Highly Recommended Writing Post!

Highly Recommended Writing Post!

I have not yet figured out how to put blog buttons in my sidebar–buttons for the blogs I follow.  So you probably didn’t know that I follow and love Hannah Heath’s blog.  And today’s post is about writing meaningful stakes for your story as opposed to the cheap fall-backs that a lot of storytellers use.  Go check it out!  Link below:

http://hannahheath-writer.blogspot.com/2017/04/tips-for-raising-stakes-in-your-story-malcolm-tolman.html

 

Writing Tip #6 – Pause to Think

Writing Tip #6 – Pause to Think

You’ve dithered and hesitated long enough.  Time to hit the ground running!  Or writing.

But it might be worth your while—before you write—to take a minute to think about the scene you’re about to write.

Think what the characters will do and feel, what the setting is, any details that make the atmosphere vivid.  I like to multi-task here, to think about my next scene while weaving or crocheting, and then pull my laptop over when I’m ready to write.

Often, this exercise not only gives a clearer picture of the scene, it also pumps me up and gets me excited for writing that next chapter!

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Tell of the cross where they nailed him,

Writhing in anguish and pain;

Tell of the grave where they laid him;

Tell how he liveth again.

Love in that story so tender,

Clearer than ever I see;

Stay, let me weep while you whisper,

“Love paid the ransom for me”.

~ “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”

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Artwork Wednesday – Of Bugs, Yarn Stashes, & Craft Sprees

Artwork Wednesday – Of Bugs, Yarn Stashes, & Craft Sprees

(Posted on a Tuesday, but hey, I’m ahead of the game this time!)

Once again, this week I did more crafting than drawing.  I haven’t felt like drawing lately—or just don’t want to spend the 4+ hours required polishing and refining the sketch.  A patience problem or a perfectionist problem?  Not sure.

Actually, it’s a perfectionist problem, because I spent hours weaving and crocheting this week without remorse.  But you’re no doubt wondering about the “bugs” part in the title—though if you’re a seasoned crocheter/knitter/weaver, you can probably guess what that’s all about.  *cue spooky music*

While merrily working away at a yarn project last week, I glanced down at my work bag and saw a bug perched on the green ball of yarn.  After recovering from cardiac arrest, I disposed of the critter, and then googled images of bugs that infest yarn.  The real part of this horror story?  I couldn’t tell whether the insect suspect was a harmless black-and-orange ladybug—or a carpet beetle, notorious for eating yarn and infesting the house as well.

With the identity of the suspect in question, I stuffed all my balls of yarn into plastic bags and stuck the bags in the freezer to kill any remaining critters.  Then I gathered my recently completed yarn projects and my woven work bag and threw them in the washer.  There were no signs of infestation, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  And I seriously considered just throwing away the yarn in the freezer—a tragedy, to be sure, but it would take weeks to properly de-bug the stuff, and we have such a small freezer, the bags would take up a lot of space.

In the meantime, I embarked upon an Anti-Bug Protection Plan (code named: Die, Mangy Critters!!!!).  I made four sachets and filled them with whole cloves.

The blue one went into my work bag (once it was washed), the plaid and block ones went into my yarn box, and the fourth (not pictured) went into the box of ornaments my hobby tree, because a lot of fabric and crocheted decorations live there.

I finally decide to pitch my yarn stash and buy new yarn.  Almost at the last minute on Saturday, I went to Hobby Lobby and loaded up the shopping cart.

Here is (part of) my new stash.  The rest of the yarn is in my clove-smelling work bag, because I started several projects the minute I got home with my loot.

Last week, I learned a new stitch: the half-double crochet.  And I practiced it by making a tree skirt for my hobby tree.  I also learned how to…

…crochet scallops along the edge!

Then I made some Christmassy pot holders.

And a couple of place mats.

Somebody stop me!!!

Actually, don’t.  This is way too much fun.  🙂

And I’m in the middle of making another pot holder to practice this pattern:

If it turns out well, I may crochet an afghan in that pattern.  And maybe more place mats in different colors.  Also a tree skirt, perhaps.  And then another afghan, and maybe crocheted holly leaves, and another pot holder in summery colors, and oh, also that mat I want to weave… *loses self in the bliss of planning more projects*

 

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Writing Tip #5 – Collect Character Inspiration

Writing Tip #5 – Collect Character Inspiration

Not general inspiration, mind you; not something that could become a character idea.  But rather inspiration specific to a character you’ve already created.

