Tag Archives: writing

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #15 – Everything is changing

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Finding the perfect, balanced vegan diet for my body is taking time, but I’m enjoying the challenge. Abandoning calorie restriction was the best move I made, as I’m loving eating bowls of plant based whole foods and feeling full and energised…and I’ve lost another two pounds.

Due to my daughter asking to come and live with us in June this year, everything has changed, and that’s one reason I’ve not been posting as much. I’ve taken my books to book fairs…

But there’s been little time for writing as I’ve been lime mortaring and painting to get a room ready for my daughter.

My eldest son married this year too, so it’s been a summer of family love.

The biggest change is the best one, and I’m going to shout about it….I’VE MORE ENERGY THAN I’VE EVER HAD! Eating a whole food plant based diet keeps me fuller for longer and nourishes my body so well. I’ve enjoyed my dance so much this year too, now I bend in the middle again! I’m not the same shape as I was, that’s definitely changed, but I don’t care…I can fit in my jeans and I feel well and healthy.

My lack of novel writing made me sad and angsty for a while, so I started writing short stories again and had a few published…

Witch Lit: Words from the Cauldron was produced by myself and the rest of the Witch Lit Admin team, Laura Perry, Sheena Cundy and Ruth Aitken. All proceeds go to Books for Africa https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witch-Lit-Witches-Who-Write-ebook/dp/B07SCVXR88

Zimbell House publishing brought out 1969, and my story is the first one in it. https://www.amazon.co.uk/1969-Zimbell-House-Anthology-Publishing-ebook/dp/B07S2L2HQX

But as the Wheel turns, making its way into autumn, I’m back writing ‘The Able Witch’, the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin series. Once its finished, I’ll continue with the final book, before publishing four, five and six for your enjoyment. You can start the series here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV

or here for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV

Don’t forget, you can listen to me reading you stories on my Welsh riverbank at Phoenix and the Dragon on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA?view_as=subscriber

Plus I’m talking books and everything magical on the Witch Lit Podcast, as well as interviewing other magical writers https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHtAJO5uh6c9TSai1lhwF7g

I’ve continued my daily walks and using Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen App, but I don’t worry too much about my activity levels anymore. I know that if I eat whole food plant based, and take my B12 supplement, I’m taking in all the nutrition and goodness my body needs. If I want a berry, banana and spinach smoothie, I’ll have one! I drink two or three mugs of hibiscus tea daily, which I love, boosting my antioxidants and keeping the colds away. I dance a minimum of six hours a week, not including performances, and I’ve been barrowing, chopping wood, fixing barns and moving stuff outside….

So I won’t be joining the gym anytime soon!

Apologies for my lack of posting, but I’m starting to create a new routine out of all these changes, and I’ll be back soon trying out new recipes and sharing useful and informative posts and videos to inspire you to eat well, nourish your body and live your life to the full. Bright blessings xx

 

 

 

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Holding myself to account

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After almost two months away from writing my novel, I’ve found it difficult re-establishing a writing routine, so I decided to hold myself to account to write for 10 minutes every day. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write. Here are the first six days’ work for your enjoyment. Let me know which you enjoy, and whether you’d like to see any of them expand into a short story or novel.

Day 1

The leaf dripped with morning dew. Balancing in Tilly’s eye line was a magnificent dragonfly. Golden light flooded across the hills, and the dragonfly rose into the air to greet it. Gossamer wings shimmered, the dragonfly steadying herself on the hastening breeze, and Tilly reached out her hand. Tiny feet touched her skin and Tilly’s world turned upside down.

She stood on a mountain top, her hair blown this way and that by a warm wind that wove around her body like a snake. Beneath her feet, there was darkness so black and solid that she almost stepped out into the abyss. Above her, the wind parted the clouds, and out of the bright blue firmament shone a light so bright that Tilly took to her knee and shielded her eyes.

Her head filled with the warm, honey light and the darkness fell away. Peter’s infidelity and her mother’s spite and venom were gone, swallowed by the cavernous mouth.

She stood alone in a field outside her village, a wooden gate before her, and beyond the gate, the path continued, beneath arches of cream scented roses to a point of vibrating, pulsing light.

