Behind The Scenes

Evening my lovelies, I was tagged for this special Behind the Scenes post by the ever awesome Jamie over at Through Two Blue Eyes and it was just too darn intriguing to pass up!

And if you all haven’t checked out Jamie’s site yet (like I’ve been telling you for years…seriously what are you waiting for!!!) run over there and take a peek, it’s full of heartfelt introspective posts, writing advice, Harry Potter and Sherlock appreciation, awesome lists (LOVE), and so much more!

So here’s a little Behind the Scenes with Moonstonemaiden!!! 😀

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Facebook. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?

Umm…not really. It’s a little hard for me to concentrate on typing when I’m trying to eat something. I mean it’s doable, but crumbs in my keyboard are not my favorite thing ever! 😀

When do you normally write? Morning, evening, or afternoon?

This generally depends on the writing mood I’m in. Normally I’m a nighttime writer, typing like crazy from six at night to three in the morning, but there are weeklong periods where I write from early morning until early afternoon. But these are admittedly rare.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Where do you write?

Usually in my living room, curled up on the sofa or an armchair (oh how I miss my red armchair!). I like having people around me when I write, company of sorts since writing is a bit lonely, but I don’t want strangers bustling around and distracting me so coffee shops and the like are out. I like have my family sitting around me, including me even though I’m ignoring them, while they watch T.V. or a movie or something. Thankfully they’ve gotten used to the sound of the clicking keyboard in the background of anything they try to watch!

How often do you start a new novel?

I get new novel ideas whenever they decide to show up, but I try not to actually start writing any of them while I have another novel going because it’s too much for me usually to switch back and forth between stories. I get too caught up in the thrill of the new and forget the awesomeness of whatever I was already doing and it’s just not productive for me personally. Unless I just have to get something specific down, I try to limit myself to just taking very detailed notes about new stories. There have been exceptions of course, I’m writing the Ratha James story while I write Prophecy, but I consider my Ratha James one more for fun than anything else, so it’s like a writing exercise.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Do you listen to music while you write?

YES! I have a playlist for almost every story I have in my head and songs for nearly every character so I make use of those, though sometimes I just want classical pieces that have no words, just emotion, or even just musicals on repeat for noise and so I don’t have to focus on the words. Silence is not fun. But on the other hand, I have had moments where music is too much and goodness knows people love to put on my favorite shows/movies when I’m writing (distracted…me? Not at all…) so there are RARE times when silence is golden. Like holy grail rare.

What do you write on: laptop or paper?

Paper is for poetry for some reason, and quick “I just have to get this down” moments, but all the polished forms of writing and editing are done on the laptop. I can’t read my own handwriting sometimes so typing is just so much easier. And it’s way easier to edit with a delete button. And copy and paste functions.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write?

I try to avoid rituals because once I latch on to them I have a hard time shaking them and then it becomes a hassle, but for a long time I had to play computer solitaire before I could start writing. Mostly I just listen to music for a bit and sing like I’m performing my own sold-out concert until I’m ready to settle down and start typing.

What do you do to get into the mood to write?

Sing! I listen to music and sing (badly but with feeling lol). Sometimes I daydream, especially in the car. Then it’s a race to my laptop to write down everything I was just thinking about before it all disappears into writer limbo. Sadly some great thoughts and ideas were lost this way…

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

What is always near the place you write?

My family is usually around but I’m not writing at a desk or anything so there aren’t any cute, inspiring objects that I keep nearby. I do make backgrounds for my computer though, inspiring pictures and snippets of my story that I find helpful, so I guess maybe that could count!

Do you have a reward system for your word count?

No. I keep an eye on my word count for sure, to judge the day’s progress but unless we’re talking college essay writing here (where I gave myself one episode of Merlin for every paragraph I wrote…highly effective) I’m not one for a reward system.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Is there anything about your writing process others might not know about?

Well nearly everyone who knows me and has seen me writing knows I’m secretive as hell about my writing and if I even think you’re looking at my screen I will promptly tell you off (sadly I’m often wrong but you know…CONSTANT VILIGENCE!) so that’s not new. Um…let me think. I dream about a lot of my characters sometimes and I feel like whenever I watch a movie/hear a song/do anything really I have to sift through all my character’s reactions to whatever it is until I find my own, which is discombobulating at times I can assure you, but also unexpectedly hilarious. And whenever I get really into whatever I’m writing I tend to start reacting to things the way my characters would and sometimes events in our lives seem to coincide oddly. But that’s all part of living the #writerlife, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Up next for Behind the Scenes, I would like to nominate Megan from Invisible World and Juliette from Vampire Maman!

