The problem is, anyone I know who's a writer already did (or is in the process of doing) this meme, so I don't really have anyone to tag. But if you want to do this meme, feel free. And if you post a link in the comments, I'll be sure to check it out.
And thus ends the 30 days. It was fun, even if I didn't always have very good answers to the questions.
I really don't have a good answer for that. I tend to think about my current story/characters when I'm at work, but obviously I can't be thinking about it all the time I'm working, either, otherwise my job would suffer. But when things are slow, nothing keeps the time moving like hashing out a plot point or figuring what hobbies a character would have, what kind of food they like, etc.
And I'm kind of coming up a blank on a good story for the second part of this question. I mean, a lot of my stories use elements taken from my life (especially music choices and the like), so there are plenty of things IRL that make me think of my stories. But I guess this sort of counts: I once bought a plush owl because it kind of looked like a character from my 2007 NaNoWriMo (even though the character wasn't an owl).
The only one I can think of was a character in a wheelchair, but that was so long ago that I can't remember her name (though she was an OC in a Pokemon fanfic that I never finished, so that tells you how long ago this was).
I don't think I would ever write a character with any kind of disabilities without doing a boatload of research first, and as I tend to be lazy when it comes to researching, that explains why I don't have any.
For most of my stories, appearance really isn't that important, unless the character isn't human, then obviously it has to play some part. When I'm first coming up with a character, they tend to have a nebulous form in my head, so I like to use a dollmaker to give them a more concrete image. I can't always get the exact look I envision, but it's usually better than what I come up with when I try to draw (as seen in yesterday's post). Plus, it sometimes reminds me of things that I might have overlooked, like eyebrows.
I'm not a great artist, and thus usually leave my characters in the lurch drawing-wise, but there was a time when I was prone to doodling out my characters in the margins of my notebooks. Most of these were characters from an RPG I was in at the time on YahooGroups, playing a moth-based alien. Here's the only real drawing I did of her (i.e. not on notebook paper):
The pose is due to her trying to process the RPG's backstory, as told to her by the other characters.
The only time I've had anyone draw my characters was when I was younger and my older sister would draw Enrico and Ocirne from time to time (as well as my younger sister's characters), and once when someone drew the above character, Ariana, for a meme.
One character from my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel had a minature raccoon named Little Bandit. He was only in one scene, though, so there isn't too much to say about him. I never thought about it before, but I'm not so big on pets, I guess, as that's the only one I can think of from my stories.
Death does not really come up that often in my stories, but if the plot demands it, I suppose I would kill off my characters. There's a bit of a saying (or something like that) that if you're NaNoWriMo novel is running out of steam, it's time to kill off a character. I've only had this happen once, though, when I killed off Claudia in my 2007 novel, though it wasn't because I was stuck, but to build up the shadowy conspiracy that was lurking in the background. Why would they kill off Claudia? Was it simply because she was connected to the protagonist or was there another reason? I never actually came to a conclusion on that point. Nor was it a very interesting kill, since it happened offscreen. In fact, I haven't had any onscreen deaths at all, so there you go.
I honestly have no real answer for this. I have never timed it, and thinking about it, I can't really even figure it out. The closest is thinking about my NaNoWriMo novels, but since those have a set time to begin and end writing (granted, writing can continue after November, but the 50k words have to be done at least), they aren't really a good indicator.
A lot of my stuff really falls into this category, so I'm going to share the original plan for my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, as it really turned out quite different.
I originally got the idea about a year ago, as two Gaia-related events set it in motion. First, the evolving item Nartian Rock had its third (I think) evolution, and I fell in love with the character, Kink, for the first time, and instantly equipped his strutting pose to my avatar. Second, it was Easter, and Gaia's event that year involved finding 500 eggs. Since the eggs only showed up about once a minute, I was on the site quite a bit, and eventually, seeing my avatar so much and hunting for eggs gave me the idea for a story.