Tilly spread her arms out beside her, and a new, turquoise winged dragonfly flew down the path, beneath the flowers, into the arms of the goddess.

 

Day 2

Jess held onto the letter with her fingertips for what seemed an hour before letting go and dropping it into the post box outside the pharmacy in town. Her heart beat in her ears, and her legs wobbled beneath her. She pulled up her hood against the fast falling rain drops.

“Jess!”

Across the road, Mari called to her from the doorway of the coffee shop.

Relief flooded over Jess like a warm blanket. The sweet, bitter fragrances of coffee and vanilla flooded her senses. She dropped into a chair by the open fire.

“Get that coat off and I’ll get your coffee,” said Mari, “Penny will be here in a bit. You posted the letter then?”

Jess twiddled a stray damp curl against her face, waiting for her large skinny latte. Mari and Penny were her best friends, but how could she explain the importance of the letter she’d posted without sounding mad?

 

Day 3

Annie zipped up her hooded anorak and stepped into her Wellington boots. Her flash light was powered up and her wicker basket empty and eager. Though it was Lammas eve, the Welsh rain hammered down on the hills and fields. The blessing was, it wasn’t cold rain. There was a hint of a tropical storm in the air.

The track down to the river was overhung with ferns and hawthorn. Stinging nettles jostled with thistles in the strengthening breeze, buffeting against Annie’s legs. Head down, she hurried towards the stands of hazel.

In the light of her torch, the glossy white fruit shone beneath the dripping wet, lime green leaves. Still clasped in their fluffy holders, Annie picked them in clusters, sending showers of raindrops cascading onto her coat with every tug. She found a tree stump to balance her torch on, so in its beam, she used two hands to collect her harvest.

For the past two years, she’d watched the hazel nuts growing on her trees and then disappearing overnight. She smiled to herself on this occasion, pleased she was at least able to share the trees abundance with the squirrels.

 

Day 4

After six hours of driving in heavy traffic, Charlie turned her little blue car off the motorway, and the heavens opened. Rain like stair rods threatened to pierce her windscreen, but on she drove, up hills with ninety degree bends, and down again. Traffic thinned the deeper she drove into the heart of Wales. All she could think of was her little cottage with the jasmine beside the front door, and a week of peace, just her and the countryside.

It wasn’t that she didn’t love Steve. Her heart panged every time she thought of a fortnight without him, but the Jethcoe project was important, she knew that. Even working late in the office most evenings, he wasn’t close to finishing, he’d said, so it made sense to leave him in London, and enjoy her holiday on her own.

The cottage was a gift from her Auntie Elaine, who’d used it as a writing retreat, but now preferred to spend half her year in Malta and the other half in her villa in Spain, and Charlie loved to spend time there whenever she could. She’d considered renting it out for about ten seconds, immediately hating the idea of strangers in what was her home.

The sign for the village was almost obliterated by the pounding raindrops merging on the windscreen. Charlie slowed down before turning off the main street, up towards the woodland and her cottage on a rough stone track. She barrowed stones from her ‘quarry’ to fill the holes each year, but the rain was biting deep into the surface making her drive a bumpy one.

Turning into her yard, she slammed on her brakes. There was a light upstairs, and one in the kitchen.

Rain soaked her hair as she crept from the barn, her bill hook balanced in her hand. She blinked it away, her heart dancing to a crazy beat, and flung open the kitchen door.

‘Surprise!’

Snuggled naked on the duvet in front of the open fire, Charlie recalled the scene she’d witnessed in the kitchen; every surface glowed with the light from  a tea light in a jar, the scent of josticks pervaded the air and Steve stood naked except for her bread apron, stirring supper on the Arga.

 

Day 5

How could she be lonely or bored when there was so much to do? Doris shook her head, attempting to dismiss the ache in her heart that threatened tears. Self-pity didn’t get the harvest in or the wood chopped. It was time for action, not wallowing in ‘what ifs’.

The rain on the roof of the wood barn was like a never ending barrage of gun fire, not the perfect day to pick and store vegetables, but with rain forecast for the rest of the week, today was the best day to begin.