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Writing Mr. Right: Part Two!

Alright my lovelies, the fun part is over; we’ve had our lovely bit of fantasizing, now it’s time to set the pen to paper (or more likely: the fingers to the keys)! Well, maybe one more minute of fantasizing…oh the gorgeousness! Ahem, just let me collect myself…Now we’re ready to write the men our heroines deserve (and we dream about)!

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

Leading men in books need to have a certain ‘appeal’ to readers looks-wise; here’s where knowing your target audience comes in handy. It’s sad and quite shallow of me to say (even though you know it’s true!), but when it comes to Mr. Right, we (the readers) want him to be SEXY AS HELL. I’m not saying he has to be so completely drop-dead gorgeous that mortal eyes cannot glimpse his glory without going blind from the magnificence of his chest hair or whatever, but he does (usually) need to rather handsome. Striking men grab our attention (or at least mine, hopefully I’m not alone here, otherwise I’m going to feel really superficial). Brown hair, black, blond, or red, with blue eyes, green, hazel, or brown, take your pick. Mix and match to your heart’s content and then throw in whatever physique you’ve imagined up: long and lithe, broad and muscled, or that perfect in-between with just enough brawn…whatever. Remember, this man needs to not only catch the attention of your heroine, but also the reader, who unlike the leading lady, has the option of putting the book down at any time. That being said, a few imperfections tend to lend men an even greater allure. So maybe throw in a slightly crooked nose, a limp, a scar (because sometimes there is nothing sexier than a well-placed scar), or bruises/cuts/nicks, just something to detract from too much perfection.

Looks aside, Mr. Right also needs to have the right type of personality; it’s not all about looks you know. Here’s where things get the most interesting (at least in my opinion). Depending on what type of archetype you’re using (however loosely), your plot, and your genre is the type of man your readers will expect. Like I said in part one, if you’re writing a fantasy and your main guy is a warrior, there are already some expectations waiting for you before you even begin. Strength, stealth, honor and danger are just a few of the preconceived notions that readers bring with them when they read the word ‘warrior’. But they don’t encompass the entirety of your character so don’t worry that you’ll be boxed in and forced to write about someone you don’t want to. Think of the archetypal preconceptions as the base of your character; warriors are expected to be strong, so let strength be a factor in his character but then you must decide what else he is, and that is the best part! Think about it, there is a myriad of different ways you can play the warrior card: is he the strong and silent type, the unbound mercenary, the daredevil, the hot head, the sweet, talkative youth, or cunning and careless renegade? Who he is will define his personality, but remember that overall he needs to be appealing, so if he’s rough, balance him out with something that will smooth his edges out a bit.

But please, if you’re writing a sweetheart/gentleman/whatever DO NOT go overboard on the good-guy niceness thing! There’s nothing more aggravating than a man who can’t think for himself and is always deferring to his lady’s preferences and always says the right things and never ever dreams of doing anything that might possibly annoy his one true love. Grrr…it’s just so unrealistic! Men in life and in literature are bound to screw-up at some point or do something stupid because they think it’s the right course of action or say completely the wrong thing at the wrong time. They’re insensitive, selfish, impossible, and stupid beyond all reason (no offense guys, I’m sure you think the same about us females). Now, considering this is a book and we want the reader to fall in love with the leading man, there’s no need to display all the bad traits like some sort of exposé…but do make sure there are a few there. Give your Mr. Right flaws, they make him realistic and humanize him in a way that will both annoy and comfort your readers.

And finally, make his story compelling. It’s as simple as that. Give him a backstory that will grab readers’ attention or heartstrings from the start so they are interested and really care about what happens to him later in the story. Don’t rely on his appearance to keep their interest; his looks will only capture their initial attention, but his story and personality will keep readers glued to their seat anxiously awaiting the new of his happily ever after (hopefully). Backstories are a way to garner sympathy and women respond to men that they can somewhat worry over; it gives us something and someone to root for. (The trick to writing a good man? Make him need a woman!) This works with the character arc as well, give the readers something to worry over, something to fear; make them love your Mr. Right and then put him in danger, either physically or emotionally. But don’t forget to also give them a taste of hope, so that they can see the possible light at the end of the tunnel. Give him a lesson to learn or something precious to lose and make the readers wonder if he will come out in one piece in the end with his love by his side.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading this Writing Mr. Right two-part special as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Hopefully I didn’t bore you all to tears! But what about you, how do you all feel about writing your leading man? Any tips of the trade I’ve missed or overlooked? And who’s your favorite fictional Mr. Right?!*

*I love me some Heathcliff (Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”), Mr. Thornton (Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South”), and my all-time favorite: Nawat (Tamora Pierce’s Trickster Series)!

