The 2021 State of the Weech

The 2021 State of the Weech

Greetings all,

This is now the fourth year of my eight-year commitment to go all in on becoming a successful author businessman. My annual State of the Weech is just one way I use to track that, and it’s also how I let everyone know what I’m up to.

For a number of reasons, 2020 was a big setback for me as an author. With COVID, all the conventions I intended to participate in were cancelled. This meant the money I would earn there wouldn’t come. I was only able to release one title, my Christian memoir about my mothers death titled Testimony: A Trial of Faith. I genuinely thought I’d release Betrayed last year, but there was a huge gap because I had to simply save up money to pay for editing. I will have to continue to do that (more on that below).

While 2020 was hard on conventions and making progress on additional drafts, it did allow me to get a bit more writing done (if only a bit). I’m positive Betrayed will be out this year. I’m hopeful it will be out in the next three months, but that’s not a guarantee.

With all that said, here are my plans for what I hope is a rebound in 2021.

May 1 (or sooner): Betrayed: Book Two of the Oneiros Log. I’m almost done with the Beta Draft (as in only a few chapters away). From there I send it out to Sara for the proofreading. I’m also going to send this draft to willing Advanced Readers in exchange for an honest review. I’m pretty optimistic about this goal. I have to save up the money for edits, and I have to save up the money for the cover, but I think May is feasible.

These are sure things in 2021. I am about halfway through the discover draft of Discovered: Book Three of the Oneiros Log, and that will be my main project when Betrayed is published.

A quick update on projects I mentioned last year:

Sonnets for my Savior: I completed it, but I doubt it will be more than a series of blog posts. I’m not a poet by trade, and getting feedback has proven difficult. I was happy to have the idea and see it through, but that’s about where it ends.

Musings on Christianity: I also finished this blog series, but again getting participation proved more difficult than I’d imagined. I was happy to study my faith and research questions in a scriptural way, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable releasing this as it’s little more than my personal pondering.

So those projects are probably being left where they are.

Now for projects I am planning to work on in the near future:

Discovered: Book Three of the Oneiros Log. As I said above, am I’m about halfway through the discovery draft. I’d be over the moon if I got this book out in late 2021, but that’s super ambitious at this point. It is my next primary project when Discovered goes to print.

The 1,200: As I said last year, I’m meaning to get to this project. It needs some rework, especially considering current events in real life. But I still think it’s a good story. So I’ll make those edits and I’ll get it out there as soon as I finish Oneiros.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody: This is Christian Science Fiction. I’m posting segments each Sunday as part of my Testimony series. Since this is fiction, I will be publishing this when it’s finished. I’d expect this will be released sometime next year.

New Utopia: This story (pitched as Mistborn meets Avatar), needs revisions and edits, and I’ll jump on them as time permits. This will not be published before 1,200.

Mercer: This is a series I intend to write. I’ve come to realize I’m actually happier working on a large product and a small project at the same time. It gets more titles out and makes me feel more productive. Mercer is going to be a bunch of small novellas written like episodes of a TV show (I call Mercer Dresden Files meets Bones). I will start working on this on the “sooner” side of things, and it may come out before 1,200 (though I don’t think so).

Perception of War: Images of Truth: I did get a few thousand words added to this very large discovery draft, and I will finish the discovery draft of this before I do any revisions to 1,200. I really love this series as a whole (Sojourn in Captivity is basically a prologue novella to the series). I hate starting new books before I finish a draft of one I’ve been working on, so I will get Betrayed to print, finish Discovered (so those who love the series can see how it ends) and then get straight to work on this. 1,200 will probably come out first but this will become the main priority when Oneiros is done.

Leah Saldawn and The Nick of Time: The discovery draft is done. I’ll probably get this out one day, but it’s a very low priority for a few reasons. First: it’s targeted to a 12-15 year old audience, which is way outside my current marketing group. Next, I have so many other projects I’m looking forward to, so this one just isn’t that high on the priority list. It’ll get out there someday, but I wouldn’t anticipate it coming out anytime soon (as in the next three years).