Pinterest is my favorite way to do this–I create a (secret!) board for each character and pin pictures, quotes, song lyrics, MBTI facts, funny memes, and anything else that describes my character.  This helps collect and then articulate ideas for the character’s personality.  Often I see a quote that reminds me of a character (and I pin it to his/her board), but it’s not until I’ve collected images and quotes that I can articulate the underlying trait or fear or principle.

Here are some shots of Lennox’s board:

 

 

(I do not own any of these pictures, and I use them for personal inspiration.  No copyright infringement is intended.)

Another way to collect inspiration is to create a playlist for the character–songs with lyrics that describes him, or the type of music he likes, or music that signifies a plot change.  This gets you thinking about his character, his emotions, and his actions in the story.

Lennox’s playlist (in progress):

A third way is to visit tvtropes.org, plug in searches like “Hero Tropes” or “Emotion Tropes” and then find which ones that apply to your character or story.  This is pure, plain fun (though also a huge time-eater)–but it can show you weak points in your characters and plots, and create a general picture of character changes and plot points.  (NOTE: be careful on TV Tropes.  There are ads in the sidelines, and the site references some tropes and media that children under 18 don’t need to know about.  Browse with discretion.)

Some of the tropes that apply to Lennox (as of now):

Horrible Judge of Character (Initially, that is.)

Nice Guy

Gentleman and a Scholar (A young man example.)

Renaissance Man

Constantly Curious

Steampunk Gadgeteer (One of many!)

A fourth way is to put pictures, quotes, lines, and so on in a Word document, a notebook, or on a bulletin board rather than online.  But I recommend immediately writing down character personality/quirks/habits/quotes, etc. once you articulate it because sometimes Pinterest goes down or the Internet connection is lost.  And it never hurts to have a back up.

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Writing Tip #4 – Give It A Shot

Writing Tip #4 – Give It A Shot

How many times has this happened?–you put off writing because of external distractions. I can’t focus now; there’s too much noise. I won’t be able to write much–I’m too tired. It’s pointless to write now; I can’t get much done in five minutes.  There’s always an excuse not to write.

And yet you can always give it a shot. The least you can do is try, even if you end up writing just a couple of sentences.  Two sentences is two more than you had before–so that’s progress!

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to think this way.  Those hypothetical two sentences feel like a drop in the bucket, and might as well not exist.

But think of the matter this way: each time you write even if you don’t think you’ll accomplish much–you’re developing good habits and consistency. Which will, over time, add up to writing more and more every time you sit down and try.

And who knows?–when you give it a shot, you may surprise yourself and write more than you expected. 🙂

Guest Post! – Beauty & the Beast Film Review

Guest Post! – Beauty & the Beast Film Review

My sister Gingersnap went to see Beauty and the Beast recently, and typed up her thoughts about it, and kindly let me post her review.  There are some spoilers sprinkled throughout, just to warn you.  Also, when Gingersnap refers to the cartoon Beauty and the Beast, she means the special edition.  Enjoy!

First, let me say that the 1991 “Beauty and the Beast” Disney cartoon is one of my favourite movies, and I’m very passionate about it (probably too much).  Therefore, a lot of the opinions I formed of the live action remake is based on my biased love of the cartoon.  If you don’t love the cartoon as much as I do, half of this probably won’t make sense, but I’m sharing it anyway. 😉

Let’s start with things I liked about it!

The Actors’ Performances (most of them).  This is an AMAZING cast (with one exception I’ll discuss later)!!  My favourites are probably:

Luke Evan’s Gaston.  AGH, Luke’s acting and singing were both terrific!!  I never would have thought Bard could be such a bad guy! 😉

Ewan McGregor’s Lumiere.  He did such a fun, wonderful job of being carefree, charismatic Lumiere (even though his French accent wasn’t the greatest)!  My dad didn’t think he was that great, but I loved him.  Dad says he liked it better when Cogsworth had the lighter voice and Lumiere had the deeper voice, as in the cartoon.  The remake switched it around.  I kinda see what he means, but I thought Ewan and Ian McKellen both did a great job.

