NaNo Special: Me and My Characters

Hey there everyone! Having a good November so far? I’m writing a number of these NaNo Special posts in advance, to give myself more time to write during NaNoWriMo… But I’m sure I’m having a lot of fun and frustration in your present and my future. “But wait, Jaluna, why are you so certain you’d be frustrated today?” Well, writing is hard… Especially if your characters seem to have a life of their own. You’d think that’s a good thing, but it’s not that great when they go off script and lead you in a direction that’s interesting, but blocks you from getting to what you needed.

To me, my characters are like my children- and I have a LOT of children in this case. They love to take me down alleys I wouldn’t have thought t, as if they’re trying to find a shortcut to their conclusion. Sometimes, my kids from another story idea start to whine about not getting enough attention. Basically, I feel a lot like a parent with many children, perhaps like my doctor whom has eight of his own. And yet, I’m not a parent. I’m only a writer- a writer with childishly defiant characters that won’t accept the rules I enforce on them.

I think this way often, however. I remember that my characters are my kids- and some of my kids have kids of their own already. I ended up becoming a fan of parenting blogs and following twitter accounts that talk about their kids a lot. I always make it clear when I respond to them that I’m not a parent, and most of them are totally understanding when I describe my characters the way I do, surprisingly. Some of them give me advice on behaviors I can do for myself that will improve my connection with them, in fact. I’m lucky parents can be so understanding- just like my father is.

Of course, another big issue when writing about a character is generally knowing as much as possible about them. When is their birthday? What makes them tic? What color was their favorite when they were 5 compared to when they were 25? No matter what inane piece of information, I want to know it all with my ‘children’. I want to know their life story and then some. I want to know their goals in life outside the plot. I want to know what led them to the plot, and what the plot means to them compared to me.

For me, the built in template for character development in Scrivener works great- but there’s always a sense that something’s missing. I can edit it as I please, luckily, but I often just keep a separate character form I can fill out for each character that’s more extensive. I’ve seen character charts that are a hundred questions, and others that are two-hundred fifty. What I like to do is take one of the larger forms and crop it, taking only the questions that fit my needs. I’m not likely to need to know anything about magic if it’s a fictional world without it (though this is just an example- my work always has some fantasy and sci-fi inside it!).

I think the things I often find myself cropping are things like specific body parts that don’t fit, such as scales, tails and all that fun stuff. I do have occasional characters that need those parts, but for the most part my characters tend to be humanoid, so I’ve yet to need those particular sections.

That’s all I can really say about my characters. They’re the proof of a lot of things: my love of children, my dark side, my inquisitive side and my thirst for control that I still can’t seem to get right. Writers, tell me about yourself: what do you think of your characters as? Are they just characters, or are they something more special? I’d love to hear how others plan out their characters and think about them in general. I could use some new tips to get to know mine even better, that’s for sure!

Until next time! Happy NaNo!

Throwback Thursday: The Characters Who Raised Me

Hey there everyone! How are you doing today? The week’s almost over, can you believe it? I got a request from one of my loyal readers recently: a post about fictional characters, whether mine or someone elses, and how they’ve helped me grow into who I am now. Honestly, I find this topic super interesting, and the fact I can use any number of characters is pretty awesome. So, shall we jump right in?

When I was young, Cardcaptor Sakura was a big part of my life. It inspired me to let my imagination go wild, sure, but that’s not why I’m noting it here. No, I’m here to note a specific line I always heard Syaoran Li say: Expect the Unexpected.

This quote has lived in my heart for over a decade. I try my best to prepare for all situations, and am never as shocked when something goes awry as others might be. I’m certainly not patient, but I did learn to take a look at the bigger picture to see what things are unlikely, but could happen. To Syaoran, I send my thanks. This was a really good life lesson.

Another character that really inspired me was a game character- namely Linear Cannon from Evolution Worlds. Her gentility and gentle mannerisms intrigued me greatly, but what it really boosted was my love for music. See, Linear’s got two primary skill sets- one with a frying pan she can hit you with, the other being her ocarina. The music from her ocarina was always beautiful, and it even made me want my own. I do have one, but I can’t play. Still, Linear warmed my heart- and she opened me up to just how music can affect the world in different ways.