Originally published in October 2012

Writing Mr. Right… Part One!

What it is about fictional men that causes our hearts to go all a pitter-patter and leaves us twitter-pated, with loopy grins on our faces and a perpetual squeal lodged in our throats for days after we’ve finished a book? Why do they capture our hearts and minds so easily and so thoroughly that we can’t stop thinking about them and fantasizing about how we would handle such a guy? Sigh…I don’t know, but I love them (not in the over-the-top fan-girl way, but they definitely steal a piece of my heart)! When I’m reading a book with a well-written male love interest, I’m completely one hundred percent captivated for the length of time it takes to complete that book. And if I’m being honest, there’s little chance of me getting through a book that doesn’t at least have a romantic sub-plot for crying out loud. There are a few I’ve gotten through and actually enjoyed – and I mean a miniscule amount – but romance is a crucial element in my reading happiness. With that being said, the leading men are therefore vital to holding my attention; I want a swoon-worthy man – that’s why I’m buying the book (be it fantasy, sci-fi, modern, or whatever, I’m not just talking about ‘romance’ novels here)! But how does one write a swoon-worthy man? Hmm…let’s ponder a bit on this most delicious of subjects why don’t we…

*Loopy grin emerging*

Ladies and gentleman don your protective goggles and camouflage face paint: it’s time for a little recon!

Image From Google. I'm so ready for this!

Image From Google.
I’m so ready for this!

To write a good man, you have to be familiar with good men. That means do your research, head to the classics or your own favorite novels for inspiration and begin the analysis. Why do you like the men in these books, what aspects of their personalities appeal to you? How does the author get that personality across? Does this character remind you of the character you’re working with in your head? Study study study. The more familiar you are with the type of man you want to write, the easier it will be to write him. That does NOT mean copy that author’s work/character; that is a no-no of the highest degree. These books and characters are not there for you to copy, they’re there to inspire you. Think of these novels as your textbooks, break them down, analyze them and try putting some of the pieces together yourself (most of us do this unconsciously anyway when we read, or most writers that I know anyway).

You also need to know the genre you will be writing in, and who you’re target audience is. Men are presented different ways in different genres and readers know it and have blatant expectations when they pick up a novel in their favorite section of the bookstore. This goes without saying, but if you’re writing for mature women then you need a mature man, if you’re writing for teens then keep that in mind because a teenage boy and a mature man are completely different (at least in the realm of books, we’re going to forget reality here for the moment). You need to know how to present your guy to the readers, make sure he fits into the parameters of the ‘type’ of writing you’re doing. Most genres already have archetypal men: gentlemen, rogues, leaders, warriors, bad boys, wounded souls etc. and they all come with prerequisite, but slightly malleable, well-known rules. Gentleman tend to be cordial and understanding, rogues are deliciously impossible, bad boys have that sense of dangerous uncertainty, leaders contain a sense of hope and overpowering duty, while the wounded…well they’re wounded aren’t they. There’s no saying that you can’t bend these rules slightly to suit your own character, but you need to at least be aware of them. Readers reading a historical romance are not going to want an emo-esque whiny leading man, and fantasy lovers don’t usually break their hearts over a sharp dressed businessman. Know who you are dealing with because readers are just as picky and vicious as writers are.

But perhaps most important in the recon portion of writing a great Mr. Right, is knowing your character inside and out; this goes with any character in any story. Writers need to know the people they are writing, all the shallow edges and dark chasms, the good the bad and the ugly…everything, because if the writer doesn’t know and understand the character, how can the readers? Take the time to discover the ins and outs of this human being, the whys and how come’s, the things he doesn’t want anyone to know and habits and mannerisms that makes him who he is. What is his back story, what has led him to this moment in his life with this woman and how will his past dictate his present, and how will he handle being placed in this situation and why? Who is he? Go beyond his looks and get to know the man you want people to fall in love with, because if he doesn’t seem real to you in your head then he won’t be real for anyone else either.

So here we are, back to the beginning of our stories, a little tired and grumpy but perhaps a bit inspired. All in all troops, I believe the recon portion of writing Mr. Right has been successful, I hope you all enjoyed the ride and part two of our journey into writing the men of our dreams (the actual writing part) will be posted tomorrow!

Originally published in October 2012