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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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Beautiful People Link-Up: About the Author

This month’s BP features the author of the characters instead of the characters themselves, which is a fun twist.  🙂  You can find the link-up and questions here.

How do you decide which project to work on?

It’s very rational: I sit down and calculate how many story elements are inherent in the original idea + an estimation of the time it will take to finish + how much time I actually have + how much coffee I’ll need to complete the project, and–

Just kidding!  Usually, ideas for characters grab me and won’t let go, and so I have to follow and see what the story is.  It’s  entirely out of my control, I assure you.  Other times, the process is a little more rational: sometimes based on whichever idea is the most vivid and interesting; sometimes it’s based on which story idea has the most pieces put together (e.g. one with the concept, conflict, etc. worked out); and sometimes, it’s whichever idea looks like one that I can finish quickly.

Which often turns out to be a complete fantasy.  🙂

Even when I settle on a project, I tinker with others on the side, and jot notes for any new ideas. Sitting now in my digital folders are at least 10 novel ideas (with tons of notes for each), along with notes for a couple of characters and concepts that don’t have proper stories, but that won’t leave my imagination either.

At the moment, I’m actively working on my semi-western Gentle Fire, and I tinker with my steampunk story here and there.  Also, the steampunk story finally has a working title: Empty Clockwork!  And speaking of, I’ll get that post about Lennox up sometime before the apocalypse hopefully soon.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

In the words of Ebeneezer Scrooge, circa 1850–something: “Why do you delight to torture me?”

I don’t finish quickly, partly because of my health problems and fatigue–but partly because my concepts end up fleshed out into a Very Long Novel that will take more than a few months to pound out.  But I comfort myself with the hallowed words of Charles Dickens:

“It is delightful to find throughout that you have taken great pains with it [the story] besides, and have “got at it” with a perfect knowledge of the jolter-headedness of the conceited idiots who suppose that volumes are to be tossed off like pancakes, and that any writing can be done without the utmost application, the greatest patience, and the steadiest energy, of which the writer is capable.”

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

I listen to music that matches the tone of my story (e.g. The Alamo soundtrack before I work on Gentle Fire) and sometimes crochet a little before I write, using that time to think about the story and what I’m going to write.

What time of day do you write best?

Always in the early morning, when the rising sun melts the grey sky into soft blush and liquid gold, and the house is a still and peaceful place where my imagination can soar–

*dog barks at someone walking by the house*

*a sibling gets up earlier than I expected*

*air conditioner breaks*

Kidding!  It changes from day to day, and I think it has to do with however much brain fog I’m dealing with.  Sometimes I write best in the wee hours of the morning; other times, I can barely comprehend English during that time.  Other times, I write best in the late morning; still others, late afternoon is the sweet spot.  Keeps things interesting, eh, what?

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

Erm…I have no idea.  I’d like to think I have a style like Dickens’, but it’s probably a cross between Bronte and Austen.  I asked my siblings, and Chris lovingly reminded me that he hasn’t read any of my stories because I haven’t finished one yet.  (Thanks, bro.)  Gingersnap said she couldn’t think of any comparisons and that I kind of had my own style.  Enkie said Louisa May Alcott, but also said that’s the only author she could think of off the top of her head, and that it wasn’t correct at all.  That I kind of have my own style.  Emmett also said he hasn’t read any of my stuff, and so he also couldn’t think of any comparisons.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I started writing because I always have story ideas bouncing around in my head, and at age 12, I hit upon one that I thought was good enough to become a book.  (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.)  But it was enough to start me on this journey, and I keep writing because story ideas still bounce around in my head–stories that I would love to read someday.

I also truly enjoy the process and the artistry of it all, despite how hard it gets.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

Either the travel brochure for a writing class assignment (that brochure was as dry as ashes, people)–or the picture book I started in order to finish something before I die.  The picture book was hard because it was short, and I didn’t have room to explore or flesh out its concept.  It felt like shutting my mind up in a box.

