value drawing

Artwork Post – Long Overdue

I’m so sorry, guys.  I didn’t mean to wait this long!  Initially, I had very little artwork to post; then I got busy; then I got sick.  But when sick, I always get the urge to draw (putting the down time to good use, I guess), so behold an avalanche of artwork!

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a colored pencil tutorial book at Hobby Lobby and studied it thoroughly.  One technique looked interesting: laying down the values of the drawing with a black (or brown) pencil before adding color.  So I gave it a try…

The black-and-white values as the first layer…

…and here’s the finished product!  I like this technique!  Though it’s not the only one in the book; I’ll try some of the others later.

Another pencil drawing with the same technique (called “grisaille”), except this time, I used a black pencil to draw the values of the trees and a brown pencil for the values everywhere else, since the rest of the picture wasn’t supposed to be as dark.

The book also explained how to get rid of that white-ish waxy buildup that happens after several layers of color: rub the picture, lightest parts first, with a cloth or paper towel until the colors are uniformly smooth.  It’s one way to get rid of the sketchy pencil look that I complained about in my New Year’s artwork post.

Sloppy doodle of Charles Darnay on computer paper, done while listening to A Tale of Two Cities musical soundtrack.

Sketch of James Barbour as Sydney Carton, done while watching A Tale of Two Cities concert (and simultaneously dying inside of feels).

Slightly crooked drawing of Lennox, my character from Empty Clockwork, laughing at something.  He’s a generally cheerful fellow.  🙂

Drawing that I intended to be Mary, from my western story, but it didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted.  So it’s just a random girl putting her hair up.

It’s a head canon of mine that Susan Pevensie reads her mother’s old Good Housekeeping magazines, so here Susan is, curled up and studying household economy.  Also, I drew that pose entirely from my head with no reference!

Although I chickened out at drawing feet and so covered them with the blanket.  🙂

Once the children grew up in Narnia, Lewis describes Susan as “a tall and gracious woman”, so here she is, welcoming visiting dignitaries or ambassadors, or people like that (and hey, at least I tried to draw hands!).  I don’t see Susan being a flashy dresser or weighed down with elegance and jewelry; she’s sensible and practical, and would probably favor a sensible and practical style, though also one that befits her rank.  The place she would splurge with ornaments, however, would be her hair; you have all that gorgeous hair, and you’re going to want to do something special with it.

The Pevensies and Caspian discover fanfiction of their stories.  From left to right: Caspian, Edmund (standing), Peter, Susan (also standing), and Lucy.  Behold also my awesome back-of-the-computer-screen drawing skills (haha), though I am inordinately proud of that mouse and mouse pad, for some reason.

Drawing may or may not have been inspired from a real life pet peeve.  🙂

That’s all for now!

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The Art of Storytelling – Creating My Compass

(Thanks to Bella for her title suggestion!  I was truly stuck.)

NOTE: I initially published this back in January, but decided to tweak the style and post it again.  This isn’t a guide for How To Write the Perfect Story; but the principles that have worked well for me.  😊

I once had no idea how to keep my stories focused.  I had good ideas, but I had a lot of ideas and couldn’t discern which ones truly belonged in my work-in-progress.  Was this phrase a better explanation of the theme?—or that paragraph a couple pages later?—or that note on my digital sticky notes?  Cue the pile-up of 172 pages of notes.  And I inevitably got overwhelmed.  Even more frustrating, after I sorted through those notes and reworded ideas (again), the story pieces added up—to the wrong picture.  Finally, through trial and error and through analyzing books and films, I created this list of points that help me build my story more easily and to keep it focused.

Articulate the Story Concept.  Or the general idea behind the story.  It could be a question to explore, such as “Where to draw the line in giving loyalty?”  It could be a character or situation: “A girl who was never taught to discern properly,” or a simple plot: “A girl takes up multiple hobbies to find her passion and talent.”  Or it could be a general theme, such as “different kinds of power (social, legal, abusive, and others) and what they can and cannot accomplish.”