Those are just characters that affected me early in my life, however. There’s some that in recent years have helped teach me a variety of lessons and inspired me in a variety of ways. I’d like to give them some time in the spotlight too!

First, Natsume Yuujinchou’s title character, Natsume Takashi. To me, Natsume’s usually soft tone and gentle demeanor are quite nice- but what I really like about him is that he’s learned to balance life dealing with yokai and dealing with people. It takes time for him to adjust to this lifestyle- but that he’s always trying to help people and yokai alike is really moving, and the fact that he can balance those two worlds he lives in is remarkable. It makes me want to work hard to balance my life too. God knows I need it!

Another character that inspired me is Uru from Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume. Uru, the heroine, is a very strong girl- physically and mentally. She causes a lot of ruckus in life, but she tries hard to be helpful to anyone she can. I consider Uru a great role model- she’s creative, she sees the best in people (which I try to, and try harder now that I’ve seen Uru in action)… And she always makes up for her blunders, which I still need to learn to do more.

The fifth character from other fiction that’s helped me grow as a person is Hades-sensei from Hokenshitsu no Shinigami. What lesson did I learn from someone named after a death god, you might be asking. The answer is quite simple: Hades-sensei is an amazingly hard worker, and will do his best to take care of people even if they’ve harmed him, physically or mentally, or just in general are rude. He’s patient and hard working, things I most certainly am not. He knows his face is a bit scary, but he tries his best to ignore that factor, because it’s all just superficial anyway. To me, this is all a great lesson in personal growth. His determination is truly admirable.

I’ve talked about five characters from fiction of others- but now, I think it’d be fun to tell you about the lessons my own characters have given me over time. So who’s going to be first? To my surprise, it’s Alien Irony’s Lily Hawkins!

Lily has taught me more about the beauty of being honest than anything or anyone else in the world. She’s a lesbian, and she doesn’t hide it, nor does she try to hide who she likes. No matter how many times Sakura rejects her, Lily continues to cling on and believe in a future together. I find her determination and ability to be as bold as she is quite admirable, and want to better learn how to be a bit bolder.

Another character of mine from Alien Irony that really speaks to me and teaches me things is none-other than the head of covert operations, Walter Graile. Walter is an interesting person. He goes with the flow and acts as if he doesn’t think things through, when really he’s calculating any information remotely related to what he’s working on at a given time. In a way, he reminds me of that old line to ‘expect the unexpected’, but the way he does it and the way it’s worked out for him is remarkable. He found a place to belong even if he didn’t get into acting quite the way he wanted. He reminds me to be less laser-focused, and to accept alternatives.

Next up is Kana Carina, an old roleplay character I had for a while that turned into the heroine of one of my WIPs, Luna Blue. Kana is a strong-willed girl wit her priorities pretty straight in her head. She’s not weak against change, and in fact thrives in it- something I am still learning to do. She may have a few bad habits, but what shines through the most when I write her is her devotion to those around her, as well as her need to keep promises even if they were made only to herself. I think it’s really admirable, and I think I’d like to be half the woman she is considering those traits. Maybe not her tendency to work until she collapses, though.

Speaking of Luna Blue, I can’t help thinking Kieran fits the topic of characters that teach me. Kieran is from a species similar but not akin to humans- and, for the most part, his kind hate humans! Kieran, however, tries to find the good in them, and lives among them to make an educated decision about how he thinks of them. His optimism and idealism rival my own in a way I can’t explain- but the fact that he works so hard to come up with his own decisions is quite nice. It’s a skill I have a lot of work to do with!