Here’s a fun fact: Gentle Fire was supposed to be a short story.  But I kept wondering what brought Durant to the very situation in the opening, and also what happened after the story.  And then I thought of some answers.  And the ideas wouldn’t leave me alone.  See Question #1.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

My English political novel with the working title of Method and Manner.  Actually, I’d love to focus on this one (Chris told me the other day he would put flowers ‘pon this story’s gravestone), but I don’t have time for the hefty research required.  When I have time for that research, however, I shall thoroughly enjoy it!

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I hoped to finish the draft of Gentle Fire by the end of the year, but as it’s nearly August and only the beginning of the outline sits in my folder, that will probably not happen.  I hesitated to set any other goals because I so successfully fail at meeting them year after year.  It’s quite the impressive record.

Maybe I should switch to creating Mid-Year Goals?  Breaking out of the cliche box and all its expectations might help.  🙂

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Help, coffee, help!

Kidding again!  It’s more like Think, Organize, Write–only that order gets shuffled around a little.  Okay, a lot.  With confusion thrown in.  Also a constant sparring match between my inner critic and artist’s soul.

And coffee does fit in there somewhere.  🙂

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Artwork Wednesday – A Small Twist

Today’s post will feature quotes from my characters, not pencil-and-paint work. Two reasons for this: 1. I have no artwork prepared for this week, and 2. I’m working on drawings of Lennox for my upcoming post about him (stay tuned!)  Hopefully, I’ll have drawings to show next week, but for now, I’ll post verbal artwork instead.

Now, not all these quotes will make it into the finished story–but they reveal a good deal about the characters.  🙂

Quotes from my unnamed literary novel (set in Yorkshire in the 1820s–30s):

“Tell me quickly,” said Charles, nearly exasperated.  “I am late already.”

“By a full two moments?” called Thomas from the other room.

 

“Charles, if Lord James thought our station an impediment, he would not pay me such marked attention,” Dorothea said.  “Are we not to trust his judgment as well as ours?”

Charles sat down.  “His judgment might be impaired by his need for money.”

Dorothea lowered her work and sent her brother a severe stare.  “That is not fair to Lord James or to his father.  They do need money,” she continued, resuming her sewing, “but Lord James is prudent and honorable.  If he feared our new wealth would corrupt his family’s rank, I do not think he would pay me any attention.  And we are honest with each other.  If he finds me lacking in any thing, he will tell me, and I shall attempt to satisfy him.”

 

“You will forgive me for being indelicate,” Dorothea said, looking up at her brother “but you apprehend a good deal that does not happen.”

 

“Really, James, you are newly-married and ought to be a good deal more punctual than this,” Harriet said, “–especially since you are escorting your wife.”

Dorothea was about to reprimand this remark, but James said, “At least I have made some improvement.  Where is Father?”

“Papa!” Harriet called down the hall, “Even James is ready now!”

 

James, as always, refused to take coffee; he had for years observed the peculiar sway it held over his otherwise self-controlled friend, and would himself remain free of such mastery.

 

“The only dissatisfaction I have with curls,” said Harriet, “is that they become untidy with the least provocation!”

 

“I am all right,” Charles insisted.  This was not as consoling at he intended, for he would say the same if he were in the final stages of consumption.

 

Alice suddenly pointed at the dog and announced: “Buppy.”

Mr. Carter smiled and knelt by the dog’s head. “Would you like to pet her?”

Alice glanced up at her mother and then ventured forward, but she looked at Mr. Carter very seriously.  “He bite,” she prophesied.

“No, she will not bite. But let her sniff your hands first.”

 

“Will you sit down?” Alice asked. Mr. Carter nodded and sat on the small chair nearby. Alice stared at him and patted the grass with both hands.

“Oh, on the ground,” Mr. Carter said, lowering himself to that level. “My mistake.”

 

James raised an eyebrow.  “Are you flirting?”

“Yes,” Dorothea answered lightly, “but with impunity, as we are already married.”

James laughed.

 

The whole plot is kicked off by Dorothea and James deciding to marry–so there’s no point in keeping that secret!