My publishing goals: Discovered (guarantee 2021 release), Betrayed, 1,200/Mercer, Mercer/Images of Truth, Mercer/New Utopia. You see Mercer there a lot because it’s indented to be a constant series with me. I’ll release Volumes in smaller chucks (paperback) and Seasons in larger Omnibuses (box sets). The idea for Mercer is 12 novellas (episodes) / three volumes per season. The goal is to release a bigger project and then a Mercer episode in a sort of pattern. I’m not sure how it will actually play out, but it is the goal.

As for my eight-year goal? Well, I’m actually selling more digital copies than ever before, and that’s encouraging. Hopefully, I’m still losing less money each year. Again, after eight years, if I’m not making a profit or breaking even, I probably need to rethink some things. With COVID, 2020 became far more about marketing, and I’ve seen some positive results. I’m still working toward the dream of making this a full time gig for me. At the halfway point, it’s a little discouraging to see how far I still have to go, but it doesn’t change my drive.

If you’re interested in helping, the best way to do that is to purchase one of my books, read it, rate it, and review it. You can take it to the next level (if you like the book) by recommending it (or buying it) for a friend. In addition to God’s will, which I will always cheerfully submit to, this dream of mine isn’t possible without loyal readers.

That brings me to those of you who are loyal readers. I thank God for all of you. It’s great getting emails from some of you and seeing your reviews. It’s wonderful to know there are a few of you out there supporting me, and I truly hope your ranks grow.

I’m still grateful to God for what he’s done in my life. I have a wonderful wife and three great sons. I’m in good health. I have an amazing day job. In short, I’m truly blessed. I pray God blesses you all, and I hope you’ll continue this journey with me.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Description: The most important thing no one should notice.

Description: The most important thing no one should notice.

Greetings all,

We’re still quiet on the Weech front in terms of announcements, so that gives me an opportunity to just talk about the craft.

Cover
I’m currently reviewing stories from the Unfettered II anthology. Here’s the most recent one

If you read any of my book reviews, you’ll see that I evaluate a book on a specific set of criteria: Character, Worldbuilding, Dialogue, Description, and Exposition. I’m of the opinion that if you’re really good at just one of those categories, someone will be interested in your book. The more you improve your ability in all of those categories, the more readers will appreciate your work. Sure, genre plays a role. Frankly a romance author could knock all those categories out of the park, and I’d never know because I just don’t like the genre. But in a world of averages, I feel my theory is true.

I’ve spoken about character before, and as I was brainstorming on what I wanted to write about, description popped into my head.

I affirm that description is critical, but it must be enough to help activate the senses, but not so much to notice. Therefore, description is the most important characteristic of a book that must never be noticed.

So I want you to do an experiment. You can follow along with me if you wish. Start by pulling up your current work in progress. If you don’t have a work in progress, write a couple hundred words.

Here is a scene from Images of Truth, the first book in the Perception of War saga:


 

shipfighter
Concept rendering of a Snake, a specops fighter from Perception of War.

The Var’lechen seemed to be the antithesis of Volition ideals. Where a Volition would only die to protect others and only fight so others didn’t have to, Var’lechen seemed to be willing to kill anyone so long as they drew blood. True, Var’lechen and Volition were equally willing to die, but the Var’lechen seemed to be willing to exchange death if only to increase the destruction.

“Barrick,” Bani said. “I have an idea.”

Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige listened even as ships passed by so quickly they seemed like only streaks of light to him.

“I’m open to ideas,” the human pilot grunted.

“I want you to fly straight at one of them.”

The silence matched Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige’s thoughts. Was he seeking a sacrificial death?

“Trust me,” Bani said. “Go straight at one of the bastards.”

Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige’s craft shifted, and the thrusters behind him flared as he headed directly toward an enemy.

I come to you willingly (MOON GOD).  Please let this death be worthy of entrance to your hallowed halls. 