And finally, the fifth of my own characters that raised me sends us back to Alien Irony. Should I be worried only two series of mine got included in this post? Anyway, the fifth character to inspire me, raise me, and motivate me is Sayaku. Sayaku is an alien that’s come to my version of Earth to be near his sister, who moved there due to health reasons. Sayaku has been hurt many times by women he loved (and by hurt I mean beaten up)… But he never once blamed them for his wounds, and he still tried to be there for them even if the love went stale from the pain. Sayaku teaches me the importance of family, but his biggest lesson for me is to move on from painful things. To be honest, I never really realized until now that Sayaku did this for me. I always say it’s my dad’s phrase, “this too shall pass”… But I think Sayaku growing past the blame game and trying to show empathy to the people who’ve hurt him… It’s amazingly beautiful, and I want to be able to do that someday.

Well, that’s a wrap for today, guys! I really hope you enjoyed reading this, because I enjoyed writing it quite a bit! Tell me, though: what characters have been role models for you throughout your life. Are any ones you made yourself? This topic is of peak interest to me- I might have to write more on this subject another time. I’m sure I’m missing a thousand characters or two! I already know some of them, but that’s not until next time. Take care, guys!

Topical Tuesday: Characters I Want As Friends

Howdy gang! Everyone doing well? Today, I really want to do a bookish meme… but it’s not a recent one! I missed out on a particular Top Ten Tuesday the past two weeks that I really wanted to take part in. And so, today’s topic is that meme two weeks late: Characters I Wanna Be Friends With. This list is in no particular order, mind you- it’s just in the order I thought of them.

Ana Gram – Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle

I absolutely adore Ana. He’s a great example of ‘looks can be deceiving’. While he often acts as a lackadaisical artist, he’s actually quite bright and is extremely observant and understanding of the human mind. Honestly, though, I just like how innocently he portrays himself- and how dark he can get if things go a bad direction. His punny name also helps.

Nyanko-sensei – Natsume Yuujinchou

Who wouldn’t want to be friends with a greatly powerful yokai stuck in the body of a weird sort of cat? Especially a totally tsundere one? Probably a lot of people, actually… But I think Nyanko-sensei is a great ally, and I’d probably love to pieces having him as a friend. He holds nothing back- but he can be really sweet sometimes too!

Takashi – Natsume Yuujinchou

Natsume Takashi, the titular character, is another guy I’d like to be friends with. He’s a gentle spirit who likes to help others, and he somehow manages to keep up with both the human and spirit worlds. Though he starts out virtually hating yokai, his ability to bring the two worlds together is fascinating as a skill. Again, though, I also just like how he’s a gentle person.

Mayuko – High Rise Invasion

Mayuko Nise is one tough cookie, and one I’d love to have on my side in a fight. She’s a bit too like me in that she has trouble trusting people- but, to be fair, she’s currently stuck in a world where you either die by jumping off a roof or die by being killed by the means of a mysterious race known as angels. Despite the highly volatile situation, she was able to change and trust someone, and that’s just so strong…
It makes me want to learn from her, all in all.

Hades-sensei – Hokenshitsu no Shinigami

Whenever I hear the word ‘Hades’, I never really think of someone I’d like to be friends with. However, Hades-sensei isn’t nearly as scary as his looks may make him seem. Sure, he’s not exactly a normal person- but it’d take a person who’s not so normal to cure people infected by disease demons! I really like how, despite the way he’s seen or treated, Hades-sensei always does his best to help others, even if it often has an awkward and unusual result.

Karuta Roromiya – Inu x Boku SS

Though her yokai form scares me senseless, Karuta in her human form and in her heart is a person I’d love to be friends with. She’s all for sharing food with people she cares for. She’s soft-spoken, but not afraid to speak bluntly when she deems it necessary. I feel like we’d get along in our similarities, and especially our love of snacks.

Hotate – Yamamoto Zenjirou to Moushimasu

Hotate may be a young girl (okay, a lot of the characters are well younger than me, but Hotate’s in grade school for crying out loud!), but she’s a hard worker always trying to help people with her special ability. While she’s dealt with quite a bit of adversity in her life due to it, Hotate doesn’t often blame this power of hers. Instead, she grows to use it to aid others, and even to make a few friends! I’d love to be one of them!