 

Day 6

With the advice of her friends bouncing around in her head, Carys continued along the bumpy track. Although the gardens were private, being part of the National Gardens Scheme made them open to the public, so this first date was definitely in a ‘public place’, but whether there would be any members of the public at such a remote location on a drizzly, August day, she couldn’t be sure. Being new to the area, Henry hadn’t any better ideas of where to meet, so a walk around a soggy garden, hopefully followed by a hot drink to stave off pneumonia, was the best scenario she’d been able to come up with.

On she drove, fine mizzle coating her windscreen and dampening her spirits. A hand painted sign confirmed she was still driving on the correct path, turning up towards the skyline and the outline of a house and trees on a hill. A lady clad head to toe in waterproofs opened the gate for her and beckoned her to park in front of the house. There was no sign of any other cars. Carys glanced at her watch. It was ten past eleven. She was late, yet there was no sign of Henry. She checked her phone in her bag. No messages. She zipped it into her waterproof coat and climbed out of the car.

Melissa was a wonderful host. The garden tour, including a visit to the ‘cave’ and the ‘temple’ was relaxing and fun, despite the weather, and the home made Welsh cakes and fresh coffee, were welcome to stave off the chill. The sculptures she’d seen throughout the gardens inspired her, and excited her, confirming her love of everything upcycled and reused to be a healthy state of mind. She’d a list of plants to seek out when she got home, and half a dozen envelopes full of seeds to plant in her own garden.

Climbing into her car after bidding her host farewell, Carys’ phone vibrated in her pocket. She glanced at the screen and giggled to herself a little. Once through the gate and a final wave to Melissa, Carys allowed herself permission to laugh as hard as she wanted. She wouldn’t be meeting Henry, ever. He’d approached the road to the garden, but been worried the rough track might damage his car, so had driven home before messaging. What need had she, a woman who lived alone in a remote longhouse, surrounded by twenty acres of land, for a man who wouldn’t get his car dirty, let alone his hands?

 

They are all first draft, so be kind, but it fascinated me how some days, I struggled to write fast enough to get the words on paper, and yet other days, I could barely string a sentence together!

I’m happy to say that I’ve picked up my WIP again, and The Able Witch is coming together, the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin Witch Lit series. Book four, The Eloquent Witch, is written but I’m waiting to complete the series with book six, before publishing. If you haven’t begun the series yet, you can buy The Naked Witch, the first book in the Lizzie Martin series, here, for less than the price of a skinny latte https://www.amazon.co.uk/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV

and here https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV

for my friends across the pond.

Don’t forget to comment on the writing!

 

Changing my routine

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I’m a creature of habit who loves a routine, but I don’t want to get stuck in a rut, especially if the routine is an ‘old story’ I’d do best to forget and write a new one.

With three weeks to go before I needed to go back to teaching dance four times a week, I wanted to re-establish the important routines in my life.

The first step was to get back into my daily walking routine. I hadn’t stopped walking each morning, first thing, but I’d been doing less steps then, and far less during the day, as my time was spent renovating. Now that’s done, I’ve created a new morning walk that is working towards clocking up 3.5k steps and 30 minutes of active exercise on my Fitbit.

I started with 2.5k and 20 minutes, which was fine as I’ve also got back to pulling brambles and nettles, and barrowing stones, so they clocked up extra active minutes, but by pushing over the 30 minutes in the morning, I’m guaranteeing myself the minimum every day, and setting myself up to achieve a minimum of 10k steps too.

My 5 minute arm workout is also back as a daily one, especially as I’m not dancing as much at the moment. I was thrilled with how toned my arms looked in my sleeveless dress at my son’s wedding, and I want to keep them that way for as long as possible!

Having used Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen App for over a six months, I’ve been able to keep my diet pretty balanced, and get the nutrients I’ve needed, but I have been eating a little more than I’ve needed. Vegan Magnum ice lollies are delicious, but don’t count as a whole food, unfortunately, so they, and a tendency to eat dates by the handful, need to be kept under control. I’m keen to return to eating until I’m full and then stopping, as the healthiest way to eat on a whole food plant based diet.

I’ve committed myself to more magic on my river bank than I have been this year so far. At the last full moon, I set off a powerful healing spell for a friend, that was added to and boosted by other magical creatives, and I’m happy to say our friend is a lot better.