The enemy craft’s thrusters burst to life to charge at Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige’s fighter. I fought for my comrades. I die so they don’t have to. I don’t know how to protect Barrick and Zango. Forgive me for that.

With 4-1 odds, the Var’lechen was more than willing to sacrifice himself in exchange for one (SNAKE).  Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige considered trying to fire, but freighter was still right behind the enemy.

The Var’lechen charged. Netriod, I will miss you, my friend.

The enemy fighter burst. Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige’s craft zipped through a quickly fading ball of fire. For an instant, he as washed in light, and then it faded.

“Figured they’d be willing to fly right into you,” Bani explained. “So we took advantage of their suicidal focus to shoot them down while they were focused on you.”

So it wasn’t to be. It wasn’t a truly worthy death anyway, Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige thought, trying to tamp down his disappointment. I’m glad my death didn’t require Zango and Barrick’s. That much was true. A true Volition would never want others to die with him. But am I cursed to live forever?

A strange thought entered Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige’s mind. He pictured the crew laughing and sitting together at the fire on (GYPSY PLANET). He thought of times he and Netriod played (SPACE CHESS) together. (MOON GOD) help me! Could I truly be wanting to live?


 

Hopefully, you have something up in front of you.  Now, what I want you to do first is just read your scene.

Things to note:  This is a discovery draft. There are details here that are buried in my notes somewhere and notes to myself that I need to address. I don’t let any of that get in the way of my writing. I make the notes and KEEP DRAFTING! I’ll address the issues in the next draft. I recommend you do the same.

Back on track.  After reading your draft, ask yourself:

What do I see?

What do I hear?

What do I smell?

What do I taste?

What do I feel?

I’m going to go back to my segment and do that for myself.

What do I see? Ships creating streaks of light. An enemy fighter burst. There’s a freighter in there somewhere (behind the enemy). A ball of fire.

What do I hear?

What do I smell?

What do I taste?

What do I feel?

Now you may say, “I’m aware of more than that!” True, but it’s all exposition. I’m TELLING you all the things that are happening. However, you’re standing in the gunner’s seat with Adobrym (that’s what I call him). You’re not a camera, filming the action. Also, in this current draft, I’ve done nothing to activate the other senses.

This is actually very common for one of my discovery drafts. I’m all about “what happened.”  I skip a lot of details and information. That’s fine when you’re burning through a draft. But when you edit, you need to do a pass for description, and you really want to be brutal. How can you change the “telling” to a “showing.”

Now go through your draft again (I’ll do mine) and point out those opportunities.  Here’s a smaller segment of my section, and the notes I’ve left to myself or edits I’ve made:


 

shepherd
Concept rendering of Shepherd from Perception of War.

“Trust me,” Bani said (What does Bani sound like? Accent? Tone?). “Go straight at one of the bastards.”

Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige felt the ship tremble as it shifted, and the thrusters behind him flared as he headed directly toward an enemy. The thrusters wrapped him is a bright white light. 

I come to you willingly (MOON GOD).  Please let this death be worthy of entrance to your hallowed halls. 

Dots of light appeared behind the (DESCRIBE THE SHIP)  as its thrusters burst to life to charge at Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige’s fighter. I fought for my comrades. I die so they don’t have to. I don’t know how to protect Barrick and Zango. Forgive me for that.

With 4-1 odds, the Var’lechen was more than willing to sacrifice himself in exchange for one (SNAKE).  Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige considered trying to fire, but freighter was still right behind the enemy. Black scorch marks covered the boxy freighter. Its exterior lights flickered. 

The Var’lechen charged. Netriod, I will miss you, my friend.

The enemy fighter burst. Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige’s craft zipped through a quickly fading ball of fire. For an instant, he as washed in light, and then it faded. In his exosuite,  Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige didn’t feel the heat of the blast even as he soared through it. The pressure of the explosion made his ears clog, and then the blast, with no air to keep it alive, faded, and Adobrymanzorishadivongapazuzutige once more heard his own breath in his helmet. 