Josh Gad’s Lefou.  He captured the cartoon character’s personality/mannerisms spot-on!  (More on Lefou later.)

Dan Stevens was also incredible (I REALLY  love what I’ve seen of Dan in interviews), but I’ll talk more on this later. And his singing was wonderful, too!

The Musical Numbers.  I love the Beauty and the Beast songs so much, and the orchestra; and most of the singing/dancing was wonderful!  I wasn’t as crazy about the new songs, although “Evermore” was beautiful.  But I’m very unhappy they left out “Human Again”.  They could have made that AMAZING.  And man, “Gaston” was so much fun (except it would have been FAR more enjoyable without Lefou; again, more on that later).  My top favourite musical scene is probably “Be Our Guest”, which was INCREDIBLE!!  Which brings me to my next point …

The CGI.  Without a doubt, this film is BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL.  I love the detail and beauty of the Beast’s castle, not to mention the talking objects!!  Sometimes you can tell when a movie is using too much CGI (like The Hobbit *cough*), but the CGI looked really real!  I heard some people say “Be Our Guest” wasn’t too impressive, but I was amazed!!  But I’m also not a CGI expert. 😉

Dan Steven’s Adam.  OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE HIM SO MUCH AND HE’S ADORABLE!!!  His smile just makes me dance on fairy clouds with happiness.  He’s so CUTE!!!  (And I mean that in a sweet way, not a creepy way).  I wish we could have seen more of him!

And now for the negatives.

Emma Watson’s Belle.  I mean no disrespect to people who like her performance, and I really don’t mind if the rest of the world thinks she’s great, but I can’t stand her.  (As in, I dislike her AS BELLE. I’m sure her acting was great, but I don’t think she’s a good Belle, and I think the movie ruined Belle’s character in general; more on that later.)

For one, her singing voice wasn’t that great, and she didn’t even TRY to hold notes.  It’s hard for me to overlook that, especially compared to Paige O’Hara, who had such a deep, rich voice and sang with such strength and passion.

But my biggest problem is how the movie portrayed Belle in general.  (This may or may not be Emma’s fault; I’m not sure.)  To me, the attitude behind Cartoon Belle and Emma Belle is what’s different.  Cartoon Belle was an imaginative reader who longed for adventure, which made her “odd” to everyone else, but she was comfortable with it and polite about it.  But what I saw in Emma Belle was a show-off, full-of-herself attitude, and she seemed to treat others condescendingly.  There’s a difference between being comfortable with your differences and showing off your differences.  It’s almost like Emma Belle was trying to prove something.  (I’m very sure I’m the only one who thinks this way; I won’t argue if people disagree).  Not to mention the fact that Emma Belle is SO “independent” and non-conformative to the point she doesn’t wear a corset and she pins her skirt up, revealing her legging things underneath (I’m assuming it’s underwear?).  I mean, I get that French clothing in those times wasn’t very practical, but seriously??

One difference I especially disliked was Emma Belle’s encounter with Gaston, especially compared to Cartoon Belle.

Cartoon Belle – Is kind and polite to Gaston, even though he’s flirting with her, abusing her favourite book, and being obnoxious in general.  However, she’s not afraid to tell him to his face that he’s “positively primeval”, but her tone of voice is light-hearted, not disgusted or condescending.

Emma Belle – has an eye-rolling demeanor towards Gaston and doesn’t really try to be nice.  “May I come over for dinner?” Gaston asks.  “No, sorry,” Belle replies.  “Busy?” Gaston says.  “No …” Belle walks away.  I guess she could have been ruder, but compared to cartoon Belle, I thought it was rather snobbish.  At least Cartoon Belle said she had to help her father, which was true.  Emma Belle basically says, “I don’t like you, go away.”

And I HATE HATE HATE that they have Belle trying to escape immediately after giving herself over to Beast.  It ruins the beauty of what Belle did for her father.  In the cartoon, Belle made a SACRIFICE for her father.  She GAVE HER WORD to remain as Beast’s prisoner to save Maurice, even though it meant she lost her freedom forever.  She says, “YOU HAVE MY WORD.”  And she does keep it, at least for a while; it’s not until Beast yells at her in the West Wing that she runs away.  But in the remake, she tells Maurice, “I promise I’ll escape”, and she does as soon as she can by tying the dresses together and climbing out the window.  That’s not a sacrifice.  Emma Belle loses nothing by taking her father’s place if she means to escape.  That takes away the impact of Beast’s own future sacrifice when he releases Belle so she can be with her father, meaning Beast loses his chance of being a human again.  Beast’s sacrifice mirrors the sacrifice he saw Belle make when he first met her.