Actually, I know the concept from the get-go; whenever I say, “Well, I have an idea for a story about…” that’s the concept.  But it could be narrowed a little–a general idea can become many different stories (which cleverly disguise themselves as plot bunnies).  So here’s a question that narrows the field: What draws me to this idea?  What do I love about it?  This not only helps keeps my story focused, it also explains what’s original about the idea, and it articulates my own passion for the subject.

As an example from my writing, one story idea is about two families whose children marry for mutual social and financial benefit.  This is the general idea.  The more specific idea is how these characters respond to the various social and familial expectations of them.  And what I like about the idea is the mindsets, values, and relationships of the characters as they handle situations in which they do not have a lot of control.  All very general, but it tells me at once that my idea about the fight between Enlightenment vs. Romanticism doesn’t belong in this story.

And then I tinker with the wording of the concept until it expresses exactly what I have in mind.  My ultimate goal is to understand what story I’m telling.  Not just the genre, but what I’m personally trying to say.  (More on that later.)

Specify the Story Conflict.  This definitely helps me discern which ideas (and subplots and side characters) belong in the plot.  And when I fail to specify the conflict, my story becomes crowded and confusing.  (*stares sadly at mountain of unfinished drafts*)  So do other writers’ stories—I may offend people with this example, but the film God’s Not Dead had a plot thread completely separate from the main conflict.  The conflict of the film is ultimately between skeptics attacking faith in the God of the Bible and Christians defending that faith.  While this is going on, a liberal feminist news reporter learns that she has cancer, and she eventually gets saved.  (Whoops, spoilers.)  But she does not meet or influence any of the other characters.  And since she gets saved near the end of the story, she doesn’t have time to contribute to the main point by defending her newfound faith.

I get why this plot was included: so that a character (and by extent the audience) could hear the Gospel.  But that character and her story does not enhance or contribute to the ultimate conflict.  That detour simply uses screen time that could have been spent on the main characters.  And on that note, a better way to include the Gospel would be to have the ex-Muslim girl remember the Gospel to strengthen herself in the face of persecution or perhaps try to share the Gospel with her family.  That would have contributed to the conflict, and it would have been an awesome addition.  (Seriously, the writers should have explored that character and her situation further!)

So, defining the story’s conflict will thin down those plot bunnies.  But here’s a catch: conflict often has two layers: surface conflict, and then what I call “root conflict.”

Surface conflict is a clash that fits the story’s concept, but that happens apart from—or because of—the root conflict.  The root conflict is the ultimate battle of the story, the clash that explains what’s really at stake.  It’s often internal conflict (but not always).  A good example of these two layers is the film Inception.  The “surface conflict” is the attempt to plant an idea in a man’s mind through his dreams.  This is something that had never been successfully done—oh, and there’s a deadline for this attempt.  But the root conflict is Cobb battling his own guilt and fear and grief.  He cannot let go of the past, and at first refuses to confront his problems.  His stubbornness and his burden endanger his goal and the safety of his team.

So I write down the obvious conflict in my story and then ask how that conflict came to be, which helps identify the root conflict.  (Or vice-versa, and I think about what action might be prompted by the root conflict.)

Make the Setting Influence the Action or Affect the Characters.  Years ago, I entered a short story contest with several guidelines: the required setting was the Titanic, and the contest theme was “Women and Children First.” I wrote the story of a couple who met on the ship; and though they weren’t close friends, the man stepped back so the woman could get into a lifeboat and escape.  Measured by the contest guidelines, the story and setting worked.  But when I looked at that story a few years later, I asked: how does the Titanic enhance the plot?  Sure, the event is a classic example of chivalry, but without the contest parameters, my characters could do what they liked and could be moved to a different setting with no big change to the plot.  Red flag that the setting was just painted scenery, and not a place with impact.

