Novel Update

I started editing this morning around 6 am, and managed to get through three more chapters. I still have a lot to go, but my stomach is bothering me so I felt it would be best to take a break. I think that I’m going to have some toast for breakfast, and then do a bit of reading.

I’ve finally had a chance to catch up on books that I’d bought a year or two ago and due to how my schedule was I didn’t have the time to read them. It’s nice being able to read books I actually chose for myself versus assigned readings. Not to say that my professors don’t choose the odd gem, but I’ll be frank (“hi Frank”), the majority of the books I’m forced to read for school I barely get passed the first three chapters. I skim them…sometimes only reading the dialogue or anything that catches my eye. Of course a lot of the books that they choose have almost no dialogue whatsoever. I tend to write a lot of dialogue…my creative writing teachers have said that’s what they like best about my writing. So perhaps that’s why? I just enjoy dialogue…maybe because of all the comic books I read? Who knows. Still, a lot of the books I get assigned are difficult to get into. They’re not very exciting. Sometimes the writing is extremely poetic and gorgeous but despite the words being beautiful the text isn’t saying anything at all. So, being able to read what I want is a nice change.

I just finished reading Tokyo ESP. The amount of references made to superhero’s like Spider-man and Batman is ridiculous, but it made the book more enjoyable. If you’re into manga or graphic novels I definitely recommend it. There’s a flying penguin, how cool is that!? Now I’m reading a novel called The Painted Girls. I’ve read 52 pages so far. I always had the problem of misplacing my bookmarks as a kid…so I taught myself to memorize the page numbers. I know it’s weird. Anyway, I’m really enjoying this book so far. I picked up some more manga at Chapters back on Tuesday. My Nana reserves novels for me that she thinks I’ll enjoy, and I got birthday money and Chapters gift cards so…I’ll be hanging out among the books for a while. Since purchasing The Painted Girls two years ago, and Galore I haven’t spent my money on novels that weren’t for school. I also haven’t had the time to read them. My Nana gave me four novels: three last year and one back in December. I still have to get those read before she gives me the next batch.

She said, “I have some books for you, but they’re adult books.” since I told her I’d finished reading a comic book the day before. I wouldn’t recommend Tokyo ESP to my five-year old niece, but I’m guessing my Nana can’t tell the difference when it comes to comics. My Dad never used to like reading as a kid, and she ended up giving me a bunch of his old comic books. They’re huge by the way. I can’t imagine trying to carry that around with me. I’ve always enjoyed books…that’s why I’ve been writing my own since kindergarten. Although…the things I wrote in kindergarten probably shouldn’t be seen by another human being…they were weird. I wrote about a zombie once…but I spelt zombie like “zoom-bie” and yah…the zoom-bie only wanted some friends. It was basically a four-year olds take on Frankenstein. The illustrations were pretty great.

Since my niece found out that I write books and make videos and music, whenever she comes over she wants to do the same. So, we take some paper, staple it together in the middle and then she says, “You can be the author and I’ll be the illustrator” and tells me what I should write.  She comes up with some interesting stories. Many Disney characters tend to appear in the story. Who knew that Princess Jasmin and Aladdin rode a magic carpet? Apparently we’re also going to start a band because she has a recorder and a ukulele and I have a keyboard and a guitar. I don’t know what we would call our band but…we definitely need some practice. Between the squeaking of my guitar strings and the whistling from her recorder…we’ve created a very…unique sound for our listeners (sorry fam).