Another difference (not necessarily a bad one) between Cartoon Belle and Emma Belle is their answers to Beast’s question, “Are you happy here with me?”  Cartoon Belle says, “Yes … if only I could see my father again, just for a moment. I miss him so much.”  Emma Belle also acknowledges she misses her father, but her first response to Beast’s question is, “Can anyone be happy when they’re not free?”  I completely understand her wanting freedom; there’s nothing wrong with that.  But I like it better that Maurice is the  only thing missing from Belle’s happiness.

You get the idea, I’m moving on.

Beast’s character.  Again, an attitude thing.  In the cartoon, when Beast starts falling in love with Belle, he truly wants to be nice and do something good for her, but he’s not used to it and he’s not sure how.  Anyhow, he’s eager, just clueless.  In the remake, it seemed to me like Beast would try to be nice, but act like he wasn’t trying to be nice.  Ya know what I mean?  Like he didn’t want to admit he was being nice.  And then Belle has to pry it out of him like, “are you being nice?” and he’s like, “er … no.”  I prefer it when Beast was openly being kind. Like giving her the library!  In the cartoon, Beast decides he wants to do something for Belle, and settles on giving her the library.  Intentionally!  Because she loves books!  In the live action movie, he and Belle are in the library and she’s like, “I love this!”  And he’s like, “Really? Cool. Well, I guess you can have it.”  It wasn’t as sweet and special to me as the cartoon version was.

Another thing I don’t like is how the movie almost blames Beast’s dad for Beast’s bad attitude.  Um, no.  In the cartoon, Beast’s rotten attitude was clearly his own fault, and that’s what he had to change.  But nooo, the remake had to give him this tragic backstory, having his father treat him badly and twist him into growing up the way he did.  Like you’re supposed to go, “Aww, poor Beast, it’s not his fault, the enchantress was so mean to him!!”  It IS his fault, thankyeverymuch.  Don’t pin this on the dad.

Rushed moments.  Maybe not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but some of my favourite moments between Belle and Beast felt rushed, one in particular: when Beast decides to release Belle.  In the cartoon, Belle looks into the magic mirror, sees her sick father, and says, “He may be dying, and he’s all alone!”  The music swells, and Beast turns to the rose vase and strokes it, and you can see it in his eyes that he’s making that life-changing decision.  After a pause, he says genuinely but not without regret, “Then … then you must go to him.”  Later he says, “I release you. You’re no longer my prisoner.”  It’s so powerful and emotional.  And then Belle strokes his cheek in thanks before she leaves, and we’re all bawling at that point.

How does the remake do it?  Belle says, “He may be dying, and he’s all alone!”  Beast IMMEDIATELY says, “Then you must go to him.”  Um. What? I blinked, and I missed it.  And Belle’s just like, “Really? Awesome, toodles!”  For something so character-defining and life-changing for Beast, they didn’t even bother to draw it out.  Maybe to make room for the new song “Evermore?”  Maybe they thought “Evermore” showed it better than the pause before Beast’s decision.  I dunno.  Anyway, I didn’t like it.

Another difference I don’t like is when Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts warn Beast of Gaston’s arrival after Belle leaves.  In the cartoon, Cogsworth asks why Beast let Belle go, and he answers, “Because … I love her.”  He admitted it himself.  But the remake has Mrs Potts say it for him: “Because he loves her.”  … Ma’am?  Beast can speak for himself.  Don’t take his spotlight.  Seriously, why have Mrs. Potts sum it up??  The whole point of the curse was to teach Beast to love.  He should be the one to acknowledge when that finally happens.

One more.  This isn’t so much of a rushed moment as a moment that wasn’t in the movie to begin with.  I love in the cartoon when Belle reads “Romeo and Juliet” to Beast, and he loves it.  He asks to hear it again, and she helps him practice reading.  In the remake, Beast already remembers how to read and is well-versed in literature.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I love seeing Belle encourage that love of reading in him.  Also, in the remake, Beast is embarrassed when Belle catches him reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere (a romance), and she teases him about it.  What happened to the Beast who loved hearing “Romeo and Juliet” (another romance)?