But I’ve struggled to get back into a writing routine. I’m used to days, or big chunks of days, where my partner is at work and I can write. Even with a few hours to myself, I’m not writing, so I decided to hold myself to account. I have to write for ten minutes every day. It doesn’t matter what it is, but I have to sit and write for a minimum of ten minutes.

I’ve six short pieces so far (more by the time you read this!), some of which could be longer stories, or even novels.

Visit again for Holding myself to account, and a chance to have your say as to how I should expand my writing.

 

April Inspiration

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With new life shooting up all over my riverbank, how can I not be inspired?

The willow has taken hold, and shiny lime green leaves reach for the sun. They’ve made a huge difference reducing the moisture on the bank (it used to be part of a leat running along our riverbank, over the road to the mill), and also sustaining its integrity, following the flooding swells we experienced last year.

We’ve planted over 100 tiny trees this year, with 60 little saplings getting a start in pots, still to put in.

Loki likes to accompany me down to the riverbank to help me write.

I’m delighted to announce I’ve almost reached the midway point of my tenth novel, the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin series, The Able Witch. Fancy a few lines? Having burned her hands rescuing Bilbo the dog after he knocked a candle over with his tail, this is the first time Lizzie has potted for a while…

Lizzie grasped the new lump of clay on her wheel. She missed Marsha. Into Lizzie’s mind arose the tanned, smiling face, and blue eyes sparkling with mischief, and then she thought of her own mother, Elsa, but she couldn’t pin down her features. With her eyes shut, she found herself walking the path to another world, but all was in darkness. Twitters, hoots and howls of fear and flight rose from the blackness of the forest. Strange eyes glowed. Vines, leaves and branches brushed against her body, snagging at her ankles, threatening to trip her. Grotesque shadows loomed out of the trees, into the clearing ahead. A roar echoed behind her and she turned. Slime, a dozen eyes, a mouth-like tunnel and rows of pointed teeth threatened to consume her.

“This isn’t real,” she whispered.

She opened her eyes and sat back from her wheel. The flowerpot was perfect, but the road to the land of the fae had changed. She removed the pot and picked up her coffee.

In fact, everything had changed in only a few months.  It was little wonder that the road to the underworld was no longer a pleasant one.

Today, there is no sunshine. The first of the bluebells are hiding, bending to the rain. It’s another great day to write a magical novel.

 

Making Save the Cat work for you

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Last week I chatted to the fabulous Laura Perry on the Witch Lit Podcast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvwGxF6lQWA and afterwards, we started talking about Save the Cat! We discovered we both felt the same way about how we could get the most from the book.

You can read about my struggles with it here https://wendysteele.com/2019/03/05/how-much-did-my-cat-really-need-saving/

Since then, I, and it seems Laura, came to the conclusion that the book works on two levels; the large picture and the minutae. Reading the options for the different type of novels, there were times when not all fifteen beats were required, and we both came to the decision that writing three acts with various hingeing points for the plot worked well, allowing the story to flow, but that trying to fit our stories into the beats wasn’t the way to go.

Laura has finished the first draft of her Minoan Historical novel this week using this less stringent idea, picking out the beats that were right for her story, and my fifth Witch Lit novel, The Able Witch is half written using the same method.

If you’ve purchased Save the Cat! and are finding writing from it hard going, maybe it’s not for you. From a screen play perspective, where the original idea came from, I can see how it can work, but selecting beats that work for your story could work better.

When it comes to editing, Save the Cat! can be referenced again, as I did with The Eloquent Witch having bought the book after I’d written the novel.

Hope that helps.

If you’re looking for a magical series to start today, here’s the link to The Naked Witch, the first book in the Lizzie Martin series https://www.amazon.co.uk/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Witch-Wendy-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B06W5D6GVV/ref

For Laura Perry’s books and Minoan Tarot deck https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Perry/e/B001K8LSQ6?ref

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Laura-Perry/e/B001K8LSQ6?ref

 

 

 

 

The magic of writing, dancing and healing – International Women’s Day 8th March 2019

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I am author, wise woman and goddess. I write, I dance, I teach, I heal, I inspire.

