for Star Wars.
Well, that’s about all I have to say. Do you have an idea journal or anything similar or why not? -Jessica

January Update 2

Hello Readers and Writers,

I wanted to apologize for not being able to update as much as I thought I would be able to. I have had a lot going on this month. Without going into too much detail, when I had my doctors appointment I was put on a different medication that has some side effects that take some getting used to. The main one of which is extreme lethargy and exhaustion. After about a week on that new medication I have finally figured out how to fight it and I’m back to being able to be awake and up. I was hardly able to stay awake during the day let alone write or even go to work. Let’s just say working when you can hardly stay awake is not something you want to do.

My last semester as an undergraduate college student starts on Monday so my days are going to get busier which means I’ll be having to find a way to squeeze this in to my work, which I hope will mean I can get it done more. I don’t know, but to me, it seems like when I’m busier I have an easier time of getting things done.

I’ve got my interview transcribed and I will have it up and on the blog by the 25th because I am starting the interview process for another job over the next few weeks and I have another few doctors appointments coming up. This month is turning into one of the busiest I have had in a long time.

I will be trying to get caught up on the writing prompts today, but I cannot promise more than one extra as I do have to get caught up on some housework before my family comes for a visit this weekend as well.

Day 12’s prompt is: A story entitled “The Fate of the Telegraph Operator”

–  Jessica

Day 11: “Winter was the only season we could be together”

Day 11: “Winter was the only season we could be together”

Winter was the only season we could be together. It wasn’t something crazy like Persephone and Hades, it was just practical. He was a professor and she was a rock star on tour except for winter.

“Jeff.” She walked through the small house, expecting him to be in the office, surprised when the lights were off. The house lacked the warmth it normally had this time of year. Usually there would be a candle on, the scent of apple pie or pumpkins wafting through the house as she dropped her bags and came home to their cosy abode.

Now there was silence and it smelled empty. Jeff wasn’t here. Lucy sighed. She knew it was getting harder for him to wait for her to be home in the winter, as it was getting harder for her to only be home in the winter.

She wanted to be home, to start a family, to stop being on tour all the time. But it was the only way to do it right now. If she could just keep this up for a year or two more, then she could have enough to ensure Jeff would never need to beg for funding for his research again during his career.

Lucy turned, walking back into the kitchen, intending to start cooking a dinner for herself. If Jeff wasn’t here, he’d be back on the campus working on his latest research project and he wouldn’t be home until 2 or 3 am.

She opened the fridge, looking for something to cook with.

“Damn it.”

There was nothing. Jeff was living like a bachelor again. Nothing in the fridge except some mustard, milk and ranch dressing. Couldn’t her husband ever eat something more than pizza while she was gone?

She didn’t want to call for takeout but a trip to the grocery store after flying from Copenhagen was out of the question was as well.

“Guess Chinese it is.”

Lucy picked up the phone, laying across her couch as she dialed the familiar number. The lock clicked and she paused.

“Hello Lucky Dragon Chinese-”

Jeff nudged the door open, his arms full with two heaping paper bags of groceries, a bouquet of flowers peaking out of the top of one of them.

“Oh. You’re home early.”

Lucy hung the phone up, letting it drop to the couch. “Jeff! I thought you were still at the University.”

An Apology to Readers

Hello there readers. I know I’ve been practically absent from the blog this month. There is a good reason for that, and as unhappily as I say this, I’ve been ill. I’ve spent most of this month driving across the state of New Mexico to various doctor’s offices, appointments and procedures. With that being the case I haven’t had a day free to write in over two weeks. As I write this, I’m waiting in the gastroenterologist’s office. I will be settling down next month, starting summer classes at my university and hopefully having more time to write. Tomorrow I’ll be making a four hour drive back home before I do laundry, prepare my medical paperwork and head off again for the last round of appointments this month. And in apology for this wait I’d like to outline what will happen with the Red Dragon Creative Writing blog next month:

I will be doing a series of posts on the most valuable resources for writers, for the Monday Musings postings, on Writing Wednesdays I’ll be talking more about character building and world-building. Even if you are writing a story based in the modern age world-building is still a crucial aspect of the writing process. And finally for Fandom Fridays I’ll have the next four chapters of my story as well as the first six chapters that were hosted on fanfiction.net. I will be posting my Fandom Friday updates on this blog as well as the actual chapters on fanfiction.net.

Aside from that, I plan on adding a new posting segment as I am currently working through the writing of a non-fiction book. I’ll have the resources I used to plan, what I’ve found both frustrating and helpful, as well as extras from my forthcoming book. They say write what you know, so I’ll be putting together a college guide for those who have chronic illness like myself. Over the last few years I’ve learned so much about how to navigate college with a chronic illness and I hope to share that with readers who, like me, have found themselves suffering as they try to make it to every class.

As I’ve learned these last few weeks, trying to stay connected while driving hundreds of miles in circles around a desert state is impossible. I had planned on writing this letter on Monday, when I arrived in town, but the sheer exhaustion made it impossible until today.

Jessica