The protagonist, Bunny Watson (named after a character from Desk Set, which I had just watched at the time) is chosen by an alien, Em, to be his partner while he collects "eggs" (I never quite settled on what they were) that have to be stored inside her. The "eggs" were usually found at events in her community, so she'd have to try and get Em there and keep him secret while still giving him the freedom to find the "egg." In the course of things, she ended up getting a boyfriend, who thought that she was the alien, but didn't want her to know he knew.
I never really fleshed out why the "eggs" were so important, but they had some kind of powers, as Bunny could tap into them to reach a sort of dimension where, if she wanted, she could make herself 50-feet tall. At one point, Em tried to tap into the power of the eggs and ended up comatose, which brought on the appearance of a few other aliens, Elle, En, and Cue, in order to snap him out of it.
In the end, the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year had only the most basic elements from the story I originally came up with (a girl has to harbor an alien), and a lot more emphasis was put on Bunny's roommate, who in the original story actually interacted with Em quite a bit more (in the sense that she basically hated him and he had to work hard to get in her good graces), but wasn't in the story as much.
My characters only have children in the sense that I usually create parents for the characters I've already written (along with siblings and the occasional uncle, aunt, or cousin). But no, none of my characters have children as in "people under the age of 18." I do not write child characters very often because I don't remember my own childhood very well (the way I felt and behaved, I mean), and so when I do, they're usually very heavily based on the actual children I do know.
My favorite character interactions to write are the type where one character thinks one thing while another character thinks another, with neither of them realizing this. I'm also pretty fond of when one character does something that seems out of character for them, and the other characters all are "What the-?" at them. Not to mention the occasional random bursting into song (with optional choreography).
So there I was, watching the first couple of episodes of The Flight of the Conchords, trying to see if I like it enough to watch on TV, now that I have HBO and all that, and there's this one character who I swear I've seen in something else. So I hopped over to the IMDB like I always do in that case, and learned the actress was Kristen Schaal basically, the only thing I knew her from was Valentine's Day, although I don't remember who her character was. But as I was looking over her list of roles, a title jumped out at me: Snake 'n' Bacon.
Y'see, back in my high school days, I stumbled up Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret, a collection of comics by Michael Kupperman, and just had to buy the book, even though the comics were pretty weird. Although I lost my copy, most of the comics are pretty well-etched into my brain. (I should still buy another copy, though.) So seeing that, some ten years afterwards, this apparently got a TV show, I just didn't know what to think. A little investigating revealed that it was merely a pilot for Adult Swim that didn't get picked up, which is too bad. But the entire thing is up on Adult Swim's site (and it's only like ten minutes, so there you go).
Frankly, it doesn't quite capture what made the comics so funny, but it's sort of faithful to them (as far as I can remember, anyway). That's probably why it didn't get picked up. But here's the middle section of the show for you to check out:
Probably Claudia from my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel. While she didn't necessarily shove her way into the spotlight for the entire novel, she definitely dominated any scene she was in. She was a very flamboyant character, which made her fun to think up dialogue for, and had this kind of air where you didn't know what she was thinking (quite purposefully on her part). Considering that she was merely supposed to be a boss for the main character, she really came into her own.
I really don't have a lot of antagonists in my works, I have suddenly realized, as the closest thing I have in my recent stories is a shadowy organization that I never got around to fleshing out (in my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel). So the position of favorite antagonist goes to Ocirne almost by default, though I would probably have chosen him anyway, for the reasons I posted in Day Four. To recap (and add some new stuff), in case you don't want to go back, he was a fun character to work with, was unabashedly evil, had a Sdrawkcab Name, and had a lair in Bermuda. Seriously, if I was evil, I would totally have a lair there.
I tend to like most of my protagonists, but if I had to choose an absolute favorite, I'd say Ramona from my 2009 NaNoWriMo (and not just because that's the most recent one). She's a little more down-to-earth than most of my characters, I guess, and she was just a lot of fun to write, although looking back on her on now, it's pretty obvious that she's got more of my characteristics than most. That's probably because this was the first NaNo that I managed to set in present day-ish (which is why her portions of the novel are littered with pop culture references, which are good for wordcount).