In March last year I published my first Witchlit novel, The Naked Witch, contemporary fiction, magical realism, where the magical and the mundane co-exist. Since then, I’ve published two more, The Orphan Witch and The Flowerpot Witch, gritty and believable stories with magic sprinkled through them, offering the reader a new perspective on reality. There are layers to my novels, making them enjoyable to all readers, hopefully teaching and inspiring too, dispelling the myths about modern day witches.

I discovered belly dance at the age of forty, having been told I was a fairy elephant and too fat to dance as a child. Fifteen years on, I’ve been teaching for eleven years, encouraging women to shake off their inhibitions and dance for themselves. I learned Egyptian belly dance first and taught that, before being bitten by the tribal bug, and completing my training in American Tribal Style® Belly dance. I began Tribal Unity Wales in March 2014. We take our dance into the community, not to perform but to share, offering other women the opportunity and the freedom to dance irrespective of age, size, shape or ability.

I’m reiki and aromatherapy massage trained, so mixed with my latest facilitator training in Kate Holland’s Awakened Bellydance ™, and my magical practice, I heal in my classes and workshops and through my writing.

I’m a riverbank witch, a hedge witch, living my life with the Wheel of the Year, honouring the Sabbats and loving and respecting all that lives on our amazing planet.

Embracing my crone phase, I am wise woman, not necessarily right, but reflective and contemplative where once I jumped in feet first. Looking back, I learn from my mistakes, let go of old stories and embrace new beginnings and exciting ideas.

 

The goddess is in me and in every woman. She is the tiny voice that tells you how beautiful and perfect you are. Trust in her helps us remember, because we all know, but it is just that this reality encourages us to forget who we are and where we came from. Hers is the voice that has inspired women to stand up for equality, for equal pay and equal rights, throughout history. The more we trust in her, and ourselves, the possibilities are infinite. Listen. She is here.

 

 

 

 

 

How much did my Cat really need Saving?

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For regular viewers of my blog, you’ll remember my post singing the praises of the author help book ‘Save the Cat’. You can view the post here https://wendysteele.com/2018/11/19/are-you-ready-to-save-the-cat/

It’s a great little book of ‘beats’ to help you create a great score to hang your story words on, but how much did I really need this book? How much did I already know? How big a part should a book like this play when creating a novel?

Having already written the first draft of The Eloquent Witch, I applied the beats to it, and though some of the points weren’t in the exact order, I was there or there abouts, so the manuscript needed a good edit and tighten up…but I would have done this before publishing any way.

I’ve started the fifth book in the Lizzie Martin series, The Able Witch, twice now, using the Save the Cat beat sheet, and though the story is moving on, finally, and I can feel the magic happening in some of the scenes, I’ve not been feeling the joy. I put the book aside for a few weeks, and returned to it last week, as I had a break from teaching.

On the first day, I gave myself free rein to pick up the story and run…and I loved it! The next day I read through what I’d written, and started to get concerned I’d veered away from the sheet. I spent the day attempting to write my way back…it wasn’t a good writing day.

Day three, I spent a good few hours distracting myself with outdoor jobs (it was sunny!), digging and barrowing wood, even washing up, rather than picking up my WIP. When I did, the writing was forced.

Day four, I deleted what I’d written the day before and allowed myself to be caught up in domesticity.

Day five, Friday, I realised the problem…my characters and the story wanted to be written one way, while the beat sheet wanted me to write a different way. I was writing to fitting in what I needed to meet the requirements of the beat sheet, rather than how the characters wanted to run with the story. The struggle became a battle because I didn’t trust my own ability enough. I spent the weekend arguing with myself about it.

On Monday, I picked up my WIP, read the last chapter I’d written, made a few changes and wrote on with my hand written notes beside me. I’m not giving up on Save the Cat, but sticking to a pre-planned beat sheet of the whole book isn’t suiting me at all.

Sadly, my schedule this week isn’t going to leave much room for writing as I’m launching a new evening dance class in Aberystwyth on Thursday, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday lessons, and it’s Women’s International Day on Friday, but once I’ve established a new routine, I’ll let you know how the writing is going.

There’s no doubt Save the Cat has taught me a lot, but I’m beginning to see that my story writing/story telling, is as important as the structure.