I’m so glad I managed to get some writing done this morning. I was starting to worry that I’d end up slacking today because of my stomach. Glad that I didn’t. Maybe I’ll do some more in the afternoon. I’m still a bit tired but I think I need to put something in my belly…it just feels weird. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with what I are last night. I started feeling gross after dinner so…who knows. It annoys me that whenever I’m not feeling well, I want to go for a run. I could go for a run anytime, but whenever I’m like this where my stomach is bugging me or I’ve got a massive headache I want to go on this intense run around the track. I need to lose weight anyway. Despite the fact that I barely eat more than one meal a day. I seriously need to get fit though. I can’t stand being so unhealthy. Of course, Easter is coming up so I’ll be fed all sorts of goodies. I’ll force myself to get fit anyway. I really don’t want to put on anymore weight. I managed to lose some back in December, and at the moment I feel as though I either put some back on or…it just shifted around. I just want to feel healthier. Exercise helps me relax and whenever I’m active I can think clearly. Well, I think I’ll go make something to eat.

Till next time,

–R.

 

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School and the Cost of Books

Taking a break is nice. I like to relax for a little while and let myself recharge. Especially when it comes to school, since early February can be a very busy time for assignments and such.

I hate to admit it but I spent more time goofing around and reading comic books, than getting ahead in my work. Honestly, I wish I had made the decision to get ahead in my readings but I didn’t like the books we were currently doing for school, and I wanted to take a break from reading novels. Being an English Major takes the fun out of books. A large majority of my classmates agree with me. There is a difference in being allowed to choose what you want to read versus being told what you have to read and not only do you have to read it, you have to tear it apart and find all the possible metaphors, and focus on the ideas behind the text…. Let’s make reading fun again? Can’t we do it where we study a book for a month, and really go into depth with it? Rather than cramming an entire novel in one week? I had books I was interested in reading, but couldn’t get to because I had to read a book I absolutely hated for an essay due the same week. The thing with English is that as long as you’re attending class, you can get a rough idea of what the book is about (depending on your professor).

Thinking about reading shouldn’t make me cringe. It should make me excited, like it used to when I was a kid. I still love to go to Chapters and browse, but now I find that I’m leaning more towards buying comics because it doesn’t drain me. Most of the time I finish them within a half hour. It doesn’t bother me that I finish them quickly, but I don’t feel the need to rush my reading, and I don’t feel as though I am obligated to continue with a book that I’m not enjoying.

I have several novels that I’ve either bought for pleasure or that have given to me as gifts, and I haven’t had then chance to read any of them.

Sometimes if a book for school doesn’t interest me, I don’t even bother purchasing it from our bookstore because it costs too much money. I can’t justify buying a novel that is $30. I have bills to pay, and I need to eat. I try to find some of the books at Chapters and for some reason they never have them in stock. I find this a bit strange…and of course, I have more own theories as to why this is, but it is possible that it is just that these books are unpopular.

At least when one is studying Shakespeare, it is easy to get access to his work online, as it is free to the public domain. It doesn’t cost a penny. If I don’t already own the play, I can pull it up and read it, or watch/listen to a performance on YouTube. I don’t have to worry about missing anything, and I don’t feel any sort of stress because I didn’t have the money to spend on the play.

I can’t understand how they can charge so much for books? The textbooks that my sister purchased are around $100 each. She needed about four of them for the entire year. With English and Language studies, they make you purchase several books between $20 and $30, weekly and or biweekly, in order to get the same amount of money out of you that they would with someone in Business, Psychology or Mathematics. It’s ridiculous the amount that they charge us for books on top of our classes, and for many first year students, on top of their residence fees.

As students, we shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not we should spend our $100 monthly budget on food or books.

The reason that myself, and many other students that I have spoken to about this, have stopped purchasing all of our books at the beginning of the year is because one cannot guarantee whether or not they will get their money’s worth out of the book. Why am I going to purchase a $60 Anthology on 20th Century British Literature, when I only need to read 3 pages of the entire textbook? Why would I spend $25 on a novel that I have will not have time to read, and may possible dread if there will be approximately 15 novels throughout the entirety of the course and I will have to option to write on at least 10 of them for the exam? Of course I’m going to choose buying food and paying my rent over spending a ridiculous amount of money on books that I may not read.

