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

Top 5 Resources for Writers

Top 5 Resources for Writers

Hello and welcome to this week’s Monday Musings. I’ll be discussing my Top 10 Resources for writers this week. Everything from computer programs to books to websites. I’m not listing them in any particular order, just my top five resources. I will also say that I am not affiliated in any way with these products or people and am just listing the products that I find helpful in my writing life and as such, want to share.

  1. Writers DigestWriter’s Digest I’ve had a subscription to this magazine on and off since I was about 10 years old. The things that I love most about WD is their articles and tips for writers. Even though they run the same type of issues every year, I constantly find myself learning something from them and their magazine. The magazine also has monthly contests for writers, and a helpful breaking in section in every magazine featuring new writers in every issue. Writers Digest also publishes a list of writers resources every year that I highly recommend purchasing even if you don’t have a subscription to the magazine.
  2. The Creative Penn Website & Podcast– The Creative Penn website/podcast run by author Joanna Penn is one of my favorite writing resources. She gives great writing advice about her own journey to self publishing and interviews many writers and industry professionals in the Indy publishing industry. Her website offers links to her books, courses, free information, videos, social media and more for writers to connect to.
  3. The Self Publishing PodcastSPP The self publishing podcast, hosted by Johhny B Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright is published weekly and talks about trends in self publishing. Each week the three successful authors share their take on what’s going on and interview others in the industry. They also talk about how to be more productive as a writer, using tools to advance your writing, and systems to write faster.
  4. ScrivenerScrivener  A writing software that I use on my computer to write my novels. I am so glad that I invested in it. It has a feature that I love, called the binder where you can organize everything in one place and see it for your novel. Screen-Shot-2013-12-18-at-8.43.37-AM-e1387390545224.png                                         It allows for you to organize your scenes, move them around, even keep old drafts and restore them to see where your writing has been and how it’s changed so you can restore old changes to it. It is about $40, so it’s a bit of an investment but it does export directly to Kindle format so you can write and theorectically have a properly formatted book however, I have heard that there have been some problems with that function as of late. I don’t know if that will continue to be the case or if it has been fixed yet.
  5. HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.comHelping Writers Become Authors K.M. Weiland runs this site and podcast. It is both a blog and a podcast that offers articles about everything from story structure to character building. Her podcast takes the articles on her blog and expounds upon them, giving deeper insight and information on them.

Top 5 Tips for Writing LGBT Characters

Top 5 Tips for Writing LGBT Characters

In the modern world there is an entire subset of book and publications for the LGBT community. As the topic grows in the public eye, more and more books and other forms of media are featuring LGBT characters. In order to avoid stiff, stereotypical characters it is vital for writers to know what they are doing when it comes to these characters. Being an active member of this community, I have insight into writing better LGBT characters than those used as a simple stereotype.

1. Most LGBT people feel the need to hide their LGBT identity. At least from some facets of their lives. There is still a large stigma around being a member of LGBT community and it is for our own safety that we hide our identity.

2. Just because someone is a gay or lesbian character does not mean that they have to follow all of the stereotypes of being gay or lesbian. Not every gay man is flamboyant, not every lesbian woman dresses like a man, not every bisexual person is greedy and going to cheat on you. No gay man is always super fabulous, has a nice house and wants to be your gay bff all the time.

3. DO NOT KILL OFF A LESBIAN OR GAY CHARACTER ONCE THEY REALIZE THEY ARE GAY/LESBIAN/BISEXUAL/TRANSGENDER. This has become way too common of a trope on TV shows like The 100.  (Spoiler Alert for Season 3). Right after Clark and Lexa consummate their relationship, Lexa dies. This trope is not only tired and old but a complete insult to those in the LGBT community.

4. Diversity! Not every gay or lesbian charactacter has to be a white character. Intersectionality, or having a character be say gay and Hispanic can prove an excellent way to add depth to them. No two peoples sittuations are the same.

5. Being gay is not going to be the entirety  of this persons story unless it is a coming out story. That is a specific kind of narrative, similar to a coming of age story and follows a similar structure to those. If the story is not about that, being an LGBT character is a part of an interesting character, but not their entire personality. 
So, these are my top five tips for writing LGBT characters. Let me know what you think. 

-Jessica