Which Zodiac Sign Fits Your Character Best? (Plus, A New Worksheet!)

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Last year, a Twitter pal asked me if using the personality traits for the zodiac signs was an effective way of developing characters. I didn’t say “no” outright; each writer has a unique method of creating characters that works for them. The only advice I gave her was to ensure that, whatever method she used, her characters were well-rounded and realistic.

Yet her question reminded me of something very important: I had never figured out my characters’ birthdays. (*blushes*) The only reasons why are that I had been so focused on other aspects of their personality, backstory, etc., and that I didn’t plan on having birthdays coincide with events in my WIP. But it got me thinking:

“Which zodiac signs fit my WIP’s characters best? Do their personalities fit any of the signs at all? And if they do, could I determine my characters’ birthdays that way?”

The short answer, thanks to researching and experimenting over the past few months? Yes.  🙂  But before I explain how we can work backwards to do this, it’s time to unveil…

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 9: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 7 – The Dark Night of the Soul (End of Act II)

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 9, which focuses on the Dark Night of the Soul (or the end of Act II).

Characters, like real people, can tolerate internal conflict for only so long. When they reach their breaking point, there is no right solution, but an only solution. In the case of a positive character arc, the protagonist has dealt with all kinds of stress and upheaval while working toward his story goal. And after the Charge, which tugged him back and forth between his false belief and its opposite truth, he’s about to snap. It’s here that he arrives at the darkest hour of his evolution, and realizes he has but one solution for achieving his goal – or else he’ll fail.

Yes, the Dark Night of the Soul is the subject of Character Evolution File No. 9. We’ll cover how the protagonist finally weighs the pros and cons of his false belief and the truth, and how the scene symbolizes the death of the character’s old self. Plus, we’ll visit our example characters once again as they make their most important choice in their respective stories. Continue reading

Beautiful People, Vol. 15: Aunt Maji from “The Keeper’s Curse”

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Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

Since Mother’s Day was this past Sunday, I decided to focus on a character in my WIP whom the protagonist Eva considers the closest thing she has to a mother. Aunt Maji has raised Eva ever since Eva’s parents were killed when she was 5 years old. (Eva’s mother was Maji’s younger sister.) I had done last year’s Parental Edition BP post on Aunt Maji and her husband Lusan, but after reading this month’s questions it seemed like the perfect time to dedicate a solo post to Eva’s tila (Fei for “aunt”).

Some quick details about Aunt Maji: She’s a 41-year-old winged Feiri, with green eyes and wavy-curly red hair with natural blonde highlights. She also has a very distinct Fei occupation that you’ll learn about in one of the upcoming questions. So, shall be begin?

(Visit the Beautiful People category page to catch up on past BP posts.)

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 8: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 6 – The Charge (Act II, Second Half)

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 8, which focuses on the Charge (or the second half of Act II).

With the Revelation over, the protagonist resumes her forward march with a sense of enlightenment. She has learned why her earlier behavior impeded her progress toward her story goal, and now has a better idea of how to achieve that goal. But, has she truly changed yet? Will the rest of her path in the story be smooth and free of obstacles, or full of upturned roots that cause her to stumble? Most likely it will be the latter – and it will cause the protagonist to question her beliefs, both old and new. This stage of blind confidence is known as the Charge.

During Character Evolution File No. 8, we’ll discuss how the Charge deepens the internal war between the protagonist’s false belief and its opposite truth. We’ll also revisit our two example characters as they begin to take action in their respective stories, and how the steps they take toward their eventual evolution aren’t always so steady. Continue reading

What Do Your Favorite Stories Have In Common?

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“What do your favorite stories have in common?”

This was the question that fellow writer Elizabeth Rawls posed at her blog last year. I loved the topic so much that I wanted to respond right away, but I couldn’t. Figuring out what your favorite stories have in common is like playing a writer’s or reader’s version of a strategy game. But once you put some conscious thought into it, the answers can be rather enlightening.

Today, I’d like to share Elizabeth’s activity along with my own thoughts on developing a stronger grasp on the shared elements in our favorite stories. As you’ll find out, those commonalities may have a greater influence on our work that we might think.