This is why it is easier to buy one or two books at a time for my courses, versus getting all of them at once. On top of that, you don’t get you $400 back. I attempted to return my books to our school bookstore last year, and got $42 for them. Many of the books they wouldn’t take back because they weren’t sure if they’d be used next year. For books that I had spent over $20, I may have only received 10 cents for them. Some I got a $1 or $2 for. It was ridiculous. From now on, I feel as though it would be better if I sold my books elsewhere or if I donated them. The majority of the books I’ve been forced to read for my courses, I really haven’t enjoyed. There are a few gems that I plan on keeping in my collection, but the remainder I’d rather get rid of. I don’t have a need for them, nor do I have the space. Still, it would be nice to earn back some of what I had spent on them, as they weren’t cheap.

I didn’t plan on writing this, but it has been bugging me all year.

I hope you’re all enjoying the weekend,

R.

Letters to Myself

I just started watching a new show called Orange. It’s under the 2016 Summer Anime list, if anyone is wonder. It got me thinking about this project I did back when I was 16, where we had to write a letter addressed to our past selves. I can remember giving my 13 year old self a huge lecture on how I should have been more out going and less occupied with what others thought about me. At 16, I thought that I knew everything. My parents still say that I think I know everything, and that I enjoy correcting people (mostly my mother). My mom thinks I’m egotistical due to the fact that I’m a musician. I couldn’t deny it because there are days when I spend hours just looking at myself…and I do take a lot of selfies (I don’t share them anywhere).

To be honest I think what happened was, after being a moody 13 year old with a low self-esteem, I went to high school and decided I no longer cared if I wasn’t with the in-crowd. As you can see, I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I watch anime. One of my closest childhood friends from when I was 3 or 4 was from Japan, and so they used to buy me animes on VHS. No I don’t call myself an otaku. Yes I also read manga, but I enjoy comics in general (Archie anyone? Gotta love Jughead). So basically, to get back on topic, I realized that just because my hobbies have always consisted of writing, watching anime and music didn’t mean that I had to hide it from people. I figured, if people liked me for who I was then that was great. It was stupid trying to lie about what shows I watched and what sports I liked when I wasn’t really into any of that. While all my friends played football (American), I was more interested in pretending I was a Jedi knight…or petting the stray cat that liked to visit us at recess.

So I suppose my 16 year old self had a reason to be so harsh towards my 13 year old self. The thing is, looking back now, being 13 and 16 was equally stressful and I went through experiences that…well at the time made me feel like the sky was falling. Now that I’m considered an adult (who drinks mountain dew instead of beer and uses a starwars cup while using the worlds best Spiderman bookmark), I think I can say that I’ve realized that each part of my life is a new challenge. It seems hard at the time but once I get over it, it feels like it was a breeze.

From my first time being extremely jealous to my first date. My first experience with death to my first time holding a new baby. From bad grades to bulking down. From writing an entire novel without chapters or page numbers to becoming more organized and actually planning things out. The big and the small, all molded me into the somewhat adult I am today…although all the 16 year olds I work with think I’m the same age.

So, I’m not sure what I would say to myself at ages 13 or 16…or even to myself ten years from now when I’m 30. Wow…I’ll be 30 some day. Hopefully I have my life in order by then. To be honest I feel like I got myself where I need to be now. I try not to lie awake at night regretting the decisions I’ve made in the past. I try not to ponder the future too much either these days. Kind of makes me feel a little down…knowing that certain people won’t be with me anymore. All I can do is keep going forward. If YOLO taught me anything in high school it was that I should spend more time laughing and less time fighting. I should make time for friends and family. I should go into a career that I know I will love and will give me the most fulfilment. I shouldn’t jump the gun on decisions, and I shouldn’t put them off too long either. I shouldn’t think too much, and I should know when to take the time to think. I should step outside of my comfort zone, and I shouldn’t be afraid to stand my ground. If this were a letter to my past self or the person I’ll be when I’m 30…I’d probably say “You’re doing great. Just remember right now is a challenge but once you get over this hill, you’ll find the next will be a little easier to climb.”

