Bring Your Character To Life…Literally

This post is approximately 350 words.

In April, my colleagues Christi and Michael were discussing Hero Forge, a website that allows you to design your own gaming miniature and have it 3D-printed. Being a Warhammer fan, the conversation put me into nerd overdrive. Design my own character and play with hold it in my hand? Gaming nirvana, my friends.

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To be honest, I enjoy gluing, painting, and basing Warhammer miniatures more than the game itself. In some future post, I’ll write about the similarities between the painting and writing processes. But I digress.

As I spent hours designing fun figures, it occurred to me that I could bring my novel’s main character, Tildy, to life. Imagine having your own character sitting on your desk, thought-made-real. But not just one! Oh man, the possibilities are nearly endless. I wrote briefly about it hereContinue reading

Writing Exercise #1: Be Uninspired

This post is about 500 words and was originally posted on LinkedIn.

If you like to write (or like the idea of writing but hate the difficulty of it), I have an exercise for you to try. I used it to create this article.

Many of us have had those glorious days where the words are flowing to your fingertips faster than you can type. It’s effortless. It’s a wondrous feeling that re-establishes your faith in your abilities and confirms that The Great American Novel is just a few sessions like this from being completed.

Upon your return to the computer, the black reality sets in. There’s nothing. No inspiration at all. In fact, there are days where I’ve been certain that banging my head against the keyboard would produce better prose than the barely-coordinated tapping of my fingers.

This is where my exercise comes in. Trust me, it works. Continue reading

Leap outside your comfort zone

This post is about 400 words.

Two summers ago, I posted a selfie from a marina on Lake Michigan. Accompanying the image was this statement: “When life gives you the opportunity to go Great Lakes salmon fishing, you jump into that adventure, even when you have a fear of drowning.”

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It’s true. I’m deathly afraid of being underwater without enough air. Floating on it is fine, but sometimes, staring down into my distorted reflection, it’s hard to keep at bay the black thoughts of my watery demise. Now imagine the crushing embrace of all the water of the third largest lake in North America. Perhaps you begin to understand my trepidation.

That might be enough to keep a rational person off the boat. But let’s add to it my fish allergy. Yes, eating fish turns me into an exploding biological disaster. As such…I haven’t taken an interest in fishing.

So why in the world was I on this expedition?

On the other side of the coin, I’ve always considered myself an agent of chaos. It’s probably the scientist in me. I like to disassemble things to see how they work. I like to push the limits of software to see what breaks. I love chasing the worst-case scenario to discover where things ultimately land. I love dumb luck, jumping in with blind faith, and rolling the dice to see what happens.

Here’s why I took the trip: This chance invite was an opportunity to do something I never would have pursued on my own. When it came down to it, I really wanted to see how I’d face this challenge.

I had faith that I could handle it.

Continue reading

Writing update: June 21, 2016

This post is about 450 words. But the word ‘the’ appears 31 times.

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Life in the asphalt stars

In my last writing update, I spoke briefly about my morning walking routine. It’s a way to clear the mind – really focus – on portions of the book that need more concentration or thought.

I’m pretty happy with this morning’s session. I got closer to a resolution on a pretty challenging portion of the book (more on that in a second), but I also conceived a nice bit of conflict for the protagonist of the next book.

I know, I know. That writing update specifically mentioned the importance of sticking to the book at hand. But what can I say? Like a swift river, sometimes the story carries you along. If it didn’t interweave three important characters within the Prince’s storyline, I might have let the thought pass me by. But since all three characters will appear in his first and last books, it seemed worth the extra attention this morning.

So, a little more information about this morning’s session: Continue reading

Welcome to Empyrelia

This post is about 300 words and is pinned to the top of the page.

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Hello, and welcome to the website for the fantasy book series, The Lost Royals!

Here you can learn about the primary characters, read excerpts, immerse yourself in a new world, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing a 300-page novel to life!

We’ll also share character concepts, location inspirations, and doodles. The challenges and the pain. The art of writing and the words themselves. Failures and successes.

Here lie a few points of interests for the newcomer:

♠  The Princess and the Prince – Learn more about our heroes via character studies, excerpts, writing history, and more.

Continue reading

Writing update: June 18, 2016

This post is about 350 words.

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This morning, it came to me. And I love when that happens.

Recently, I’ve started taking longer walks with the dogs. I prefer mornings for the relative quiet, which allows me to work on my novel in my head as we go. Every day, I have between 30 and 60 minutes of concentration time, not factoring in doggie clean-ups, where I can work through segments of the book. I’ve seen incredible productivity improvements from this new routine and I’d recommend it if you’re looking to expand your own writing process.

Anything is game, though some days I have specific sections on which I want to focus. This morning, my mind was wide open, wandering aimlessly, while my feet followed a specific path in the park. Then the title for a future book came out of nowhere, putting me into a quandary.

For a series planned to span thirteen books, I generally force myself to stay on the book at hand. If I don’t, there are just too many possibilities to consider at once. You’ve probably experienced something similar if you’ve been to a restaurant with an enormous menu: there’s too much to chose from, making the decision that much harder. I refer to this as ‘paralysis of choice’, and for writers, I believe it’s a significant factor in story abandonment, something that’s plagued my previous attempts at fiction.

When anything is possible, nothing is possible. Continue reading

Writing update: June 17, 2016

This post is about 250 words.

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A quiet house tonight put me in the exact frame of mind to crank out a few thousand words: mostly new, but some came from light editing. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been filling in some gaps (intros, transitions, chapter ends), and tonight saw more of the same.

I also worked on the intro to the final conflict with the primary antagonist, shifting and re-shifting sections as I tried to find the right sequence of information delivered by the dialogue. It’s a complex section that recaps information from earlier in the book, parts of which are not fully fleshed out yet.

Then I saw the word count pass 90,000 words.

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I’ve exceeded my word count range (though I expect to cut a number of things in the second draft). It’s now twice as long as anything I’ve ever written, which feels pretty good. But as I find myself beyond the self-imposed deadline of the first draft, I wonder how much more fleshing-out is required before the draft is done. I might have to stop at 100,000 words because that’s a pretty long book for a first-time author, as well as for the audience I’m trying to reach. I’m not one to limit a story to satisfy a metric like word count, but compromises are sometimes required. We’ll see.

–Michael

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© Michael Wallevand, June 2016, except images from Superman: The Animated Series and Clue.