malafide

i love my characters. the only one i hate is the Malafide. maybe because he stands for an abusive perpetrator and sociopath. for a while the only way i allowed myself to write about him, was in the spirit of all my characters i love working towards destroying him. it took me over a year to realize i was doing this. i had to delete several redundant scenes of destruction. i was getting off on killing the antagonist! and sacrificing the story. as a novelist, you need to be flexible and willing to change direction, in service to the story. it may also be a good idea, when writing fiction, not to create antagonists who are too close to home.

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character

redemption

Rather than kill a corrupt or malevolent character off, why not go for redemption? Many heroic figures of storytelling legend were once poor, disabled, disfigured and underwent incredible transformations to become super and special, carriers of the light. It is much harder and more valuable and compelling to make treasure out of raw materials, or refurbish and recreate a tarnished old soul!

killing off central characters

but what if they die first?

My stories always go in directions i did not expect or plan sometimes, and i get to decide if that’s where they were supposed to go or not. This is the excitement and burden of writing off a minimal outline. I have a friend who is a writer who was saying that his friend who is also a writer had a central character who stepped out of car in the middle of the book and got run over on the freeway. His character just offed himself without his permission! The author apparently was really upset he lost his protagonist, but he went on with the story because he believed that’s what had to happen. Now isn’t that bizarre? It floored me! I mean, I don’t see how i could have Ame (my star in ‘Grand Theft Life’ and ‘Maze’) just fall in a hole one day, against my wishes, and force me to write the story around her? that seems ludicrous! but its funny to think about anyway.  -K

writing process

character sketches 

the personality how do we bring fullness to the personality in words. words are limiting but not as limiting as one might think. anyone who is well read would know that. maybe we limit ourselves by thinking about how limited we are. the personality. unearthing character traits of course, disposition, moodiness, relation to self and society. then of course the motivations, what gets the character out of bed in the morning (presuming they get out of bed at all, in some famous works, characters hardly ever get out of bed). personality will be more than all that, there are other elements. how does a character walk and talk, how do they think? do they touch upon repetitive thoughts and actions? well, everyone does. rituals. what about nature and nurture? are they defined by a microcosm? trapped there? how does the macrocosm feel about all that. freedom, mobility, immobility, inaction. mental health or illness. where’s the spirit in all of that. oh! words are great for that, capturing spirit over time. meaning pages. you can paint a spirit over the course of a novella or novel for sure. or even in a poem if you’re really good.

characters in my book

MAZE — THE PLAYERS

Here are the main characters in my book — Maze

Hendrix   An apparition who blurs around the edges. He dresses like Jimi which is how he got his nickname. Nobody knows much about him, but he shows up rather mysteriously anywhere in Oakland, and Ame (the protagonist) has discovered that if she follows him he will lead her to human fear, which is the element she thirsts for. He has a cheshire cat smile and likes to walk backward. He is transparent so he can be hard to follow.

Bless   She is Ame’s best friend. They wear each other’s clothes and do each other’s hair. They hang around Freddy and he protects them on the streets. All three are not exactly human. She has a crush on Ame which becomes more pronounced when her boyfriend dies. She is not happy when Ame begins dating Maze. She is practiced in the dark ways and could not care less for human kind. She gave an amulet to Ame for protection, a scarab of nephrite, in Book One after her first kill.

Everett   Not a good man, Everett is Bless’ boyfriend. He was killed in Book One by his friend Freddy because he was physically abusive toward Bless and Ame. He was a junkie and out of control. He does not appear in Book Two. Freddy’s loyalty toward Ame and Bless was proven by doing away with his close friend.

Maze   The title character and Ame’s love interest.. he appears briefly in Book One, in a fight which goes down at Uma’s apartment when one of the escorts suggests he was inappropriate with her. Ame gets hurt pulling an escort off of him. Maze remembers this kindness when he sees Ame at a burrito truck on Broadway, and shares his burrito with her. They hit it off right away and soon fall in love. He’s a punk and a skateboarder, and loves ice cream sandwiches. They share the dark gift and hunt together. She stays with him in a boarding house just off of Telegraph Avenue.

Uma   An escort. Queen of the escorts, really. She is close to Freddy and mostly concerned with the business of finding men for her women. She has an apartment in West Oakland where Freddy goes sometimes to get the word on the street.

Kell   A young woman whom Ame meets inadvertently while hunting fear near Lake Merritt. She is a junkie. She has the dark gift which is inaccessible due to her addiction. She shows up in Book Two and Ame immediately takes to her, wants to help her get out from under. Bless and Freddy are living at the Imperial on Telegraph Ave, and Ame convinces them to make room for Kell, who was living in squalor in a tenement building.

Black   A malafide who features prominently in Book Two. He lives next to the boarding house where Ame and Maze take up residence. He sells drugs to anybody and everybody, and this is his front. However, it soon becomes apparent that those who get too close to him, disappear.

Freddy  A complicated character, Freddy figures to be at times violent and protective. Ame was abducted by Freddy in Book One and taken from the Green Mountains where she was raised by humans, and brought to Oakland, California to be with her people, Delux. She soon learns that Freddy is not out to harm her, and she can trust him with her life. He is a mechanic and he thrives on the streets. He can communicate with Bless and Ame telepathically. He is calm amidst chaos, like the eye of a hurricane.

Ame   Our protagonist and first person narrator. She has come of age and been introduced to her kind and the dark arts they practice. She is independent and likes to hunt alone. But she also loves to be with her friend Bless and Freddy, who is like a father to her. She is conflicted about humans. On one hand, they raised her and sheltered her as a child. But it is in her nature to thirst for human fear. In Book Two she finds herself falling in love with Maze.

Delux   Humans once tried to destroy her kind, Delux, hundreds of years ago on the continent. Fear drove them to hunt down the divergent kind, anyone not like themselves. But the Delux adapted quickly and learned how to extract human fear in order to save themselves. Alchemy. The same fear that would have destroyed them all, soon became their sustenance. They followed the humans in the great migration to America, and now live side by side in the underbelly of any city, blending in.

writing. process

I have had the opportunity this month to take a look at what techniques I invent, organically, to reach the wordcounts demanded by the national novel writing month contest, and wanted to share…

When unable to write, i have found a power nap to rejuvenate my hopes and reset my thought processes.

Half hour walks are the best way to generate ideas, and cycling the trail recharges my energy and self-confidence.

Complete silence or electronica music (minimal vocals) is the most sustainable audio. Tycho’s trance-like sound is one I respond to well.

I am less of a planner, more of an adventurer, setting out without a clear destination. This means I often feel lost. I counterbalance this feeling, by imprinting new characters and new experiences, with firm recollections of my own experiences.

I always write in the same room. Any time of the day. I switch from the couch to the desk. A book of affirmations is always on my desk, in the event I feel discouraged.

Posture is important. Fresh air. Yoga helps. Natural light. Swing arm lamps are my favorite, when writing at night. Television kills any chance of writing.

For long works, I always break it down into short chapters. This is key! My chapters usually run 700 – 1500 words.

I use the device with the best keyboard experience. In my case, the Samsung Chromebook.

I keep ‘running notes’ with a few open-ended questions and possibilities for plot development. And I track character development. I often read passages aloud, to hear the story.

One large mug of coffee, followed by copious amounts of tea, works far better than a coffee IV drip!