The Worth of a King BLOG TOUR - Character Interview with Christa

Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.
Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.
Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.
The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.

Character Interview

Alea: If you could bake only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Christa: It would probably be the cream cake as, apparently, I make the best cream cakes in the world and Adrian would never forgive me if I gave them up.

Alea: Mmm. Now I want cake... :) When you were little, what was your favorite thing to do with your best friend, Adrian?
Christa: Actually, when I was really little, Adrian's younger sister, Lily, was my best friend. It was only after her death in the plague that Adrian and I bonded in our grief. We would explore the forest together - we even found a special meeting place alongside the creek. We've spent so many long hours there, just talking about anything and everything.

Alea: Wow! I'm so sorry about Lily! What is the weirdest present someone has given you?
Christa: Adrian's younger sister gave me a Zovordian knife, once and made me promise to tell no one that she did so. Not particularly out of place for her, but I never figured out why she did it. 

Alea: That is an interesting gift  :) What is your favorite food?  
Christa: Vegetables. 

Alea: Is a surprise birthday party fun or your worst nightmare?
Christa: It's a luxury that I'll probably never get, given that my cream cakes are apparently the best in the village and you cannot celebrate anything without them.

Alea: A wizard and a group of dwarves want you to help them reclaim their dragon-infested mountain. (Yes, this is a Hobbit reference.) What do you do?
Christa: I would go to Adrian's father for advice, as he is Zovordian and the Zovordians have an ancient war with the dragons. 

Alea: What is the most embarrassing baking mistake you've made?
Christa: One time I used sour milk for a cream cake - it didn't come out right at all and was a complete disaster.

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How to Bring Characters to Life (explained by someone who used to not understand it)

I'm a very cut and dry person. I like to be able to follow the 3 Step Formula To Perfect Results. I'm the person who doesn't understand how my English teacher figured out the author's thoughts on an issue from reading a fictional piece, but I understand how to get an answer in Algebra using PEMDAS.

For all of you like me, I'm sorry to break the news to you, but developing characters and making them come to life is NOT cut and dry because people aren't cut and dry. Why isn't it cut and dry? PEOPLE ARE COMPLEX. We are intelligent creatures made in the image of God. We are fallen creatures born with a sin nature--a natural desire to serve ourselves. On top of this, no two people are exactly the same. Everyone is different, and that is beautiful. But...that kind of makes it complicated for writers. Unfortunately here isn't a worksheet or Myers-Briggs site that will magically help you make awesome characters. However, I'm here to try to shed a little bit of light on this subject for the rest of us who struggle with understanding abstract concepts.

1. Figure out how he/she talks and thinks.

I know that this isn't a super deep thing to start with, but it's pretty important as you discover a character. We have to start from the outside in. Think of a movie. One thing that sets movies apart from books is that we only see how a character acts and reacts, we don't get to see their thoughts and emotions. The impression we get of them comes from the actors' portrayals. This brings me back to finding the character's voice.

When we find the actor's voice, we find the "actor portrayal" of the character. It makes the character come alive in our minds, which is key.

Is he he sarcastic? Does he tell jokes a lot? Does he rarely speak, but when he does, it's powerful?

Now, move on to how does he think? Some people talk to themselves...I think to myself. I literally have thoughts that go through my head. That's part of my voice.

So...how does the character think? Does he say one thing but think something completely opposite? Can he speak smoothly while internally freaking out? What comments does she make in her head?

For examples on all of this, just look at the world around you. Gather ideas from conversations at a coffee shop, from those awkward family reunions, or even from that one family in Walmart with the kids that are constantly fighting. Also, look into yourself. How do you think? Do you make sarcastic comments to yourself as you talk to others? Can you be completely cool and totally freaking out at the same time?

2. Discover his/her greatest fear.

In a lot of books, the main way a character grows is by facing his fears head on and conquering through them. That's what makes a hero a hero. Using the character's voice as a guide, (and probably your story idea. This is one concrete thing you can do.) decide what his/her greatest fear is. If the character is quiet and reserved but always has great comments playing out in her head, maybe she's terrified of being unwanted. Find all of the masks this character hides behind. Maybe the character says his greatest fear of snakes, but if he goes deeper, he discovers it's actually of dying. Right now, you don't have to figure out the backstory of why she's terrified of X, just figure out the what. (And some fears just come naturally with who you are as a person. My greatest fear is death, but that came literally from me just being alive. I didn't have a near-death experience as a baby to make this my greatest fear; it's just because that's the way I am. Also, this one central fear stems into a variety of other fears like fear of heights or fear of dangerous-looking things. I'm just more of a timid person because of this.) Also, a character can have a couple of deep, great fears.