In my story Empty Clockwork, however, the setting is a late-Victorian world with strict social norms and tradition but with a steampunk twist:  scientific dabbling is a popular hobby for the rich.  And “secret” labs in the basement are an essential part of any grand house.  This setting creates conflict for Lord Fredericks, a brilliant, self-taught scientist, who can’t capitalize on his skills because he is also an aristocrat and not supposed to do manual or tradesman’s work.  The setting also affects Henry*, a doctor who is passionate for his work, but who can’t get the wealthy hobby scientists interested enough in his ideas to fund his experiments.  The third character affected is Lennox, a young man who teaches classics at Cambridge and therefore can’t get anyone to take him seriously as a scientist.  Because art and science don’t mix, y’know.  And Susan, heiress and Lord Fredericks’ ward, can’t find an endeavor she thinks worthy to support with her money because of the complacent attitudes in society.  The setting directly affects the main characters, creates conflict, and points to my theme (which I will not reveal here because spoilers).

*inspired by Henry Jekyll from the 1994 concept album of Jekyll & Hyde.  As such, I might eventually change his Christian name so as not to be sued by Frank Wildhorn, Leslie Bricusse, and the ghost of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Discover why the Story Matters to the Characters—and to Me.  Goal, stakes, conflict…those can be found anywhere.  A character could set the goal of opening his own business, with the stakes of providing for his family, and face obstacles in the lack of money and an affordable building to rent.  But why doesn’t he go another route to provide for his family?  Why does he choose this hill, the hill of the story, to fight and possibly die on?

This point is a cross between the character’s motivation and the stakes of the conflict–it’s why the goal matters to the character.  Not just the external repercussions of failure, but the internal consequences.  The more personal the story conflict and stakes, the more the readers will care about the characters and their struggles.  For example, Inception deals with complex concepts: the actions of the subconscious, the unique nature of dreams, and how each can be manipulated.  Truly engaging stuff—but the principles matter because of how personal they are to Cobb.  If he can complete the inception attempt, he can go home to his kids—but ironically, experimenting with dream manipulation and inception is what tore him from his family in the first place and created the guilt that plagues him throughout the story.

The author also needs personal motivation, and a second question I ask is: why does this story matter so much to me?  What are my own personal stakes?  This is partly practical; I’m more likely to finish the story if I’m passionate about it.  But understanding the personal stakes is another tool that narrows the focus of the story.  Suppose a writer believes that it’s ridiculous for 18-year-olds to choose their life passions before college.  They only just got out of school; they haven’t observed and experienced life to the degree that a 30-year-old has; how on earth can teens be expected to know what they want to do with their lives?  With that question, that drive behind the story, the writer can quickly discern that his other story idea about how the elderly are ignored doesn’t fit in the plot of this story.

Work Backwards from the Conclusion.  Articles and tutorials say “figure out your ending first.  Write toward your ending.”  I never understood this.  Doesn’t the outcome depend on what the main characters choose?  Won’t choice A create one outcome and choice B create another?  Should I just make up events regardless of what the characters chose to do?

Not necessarily.  The ending is more than the final dramatic events.  It’s also the conclusion of what the story says.  Which is an extension of what the author is trying to say.

Oh, please.  There’s no need to ask “What am I trying to say?”  Stories are just to entertain, right?

Right.  And wrong, because every story, even the fluffiest, feel-good novel makes some statement.  Even as untrue as “everything will turn out okay if you dream hard enough.”  Or whatever.  Continuing to offend people with my examples, The Battle of Five Armies film had no idea what it was ultimately saying.  Fight Ye Olde Evil?  All Gold is Evil?  Something Vague About True Love?  Reclaiming the Characters’ Ancestral Homes?  Hobbits Are the Saviors of the World?  (Epic fail on that last point, as Bilbo was demoted.)

By contrast, the Lord of the Rings (book and film) made a clear statement with its ending: sacrifice is the price of freedom.  When Frodo leaves Middle Earth, it highlights the price that warriors and defenders pay so that others may live in their homes in peace.  This theme is shown throughout the story.  Didn’t Frodo leave the Shire in the first place to protect it?  Didn’t Sam help Frodo no matter the cost to himself?  Didn’t Aragorn conceal his lineage and walk in humility for years and protect the Shire unseen? Didn’t Tolkien lament the fallen defenders all through his story?  Sacrifice is the conclusion—sacrifice for the land and peoples of Middle Earth.

