Series Additions

After I had published ‘Soul Taker,’ I was told there were a few questions left open in my book, for example – what would happen to that angel Katie met with Raphael, Sundance?

The second book, ‘Sundance,’ answered those questions, but then I was asked if there was more to be read about the warriors in that book… it can’t be that they… and so on.

I admit I was a bit surprised at first. I know tons of books where we have, as usually, protagonists, antagonists, sub-characters, and tons of ‘small’ characters that don’t have too much of a purpose, except being there for one or two scenes and then disappear. We all know ‘the maid’ or ‘the butler’ or ‘the mailman’ in many movies. The person enters a scene, does or even says something and leaves… but in my case, I got questioned about the future of some of the supporting characters. I first was confused but then finally decided to take it as a compliment. It seems, even my supporting characters are important enough to my readers that they’re interested in what happens to them!

But let’s get back to the additions to a book series.

See, ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is quite well planned. A book ‘in-between’ is basically impossible. But what I could do is write some ‘extra stories.’  The first word that came to my mind was: Sequel. From what I learned in the meantime, that is not exactly what these additions to an existing series would be.

According to Jim Henry, on his homepage jimhenry.conlang.org, the definition of a sequel would be:

“Sequel” (from Latin “sequela”) originally seems to have meant “what happens next”; later it took on the additional meaning of “a story whose events take place later in the same imagined history as a certain other story” — usually with reference to novels, but also short stories, epic poems, and films.

He did mention different definitions of additional stories as well. According to Jim Henry, Wikipedia defines “interquel” as a story taking place between two previously published ones. Jeffrey Henning has a different definition of “interquel,” basically the same as Jim Henry’s coinage “paraquel” (see below).

paraquel
a story that takes place simultaneously with a certain other story
circumquel
a story that takes place partly before, partly after a certain other story
inquel
a story that takes place during a gap in some other story’s narrative

Now, armed with all that information about the different ‘extra-stories,’ will I be writing anything then? And if yes, why? I’ll tell you:

I was asked about these character’s stories – and I think, if these ‘supporting characters’ are so very important to my readers, I will tell their story too.

However, I decided to ‘collect’ the additional stories in an extra book. To tell you the truth, I’m not that much into finding out whether they are inquels, interquels or ‘whatever’-quels, as long as my readers love the characters and stories, but I promise, they will be extraordinary and they will make my supporting characters the center of their own story’s universe. They might not be novels or novellas, they might be novelettes – but they will introduce you to a wonderful personality which tells you how the character is linked to ‘The Council Of Twelve,’ and I’m convinced you will love them.

Thank you to those who asked me to tell their tale as well. I’m very honored!

 

 

Why Creativity Can’t Be Taught

“What is creativity?

During my research I found there are about as many definitions of ‘creativity’ as there are people. For example:

Henry Rollins says: “Starting with nothing and ending up with something. Interpreting something you saw or experienced and processing it so it comes out different than how it went in.”

Daniel Pink‘s definition is: “Giving the world something it didn’t know it was missing.”

The English Oxford Dictionary‘s definition is: “The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.”

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Now, according to ‘Psychology Today’ creativity cannot be taught. In 2011 they wrote, you can teach everyone how to use a hammer or knitting needles.

But knowing how to use a hammer or a knitting needle doesn’t make you creative. Visualizing, dimensionally manipulating or modeling the chairs you build in your mind’s eye won’t necessarily make you creative either. Whether material or mental, these tools just provide the techniques and materials that make creative outcomes possible.

Seven years ago many states started calling for tests to find out about the student’s creativity, Massachusetts and California ahead.

Psychology Today does believe that tools for imaginative and creative thinking can be exercised and that habits, behaviors and strategies within the creative process can be taught. But they don’t believe creativity itself can be taught.

Neither do I. Let’s take a look at the quote I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I found many more quotes like these and each one of them included words like “imagination”, “fantasy”, “ideas”, “invention”, and “mind-wandering”. None of these habits would go with a person uninterested in inventing a creative process, creative thinking or any creative mind.

Wharton University of Pennsylvania wrote an article in 2014, about 4 feet long, including tons of complicated words, unnecessary studies and quotes, and at the end came to the conclusion that creativity cannot be taught. I had to read the post twice to be sure of the result. (Source: Wharton)

Monica Malhotra, Managing Director of the MBD Group, an interior designer and decorator without a technical degree, clearly declared in 2016: “Creativity cannot be taught to anyone. It’s a quality which is god-gifted. People can help you polish this quality but no one can imbibe it into someone,”

Even Steve Jobbs said: “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

How do you teach fantasy, imagination, vision and painting pictures in your head to someone? I believe it’s as simple as that: “You can’t.” I’m with Steve Jobbs and Monica Malhotra on that. Creativity is a God given talent that cannot be taught nor learned.

Share your opinion about this conclusion in the comments, please. I’m curious.