I do write romantic relationships in my stories, though I don't think I do that great a job of them, since I'm not very romantic myself. But I do a lot of shipping in the media I enjoy (as you may have noticed around here), so it naturally follows that I'd want to hook up my characters. As for how "far" I'm willing to go, I've never had any characters go beyond first base, now that I think about it, though second and third are occasionally implied.
I honestly cannot think of anyone I want to write about. I don't tend to go finding out much about authors, and I really very rarely wind up reading more than one book by any given author. So instead, I'll write a little bit about John Green, since I got to see him this past Saturday. I've actually only read one of his books (one and half, sort of, but I'll get to that), An Abundance of Katherines, which was one of the 35 or so books that I had to read for a class on Young Adult materials. I thought the book was pretty good, but I didn't go seeking out any more of his stuff, mostly because at the time I had plenty of other books to read (to clarify, there weren't any assigned books, but we had to read three books each in specific categories, like romance, historical fiction, etc.)
Skip ahead a little bit, and somewhere after that, my younger sister discovered John Green through his video blog and became a big fan of his, so much so that she got his new book (Paper Towns) when it came out, and then when she found out that he was coming near us for a book signing for his latest, co-written, book (Will Grayson, Will Grayson), she had to go. And she wanted me to come along with her. And since I'd liked the one book of his I'd read, I agreed. My husband also came along, though he hadn't even heard of John Green and was just there for me. The signing was fun, since he and the his co-author, David Levithan, answered questions and did readings from the book, and they're just fun guys in general (or so I take it from this one appearance). Strangely enough, it turned out that I had also read one of David Levithan's books during that same YA class, Boy Meets Boy. So I thought it was kind of neat that here I was, pretty much by chance, getting a book signed by two authors whose books I had read so close to each other back in 2007. Life can be pretty weird sometimes.
Well, one character in my 2006 NaNoWriMo had been turned into a coat by a witch, and could only communicate by being worn by someone, so I guess that was pretty weird. And in my 2007 NaNoWriMo, the characters got involved with this plot by a fairy kingdom that was magically freezing people to be sacrificed en masse to their slumbering queen, White Glenda (but my characters put a stop to it, of course). There's probably more stuff, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head, and since I'm going to a John Green signing with my sister this evening, I probably won't be adding more later.
Generally a character will come to me out of the blue, from some random bit of inspiration. Sometimes I'll just get an idea for a story and a character will come with it, other times I'll have the idea for this or that type of character and the story eventually forms around them. One of the more random ideas for a character I've had comes from my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. Originally it was going to have one protagonist, but while trying to pick out a name for her, I somehow came across the idea of Lindsey sounding like Lynne Z. And once I thought of Lynne Z., I figured there should probably be a Lynne A. And so just like that, I had another protagonist. She eventually became Linae, who didn't like Lynne, but was forced to work with her anyway.
A more straightforward example of how I come up with characters can actually be found in my latest character, Mona, who is actually an OC for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. She originally came about because I was wondering what Brent's parents were doing during the movie's timeline (so much is made of Flint's relationship with his father, but what of Brent's parents?). At the time I was under the impression that Brent's parents actually owned the cannery, so my thought was that they were off trying to recapture their fortunes, mainly through making a prosperous match for their son. So I thought that they could find him a wife from a family that owned a chain of grocery stores. And since I was also under the impression that Brent (and by extension, Flint) was 27 in the movie, I was trying to figure out why this girl of probably the same age wouldn't already be married, which I answered by making her extremely introverted. UNLESS she was in one of her family's stores, in which case she because very friendly and talkative. Over time, she lost the introverted side and Brent's parents moved out of the picture (since I figured that they probably didn't own the cannery), making way instead for a slight childhood friendship between her and Brent, from when he actually went to events outside of Swallow Falls. I haven't actually done anything with her yet, but she's fun to think about.
Well, I tend to end up writing a lot of fantasy-esque things, though I'm not that big a fan of fantasy novels or anything. I blame it on the fantasy and fairy tale stories I read in my youth, frankly. As for reading, while in the past I've never had any particular genre I gravitated toward, in the past couple of years I've discovered I really like slice-of-life type stories.