Mayoi – Acchi Kocchi

Mayoi is a very, uh… Unique type of person. She’s a genius in her own right, but she’s also a prankster. You’d think I wouldn’t want to be friendly with someone who can do such things with a straight face, but she’s just trying to get everyone to enjoy themselves in some ways. I like how she always helps start the fun that leads to chaos. I feel like if we were friends, I’d get out more often. xD

Uru – Shiawase Kissa Sanchome

I loved a lot of the characters in Shiawase Kissa Sanchome, but no one beats the heroine, at least to me. Uru is a strong-willed girl with brute strength of unbelievable ability. She likes to meddle into other people’s affairs, but she usually only does it because she means well and wants to help. I feel like we’d get along, because while she can be a bit rowdy, she knows how to slow down for people that can’t keep up. She’s a sweet girl, and she deserves all the happiness in the world- and all the friends, too!

Nozaki – Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Nozaki, like me, is a writer. He can be pretty oblivious at times, like I can, but he tries his hardest to learn from his mistakes. To Nozaki, everything is inspiration. As fellow writers, I think we’d get along really easily, especially through talking shop and bouncing ideas back and forth!

I know this post has gotten pretty long, and I apologize, guys. I just couldn’t help myself- this topic was really fun for me, after all! Still, I’m also just so glad to be back- I’ve been so excited for this, it’s a shame it had to wait until now.

Before you go… Have you read any of the series I noted in this post? What did you like/dislike about the characters I chose? I’d love to hear some characters you want as your besties too! So stick around and at least leave me a note about it. I love your comments! You help me grow, too!

Topical Tuesday: Characters I Can Relate To

Hihi, everyone! Today, I decided to do another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Now, I don’t do a lot of book blogging- or any, really- but I really like some of the topics covered in Top Ten Tuesday, and today’s topic was a freebie as long as it focuses on book characters. I struggled a lot to think of a theme, so a good friend helped me out. So… Today’s theme:

Top Ten Characters (meaning off the top of my head) That I Relate to the Most.

Note that none of this is ‘in order’. It’s just the order I thought of them, mostly based on my manga history on Anime-Planet. Which I haven’t used for ages and really should. That’s not here or there. Let’s get down to it, shall we?

Reason from Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier

Unlike the other nine books, the first character that came to mind when I think of the ones I relate to is from a novel I read in high school or so and never stopped loving: Magic or Madness. I love the book because it gives a modern spin to what magic is, which is something we all have inside ourselves. I mostly feel Reason and I connect because she uses numbers to help her relax. When she’s feeling anxiety driven for any reason, she recites Fibonacci’s sequence. I used to always just count from one to however high I had to in Japanese to relax or deal with time I couldn’t handle. As such, Reason and I related in how we dealt with stress- and I even gained a new way to mix things up a little!

Sasame from Nukoduke by Yugi Iro

Sasame comes from one of my top ten manga that I’ve read. I don’t relate to her in many ways- well, besides the fact we’re both girls- but there’s one thing we do have in common that’s a serious issue… We’re both natural flirts, and are generally to dense to notice it. Sasame has a habit of being assumed a boy because she equally ‘flirts’ with the girls as she does the men. But really, she doesn’t intend to flirt at all. First off, she’s a kitten. A humanoid kitten, but a kitten. Second, she’s just trying to be friendly. It’s just hard to know where that line is!

Hijiri from Yandere Kanojo by Shinobi

In Yandere Kanojo, every character is taken to the extreme in personality. For Hijiri, the thing that’s treated as a joke is that she’s ‘plain’ and ‘normal’. Now, I know for a fact I’m not ‘normal’, but I do often get told I can be plain and boring sometimes. She’s a fairly relaxed sort of character who worries and tries her best to give advice to her friends even if she lacks any background in the topic whatsoever. And that is something I totally get behind myself. It usually backfires though in my case.

Satou from Happy Sugar Life by Tomiyaki Kagisora

Okay, comparing myself to Satou is really freaking scary. If you don’t know why… Go look it up. You’ll understand after a chapter or two why this is not something I want to do normally. That said, Satou’s drive that leads her is partially possessiveness- and I know I have that trait. I get jealous and clingy, and I’m just generally on the obsessed side when it comes to people I care for and the one I love. So, as much as Satou scares the crap out of me, I also kinda get her. Kinda.

