Welcome to Morning Pages — it’s time for a monthly roundup. I hope you’ve got your pencils sharpened and ready to write. Wanna join in on the fun? Read the prompt, set your timer* and get ready to let the words flow. Feel free to post the results of your work in the comments below where we chat about writing and (if the mood strikes us) get a craft discussion going.
If you want critique from other commenters, use #YESTHANKS in your comment. Otherwise, you can tell us about the flash fic and the process you went through to write it. And of course, I’m always open to hear what you think about my excerpts!
*you can write for as long as you want, but most folks choose 15-30 minutes.
What I learned this month: Wow, getting into a brand new character’s head is difficult.
I’ve started a new novel called Tombs of Glass, which at the moment I suspect will turn into a duology. It has three (possibly four) POV characters and the protagonist, Indra, is the most taciturn of the lot. Even after multiple free writes, her voice remains difficult to pin down. Difficult and changeable! She’s sounded completely different every time I’ve gone to write her.
Complicating matters, she starts off the book having recently experienced a significant tragedy. Her recalcitrance has made it difficult for me to convey not only what she’s going through, but the stakes for failure to the reader. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was complaining about the wordiness of anxious characters, and I take it back! I no longer want this change of pace!
I say that, but I don’t mean it. Writing Indra will expand my narrative skills, and I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing how her voice develops over the coming weeks. The closest I’ve come so far is in “Not My Problem,” the piece this post is named after. It’s linked below and unlocked on my Patreon — check it out!
“Switchblade + Candle.”
“Not My Problem“: Indra takes care of her flock and doesn’t give a damn about the rest of them.
“Why is there a magic portal in the bathtub?”
It’s bad enough he’s hung over — now he needs to wrangle the space-time continuum?
“Why do the townsfolk fear you?”
“Because I can do what they can’t.”
“Mind my own business, for one.”
Ackernar isn’t popular with the townsfolk.
“Five ways Character X didn’t find out that Characters Y and Z were together… and one way they did.”
Verne from the Oceana ‘verse is utterly oblivious.
“For the first time ever, he had the admiration of the one he most admired.”
“Admiration“: James doesn’t know what to do beneath the full focus of Maestro’s attention.
“I Remember You”
Indra from Tombs of Glass has a bone to pick.
In the most literal sense, sailors spend a lot of time watching their vessels.
Long-gone worldbuilding backstory from the Oceana ‘verse. Two legendary characters meet.
“Same Spirit Every Night“: Anya and El from Weaver meet a friendly ghost.
Answer the prompts or dive straight in and respond to others’ comments — let’s share our knowledge, our experience, and have a discussion we can all learn from! Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe to the blog in the sidebar to get notified about new posts.
- How do you find your characters’ voices?
- Are there any writing exercises in particular you like to do when you’re preparing to start writing?
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How do you find your characters’ voices?
Oo, this is an interesting one. I have to start writing in order to find my characters’ voices, but they tend to snap into shape the moment they hit the page. It’s probably a large part of the reason I often find myself with a first chapter long before I’m done plotting—though flash fics (thanks, Cee!) can and have stepped in to fill the role.
Are there any writing exercises in particular you like to do when you’re preparing to start writing?
No. The writing itself is the single most effective character-voice exercise I have ever found. If a flash fic helps me instead, it’s really just standing in for my first chapter in that respect!
Cameron Montague Taylor says
I don’t think I get all the way there until I’ve done some serious thinking about what that individual character is like — what they enjoy, what their beliefs are, what kind of jokes they like to make. An impression of their character always comes to me when I’m in the plotting phase, and that’ll certainly translate itself to the page when I start writing, but there are aspects to their voice that develop only through me sitting around thinking about them. I guess it’s kind of like worldbuilding in that sense?
But as an example: my flash fics with Indra show how developed her voice was from the outset, but something I didn’t know about her until I sat down and devoted a full sheet of notebook paper to brainstorming ideas about her voice is that she will never take her favored god’s name in vain. She’ll cuss up a storm, but his name is off limits. I don’t think I’d have come up with that concept without logically thinking my way through her personality!
I am with you on all of this. And now I’m starting to wonder if this is part of the reason I feel so unable to write anything in a character’s voice until I know them to a certain extent—because that is very much the case for me, too.
You’ve also made me realize that regular worldbuilding is just as big a part of it. I can’t write a character’s voice until I know what they like, love, disdain, fear, and all the rest, and all of those usually tie into the world itself. I think it’s telling that I couldn’t find the voices for any of my four Desert Epic MCs until I was 68k into not just character-building, but worldbuilding, too.
The not-taking-her-god’s-name-in-vain piece is a fascinating character detail. I’ll have to look into that for my own characters!
Cameron Montague Taylor says
This is partly why my characters don’t get too chatty out of nowhere. I might have the seed idea for a story, but those usually start with characterization and character relationship dynamics — and the characters themselves can’t really become their fully-formed selves until a world springs up around them.
I think that’s part of what stalled my progress on Tombs of Glass. It took me a while to get a feel for what Indra’s world looked like, and thus get a feel for Indra. Even now, I know I’m going to go back and make major changes to the way the love interest speaks and moves around in space during edits.
Hooray for writing my way into a world ::facepalm::.