 

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Weekly Artwork Round-Up

No point in calling it Artwork Wednesday, because this post is (a) not featured on Wednesday, and (b) ridiculously late.

One art problem I’ve faced recently is how to deal with reference photos. Printing every photo I want to draw from uses a lot of paper and ink. Sketching with my laptop precariously balanced on my knees is not only bad for the laptop and my arms and legs, but eraser crumbs get between the computer keys. So…why don’t I just rest the laptop on a table? Because I hate, hate, hate people seeing the reference photo on the screen or seeing my drawing when I’m first sketching. It’s not so bad if the drawing looks like a human with clothes on, but before I get the sketch to that stage…

Anyway, I have  five pictures to show this week!

First up is Sanchia, a character from my semi-western story with a working title of Gentle Fire.  I picture Sanchia so vividly that it was great to capture that on paper more or less easily!  Also notice that the wool skeins drape over her wrists so that I don’t have to bother drawing hands like yarn skeins do in real life.  Especially since she’s paused her work to listen to someone talk.

This is the cabin that Durant and his family live when they first move to the western colonies.  The table is just slabs of wood set on sawn logs, and there are no proper shelves, cupboards, or even beds yet.  But it’s their own house on their own property, and that’s enough for them once they survive the journey.

Nonetheless, Wilson promised to build proper shelves and beds as soon as possible.

I drew this with charcoal–and there’s a funny story to go along with it.  Ever since I began drawing, Dad tried to get me interested in charcoal drawing, because we had a kit and tutorial series somewhere in our detached office.  I was too busy learning to use pencils, however, to turn my attention to charcoal.  Fast forward a couple of years to when I bought an art set only for the little art mannequin to use for drawing poses.  But charcoal pencils were included in the set–and out of random curiosity, I used them to draw this.  And–

I. Love. Charcoal.

I promptly informed Dad about this and thanked him for mentioning that medium and the art set out in the office.  And for the record, my parents are right 99% of the time.  🙂

My brother Chris suggested I draw concept art for my story to get an idea of the atmosphere and aesthetic–so I took his advice and started watercolor sketches in my leather sketchbook.  This is the rancho of another character: Barros (father of Maria, whom I mentioned here, and Teresita, whom I haven’t mentioned yet. 🙂 )

Another watercolor sketch, this one of the books Durant brought to the west.  The bottom one is a book of natural science; the next one up is a biography; the third is a small volume of poetry; the fourth is a novel of some sort; the fifth is  a brief history of the nation; the sixth (the long, grey one) is a primer; and the topmost book is Durant’s personal record book where he jots down financial information, a brief description of the day’s events, and sometimes his nephew’s antics.

Speaking of nephews, here’s Alex, Durant’s eldest nephew.  With his uncle’s hat on his head–Durant has a habit of dropping his hat on the head of whichever nephew is nearest!

Part of me wants to draw Lennox again, and get back to A Tale of Two Cities fanart–but I can’t stop drawing my Gentle Fire characters!  So who knows what artwork I’ll have to showcase next week!

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Artwork Thursday – New Art Supplies!

Late is better than never, right?  My internet connection kept breaking yesterday, and so I couldn’t log on here and get the post up.  *sighs*  But here we are now!

While at Hobby Lobby the other day, I saw a beautiful leather sketchbook with soft pages that might hold watercolor nicely.  I decided to take the risk and buy it…

Isn’t it gorgeous?  And when I’ve used up the pages, I think I know how to remove the leather cover and re-use it for another journal.

I also picked up a portable watercolor set…

…which was an impulse purchase, but a good one.  I’ve wanted for years to have a portable watercolor set so I could paint outside and use the scenery around me as reference.

Here I am painting outside!  After getting nearly blinded by sunlight reflecting off those white pages, I prudently relocated to a shady spot.  The journal pages did hold watercolor pretty well–not as perfectly as my professional watercolor paper, but well enough for sketching!

I also tried sketching with pencil in the leather journal…

…but it’s rather hard to erase without shredding the page.  This is my character Sanchia, from my semi-western story.