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Beautiful People, Vol. 14: Vandar from “The Keeper’s Curse”

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Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

Hmmmm. No official Beautiful People questions has been posted for April yet. So, instead of waiting, I’m borrowing some questions from Morgan Dusky’s recent Character Studies posts and throwing in a few of my own. (FYI – Questions #1 through #8 are Morgan’s, and Questions #9 and #10 are mine.) If any fellow BP writers want to do the same, feel free to do so. Just make sure to credit Morgan and I accordingly, and let us know when your posts go live so we can see your answers.

This month, I’m finally introducing Vandar, the last of Eva’s fellow Councilors. He’s 19 years old, and has blue eyes and black-streaked brown hair. He’s also the Council’s battle / military strategist and their most talented fighter. So, shall we dive in?

(Visit the Beautiful People category page to catch up on past BP posts.)

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 7: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 5 – The Revelation (Midpoint)

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 7, which focuses on the Revelation (or the Midpoint).

Every stage of a character’s evolution is important. However, the previous four stages have been building to the story’s halfway point. All of the protagonist’s mistakes and choices so far come to a head now, forcing the protagonist to realize that things aren’t going according to plan – and his behavior is the reason why. This fifth stage of our Journey Through the Character Arc is what we’ll call the Revelation.

Thus, the Revelation is our topic for Character Evolution File No. 7. We’ll cover the emotional and psychological aspects that will put the protagonist in a state of “tug of war” between his false belief and its opposite truth. And, we’ll see what happens when our two example characters from literature are confronted by their respective Revelations, and how they change from a state of reaction to a state of action. Continue reading

Beautiful People, Vol. 13: Nomaro, One of the Protagonists for a Future Novella

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Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

Ohhhhhhhhhh am I excited about this month’s Beautiful People! Most of BP posts discussing The Keeper’s Curse have showcased characters I’ve been working with for 3 years. Which means I know them pretty well at this point. Today’s, however, ventures into (mostly) unknown territory.

Last November, when Cait and Sky did Beautiful Books in honor of NaNoWriMo, I decided to share my brainstorming on a novella I’m planning to write (or start writing) when TKC is with beta-readers. I already know one of the protagonists well (it’s Eva from TKC, though 13 years old instead of 17). Her “co-star” – not so much, apart from the little bits in his character profile so far.  Continue reading

The Character Evolution Files, No. 6: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 4 – The Struggle (Act II, First Half)

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 6, which focuses on the Struggle (or the first half of Act II).

Now that we’ve passed the Point of No Return, it’s clear that the protagonist’s life has changed forever. That, however, doesn’t mean that the protagonist has also changed at this time. In fact, she’s bound to kick, scream, and deny her new circumstances. She’ll struggle to accept her new reality even though she has a clear story goal to work toward. However, she’ll also start to show her potential to change for the better. This back-and-forth wavering is the soul of Stage 4 of our Journey Through the Character Arc.

And so the Struggle will be our focus for Character Evolution File No. 6. We’ll learn about the contradicting forces that must be at work to propel the protagonist toward her story goal and wrestle with her false belief – and why the Struggle is one of the “meatiest” periods of character evolution. We’ll also continue following Aragorn of Lord of the Rings and Tris of Divergent as they lurch through this stage in their separate positive arcs. Continue reading

Beautiful People, Vol. 12: Doni from The Keeper’s Curse

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Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

First of all, this post marks 1 year since I started doing Beautiful People! 😀

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Since it’s February, Cait and Sky have asked another round of Valentine-inspired questions. The thing is, I’ve already covered the one romantic couple I’ve been writing about for the past year… and this year’s questions aren’t much different from last year’s. So, into the BP archives I went, and dug up a set of questions that were perfect for a character from The Keeper’s Curse whom I haven’t introduced to you yet.

Some quick facts about Doni: He’s 14 years old, with blonde-streaked light brown hair and light brown eyes. He’s also the youngest and most recently appointed member of the Council of Selanaan (which Eva, TKC’s protagonist, is also part of), and is their chief healer. Now, onto the questions!

(Don’t forget to submit your question(s) for Aurek’s upcoming character interview! I’ve extended the submitting period until Tuesday, February 23rd. So, if you’re anxious to learn more about another character from TKC, click here for more details.)
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