That Weird Backstory With Belle’s Mom.  What was that for?!  I couldn’t figure out what it contributed to the story. Supposedly it explains why Maurice left Belle’s mom, but when was that even a thing?  Belle’s mom is never mentioned in the cartoon.  And in said cartoon, Maurice and Belle have a wonderful, sweet relationship.  I felt like that was some tension between them in the remake, maybe because Belle didn’t know the aforementioned Weird Backstory With Belle’s Mom.

Lefou’s Love for Gaston.  I really, really thought Lefou’s gay parts were going to be subtle, so subtle that I could wave them off as being character-accurate obsession with Gaston (non-romantic).  But they weren’t subtle.  You can’t miss it in Lefou’s glances and the way he drapes himself on Gaston’s chair.  Sometimes I closed my eyes and turned my head just cause I couldn’t bear to watch it. Granted, it could have been worse, and there wasn’t even kissing or anything physical.  But you still know exactly what Hollywood was going for.  It was especially frustrating during the “Gaston” number because it was SO WELL DONE and SO FUN TO WATCH, and they had to soil it with Lefou.  It’s such a bummer because if Lefou hadn’t been gay, he would have been such an enjoyable, hilarious sidekick, and I could have actually rooted for him when he became a good guy.

Thankfully Lefou’s parts were not many, so I’m hoping maybe we can skip/edit his bad parts out with the DVD.  He didn’t spoil the whole movie for me, but I was hoping there would be enough wonderfulness in the film to make it worth it to me.  But whether because of Belle’s and Beast’s changes that I’ve mentioned, or maybe just Emma Watson’s existence in general, their love story didn’t touch me the way it did in the cartoon.

I know I listed more negatives than positives, but I truly did enjoy watching it, and it’s incredibly well-made in some areas.  I’m just disappointed with how they handled Belle and Beast.  But I would love to watch it again, if only to enjoy the music and animation and to feed my own imagination so I can mentally come up with a much better version.

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Artwork Wednesday

Artwork Wednesday

Artwork Wednesday is finally back!  There isn’t much to show, I’m afraid, because I often have to choose between art and writing each week.  I’ll have to see if I can fix that and do a little drawing and a little writing each day.

In the meantime, here’s what I did over the last couple of weeks.

This picture was actually finished weeks ago, and I forgot to upload it.  I found some colored pencil tutorials online and used the technique in those tutorials for this picture.  In short, the technique requires many layers and washes of color.  It reduces the “sketchy” look that I complained about in my year-end art roundup, but it also whittles my pencils down really fast.  🙂

Then last week, I returned to watercolor painting…

With this painting, I didn’t worry to much about details and laid down the colors and shadows loosely.  Which was one of my New Year art goals–to quit refining artwork into oblivion.   And this turned out rather well, and I hope it marks the start of a journey out of perfectionism.  🙂

This was supposed to be a nice, sunny, warm painting, and ended up looking more like a summer gothic detail.  At least I figured out how to create really dark shadows in watercolor.

Another suggestion from Chris!  It was a good one–and he’s inadvertently helping improve my skill by suggesting varied subjects.  He also wanted me to draw another picture of Bucky (which is sketched and awaiting refinement) and another picture of Batman.  And then Gingersnap wants me to draw Poe Dameron.  I hope to have those completed before too long!

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Even More Narnia Musings

Even More Narnia Musings

I’ve been thinking about the characters on and off all weekend, about their amazing differences and strengths.  I even created character boards on Pinterest for Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, and Caspian.  And I’ll probably create more Narnia character boards later.

I also want to read the books again soon and draw the characters.  It’s about time somebody drew Caspian with blond hair–I’ve seen only one artist do that (artist Dawn D. Davidson, although I can’t find her DeviantArt account now.  She must have deactivated it).

