My Process – Discovering Supporting Characters

On Wednesday, I shared how I went about meeting Nessix, only knowing that she had to meet Mathias, and how we all found the continent of Elidae together. At the time, that was exciting enough on its own, but then came a problem…

Remember how I said writers ask a lot of questions?

I had to ask the most basic one that a character-driven author can ask. Who are your friends?

It wasn’t enough to just say all she needed was Mathias, because she did have a past that didn’t involve him. So, what had that past been?

I’d known from the start that she was the stereotypical Fantasy hero(ine) that had no living parents, so who did she have? Even through her faults, one of Nes’s distinguishing traits has always been her love of others, and she had to have had it fostered from somewhere. She couldn’t have a brother, as he’d have taken the role of General from her, and so Nessix suggested she had a protective cousin named Brant. The problem with Brant was that he had a similar – possibly more extreme – stubborn streak than Nes, so I asked who was there to keep her out of trouble.

This is where En, her patient and wise grandfather came from. After him, I met Sulik, Nes’s second commander and a character I didn’t initially know how else he fit in. Running off the whole “trust what your brain gives you” technique I mentioned before, I ran with it. I didn’t know why we needed Sulik, but Nessix did, and that was what was important at this stage.

So, now Nessix had her delightful supporting cast! What next?

There is conflict in life. Always. Nessix had already told me her mother died in childbirth and a heart attack had claimed her father, but that wasn’t plot enough. What forces had she been fighting against?

The search for plot led me to – you guessed it! – another character, Veed. I met him independently of Nes, so got his take on the story first hand, and I’ll just say… I have a (twisted) soft spot for characters like him. He’d been the best friend of Nes’s father and abandoned her shortly after the old general died. I knew there was delicious back story here, but I would wait on that. I had Nes’s conflict, and next Tuesday, I’ll explain the rabbit hole I took to figure out the plot that led Mathias to Elidae – and, consequently, the plot of my Tale of the Fallen series – in the first place.

With the weekend just around the corner, I hope all of you have something good to read (for me, it’s The Way of Kings) or write (Tale of the Fallen’s Book Two, Deception)! I’d love to hear what literary activities you’ve got planned! As always, keep faith in the journey.

-Kat

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My Process – Discovering Main Characters

I took an informal poll among my fans and colleagues to see where they thought I ought to begin my blog, and I got a pretty resounding response that people wanted to know about my personal process. Now, there will be a whole string of series down the road of the writing process in general, but I was asked specifically about where I start, so I’ll do my best to explain my ways.

This is going to be a bit of an exercise for me for two reasons. First, because I believe that every writer needs to develop their own methods that work for them, regardless to what works for anyone else. My most sincere hope is that anyone who’s interested in my process plays around with the ideas and tailors the parts they like to fit their specific needs. My other concern with explaining my process is that most of the world and character building I do is sort of instinctual to me and I’ve never tried to put words to how it’s done. So, this will be an adventure for both of us!

The first task any writer needs to complete is to come up with an idea – I call them story germs. They can sprout from pretty much anywhere. Traditional places people catch story germs seem to be dreams or prompts, sometimes they come from random chance events or asking “What if?”. For the story that launched into The Afflicted Saga, it started as a great big accident.

I was challenged to create an RP character to interact with a character my husband had made with only one rule: I had to figure out how they met. That was my story germ. And possibly how this grew so out of control. With no other specifics, I had no real boundaries.

Now, I may start with a glimmer of plot, but it’s ultimately the characters that I figure out first. Since a story is ultimately the tale of someone else’s life, I feel that’s the most appropriate place to start.

I thought over what I already knew of the character that would one day become Mathias Sagewind. I knew that he was an immortal officer that had fought demons and vampires, and that he served some obscure high deity. I knew my character – whoever she was – would have to be an authority figure in order to have the opportunity to build a history with Mathias and that she couldn’t be from his stomping grounds since she was nowhere in his existing history. Taking these very basic guidelines, I closed my eyes.

This is how character creation always goes for me. I envision a general physical appearance, just enough that I can shake a character’s hands and ask them to tell me about themselves. Who they are. Where they’re going. What their mission is. And I ask them if I can chase them with my pen and come along for the ride.

The young woman I met called herself Nessix (her surname came years later) and told me she was the general of a remote island nation. I asked her more questions in order to build her homeland.

