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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Workshop Wednesday - Characterization Part One

Workshop Wednesday - Characterization Part One

For me, characterization is the most important part of the whole writing process, so apologies in advance if this post gets vast and out of control. 

All my writers out there, you can join the conversation here on FB in my new self-pub-friendly writers' group. 

Every one of my books or short stories begins with a character, or a group of characters. I would like to say that I spend weeks expertly crafting them like a piece of fine furniture, but I can't take credit for that. Generally, characters walk out of the fog in my brain, wave, and introduce themselves. Sometimes they are unexpected, and other times I've already got the table set for dinner, watching the clock, hoping for them to show up. I realize this is not at all helpful as far as writing instruction goes, so in this post I'll (hopefully) break the process of characterization down in a way that helps you find your own special characters amidst the brain fog 😊

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Blackmere Manor Aesthetic

I've always wanted an excuse to write a decadent, creaky, secret-keeping old Gothic house, complete with somber portraits, ornate candelabras, and unsettling canopied beds. 

He cast another glance over his shoulder at the Gothic masterpiece of a home, its narrow, mullioned windows, its dangerous eaves, its rain-streaked stone façade. The stone gargoyles on the roof seemed to move if you squinted, their lips peeled back in constant snarls, wings spread threateningly. Tucked away deep in the woods outside of Richmond, the house couldn’t have looked more out of place in Virginia if it had tried, seemingly snatched off the cover of a novel, plucked from a dark and stormy English countryside.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Middle Distance

67,378 words on White Wolf, and I'm in that dreaded middle distance. Beginnings are thrilling, endings are a relief and a realization of all your hard work. But the middle is drudgery, even when you love what you're doing. After about the 20k word mark, it starts to feel like work

But in a way, this whole book is a beginning. It being the first in a series. Everything is fresh; nothing is old and tired. 

The things I'm enjoying the most:

The words. This one of those rare, joyous projects in which I can scroll to any page, any scene, and find myself so happy with the way the words have laid themselves out. That's when it feels inspired, and meant-to-be, and the right thing to be writing at the right moment. That's the best feeling in the middle of a WIP; I love it.

The way it's not tidy. The words are, for sure, those are precise and careful. But the story is boiling over like a pot on the stove, running in directions that make it hard on the genre labels, and taking it's sweet time, spreading out, turning to caramel in its own way. Long, slow-burning, with that creeping sort of dread that builds and builds. 

Five years ago, two, even just one year ago, I wouldn't have been ready to write this book. All the books I've written up until now have been an amazing kind of practice for a series of this scope, so I'm feeling really grateful for all the words that have come before; from the Walkers to Walking Wounded, all have prepared me to be a writer who, though scared of the enormity, is just reckless enough to try and tackle this mountain. 

This is, I apologize, the boring part for readers, when all I can say is "I'm still writing," and I can't wait for the day, soon, when I say that it's done and ready for your Kindles and bookshelves. Though it sometimes feels like it, I know that middle distance doesn't last all that long. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

WorkShop Wednesday - Outlining and Story Planning

My pre-planning notebooks for Walking Wounded and White Wolf

Outlining and Story Planning

It's been a while since I last wrote a Workshop Wednesday post, and I'm glad to be back at it! This post, like all my writing posts, is based largely on my own writing experiences and education, shared with the hope that you might find something helpful in them. These are merely my opinions and findings. I'm now moderating a small, closed FB group for writers interested in the indie writing and publishing process, and you're welcome to join here

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Do What I Want

This post is for everyone, but it's aimed specifically at writers out there who are seriously considering self-publishing, and who are holding back because they're uncertain. I've been exactly where you are, and these are the things I wish someone had told me then. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


This was war.
It was so easy to think of it in terms of ideals and speeches and flags, but it was this: the breaking-open of living things.

I live to write books that say, "Here's something terrible that happened, and here's how this group of people handled it." As a reader, so long as those characters' reactions are honest, I will gladly tug on someone else's boots and walk a mile or two with them.

Katya is the kind of character I love to write. The kind who takes all the horrible things that have happened to her, balls them up tight, and lets the rage turn cold and analytical. The kind of bottom-of-the-food-chain, caught-in-the-machine's-gears character who does what she has to in order to survive. 

I feel like this is a good place to say that this story is dark, but nothing my regular readers can't handle.

From White Wolf
Copyright © 2017 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved

When she looked down at his face – and God, the aristocratic cut of his features, the way his gray eyes had a blue cast in this light – a jolt of awareness crackled through her. The weight of his hand, of his gaze, of his breath turning to frost in the air between them. She wanted, absurdly, to shove his black fur hat off his head and spear her fingers through the dark waves of his hair, feel the warmth of his scalp in her hand. Wanted to climb inside his coat, up close where his heat bled through his clothes, smell the sweat and dirt on his throat.
The sudden, visceral urge horrified her. She’d been close, skin-close, to [someone like him] before. When she closed her eyes and turned her face away from Nikita’s concerned gaze, she could see the other face – the crooked, nicotine-stained teeth, the harsh lines around his mouth, the grimace of effort as he tore at her skirt…
She made a frightened, involuntary sound in her throat.
“I’m fine,” she said, but she wasn’t. Because she’d allowed him into a dark and secret part of her psyche. A damaged place in which rape and intimacy had become so tangled that she wanted to sink her teeth into his skin for reasons that shocked and confused her.
“I’m fine,” she repeated, and this time she forced herself to be, taking a deep breath, fixing her gaze on the clearing ahead of her. She unslung her rifle and snugged the stock into her shoulder.