 

There are probably more opportunities in there. This is just a brief example. Ideally, you’d do this for a whole chapter.

Now, don’t overdo it, and don’t be overly repetitive. The trick is to add cues that are designed to activate the imagination. Don’t bombard your readers with the IMAX vision in your head, instead, provide them with a few moments that allow the IMAX theaters in their heads to come to life.

I hope this little glimpse into how I do things (I’m positive there are other methods that work) helps you with whatever project you’re working on.

If you have another technique, feel free to drop a link or post a comment.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

I’ve Finished the Outline for Discovered!

I’ve Finished the Outline for Discovered!

Greetings all,

caught-front-coverI’m happy to report that I’ve finished the outline for Discovered, the conclusion of the Oneiros Log and the story which began in Caught.

COVID has caused me to have to adjust how I operate. I was counting on conventions to earn the money I needed to get Betrayed a developmental edit, but no conventions in my life (at least so far) means no sales. The good news is the finances are (apparently) back on track for my normal budgeting. That means I can resume saving for edits. That will happen in time, but it will take time (about five months at most). That’s not the timeline I wanted to work with, but we live in the world we live in.

Rather than freeze completely, I’m able to work on other projects that I can have ready for when the world (God willing) gets back to normal. I typically bounce from one project to another. In a perfect world, I would have had Betrayed edited by now, so I would do the next draft on that while I let Discovered simmer. Since that isn’t an option, I’ve decided to get caught up in other projects, namely, Images of Truth. I was working on this discovery draft and set it aside to work on Sojourn in Captivity, which is essentially a prequel to Images. It really bugged me to have a draft 118,000 words written but not finished. So I’m going to take the chance to get that draft done.

shepherdNow, Images of Truth is huge! So I might not finish that draft before I start working on Discovered’s discover draft. I promised that I’d get Oneiros done, and I mean to do it. I’ll work on Images until June 1, then get cranking on Discovered.

The moment I save or earn enough to get Betrayed to Sara for a developmental edit, I will, and I will let you know. Maybe what I get out of this is getting Images closer to ready as well. If (and it’s a big if) I get that discovery draft of Images done, I’ll do another pass on The 1,200, which is scheduled to be the book I release after I’m done with Oneiros.

I wanted to post this to show you all that I am working hard to get this saga done and into your (very patient) hands. I’m also doing my best to keep the creative projects going so there I  don’t get stuck in the midst of this trial.

I’m glad I hit this benchmark, and I appreciate all the support you’ve shown from the beginning to now and, hopefully, the future.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The 2020 State of the Weech

The 2020 State of the Weech

Greetings all,

Three years ago, I made a commitment to give this my best effort for eight years. I’ve tracked that (in a way) by doing my annual State of the Weech. It’s my chance to let you know what I’m up to and what my plans are.

me2019 was a pretty good year in my opinion. I managed to release yet another four titles: Repressed, Sojourn in Captivity, The Repressed and Sojourn paperback flip book, and Stealing Freedom.

I can only say with confidence that I’m going to release two titles this year, and even that is going to be challenging, but I will do my best.

So without further ado, here are my plans for what I hope is a fantastic 2020.

March 1 (or sooner): Testimony: A Trial of Faith. This is the book adaptation of the blog series I wrote while my mom battled cancer. I put a lot of thought into whether or not to release it, but it feels like the right thing to do. All the royalties from the sales of that book will be donated to the American Brain Tumor Association. This project has way more to do with my love of God and my love of my mother than any artistic pursuit, but I have the proofreading edits back from Sarah, and I’m making my way through that final draft now. March 1 is probably the realistic date for that given how a book rollout (or as best as I know how a rollout) goes. My goal is just to have this project create a way to send the ABTA some donations.

caught-front-cover

Even more on this! Once Sojourn comes out, I’ll release a single flip book which will contain both Repressed and Sojourn. I love flip books, and this gets me another physical book I can sell at conventions. Also, both these stories feature compelling young female characters, and I think they’ll fit well together.