I usually listen to music when I do things on my computer, so it stands to reason that I would listen to music while writing. Just what I listen to is pretty eclectic, though, since I only tend to keep the songs I like best from albums and stick them in one big, shuffled, library. And ever since I discovered Pandora, I've listened to that just as much (and lately, much more) than my own stuff. In the past I've only had a Showtunes station, but lately I've added a few other stations, such as a dance-mixy station (not my intent, but that's how it turned out, and sometimes I'm in the mood for that) and a Burt Bacharach station.
Whenever I'm working on a new story, brainstorming the plot and the characters, I go through my favorite CDs, looking for songs that sound like they'd fit the characters, and often the plot will permute based on how much I want the songs to go along with it. For example, in my NaNoWriMo from last year, the main character was originally going to gain a boyfriend over the course of the story, but he thought she was an alien, so They Might Be Giant's "She's an Angel" was like his theme song. Sadly, he didn't make it into the story, mostly because in writing it, I ended up liking the main character's roommate more (and she already had a boyfriend), so she got more screentime, as it were. But yeah, I don't really remember which songs ended up influencing which characters after a while, but that's just how I tend to do things.
So, Gaia has come out with a new crop of hairstyles, and I have fallen in love with the Hime style, seen above. Which is a good thing, because it's the most expensive hairstyle to date, and I'd hate to get it, only to decide I prefer my old style (Tressa), which has been happening rather frequently as of late. But this style is just so cute! Sadly, it doesn't layer well with a lot of hats (and other items), but it works surprisingly well with the mermaid items.
It'd actually be easier to say where I'm NOT comfortable writing, since I can pretty much write anywhere. The only place where I absolutely could not write was my grandmother's house. It was very weird. I had to spend a day at my grandmother's last year shortly after Thanksgiving (I was keeping Dad company while we waited for Grandma's caretaker to get back from visiting her family for the holiday), so I thought I'd get a lot of writing done, especially since there wasn't any internet connection to speak of. But seriously, I barely got any words done. I was set to call that day a wash, but after I got home, I suddenly was set with inspiration and managed to spend the rest of the night writing up a storm. Crazy.
If I'm inspired, I can write any time, really, but I tend to be more likely to write in the evening than in the morning. And I prefer to write on my laptop than with pen and paper, since I'm always going back and changing a phrase or adding stuff, which is a lot easier in a word program than in a notebook. But I do always keep a notebook in my purse, just in case. And it is a lot easier to jot down something on paper than tap it out on my ipod touch, that's for sure.
I don't usually assign ages to my characters, so I don't have any idea who would be youngest or oldest age-wise. Most of my characters live the nebulous age-cloud of mid-twenties to late-thirties, although I do have one elderly character, Madame Ludlilly, who first debuted in my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel, though she was technically dead (she had a few appearances in flashbacks, though), but also appeared the next year, just barely (she slipped in just before I hit the 50k mark, and after that I was kind of tired of that story, so I never finished it), and still alive.
For my "oldest" characters, see the previous post. As for the "youngest," that would be Mona and her friends, whom I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and whom I'll write more about in an upcoming question.
The earliest characters I can remember are actually from a VeggieTales RP that I was in back in 1999 or so. For the RP, I created a female asparagus named Chloe who was Madame Blueberry's cook (and who later got romantically involved with Archibald). Over the course of the RP, Chloe's two younger sisters, Marie and Valerie, joined in, and there were all manner of fun adventures with canon characters and originals alike, including the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything actually doing something (trying to take over Madame Blueberry's house), lots of cooking, a game of croquet, and everyone getting shipwrecked on an island. The RP kind of petered out after a storyline involving a cruise, but it was fun while it lasted.
As for the sisters, I don't really remember too much about their general personalities, except that Chloe was the sweet, perky one, Marie was the most responsible one, and Valerie was still in high school and very weird. As part of the RP, Chloe hooked up with Archibald, and outside of the RP's canon, Marie had an on-again-off-again boyfriend (which was my younger self's idea of character humor, since Marie was otherwise very set in her ways).