 

 

Are you ready to Save the Cat!?

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I belong to a fabulous group on Facebook called Witch Lit, for readers and magical creators, who enjoy poetry, songs, short stories, novels, in fact all things magical. I was recommended this book by Laura Perry, one of the other admins on the group, which arrived two weeks ago and hasn’t left my side for more than twenty four hours! Here’s my review and then you’ll know why…

The best ever self help book about writing a novel!”

‘Save the cat! Writes a Novel’ is the best self help book about writing I’ve ever read. As soon as you begin to read, there’s a feeling of excitement as this tried and trusted recipe for successful novel writing is explained by Jessica Brody. Originally an idea by the late Blake Snyder, a Hollywood screenwriter, Jessica, one of his pupils who had used and succeeded with the original method, has created a concise, straight forward, easy to use guide to creating a great novel.

With very little pre-amble, the book dives straight in, asking you questions about your book idea or the WIP you’ve started (or completed.) One of the beauties of this book is that it suits plotters or pantsers. If you want to organise and plot with precision, you can use this book from the word go, or if, like me, you’d already written the book, but wanted it to be the best it could be (or wanted to see how close to the perfect book you’ve managed to get yourself), then you can use it at this point to.

Having already studied another novel writing book, I managed to get the majority of the points mentioned in the book, but not necessarily in the right order or to the degree I needed to press the points home. With my newly fashioned ‘Beat Sheet’, I’m working my way through my book, crafting and sculpting to make it flow better and keep the reader hooked with every turn of the page.

This book will not write your story for you. You need a good story to start with, but be assured, if you follow this ‘Beat Sheet’, you’ll have the best possible structure for your book.

The book guides the writer through Beat Sheets and Story Genres, and you think ‘Wow, this is so simple when you read it like this.’ While you’re basking in the sunshine of knowing you’re onto a winner, Ms Brody gives you more! ‘Pitch it to me!’ gives you all the info you need to create fabulous, unforgettable loglines and concise, exciting synopses. …And then there’s even more! ‘Save the Author!’ is all of her FAQs, beautifully answered to give you the most detailed yet manageable ‘big picture’ you’ll ever need.

I paid £11.99 for the paperback of this book, and in only two weeks, I’ve more than had my money’s worth. I recommend anyone writing their first novel to read this book…in fact, every story teller should read it!

You can purchase Save the Cat! here…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Save-Cat-Writes-Novel-Writing/dp/0399579745/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Save-Cat-Writes-Novel-Writing/dp/0399579745/ref

If you’re interested in magical reading or writing, come and join our Witch Lit group for books and more https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055104057875422/

Press the newsletter link on this blog for monthly updates about books, dance, plant based food and all things magical. Bright Blessings xx

 

Character profiles – detailed

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If you’re happy to use a basic profile for the characters for your books and short stories, check out my post from last week.https://wendysteele.com/2018/09/07/character-profiles-sparse-or-detailed/

If you’d prefer more detail, here’s the list I promised:

Name:

Age:

Height:

Weight:

Hair colour and style:

Eye colour:

Complexion and skin tone:

Character’s body build:

Character back story:

Identifying marks:

Facial features:

Hand features:

Scent:

Mannerisms or gestures:

Strongest personality traits:

Weakest personality traits:

Needs of the character:

Ambitions:

Father’s name:

Age:

Physical appearance:

Mother’s name:

Age:

Physical appearance:

Sibling’s names and descriptions:

Favorite sayings:

Interests and hobbies:

Favourite foods:

Favourite colors:

Pets:

Education:

Religion:

Financial situation:

Future plans:

Possessions this character values most:

What drives your character:

How does your character handle conflict:

What is standing in your character’s way:

What is their favourite room and why:

What vehicle do they drive:

Favourite sport(s):

What are your character’s prejudices:

How does your character feel about love:

About crime:

What is their neighborhood like:

What is your character’s philosophy on life:

What is your character’s family life like:

If you want a more detailed background for your character, you could break their life into 5 year spans, or if they’re fairly old, 10 year ones.

You could take everything from the above and make a profile summary of a paragraph or two.

I like a photograph as well, so why not think of the actor who could play the part of your character and print off a picture.