Feb. 26: OffWorld, featuring Hazel Deep Block Terror Squad. This has been a dream project for a long time (since I was in junior high school). The comic by me and Collin Fogel, my best friend from junior high, came about organically, but I couldn’t be happier. I’m hoping to have copies of issue 1 available when I go to Four State Comic Con if not sooner, but you’ll be able to get it at your local comic book stores by Feb. 26. Please contact your local comic shop and ask them to order copies.

Fall of 2020: Betrayed: Book Two of the Oneiros Log. I know you’ve waited for this book, and I have the Alpha Draft going. I think it looks good, and the Alpha Readers thought well of it too. The goal is for that book to be my main priority (after Testimony). I’ll get that title out as soon as I can.

Now I’ll just run down the list of projects I have in various stages of development. I’ll try to order them by how I think they’ll get released, but it’s just too hard to tell.

new-lion-iconDiscovered: I changed the name from Hunted, but it’s the same project. If I release another book in 2020, it’ll be this book. I’ve finished the plotting to this story and started the overall outline. I’ll jump straight to this when I’m done with Betrayed.

Sonnets for my Savior: I’ve completed this “draft,” or blog series. I’ve given it to my pastors for review. If they decide it’s scripturally sound and we have enough sonnets left after editing, I’ll publish a physical edition of that series of poems.

Musings on Christianity: If you follow my blog, you’ve already seen I’ve started that as my Christian work. The blog is happening now, and once I’m able to get it reviewed, it may be formatted into a paperback, but that will also depend on pastoral review. I’m sincerely hoping to get what I hoped would be a panel to actually be a panel. As it stands, it’s really more just me contemplating questions I’ve asked myself as I grew in the faith.

reapedThe 1,200: This was actually something I intended to release a while back, but it just felt like getting The Oneiros Log done was the right call. If you liked The Journals of Bob Drifter, you might get a kick out of some of what happens. And if you look very closely, you might see some familiar faces. I might actually weave this in while editing Betrayed and/or Hunted. The question is when it will come out. I’m going to take a hard look at this story and make sure it works. I’ve developed quite a bit as an author, and so this story deserves an edit with my now more-critical eye. I plan for this to be released sooner rather than later.  That’s exactly what was on my last blog. I’m still mulling over some pretty big decisions on this story, but it will be what I intend to work on and publish as my next full length release.

New Utopia: I finished a draft of this story and realized it was two books. I intend to go back into this and expand each half into a duo-logy.  It’s a fun story. I call it Mistborn meets Avatar. Again, this only needs revisions and edits, but everything is pretty much waiting until The Oneiros Log gets finished.

Mercer: This is a series I plan to write like episodes of a tv show. Each season will have a specific plot, and each season will consist of a run of novellas.  I call it Dresden Files meets Bones. I thought I’d start working on it last year, but life had other plans. I will absolutely start working on it when Oneiros is done. Episodes from this series will be released while I work on the larger projects.

shepherdPerception of War: Images of Truth: So I was pretty deep into the discovery draft of that story when I started dancing around other projects. Sojourn became a priority, and now I’m gearing up to start this epic series. Images is the first book of at least twelve. It’s my special forces in space saga. However, that draft isn’t done, so what will happen is I’ll chip away at this while I’m editing 1,200.

Leah Saldawn and The Nick of Time:  I wrote the discover draft to this ages ago (Saleah wasn’t in high school yet, and now she’s all grown up!) I let it sit because it’s unrelated to other books and for a much younger audience (10-16). I don’t like leaving things on the shelf, so I’m not sure when I’ll fit it in, but I will eventually. There’s a thought about seven books here, but we’ll see how things go. This one’s written, so it will get published.

Before I hit my eight-year mark, I hope to have ten full-length novels published. That was always the benchmark three years ago. The idea is if I have ten novels, and I’ve been working for eight years, I should see some sort of profit in this business adventure. Thus far, I’ve been encouraged that I’m losing less money each year, but the goal is for this to be a source of provision, maybe even (the dream of dreams) a full time occupation.

