Writing Spaces

I was procrastinating on Pinterest the other day and came across a pin on Writer’s at home.  I found it interesting to see where famous writer’s have written.   Funny thing-the more modern the writer, the messier the area. Older writer’s have these nice little, almost dainty, tables and maybe a small stack of paper.  Then you have someone like Ray Bradbury and I can’t find the desk.

So, I thought I would share my writing space.  I know you are dying to see it, being that I have written so many bestsellers.  So here it is.

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Not what you were expecting? The pink cap and purple cap belong to me.  Aren’t they cute.  While they swim laps and practice starts, I ‘m sitting in the shade with a legal pad writing or editing.  Granted I don’t get much accomplished, but you do what is necessary to live the dream.

Now, when I am not at the swimming pool, I’m here:

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Lovely isn’t it.  The kitchen table is my writing desk.  If I clear out the dishes first thing and set the computer up before we swim, it’ll be ready for me to write.  There is a large glass door to look through and watch Roux chase the local wildlife.  I would love a room set apart from the chaos of daily life with 2 kids, but that’s not happening.  Surprisingly, this spot at the table works well and at times channels creative energy at an epic pace 🙂

That leads to the question: What does one need to be a writer?  I don’t know what all writer’s need, I imagine they vary from person to person.  This is my short list.

Writer Necessities

  1. Reference books. Even with the internet, reference books are a main stay.  I keep on hand: a grammar/style manual, thesaurus, Guide to SE wetlands (current project), and a guide to monsters (current project)
  2. Computer. This is a given and self explanatory.
  3. I-pod. For musical inspiration. ( I should add dictionary to the list, I can’t write a sentence this morning without a misspelled word.)
  4. Notepads and Notebooks. I keep notes when I’m not writing and write in the car so those are always nearby to add to the WIP.
  5. Snacks. My snack of choice is usually hot tea (Irish Breakfast) and dark chocolate.  If it is late in the day Iced Sweet tea and popcorn flavored jellybeans.  On special occasions I’ll splurge for a glass bottled Coke with salted peanuts floating inside.
  6. Sturdy chair and writing surface. I can write in my lazy boy, but I usually end up being a lazy girls and surfing Pinterest.  My kitchen chair, with a pillow for my back is sturdy enough for  hours of writing and comfortable enough not to cut off my circulation.  The table allows enough room to sprawl out.
  7. Window.  A nice window to gaze longingly out and to encourage the occasional daydream.

I think that’s it.  That’s what I need to have a successful day writing.  I can even pare it down to just four items if I’m desperate.  I fantasize about having a little writing shack in the back.  A space away from the kids, but they provide me with an endless amount of inspiration.  I think chaos inspires creativity.  It’s all good.

Where do you write?

CK

Character Development

The other night, while I was finishing up On Writing, a couple of new characters showed up to chat.  They were a little impatient and I had to set my book aside to get to know them.  I thought you might be interested in how I birth a character.  Trust me it’s like giving birth, but without the ugly stretch marks.

Sometimes I have a story idea, complete with characters.  Others, like now, I have a scene and a character or two.  I quickly wrote out the scene in my head, I didn’t want to forget it.   Sometimes my characters like to play a little hide and seek before they tell me their names. No problem, I just assign a letter to each character.   In full disclosure, the characters in the initial scene have changed.  Originally they were best friends, now they are sisters and best friends.

After I think, and ingest plenty of hot tea, I immerse myself in the characters.  I write out a case file.  I put every scrap of information I can think of in this file.  Every thing as trivial as hair color to favorite band and religious affiliation.  I add a simple family tree and finish with a description on how my character spends an average day. It’s important to include your characters temperament and how they react to certain situations.  Give them a past, fears, and dreams.  Your goal is to make them as ‘real’ as possible.

It’s important to remember not to focus solely on the positive.  Everyone has flaws, bad habits, and vices.  It’s so easy to love your character and want them to be perfect.  Seriously, no one wants to read a story about a 6ft blonde who is a perfect wife, mother, and CEO.  One who wears a size 6 in dresses and 38 D in bras.  Everyone will hate her.  Now take that 6ft blonde, give her split ends, freckles, flat chest or a little over weight.  We can see her as not looking perfect.  Add more flaws.  Let’s give her a habit of kicking her husband in the ribs when he snores and she is a terrible cook.  We like her more.  For good measure her boss calls her sugar and her kids think she’s weird.  That’s better.  Look, don’t get touchy I just wrote this character in 5 minutes.  She’s not fully formed yet.  It’s just an example.  Perfect people are boring. 

Some of this is pretty basic and others may seem a bit extreme.  I don’t go this in depth for every character or every story.  If I’m writing a short story I usually just write a quick description of the protagonist and antagonist.  But if I’m going to write a novel, I need to know my characters as well as I know myself.  To be honest, I really enjoy getting to know my characters.  Some writer’s may not need to go through this, but it helps me.  But then I’m a list maker and a planner.

Now, I have two characters, sisters.  They are different than I originally envisioned them.  The changes were for the better.  The problem I have now, they both want to be the protagonist. Hmm, just like sisters to disagree.

How do you create your characters?  I need a another cuppa tea.

CK

Setting the Mood

I love music.  I walk around with an internal playlist that changes for the situation and the day.  When I listen to the radio I hear songs that remind me of food, people, and past events.  The greatest gift my husband ever gave me was an i-pod. (which is full! I have to delete songs to add new ones) So, it’s no surprise that music affects/influences my writing.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a routine develop when I write.  I love routine, it works.  One important part of my  routine is music.  Not just any music will do.  The music must go with story I’m writing.  For instance, the short stories The Fruitcake and The Christmas Gift were stories set during the Christmas season.  Therefore, the music I listened to while writing was Christmas music.

The Fruitcake is a festive, family oriented tale so my playlist included Sinatra, Bing, Nat, and a little Straight No Chaser for good measure.  It was fun and lighthearted.

The Christmas Gift, was written from a spiritual standpoint and was a little melancholy.  While writing I listened to traditional standards but added Point of Grace and Casting Crowns.  I needed music with a spiritual message.  Music that reflected the thread of redemption that was written in the story.

On the flip side, I’m playing with my first piece of fantasy.  I’m taking a European fairy tale and spinning it.  Taking the mythical creatures and setting them in the South.  Of course, I had to change them some what to make them fit in the climate and culture.  To do that I created a varied playlist that included Dylan, Darius Rucker, Cash, and imagine dragons.

While tweaking this post I am listening to Ireland by Garth Brooks.  It’s a little slow for what I have to do next, so it’ll have to change.

Like setting, music has the power to create a mood.  There’s great blog post on music as inspiration for writing at The Write Practice.

What do you listen to when you write?  Does it change?  Let me know.

CK