Headcanon collection #3:

  • Never underestimate how righteously indignant Edmund can get on behalf of his friends and family.
  • He can be found with a book half the time.
  • The other half of the time, he’s out and about, playing sports or going somewhere important.
  • Edmund’s middle name is James.  (I’ve had that headcanon ever since I was a kid!)
  • He decided to go to Oxford after graduating school.
  • Caspian wears this silver pendant thing while sailing on the Dawn Treader.  No idea why; he just likes it.
  • Once Caspian becomes close to the Pevensies, he lets himself be far more cheerful and informal* and generally says what he thinks.
  • And the Pevensies are the only friends he can do that with.  (Doctor Cornelius was more of a guide and tutor than a comrade).
  • Caspian prefers casual or informal outfits to court finery.  He never feels fully himself when all dressed up.
  • Susan is kinesthetic** (a hands-on learner).  One reason she’s so good at archery, but not much good at schoolwork.
  • She is also good at handling interpersonal conflict.  She’s gracious yet focused.
  • There are times, however, when she gets very annoyed with others’ stubbornness and rudeness.
  • Susan likes wearing simple but pretty sweaters.
  • Lucy likes to paint with watercolors.  And always makes a huge mess on the table with her papers and paints.
  • Paint often ends up in Lucy’s hair.
  • Susan insists on combing Lucy’s hair after a painting episode and scrubbing out any color.
  • Therefore, Lucy took to cleaning up her paints in record time and fleeing the general area until Susan was thoroughly involved in something else.
  • Which is how Lucy made it out the door once with a streak of purple paint in her yellow hair.
  • Actually, she cleans her art mess only half the time.  The other half finds her abandoning the project for another interesting activity.  (She would get distracted while waiting for the paint to dry.)
  • Similar incidents of books/playthings/games/projects abandoned in this manner can usually be traced to Lucy.
  • If Peter needs the dining room table when Lucy’s paints are out, he (gently) pushes the paint supplies to the middle of the table and uses the cleared end.
  • Edmund just sets his books and papers amid the mess and works around it.
  • Peter hates visiting the Scrubbs (before Eustace was un-dragoned, especially).  There’s very little to do, the food is revolting, and he always gets the idea that Aunt Alberta judges his parents for their lifestyle choices–among other things, the schools they chose for their children, the storybooks they let them read, and the activities they let them do.
  • Not to mention that Eustace acts as though he is superior to his elder cousins because of his great knowledge of Facts.  Peter knows good and well that Eustace would be overwhelmed by any real scrape, and tries to keep an eye on him whenever there’s a possibility of something going wrong.
  • Aunt Alberta dislikes Peter because of his take-charge and protective nature.  She fears he will grow up to be a demeaning sort of person.
  • Susan tries to be gracious and welcoming whenever her cousins come over, and listens patiently (if reluctantly) to Eustace’s endless recitation of Facts and Aunt Alberta’s feminist lectures.
  • Edmund hides when his cousins come over.
  • Lucy finds his hiding places and joins him.  Before LWW, this was the only thing he would willingly share with his little sister.
  • Occasionally, Peter finds their hiding places and requires that his siblings come out and be polite to their guests, while admitting it was the last thing he wanted to do himself.  But that made no difference–they had to be respectful.
  • Other times, however, Peter just lets them hide, not wanting to subject them to this rot.

*Canon based, actually.  Look at the difference between his behavior around his men, the governor of the Lone Islands, and Ramandu and his daughter, and his behavior around the Pevensies.

**Also canon based.  Lewis said she was not much good at schoolwork (though otherwise old for her age)–and that she was good at more hands-on activities.

Writing Tip #3: Make Up Extra Stories

Writing Tip #3: Make Up Extra Stories

Um, you know writers make up stories all the right, right?  It’s part of the job description.

I get that.  But I’m talking about creating random stories about your characters.  Coming up with disasters and sticky situations that may never make it into the plot, and imagining how the characters react.  The idea is to get to know them better.  How would they handle the Hunger Games?  Being stuck in a flash flood with a child?  On a blind date?

Or just imagine how your character would react to whatever you’re doing right now.  How does he react to a room full of loud Minecraft players while he’s trying to concentrate?  (May or may not be based on actual experience.  🙂 )  What if he had to do the dishes when he wasn’t expecting to?  How would he react, and what would he think?  What if he had to do those dishes with the character he finds most annoying?

And who knows, those random and crisis situations may give you plot ideas as well.  🙂