You can help with that. If you’d like to, please, purchase one of my books. Give it a read. Offer a rating and review. Recommend it to a friend. The only way this is going to truly take off is with your help.

Whatever happens, I’m still humbled at how much has already happened. I currently have ten titles available, and I’m 30% toward my goal of ten full-length books.

I’m also humbled by each of you, readers. I’ve had the honor of speaking with a number of you about my books and hearing how excited you are about the next one. That sort of encouragement makes it so it’s hard to wait to publish the next story.

This is still wonderful evidence of God’s role in my life and his generosity. He also gave me people like you to talk to and hear from. I truly appreciate all that you’ve done, and I hope you’ll continue this journey with me.

Thanks for Reading,
Matt

 

 

One Nut’s guide to Developing Characters

One Nut’s guide to Developing Characters

cocoons-329059_960_720Character development is a fluid process for me.  I consistently try new things and keep what I feel worked and get rid of what I don’t like.  Sometimes I bring those things I don’t like back because as much as I don’t like them, they help me create more realistic, sympathetic characters.

I put a lot of thought into how to present this because of how fluid my process is.  I thought about taking you through how I evolved and what I tried.  I can do that if anyone is interested, but what I think anyone would use this for is to put what I know I’m going to do when I start writing my eight book (Sojourn is a short story and Elele is already developed).

charcter-inventory-sheetQuintessential Editor covered some ground with his blog about using dice to create characters.  This comes in handy mostly because of the character sheets for me.  I did this a few times.  It worked, but I thought it was too time consuming, so I dropped the sheets.  Now I’m brining them back because some books have WAY too much for me to track.  I have word processing character sheets, and I may adapt those, but I need something that helps me track my characters, particularly physical attributes.

I also took full advantage of Brandon Sanderson’s online lecture about Character Creation.  That helped me mostly as it came to plotting.  (Note:  Today, I’m talking about development.  That way, I can talk about plotting later.)  But it does give me a snapshot, and it helped me streamline (in my case too effectively) my character sheets.

My character sheets start as simple pages in a word processing document.  They get larger as I start plotting the character.

A note on archetypes.  I outlined Caught using archetypes.  While I want to know the role my characters play in the book, what I found this ended up doing was make my characters too cookie cutter.  They fit their role in the plot, but it made them plot devices and not characters.  I think what I’ll do next time is add the archetypes to the character sheet, though this still scares me.  (NOTE: As I publish this, I’ve again decided against it.) I’m a very literal, linear thinker, and I don’t want to force my characters in a direction they wouldn’t go just so they fit some standard archetype.

character-1297502_960_720Where my ideas come from:  I teach my students about this concept where a writer has an idea for a story.  I got it from one of my sources we used to develop the course, Telling True Stories.  They call it the glimmer moment.  I exist in a constant state of glimmer infinity.  I constantly have flashes of imagination or insight that I think would be amazing.  I jot them down or commit them to memory (let the debate on memory begin here).  When enough of those ideas arrive to formulate one consistent narrative, I know I have a story.  The idea for Caught came to me when my mom told me about a nightmare she had had.  (Am I a bad son?)

I mention that because sometimes the main character develops clearly in my mind.  Sometimes they don’t.  What I mean is I have a sense for the emotional description of the character, but not the physical one.   When I see the character clearly in my mind, I don’t fight it.  When it doesn’t matter, I let chance determine those characteristics.  For Perception of War, the flip of a coin determined the gender of my character.  A four-sided die determined his ethnicity and color.  I’ll probably post a blog about this one day, but I think characters are people.

new-lion-iconThere are several fantastic stories out there where race, religion, and gender are arcs.  When they aren’t I feel silly developing a white male character simply because I’m a white male.  Sal, the main character in Caught is a protector and a Soldier.  He was always a man in my imagination, but I’ll tell you frankly the majority of the service members I respect most happen to be women.  It’s not a knock on one over the other, just a point I’m trying to work to.  He was a man, because of the dynamic I wanted to create with a few other characters.  He was white because my four-sided die said so.  He’s from Philly because that’s where my finger landed on a map.  When these traits matter, writers should take great care.  They always have significance though because they’re parts of what make a person who he (Sal) is.  None of those characteristics affected the plot, so I let chance decide because it’s fast, and in my mind, it’s the best way I have so far to make sure the diversity in my books comes anywhere near the diversity of life.