Character Voice – Research by Aurora Jean Alexander

Picture courtesy of: https://gigaom.com/2014/04/05/why-voice-is-the-next-big-internet-wave/
Picture courtesy of: https://gigaom.com/2014/04/05/why-voice-is-the-next-big-internet-wave/

 


A couple of months ago, visiting a successful and experienced writer friend he told me, he read one of my pieces. I still am honored and flattered he took the time. He has an amazing way of complimenting and encouraging me – but also bringing on constructive criticism which I apparently deserved. Just this time I had no idea what he meant when he told me: “You have only one character voice.”

 

— ?? —

 

I was a little shocked. Not that I didn’t believe him, I just couldn’t believe it.

 

He is a wonderful mentor and of course took the time to explain to me what he was talking about:

 

All of my characters talk the same way. I frowned. I know my characters in and out, I know their looks, their abilities, their character, and personalities, whenever I write about them I can nearly hear their voices in my head – and still, they all talk the same?

 

After my visit I went back to the piece he was talking about – and I wasn’t half through I thought I understood now what he was talking about.

 

Now: What do I need to do to change that?

 

I do what I always do in such a case: RESEARCH…

 

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On “Now Novel” I found an interesting and very helpful article which helped me define the problem I apparently have: “Talking about your Character: Voice.”

 

  • What is character voice?
  • Thinking about dialogue
  • Separating character voice and author voice
  • How to develop the voices of your characters

 

In four different chapters, the article not only defines my problem but offers a helpful and informative solution. It’s easy to read and explained in a simple and understandable way.

 

 

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On Joe Moore’s “The Kill Zone” blog I read an article, written by Jordan Dane: Five Key Ways to Create a Character’s Distinct Voice

 

Jordan offers the following, excellently explained five ways to create a character’s voice:

 

  • Word Choices
  • Confidence Level
  • Quirks/Mannerism
  • Internal/External Voice
  • Metaphors/Similes/Comparisons

 

Each one of them is explained in details and is logical and, as I think, easy to learn. We’ll see.

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As a bonus, Jordan offers a link to a New York Times online test, which of course I took. And this is my result: Look at that… according to this test I’m a Southern Girl. 😀

 aj_blog_post_voice2

 

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“The Editor’s Blog” offers a variety of advice in making the voices of characters sound different. I found this blog post interesting and helpful as well. Variety in Character Voices

 

  • Use different words
  • Use different sentence patterns
  • Add humor to one character
  • Cut of speech or thought
  • Let a character ramble
  • Have characters pay attention to different things

 

The article is short, simple and precise. I think it’s adding to my learning in this matter.

 

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The “NY Book Editors” blog provides us with another interesting article with six excellent tips: Character Development: How to Create a Consistent Voice

 

  • Create a Backstory for Each Character
  • Do a Character Study
  • Hone Their Internal Dialogue
  • Research How People Speak Naturally
  • Focus on Authentic Dialogue
  • Interview the character

 

Each of the tips includes a further explanation as well as an exercise, which I consider very helpful and I’m looking forward to learning more by doing them.

 

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The “Writability”-blog delivers us an excellent definition of the “character’s voice” by giving us examples and makes us feel how important the different character voices are for our writing.

 

The article can be read here: http://avajae.blogspot.com/2011/09/defining-character-voice.html

 

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Jackie Cangro has published a blog post on “The Writer’s Block” blog, providing us with the seven elements of our “character’s voice”:

 

  • Style
  • Tone
  • Personality
  • Perspective
  • Authenticity
  • Consistency
  • Originality

 

She defines each of the elements in details and delivers descriptions which are easy to follow. I very much appreciate the easy read and learn-part of this blog post. The entire post can be found here:

https://writersblock.loft.org/2013/08/14/2641/finding_your_characters_voice

 

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K.M. Weiland has published a video post on her blog “Helping Writers become Authors.” It’s easy to follow and very educational.

 

“How to find your character’s voice” not only shows us the video but also delivers us the video transcript and help us understand the difference between authorial and character voices.

 

It helped me a lot to enter this topic and understand the basics.

 

The transcript and video can be found here: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-find-your-characters-voice/

 

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On the “Gizmodo”-Blog I found a post, written by Charlie Jane Anders  “All Your Characters Talk The Same — And They’re Not A Hivemind!”

 

This article too is very educational and gives us eight tips and hints to play with our character voices. Each of the tips comes with a detailed explanation and helps us develop our characters:

 

  • Listen to how people talk
  • Try to “hear” your characters’ individual voices
  • Realize your characters are not talking to you, or directly to the reader
  • Try giving each character a few unique verbal tics, or habitual words
  • Go one step further, and give them catch phrases and stuff
  • Realize that you may have, at most, three or four characters “voices” and refine those
  • Vary your sentence lengths, and play with punctuation
  • Adjust the French/Anglo-Saxon mix

 

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Each of this articles and blog posts has helped me a lot to get at least an idea on how to do better and give each of my characters an individual voice instead of them sounding like me.

 

But most of all I owe my writer friend a HUGE Thank you! He was the reason I started thinking about a problem I didn’t know I have! Thank you, Jim Spencer.