Once I recognize what I’m saying with my story, it’s easier to work backwards from that and figure out what events and final conflicts would fit the story.  (And I often have an inkling of how everything will turn out, even if it’s cliche and obvious.)  Then I ask: where do the characters need to be, emotionally, physically, and mentally to drive the final events?  Then I create conflict and events that push the characters to that stage of readiness.

What’s ultimately important is that I understand what story I want to tell.  This means more than the genre.  It’s the big picture: the concept of the story, the tone, the stakes, what I’m trying to say, and what I want the story to accomplish.  Do I want it to be lighthearted or a cautionary tale?  Is it just a practice project or something I’m passionate about?  Do I want it to amuse or criticize or inspire?  If I don’t know what story I want to tell, it will end up dissonant.  It will read as though it tried to say one thing, but ended up saying something something very different.  It has happened in the past–and I’ve seen it happen to too many other storytellers.  The makers of the Hobbit films clearly did not know what kind of story they were telling.  In a film trilogy called The Hobbit, Bilbo is almost a side character, and the story focuses on the other races of Middle Earth.  The franchise tried to be dark and epic, but the slapstick humor and roller coaster chase-and-battle sequences undermined that tone (not to mention that when Smaug’s fire doesn’t burn rotting tapestries, tension vanishes anyway).  The main plot was the quest to reclaim Lonely Mountain, but the subplots didn’t really enhance that—Thranduil’s white gems, for example, and the romance between Kili and Tauriel, and Tauriel as a character in the first place.  *ducks volley of rotten avocados*  The result is three films with some good aspects, but with so many conflicts, characters, and plot threads that the story feels stuffed.  *ducks more flying vegetables*  And the root problem is that screenwriters didn’t seem to know what story they wanted to tell.

Now, confession time: I don’t have every one of these points articulated for every one of my stories.  Several are missing the ending.  A couple are missing the general concept.  One does not have specified conflict.  And that’s okay.  Stories take time to develop.  Some take more time to grow than others.  And these points are just general guidelines to help me build a strong foundation for my story.

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More About Lennox

So in this post, Lana wanted to learn more about Lennox, my character from the steampunk story (which now has the working title of Empty Clockwork).  So here is the long-promised post, complete with artwork!

First of all, Lennox didn’t grow up in England.  He was born in Brittany, France, but his artist father had difficulty finding work there.  The family moved to Switzerland, but faced the same problem, and so finally removed to Italy where the father found employment painting for wealth British, French, and Italian families.  Lennox grew up in Italy, speaks Italian fluently, and even after moving to England, he retains a faint Italian accent which becomes more apparent on certain vowels and syllables.

When Lennox was 18, he and his mother moved to England so he could get a university education, and he attended Cambridge.  (His father had died in an influenza outbreak some years earlier; see here.)  But Lennox ended up teaching himself much of what he wanted to know, particularly about chemistry and general science.  Mainly because he was curious about things that the curriculum there didn’t cover.

Random facts:

For all he’s a caring and friendly guy, he has a horror of tears.  He never knows how to handle such a situation.

When Lennox is around, there is rarely an awkward silence.  Or at least, it doesn’t last for more than a few seconds; he always finds something to say, especially if the pause is uncomfortable.

He always makes a huge mess whenever he gets a project out, such as paints or research; and if the work space is his own, he leaves the mess until he’s finished or until he gets tired of the chaos.

His mother taught him to play the piano, a skill he fought tooth and nail as a child because he thought it was a sissy pastime.  But his mother persevered, and Lennox finally learned to play in spite of himself.

His father also taught him to paint; Lennox didn’t mind learning this, although he says he doesn’t paint very well, didn’t practice enough.

He cannot swim, and nearly drowned after falling off a bridge once.  Fortunately, someone went after him and pulled him out.

He’s 23 at the beginning of the story.

He adheres to social requirements to please his grandfather, but he doesn’t give a rip about convention in the privacy of his home.

Lennox is the sort of person to pull a book off the shelf and then stand there in the walkway reading the volume.