That brings me to character sheets.  Like I said, I’m going to bring more elements in, but here’s Bob’s character sheet.

START

coverrevealBob Drifter :  Robert Drifter

6’3”

230 lbs

Light brown hair

Brown eyes.

Bob’s exactly what I named him.  He’s a drifter.  In personality as well as occupation.  He’s accepted who and what he is, for now at least, because it’s all he’s known.  He’s kind and takes it upon himself to be more of a guide than a conduit.  Others in his field don’t take such measures, but a part of who Bob is demands a certain courtesy.   He doesn’t remember anything at all about his life before his work.  A part of him is curious, but, given his nature, he accepts things without much argument.  Things are.  Part of this stems from his belief that change isn’t possible for him.

END

Now take a look at Elele’s.  This is her character sheet from Sojourn.  Please know I’ve absolutely deleted a few spoilers, and that may cause some confusion, but I’d like people to read the book and be entertained by some of the twists.  Note the differences between her character sheet and Bob’s:

START

early-seferam
This was a very early, very rough sketch of Elele by an artist named Robert Quill. This image was developmental. I’ve had other people work on that, but it was hard because I’ve only JUST really gotten a good mental image of her. Hence why I need these sheets.

Elele’Therios

(The trouble with Sefaram is that they all look essentially the same.  Hair is a thing.  But they’re very hard to tell apart unless you look at their Faline.  These fractal patterns are the way Sefaram see one another.   Where humans look at skin color facial shapes (shapes are a thing for Sefaram too), Sefaram rely most on the inner-most ring of the faline.)

Age:  22

Occupation:  Mathematician

Hobby 1) Travel

Hobby 2) mathmatics.

Height:  60.8 inches – 5’1”

Weight: 161 pounds

Build:  Sleek. (She’s twiggy even by Seferam standards.)

Skin Tone:  Black (All Sefaram are)

Voice Quality: Analytic.  Snappy.  Quick.  Clips words.

Hair Color:  Black (All Sefaram with hair have this)

Hair Length:  Mid-shoulder

Hair Style:  Rolled and braided. What would you call cornrowed hair that is braided into multiple braids…then braided again? (I don’t speak hair).   (NOTE: I did some research and talked to a friend. The most accurate term I found was braided weave)

Eye Color: Black (All Sefaram)

Eye Shape:  large ovals longer than tall.  (deer eyes)  (All Sefaram)

Face Shape:  Round.

Freckles: None (Sefaram have none)

Moles: None (See above)

Scars:  None as of Sojourn. (SPOILER DELETED INFORMATION)

Faline:  Outter pattern (FAMILY IDENTIFIER):  Four tear-drop-shaped loops in which the points meet in the middle.  Inner Pattern (INDIVIDUAL IDENTIFIER):  A pattern resembling a seven-pedaled flower blossom. (NOTE: Faline are ultraviolet patterns on the mid-section of each Seferam.  Think of them as luminescent tribal tattoos that follow fractal patterns).

Clothing:  (All Sefaram leave their faline exposed.  Men usually go bare chested.  Elele wears what are considered prudish clothes.  No style or fashion (especially since the bad guy’s arrival).  She were’s a simple outfit that ties around the neck.  It covers her breasts.  Cloth covers her sides and becomes a mid-calf length dress.  It’s always a simple color with no ultraviolet patterning (a common fashion trend these days).  She wears simple leather shoes.  (SPOILER INFO DELETED)

Jewelry:  None. Sefaram don’t wear it.  Their bio-electro-magnetic power plays hell with metal.

faline:  For Seferam,  they’re an emotional cue.  They pulse in different ways the way humans blush or flush.