Same character with some shading and detail.  Not sure which version I like better!

This is myself caricatured as a walnut.  And before you all blink in disbelief and unsubscribe, let me explain: I was goofing off with a friend through text and making her laugh…and then got this hilarious image of myself as nut with a posh hat.  So I doodled the image!  Also, I shall make “sass with class” my personal motto.  🙂

I’ve kept up my crocheting…

…and made a cover for a chair cushion.  I even followed a crochet pattern–sort of.  I’m one of those crocheters who change the pattern as suits their needs.  🙂  No harm in being flexible!

Then at the last minute yesterday, I realized it was Flag Day…

…so I doodled this (and the leather journal holds colored pencil pretty well too–good to know!)

I also left off the stars because it would take until next Flag Day to draw them all!  🙂

And I finally finished a drawing I’d started weeks ago…

…this is Maria, another character from the semi-western.  She’s quiet, but fun-loving, and so she’s jumping off rocks or something like that here.

That’s all for now!

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Artwork Wednesday – Back to Watercolor!

Before my watercolor painting frenzy began, I drew a couple of pictures with dry media.

I drew this in the car.  The highway was a long smooth stretch, and so I was able to sketch without worrying about bumps in the road.  And without getting car-sick, which is the real miracle.  🙂

This is my character, Mary, (from the semi-western story) and half of a quote from Pinterest.  The full quote says:

“Typical MBTI Description: INTJs are the cool-headed geniuses of the 16 types.  With their love of objective reasoning and  uncanny intuition, no one can fool this intellectual mastermind.  Actual INTJs: Where are my socks?”

Which is definitely Mary, so here she is, a bit confused.  Although she does use objective reasoning and generally points out the principle or detail that everyone else missed.

I started this one weeks ago, got extremely close to finishing, and therefore, didn’t bother finishing until now.  *headdesk*  Yet another victim falls prey to the “Oh-there’s-plenty-of-time” mindset.  Anyway, I absolutely loved painting all that mist in watercolor–it was difficult keeping an eye on the paint to make sure it didn’t drift into an area where it shouldn’t–but the work paid off!

A tulip tree blossom.

Some daffodils that didn’t turn out quite as detailed as I’d hoped.

But while painting the daffodils, I watched The Fellowship of the Ring–and got a sudden urge to paint a Shire landscape.

So I did.  This is a very small painting, maybe 3″x5″, but that may have actually helped me not go overboard with detail.

That’s all for now!

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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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Artwork Wednesday — Finally Back!

Finally!  Yes!  It’s been way too long!

This week, I went back to pencil-and-paper artwork, and it was so good to draw again.  🙂  Before picking my pencils up again, I spent a good deal of time crocheting….

In my last Artwork Wednesday post, I showed the start of a new stitch I was learning.  Here’s what I made with that new stitch: another potholder!  It was good practice for my next project…

…a baby blanket!  This is for a friend at church, a mother that my sisters regularly babysit for.

Then I made another blanket…

…for my brother Emmet.  It’s a Lego blanket–can you tell?  🙂  I had so much fun making this!

Then I started another blanket…

…this time for myself.  🙂 It will be a Christmas afghan.  I actually made one years ago, but that was before  knew what I was doing!  So it was high time to re-do it!

Then I picked up my pencils again and embarked on a fun frenzy of drawing characters from one of my works-in-progress!  Not the steampunk story, but my semi-western.

Okay, I’m tired of calling it that.  The working title of this semi-western is Gentle Fire.  Working title, mind; I’ll probably change it later.  (I’m terrible at titles.)

This is Wilson and Mary, Durant’s brother-in-law and sister.  (More about Durant and his family here and here.)

And here’s Durant!  He’s doing secretarial work of some kind.  Or maybe writing a letter; he handles most of the family’s correspondence because neither Mary nor Wilson care much about that.  Nor do they have much literary talent (Mary is educated and articulate, but can’t be bothered to write anything down).

Have I mentioned desert sunsets are my new favorite subject to draw?

That’s all for now!

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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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