— R

Fourteen Pgs. of Character Notes…And Writing Tips for Detailing Characters!

Fourteen pages of character notes. Wow. I don’t know how that happened but I’m glad it did.

I always try to give as much depth and detail to my characters as I can. I believe that the more I invest in a character, the more attached I will become and that attachment is what makes that character seem more real (that’s a lot of mores). Its great because my characters go from being an idea to becoming like a close, life-long friend (until you know…that scene where they get silenced by the pen aka they die).

It’s a fun process honestly, even though I’ll admit it takes time. Despite the time it takes to do it is a lot more fun than just naming a character and throwing them into your story. A name is only a fraction of a person, there are many other things that make us who we are.

A lot of the time I like to draw pictures of my characters: the facial expressions they might make in different scenario’s, what clothing they might wear, what their hair looks like, their height, the colour of their eyes.

It can be really helpful, but of course I know that not everyone likes to draw. What I used to do on my drawings was create a list beside my character. The list usually looked like…

  1. Name: Bob Robert Bobbinlee
  2. Age: 22
  3. Likes: cows, cats, cookies and cake
  4. Dislikes: anything that doesn’t start with the letter C (is for cookie)
  5. Family: Mama Bobbetta, Father Bobert, Juliettabobo Boblee, Bobafett
  6. Friends: Cookie Monster, Elmo, Pinkie Pie and Ash Ketchum (yes I was talking to my 4 year old niece recently…any watching Pokémon)

What I’ve begun doing now is creating this same list in a table on Microsoft word.

Its pretty easy to do, you just go to insert, then click table…etc.

So now I keep my images and my charts separate, giving me more room to add written details about my characters. This is especially helpful when I have side characters. Usually I don’t know the personality of a side character. Some times I might just have some character who until named is called “Book Store Clerk.” The first thing I like to do is to draw this character out (or imagine what they might look like), then I take that image and I create a detailed character chart, similar to the list above but in chart form…and because it isn’t on the same page as my drawing I can add even more detail.

Using the same example from above:

Name Bob Robert Bobbinlee
Age 22
Appearance Hair: Crimson

Eyes: Crimson

Height: Average

Special Features: Tattoo of the letter C

Personality Hot-headed, sweet-tooth, perfectionist, crazy about cats and cows, creative, incredible cook
Family Mother: Bobbetta

Father: Bobert

Siblings: Juliettabobo, Boblee and Bobafett

Friends Cookie Monster, Elmo, Pinkie Pie and Ash Ketchum

 

Partner (or partners for them playa’s) Cloe Ver
Pet Cactus the Cat and Carver the Cow
Hobbies Reading, eating and baking cookies and cake, chillin’ like a villain with his squad…I mean crew.

 

Occupation/Education Book Store Clerk

 

Fears The letter Z…because he isn’t sure if it should be Zed or Zee even though he’s Canadian. He just…doesn’t know.

 

Dreams Publish a Children’s Cook Book

See, its that simple, and even though some of these details won’t end up being in you story, they are details that are significant to who your character really is. Once you know this much about your character they begin to take on a life of their own, and as an author I have to say that is one of my favourite things that happen while I’m writing.

Whether you like to draw or not, this is a method that I highly recommend. It’s easy to set up and once you get going it can be a lot of fun. Before you know it you’ve got fourteen pages of characters and this amazingly long chart!

Also, if you are a tech-savvy person you can even scan a drawing of your character and place the image into the appearance box on the table. I’ve never done this but I’m definitely going to give it a try. The idea just came to mind.


 

I hope that this post was helpful!

If you’ve never tried to do this sort of detailing with your characters I highly recommend it. Its both fun and rewarding.

If you have any different ways of detailing and developing characters (or you’ve written a post with another writing tip) feel free to share in the comment section. I’m sure, myself and many people would appreciate it!

Happy writing everyone!

— R.