Feeling just a wee bit lost in London society…

He cannot resist exploring new things and places…he’s incredibly curious, and sometimes even explores places he shouldn’t…

He never means any harm, he just wants the answers to his questions.

Now I forgot to link up with Beautiful People last month; the time for the link-up has expired, but I’ll still post the questions!

What’s his favorite place he ever visited?  Hard to narrow down; Lennox likes seeing anything and anywhere new.  He definitely enjoyed different parts of the Italian countryside as a child, as his family moved from place to place, seeking employment.

What’s one mistake he made that he learned from?  Erm…if this means during the story, I can’t say, because spoilers.  Before the story, however, it was probably something around the lines of “don’t perform chemistry experiments an hour before dinner if there’s any chance of a stench or a mess.”

What was his favorite subject in school? Or favorite thing to learn about?  Scientific history, physics, and chemistry.  He taught himself all three.

What’s his favorite flower/growing thing?  He likes painting landscapes, but I don’t think he has a favorite plant.

Has he ever made someone cry? What happened?  Nope, and if this ever happens, it will be a complete accident.  Lennox is the sort to go out of his way to make sure a conversation partner or friend is comfortable in the situation.

Would you consider him a reliable or unreliable narrator?  Unreliable, only because Lennox is too trusting.  And sometimes misses details, especially if he was focused on something else or just not interested.

What does he dream about at night?  Lennox says this is really nobody’s business.

He’s gone out for a “special meal.” What would he eat?  Definitely cake (spice cake with currents or sponge cake with frosting).

Does he have any distinguishing or unique talents?  He find and exploit loopholes like a boss.  He’s generally cheerful, regardless of the circumstances (on the other hand, if Lennox isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy).  He can also see the potential in almost any idea.

What’s at least one thing he wants to do before he dies?  A lot…but one is definitely to figure out what to do with his life.

So, that’s a little more about Lennox!  Thanks for reading!

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So, About My Steampunk Story…

Apparently, I’ve made some readers curious about this work-in-progress by featuring Lennox in two Beautiful People link-ups.  So, time for a full disclosure, eh?

First off, it’s not really steampunk.  I dubbed it that before I understood what this genre actually meant.  And what that term means is…actually a little crazy.  Steampunk.com says the term can refer to a lot of tropes, from the Industrial Revolution aesthetic to a lack of technology altogether in favor of supernatural/paranormal aspects.  Whereas Writersdigest.com defines the genre more generally as built around the idea that technology never advanced beyond steam engines.   When I mentioned all this to Chris, he and I both thought it was a little silly to have an entire genre limited by steam technology and Victorian aesthetic.  We continued calling the story “steampunk,” to convey the idea of anachronistic technology in the 19th century, and not because my story actually conforms to the genre.

After further research, we concluded that my story is actually a cross between alternate history, social sci-fi, hard sci-fi, with maybe a dash of steampunk thrown in (depending on which definition of that genre you like best).  See why calling it “steampunk” is easier?

The story starts in 1891.  The setting is the typical late-Victorian London with strict social norms, but with a twist: scientific dabbling is a popular hobby for the rich.  And “secret” labs in the basement are an essential part of any grand house.  Lord Fredericks is a brilliant, self-taught scientist, who can’t capitalize on his skills because he is also an aristocrat and not supposed to do manual or tradesman’s work.  His ward, Susan, will inherit a fortune when she comes of age, but she can’t find an endeavor worthy enough to support because of the complacent attitudes in society.  Henry is a doctor passionate for his work and research, but he can’t get the wealthy hobby scientists interested enough in his ideas to fund his experiments.  (He is also torn between giving his services to the poor and needing income from his practice.)  And Lennox is a young man who teaches classics at Cambridge, and therefore can’t get anyone to take him seriously as a scientist.

When Lennox comes to London to live with his grandfather, he hopes to meet influential men of science and to have opportunities to test his ideas and do further research.  To his frustration, these hopes seem misplaced due to the strict traditions holding London society together—yet when he meets Lord Fredericks and another-influential-character-who-doesn’t-yet-have-a-name (I’m so organized), these five characters are drawn together to combine their ideas.