Actually, I'm not sure if those three came first or if they came after Enrico and Ocirne, characters I made for a Pokemon RP on the old TRHQ board. Again, I don't remember too much about their personalities, but they were twins. I made Enrico first, a Pokemon protector who could turn into a Chansey (though this didn't come up too much in the story), but later on his evil twin debuted, who was a villain and could turn into a Ghastly (though again, this didn't actually come up too much). They both had spiky black hair (to fit the Pokemon anime style) and (inspired by The Matrix), they both wore black trenchcoats. Being a villain, Ocirne was more interesting than his brother, so I remember more about him (though a lot of it was made by the other people in the RP, since it was kind of free-for-all when it came to using characters). He had a lair in Bermuda where he would relax whenever his plans failed, Jigglypuff from the anime series became his hench-mon (and occasionally turned into a real girl depending on the plot), and he had a smoking habit (which mostly manifested itself in his evil laugh being cut short by a coughing fit, followed by him commented that he really needed to quit smoking).
It was actually my older sister who named Ocirne, when I had just come up with the idea for Enrico to have an evil twin and couldn't think of a name. She suggested spelling Enrico backwards, and the result sounded like an evil name to me, so I stuck with it, and I still like it. Enrico was a name I just pulled out of nowhere (not knowing how long the RP would end up running, nor what large parts my characters would play), and my younger self was actually surprised to find out that it was a real name. My older sister also drew a fair amount of art of these two, at my request, though most of it now resides in forgotten sketchbooks somewhere (probably).
Update: Okay, I guess if I really wanted to talk about my very first stories, I'd have to mention that little books that I wrote in first and second grade (as school assignments). But the only one I remember anything about is one about a frog from outer space that I based on a Jeremy Fisher toy I had. I remember writing a number of stories, and meticulously picking out images from Printshop to use as cover images, though.
I usually let my characters drift in narrative limbo (as it were) without names for a long time. I flesh out who they are and come up with a name for them afterwards. Most of the time, I go through a series of names until I decide which one feels right for them (and even then I may not be completely satisfied with it), though if I'm particularly stuck (or want them to have a Meaningful Name), I'll go to a naming site or use my favorite name resource, "Beyond Jennifer and Jason." But then there's the occasionally character who is "born" complete with a name already, though they're less likely to be main characters.
When it comes to naming places, I tend to come up with just completely random names, like Rearn and Losslaria. I'm not very good at world-building, and I guess it shows with my names.
I really don't think I could count the characters I've come with over the years. I tend to make more female characters than male, which is probably because I'm a girl. I do on occasion follow the tropes, though, as my most recent character, Mona, suddenly gained three best friends both so that they could be her Girl Posse when they were younger, and so they'd fit the Four Girl Ensemble, not because she needed them for the plot.
Early on, I had to deliberately create male characters, i.e. they were usually the significant others for my main characters. Which is sort of the opposite of what tends to go on in most media, since Most Writers Are Male. But these days I'm better about making a more even mix of characters, though still slightly on the more-likely-to-be-female side.
I've been seeing this circulate around my flist on livejournal, and decided to go for it. For the month of April, I'll be answering questions related to my writing.
It's hard to decide, really. But overall, I'd say that the short story I had the most fun on was a fanfic for "Flint the Time Detective" that was a retelling of Cinderella (although it was really more like the characters putting it on as a play, just with no audience). That one even earned me fanart, though it was lost in a computer crash many years ago ;_;. But it was just very silly and fun to do.
Of the longer (and more recent) stories I've written, I enjoyed my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel for much the same reason, it was just a lot of silly, intentionally overdramatic stuff, and was technically a reimagining of my 2007 novel, which turned out to be not as much fun as I thought it would be, mainly because the main character didn't go anywhere, and most of the action happened offscreen as it were. So in the 2008 novel, the main characters explicitly had the power to travel to different worlds, and were thus obligated to go all over the place. So yeah, a lot more fun the previous year.