 

Character profiles can be useful if you have to break away from your writing for a few weeks, and you want to reimmerse yourself in their world.

Happy writing!

 

Character profiles – sparse or detailed?

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Writing my first published novel, Destiny of Angels, I took no chances. Every character in the book was planned and thoroughly researched, neatly filed with a photograph of how I envisaged the character…and then I started writing.

Why was I so surprised that my characters had minds of their own? Why did I not anticipate that the character traits I’d landed them with weren’t necessarily the ones that fitted them best? Some of the planning was useful, but other parts I ended up changing to create the well rounded, believable characters I needed for my novel. So, how much character planning do you need? How much detail is necessary when writing fiction?

These are the details I begin with. You can always add to your characters as the book progresses and you get to know them even better:

1 Visual appearance

I’m a visual reader and writer, so height, shape, hair and eye colour help me ‘see’ my characters. Add to this complexion and skin tone, and what their hands are like. Hands can tell you a lot about a person.

2 Strongest personality traits

What’s the one thing about your character that no one can miss?

3 Weakest personality traits

What’s the one thing about your character that they may want to hide or feel guilty about?

4 Possession and/or person

What possession or person does your character value most?

5 Favourite food

Food choices tell a lot about a person, and their feelings towards the planet and their environment.

6 What stands in your character’s way?

We’re all good at putting barriers up, hijacking our own happiness with definitions (‘I’m too old to do that’) and other similar roadblocks (‘I would like to visit Crete but…) Finding out what stops your character from doing or being something or someone is a great way to get to know them.

 

And that’s it. There’s background, of course, childhood and the life journey they’ve already walked, but you don’t need it all detailed before you begin, maybe just an inkling of where they’ve recently been.

Later, you can ask the character to talk about themselves. Here’s Lizzie Martin, the main character in the first Wendy Woo Witch Lit series:

Hi, I’m Lizzie and I’m a witch. Not that I wear a pointy hat and travel to work on a broomstick. In fact, unless you get to know me well, you would never know, but I live my life following the Sacred Wheel of the Year and use magic in my daily life. I might draw a single card from my Tarot pack, set a candle spell working or consult with Cerridwen and her cauldron, but even if my focus is not on a magical act or ritual, the Wheel turns and I move with it.

I was a ‘ginger’ at school but if you’re going to label me, I’d prefer redhead. I love wearing bright clothes that compliment rather than clash. Paisley, velvet and Indian fabrics are my favourite, swathing my body in colour and light. I’ve never felt the need to show off my figure so I let my clothes do the talking. I rarely have to do more than smile, which I prefer. I learned to be quiet at an early age while my parents shouted and argued.

I’m not a great one for shouting. At our old house, I avoided the neighbourhood squabbles and gossip, preferring peace to provocation. I got on well with everyone but had no particular friends. My fault? Probably but I’m a private person and I worry about sharing too much of myself with strangers. At our new house, it’s different. Mr Brody is our next door neighbour, his house adjoins ours, so we met on the day Rowan and I moved in. I was worried about Rowan’s music disturbing him and he was embarrassed that his TV would annoy us!

Louise and I are friends, good ones I hope. She’s one of the security guards in the building where I work. She’s raven haired and vivacious, completely different from me, but they say opposites attract. She’s kind, that’s why I like her.

With Josh, my ex-husband, out of my life, Rowan is my family. My father died when I was young. He is my first thought on waking, while my mother and I have always struggled to form any kind of relationship. Affectionate isn’t a word I use to describe her. Some days, I don’t think she cares about me at all, but she’s Rowan’s Granny, so I do the best I can. Marsha, on the other hand, Josh’s mum is a sweetheart. She continues to treat me as family, phoning for advice about her dreams and welcoming Rowan to her villa in Spain every year.

‘Call yourself a witch! Where’s the magic?’ I hear you ask. At the bottom of my garden is a little wooden shed that I call Sanctuary. Rowan calls it my ‘Mum cave’. Within its warm and welcoming walls, I draw and paint and surround myself with magic.

The six points work for me, but if you want a more expansive list for a character profile, pop back next week and I’ll post one up for you.

Happy writing!