All the characters have scientific specialties (except the unnamed one; still working out his role and personality).  Lennox’s is chemistry and maybe physics.  He’s also an artist (though not a very good one, he says) because he learned to paint from his artist father.  Henry’s expertise is biology (naturally); Susan’s is natural science of any kind, and she’s picked up a bunch of information about other sciences through reading and through helping Lord Fredericks with his own research.  And Lord Fredricks is a jack-of-all trades, interested in nearly anything, but he specializes in electromagnetism and mechanical engineering.

Keep in mind that all this is subject to change—I’m still taking notes and playing around with concepts.  Inspirations for this project have been Jekyll & Hyde (both the book and the musical), Batman Begins, Inception, The Prestige, the inventions of Nikola Tesla and other experiments with electricity and electromagnetism in the final decade of the century, photographs of clock towers and lamplit streets at night, and my own thoughts and theories about science and art.

Shots of the (secret!) character boards:

Lennox’s board:

Henry’s board:

Lord Fredericks’s board:

Susan’s board:

I do not own these images!  I use them solely for personal inspiration; no copyright infringement is intended.

One last thing: I’m not actively working on this story.  It’s still in the concept/idea-gathering/note-taking stage.  I fiddle with it when I get burned out on other projects.  Or when inspiration hits.  🙂

Still, if anyone would like to know a little more about it or about these characters, leave a comment and let me know!

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Beautiful People Parental Edition — Lennox (Again)

The Beautiful People link-up is so much fun!  If you don’t know, the link-up is to help writers get to know their characters better via the list of questions provided each month.

I’m featuring Lennox again (from my steampunk-ish story) because readers liked him last time, and because I think it would be weird to switch characters for this group of questions.

Here’s a picture of Lennox:

And here are this month’s questions!

Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?  Lennox was close to his parents and grew closer to his mother after his father died of influenza (when Lennox was 15).  They all had the occasional disagreement, of course, but nothing that divided the family permanently.  In fact, if someone insults his family or especially his mother, Lennox is apt to start a fight.

“I will not hear a word said against my mother.  Not even by you, sir.”

(Talking to his grandfather)

Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence, and how has it affected their life?  Yes, he knows them.  He grew up with them, and he had a happy childhood.

How did their parents meet?  His mother was an aristocratic daughter; his father was an artist.  They met when the artist was commissioned to paint a portrait, either for their family or a friend’s family.  The artist and the lady fell in love, and when her family objected, they eloped and lived on the continent for their entire married life.

How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?  Lennox would be more offended by the fact that someone considered this an insult than by the remark itself.  If someone did not mean it as an insult, he would definitely be pleased by the compliment.

What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?  Raising him, with the father trying to support the family by painting for aristocratic families on the continent.

Is there something they adamantly disagree on?  Lennox’s mother taught him etiquette as a child/teenager (which he did not see the use of) and also how to play the piano—which he hated.  His mother persisted, however, and he finally learned to play in spite of himself.

What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?  Probably the I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing malady that strikes all first-time parents, and supporting the family on low income/living economically.  They were poor, but they managed.

What’s his most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?  He remembers running around on the Italian hillsides while his father painted.  Sometimes watching his father, and sometimes (as Lennox got older) learning to paint himself.  His most vivid memory of his mother, however, is from when he was much older and had earned a fellowship at Cambridge.  The money it brought was enough to support them both, and he vividly remembers her doing little things around their house, such as cleaning and cooking and sewing, while he studied in the evenings.

What was your character like as a baby/toddler?  Lennox was mobile, always exploring, and touching/grabbing whatever caught his interest.  His mother kept a close eye on him, because he would be crawling or toddling out the open door every time she turned around.  Little Lennox was also generally cheerful and easygoing, though if his will was crossed when he wanted something strongly, he would throw tantrums.

Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?  “Lennox” was actually the mother’s maiden surname.  She gave it to her son in memory of the life and family she had lost.  While she never really regretted eloping to marry her beloved, she did regret their stubbornness and rashness—because perhaps, with time, the minds of her family would have softened to the match.  The name was also a small way of honoring her family.

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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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