Shio from Happy Sugar Life by Tomiyaki Kagisora

Shio isn’t as scary as Satou, aside from her being a little kid that’s totally fine being in love with her kidnapper and whatnot. I mostly relate to Shio in her simplistic happiness. Shio’s always working hard to welcome Satou home after a day of school and work. Shio doesn’t get a choice not to go out unlike me, but that small matter… When I see her waiting for Satou to open the door, I see myself in it. And when she tries so hard she falls asleep waiting? I’ve done that too. It’s just so sweet and relatable!

Hana from Hana to Akuma by Hisamu Oto

Another little girl falling in love with… Well, he’s not really her kidnapper since she was left at his doorstep. What I see myself in with Hana is a love of flowers (and sometimes flower language), but most of all, the fact that she loves Vivi as he is- demon and all. See, my boyfriend likes to say he’s a demon. So, by default, I totally see myself in Hana as she gets older. She’s also a hard worker when it comes to keeping Vivi happy, and I do try my best to cheer people up- though I’m not nearly as good at it as her! She’s sweet and simple, and I like to think I can encompass that too.

Kinjirou from Mayo Chiki by Hajime Asano

Yep, I even relate to guys sometimes everyone! In Kinjirou’s case, it’s mostly because of the fact that he has severe gynophobia, and I grew up with sometimes extremely challenging androphobia. Our phobias are opposites, but we both have/had a severe case. Also he’s the type who’s bad with pressure, which I admittedly am myself.

Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Haruhi is a really well known manga and anime, but no one is more well known than the heroine. Haruhi is from a poor family, a single parent one at that- specifically, it’s just her and her dad in a fairly small apartment. Kinda like me! Also, she likes learning a lot. But the main thing that she and I relate on? Well, due to personal needs, we’re both fairly frugal. We’re both even frugal when it comes to others treating us- she tries so hard to not let all her rich club members do things for her let alone buy expensive things for her, but it still happens. And I tend to do the same.

Gingko from Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara

If you haven’t seen or read Mushishi, I highly recommend you go do that now. To truly understand Gingko is highly implausible, but there’s a simple thing about him that I feel I relate to well: We’re both the types to push people away. He does it regularly, consciously. And while I’m trying to learn not to do that… Well, it’s hard. Also, he can see things most people can’t, which correlates well with my final young lady.

Hotate from Yamamoto Zenjirou to Moushimasu by Youko Maki

While Hotate is a young child, she’s also got a unique ability that I once felt I had: the ability to see ghosts. In my case it turned out to be psychosis, but there’s something similar either way. Not only are we both people who see things others cannot, we’re both in single parent households with our fathers that promote our need to help them. Yes, you read that right: I thought the psychosis was spirits, and I always tried hard to help them. Hotate is always trying to help people, ghost or not, so that everyone can live happier lives. I wish I could help as many people as she can!

As you can see, there’s a fairly wide variety of characters that one can relate to. You can tell gender, species and age aren’t the only things that make characters- or other people for that matter- relatable! It’s the way they treat their relationships, their quirks, their strengths and flaws. I for one see myself in a tiny piece of each and every one of them.

What characters do you feel you connect highly with in books you like? I’d love to hear your view! If you haven’t read some of these before, I highly recommend giving them a shot. Most of them are sweet overall- and a new book is always nice, right? ^^

Soulful Saturday – My Dark Inspiration

Hihi! Welcome back everyone. Has anyone noticed a lot of my posts aren’t really related to writing? I certainly have over the weeks. I know this is a personal blog, but I originally intended to use it as a writing blog. That said, today’s going to change things up a bit by combining writing and me myself. This Soulful Saturday, I’m going to talk about the projects I’m working on for CampNaNo, and more importantly, the things in my life that led to their creation and the things that shaped them as they are so far.