END

You’ll see a lot of elements from the above-mentioned Sanderson Lecture there.  Like I said.  I can promise you that second hobby gave Elele a dimension I never really expected.   Little things like that help me get deeper into her character.  I didn’t realize math was going to be such a huge part of her character until I gave her that hobby.  It then became her occupation.  It’s now one of her key assets to how she sees the world and progresses in her plot.

Not all of this became cannon. (Note the picture, she looks very different now that she’s all fleshed out)  I left in some of my self-notes.  They’re my musings, motivations or research sites for me to get a better feel.  I did delete a bunch of my self notes because they were far too spolierific for me to include.

rifts_character_sheet_scan_1_by_dragonfett-d5dhijfSo my next evolution will blend all of these to help me develop a character in terms of physical attributes, motivations, archetype, and plots.  Where Corey uses his D & D sheets, I was always a Rifts man myself.  I’ll let those character sheets provide the physical attributes.  I’ll let the Sanderson lecture round the character out.  Then I’ll let them work together to make the character more realistic.  Then I’ll let the plotting provide the finishing touches.

I feel this needs a summary:

1)  Identify character.  Leave what speaks to you alone and let chance determine all other physical attributes.  For Elele, I knew she was female, and I knew what species she was.  I also knew what culture I would borrow from most heavily for that species.

2)  Name the character.  (I’m all over the place here.  I do everything from a quick study of names, to popular names of other cultures.  Sometimes I look for what a name means in a language I best feel fits the culture of the character.  When all else fails, I use a random name generator.  For Elele, I realized I liked the idea of palindrome names.  There’s a mathematical significance to that (and also one of the other species in the book) that I felt was appropriate.

3)  Fill in physical attributes.  This includes race, species and other aspects of the character’s background.

4)  Establish occupation, hobbies and goals.  (this is where some plotting comes in).

2000px-heroesjourney 5)  Begin plotting.  This is the most critical step.  Every character is the main character in THAT character’s mind.  So I plot as if this character is in her own story.  I’m not married to this plotting or outline.  Elele’s actual arc has some significant differences from the outline, but not who she is or what she does.

This gives me the freedom to get to know my characters in my own natural way.  I’m a discovery writer at heart, and I need some room for that to work.  What I don’t ever do is start plotting before I get a sense for the core of my character.  When I outline one way, then realize my character wouldn’t do that, I don ’t fight it.   Early on in Elele’s arc in Images of Truth, Elele was supposed to act and work in one way.  Then I realized she wouldn’t handle that situation in the outlined manner.  Her decision was more heroic, and led to better conflict and emotional payoff.

(NOTE:  I’m talking about her role in Images of Truth, not SojournSojourn is a prequel to Images.)

Every character has a core just like every person.  I find that core by gifting them traits.  I take something from a character I love.  I take something from someone I love.  I take something from someone I don’t like very much.  Then I take something from myself.  I blend them together and it makes a new character I understand very well.

bobLet’s look at Bob:  His part-time job and love of reading came from me.  His drive to understand came from my mom.  His love of quoting things came from Beast of the X-Men.  I won’t tell you where his frustrating ability to mope comes from, because I’m not trying to dime out people I’m not actually a big fan of.   (Note, I said people I don’t like very much.  Me not liking a person in no way makes them bad or even unlikable.  I feel naming said individual would borderline on slanderous.)

Doing that is what gives me a picture for how they would handle situations.  We writers need to remember though that the horrible things we put our characters through is going to change them.  If it doesn’t, it won’t feel realistic.  I get a baseline from this, then let their experiences shape how they’ll handle future decisions.

I hope that helps.  Honestly, it’s just the way I do it.  How do you do it?  Was this helpful?  Any tricks or resources you like?  Feel free to say as much in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

Matt