This is my key to writing stories. Asking questions is such an important part of writing and will follow you through pretty much every stage. Be willing to question everything and learn how to trust the answers you get (even if they don’t make sense at the time). Your brain is an amazing beast; it will take you in the right direction if you can stay out of its way. Besides, the worst thing that happens is you have to tweak something in rewrites.

Pursuing the questions I asked led me to discover just how small Elidae is (no larger than an average state here in the US), how the role of “General” was synonymous with “King”, that they worshipped a god not followed anywhere else in the world. These questions explained how people reached the island to begin with, what sorts of enemies were already there to merit needing an army in the first place. By asking questions and continuously doing so, I not only learned every aspect of Nes’s life, I also began laying down the foundation of an epic series currently covering 13 volumes.

I unwittingly completely ruined the chance of RPing with Nessix by unearthing her entire life’s story and kidnapped the paladin-that-would-become Mathias (more on his abduction in following posts), but it was too late to turn back. I’d caught my story germ in the form of a character who intrigued me and I couldn’t abandon her.

This first step is often the most hectic, the most uncertain, but trust the story to take you where you need to go. Keep faith in the journey!

-Kat

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What this Blog’s about

Now that I’ve explained a bit about myself, I’d like to give you a breakdown of what to expect from my blog and my social media pages. Links to these other locations can be found below, in the sidebar to your right, as well as on my Contact page.

The primary purpose of the blog here on my official site is to inspire, encourage, and educate both readers and writers on the art of story crafting. While most posts will be presented in a manner that seems directed solely to writers, there is a lot that readers can learn from them, as well. I feel all readers can benefit from learning more about the writing world, and discovering the reasons and methods behind composing stories will only help deepen the value of the tales you read.

Since my site and blog are both in their infancy, my posting schedule is currently limited to weekdays. Mondays are reserved for motivational posts to encourage and inspire. I hope the messages included in these posts can be applied in aspects of life above and beyond writing. Tuesday through Thursday will each cover one part of the week’s mini series, where I’ll investigate different aspects of the writing life or techniques. Fridays are where I’ll post updates of my current works, as well as any shenanigans tied to my writing life. My aim is to keep all posts concise and informative and, as always, I’d love to interact with my readers in the comments.

If you’re wanting a more direct and casual way to communicate with me or receive (sometimes) daily updates on my series, you can find me on my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter.

My characters and I are also active on Pinterest.

For a blog experience that’s more laid back and geared toward the progress and musings that go along with writing The Afflicted Saga, you can also check out my Tumblr. Many of my Friday posts will likely be cross posted from the goings on over there.

Plans are currently in the works for a YouTube channel, as well as a Wattpad story, both of which I will keep you posted about.

Anyway! That’s a brief run down of my current modes of communication. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions, and keep faith in the journey.

-Kat

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Welcome to Abaeloth! Hope you enjoy your stay.

Hey guys! Welcome to my blog.

Some of you found your way here because you know me, others are meeting me for the first time. With that said, I figured I should start my blog explaining a bit about myself, since I’m sure more than a few of you are asking things like: Who the heck are you? Why do you consider yourself an authority on writing? How in the world does the internet need another writing blog?

To start out: Who am I? I’m Katika Schneider, author of The (up-and-coming) Afflicted Saga. I’ve got a couple short story competition wins from high school under my belt but really, I’m just an average girl who loves her characters madly and wants to share them with the world. I believe that everyone has a story in them, a story that deserves to be told, and a story that they alone are able to tell.

What makes me an authority on writing? Well really, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to consider myself such, but I’m equally unsure if anyone can. Writing, like any other art form, is a journey and half the beauty there is the endless supply of new avenues to explore and play with. What I am is a devoted and diligent writer, and have been for more than two thirds of my life. I used to write as a form of therapy and relaxation, but now I primarily write for my characters, aiming to faithfully transcribe their adventures. I write as an art and have put years of time, effort, and classwork into its development.

How does the internet need another writing blog? I believe every artist has something unique to offer the world and their peers. I don’t know it all. I do, however, have a whole heap of experience as far as picking my way around developing personal style and few things intrigue me more than talking to other writers about their methods. I hope to present myself to you, not as a definitive authority, but in a way which encourages you to explore avenues that work for me that you have not yet explored. I hope for you to share with me your experiences and insights, as well, so we can learn from each other. Shouldn’t that be what art is about?

No matter if you’re here as a fellow writer or a treasured reader, I hope that you find your visit to my slice of internet pleasant and that you always keep faith in the journey.

-Kat

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