Before I get into things, I should probably share the basics of each one. Treasure of Eternity is my magical girl tragedy, following a group of four girls brought into a deadly treasure hunt along with other teams of magic users. Ur URL is a horroresque fantasy about a man cursed to be able to see curses, and works with the police to solve curse related crimes.

Both stories were actually inspired by nightmares I had within a few weeks of each other. As both were black and white, I used a lot of other things to inspire the full appearances of the characters. I couldn’t really hear much in them, either. They were like a pair of silent movies.

Now, I know I’m not the first to be inspired by their nightmares. My father always tells me to write about my nightmares because he knows greats such as Stephen King often did/do that. What he didn’t tell me was how to make a story out of those that have no real understandable timeline. That was something I had to work on myself.

So, how did I go about making the characters when I had no way of knowing their ways of speaking, their names, or anything else?

In Treasure of Eternity, I made two sets of the same characters. I mostly did this because of the main heroine, a young girl named Elsie. Elsie was the primary girl in that nightmare, and I didn’t feel like she was inherently bad, even though she showed many evil moments in my nightmares. I decided to make each character have a secondary personality when in their magical girl form because of that.

Elsie’s personality when a magical girl reminds me a lot of the character Satou from the manga Happy Sugar Life by Tomiyaki Kagisora. Satou looks cute and fluffy much of the time, but she has a dark side that just somehow screams “Elsie” now to me. So, I opted to give her the same hair color as Satou. However, why is Elsie so crazy in the first place?

Matsuzaka Satou, Happy Sugar Life.
She looks so sane in this image…

I think Elsie represents my dark side. You see, I’m often told I’m too nice. The fact is, that’s not true at all. I’m often plagued by dangerous and unkind thoughts. I just know better than to voice them, because I honestly fear them more than anything when it comes to me myself. Like Satou, I have a very broken concept of trust, and also can be extremely possessive. I relate to her, so I am inspired by her… I just hope Elsie doesn’t mimic her completely. I don’t feel like kidnapping and murder are quite her thing… torture though, she’d be all in.

Now, although this is getting long, let’s look a bit at Ur URL. This one had a bit more context to it in the dream. I could tell in the dream, somehow, that it was focused on the curse. The curse I saw in the dream was actually what created the title. But that’s the only spoiler you get with that. Now… Let’s continue to the more deep side of it.

I’ve since named the man in the mask ‘Nuru’. Nuru never shows his face to anyone, even his sister. He wears it to bed, he wears it to eat (though I have no idea how he manages that)… That mask is everything to him, and I think I know why.

This is the closest I could find to Nuru’s mask. It’s a blank drama mask.

You see, I think Nuru represents a few of my fears. My fear of change, the fact I can’t trust if people are wearing a mask and lying to me… I think he encompasses that greatly. And, in the story, he also has my agoraphobia, and for a similar reason.

Nuru sees curses without trying. He gets no choice in the matter. For me, it’s like my hearing or my hallucinations. I didn’t choose to hear louder than normal people, making noises frighten me. And, I didn’t ask for psychosis either: I can never trust a person I’m talking to is really there without asking my father, and I can’t tell what noises are just loud in the distance or in my head. Nuru, to me, encompasses those fears completely. But it doesn’t end there.

By wearing a mask, Nuru hides from the world. I think I often do that too. I hide physically when there’s people around sometimes, but more than that, I work hard to hide my fear of people and not knowing if they’re real. Sometimes I use sarcasm, sometimes I just sit shuddering in my shoes hoping no one will see. I may thrive on blunt honesty, but even I want to be accepted and not judged. I don’t want to be seen as ‘some crazy girl who can’t tell fact from fiction’. It may be true sometimes, but I don’t want people to focus on that aspect of me, you know?

And so, that’s that. That’s how the main characters of my two stories were inspired and brought to life for the stories that lie ahead of my fingertips. If you’re also a writer reading this, I highly recommend thinking hard about how deep below the surface the characters relay from. I’d also love to hear what you think inspired you the most to make your characters as they are.

If you’re not a writer, still don’t forget to look into the depths of your heart. You never know what will be lurking there, and it can be scary, but it’s better to know than to hide from yourself.