3. Find the walls in his/her heart.

Everyone has walls built up for various reasons. Find those walls. Sometimes it takes writing an entire draft to discover these, but they're crucial to the story because they affect every interaction that character has. Does this character suddenly shut down whenever she talks to her dad because he's broken and broken her heart numerous times? Who does he open up to? How long does it take for him to open up? Does he wear his heart on his sleeve?

4. Find his/her greatest desire.

What does he want more than anything in this world? To be loved? To be happy? To find something more in life? This is the time to look to the Big Things, not just the "goals" everyone hears writers talking about. Goals are temporary, but these are desires etched into the character's heart.

I also want to address one thing here about antagonists. EVERYONE. I repeat, EVERYONE has a hole in his heart. Everyone. And everyone tries to fill it with something. People try and try and try. I don't care if you're a saint or a super villain, everyone has a hole. You may think your villain just wants power power power, but WHY does he want power? Again, this isn't a time for backstory, this is why. What is the hole he keeps trying to fill? Does he think power will make him happy? Does he think having power will finally make him feel loved? Villains aren't mindless evil robots.

Stepping aside from writing for a second, there is only one thing that can fill this hole. One. Thing. Nothing in this life will satisfy us. Not money, other people, our reputations, fame, or whatever else. The only thing that can fill the un-fillable hole is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. Why else would every single person long for something greater than this life? Why is the material world never enough? Because we were MADE FOR MORE. However, because of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, we can't become more and we will never be able to become more. That's why God sent His Son, Jesus, to take our place on the cross to atone for OUR SINS. Everything GONE. Once we accept the gift of Jesus's sacrifice, we are CHILDREN OF GOD. God fills that "love" hole with love. He fills the "happiness" hole with joy. HE FILLS THE HOLES.

5. Figure out appearance, likes, dislikes, hobbies, occupation, and all the surface level stuff.

This is the probably the best step for all of your worksheet people. This is the basic, cut and dry stuff like eye color, height, hobbies, occupation, and favorite movie. This is the stuff you learn when you first meet someone. Make sure to keep in mind all of the previous steps. It would be pretty contradictory to make the person who's terrified of snakes a zookeeper assigned to the reptile room. (Unless that's the whole point of the story. If that's the case, have at it.)

6. Figure out the character's backstory.

Okay, now that you know this character's heart and a little bit of surface level stuff, it's time to figure out what happened to them before the story. I put this step after the surface level stuff because that surface level stuff affects this step. How did she get to where she is now? I feel like this is pretty self explanatory, and there are plenty of other resources on this, so I won't go too into detail.

7. Just write.

Remember, this is just the first draft, so it's okay to keep discovering more and more about your characters as you go. You're "becoming their friends" and "getting to know them" as you see them respond to different events and characters. Watch them grow and see where it takes you. If you have to adjust your plot or planned outcome, so be it. Let the characters remain true to themselves, otherwise the story will feel forced.

How do you develop your characters? Do you have any tips to add to this? Who are some of your favorite characters? Which villains do you think are well written?


5 Things I Learned From Writing My Most Recent Novel

Writing is a learning process. For me, at least, every novel is different and requires a greater set of skills and disciplines. (Isn't this the case for anything creative?)

Here are five things I Am Stardust taught me about writing.

1. Don't rush.

Sometimes I want to just rush through the first draft just to get it finished. However, this leaves me with a ridiculously fast pace that's really hard to fix and a messier first draft. Yes, first drafts are supposed to be messy--hence it's alternate term, the rough draft--but it's easier to edit a more complete manuscript.

2. Plan out action scenes.

This is just something that makes the first draft easier for me. Planning out the things that are going to  happen in the scene before I write about them in more detail helps the pacing. (And like I said in the above point, it makes it easier to edit later. I'm all for easier editing.) If I have a plan laid out, the scene intimidates me less, and I don't rush through it as much.

3. Enjoy the frivolous scenes that may get cut later.

I Am Stardust taught me to enjoy the small scenes that may get taken out later. That time when you took a break from the main plot so the main characters could go get coffee may just make you fall even more in love with the story your heart desires to tell. Does it really further the plot? Who cares. This is one thing you shouldn't dwell on when writing your first draft. Write the scenes your heart wants to write.

4. Try to get into the story every day.

Yes, this is one of those things that EVERY PRO WRITER SAYS, but it's really important. Staying in the story helped me keep the feel of the story and it's characters in my head the entire time. I didn't have to go back and remember who they are and what they want. I kept the story fresh in my mind. (This doesn't mean you have to write every single day no matter what, but keep in the story as often as possible.) Again, this not only helps your motivation, it also keeps a cleaner first draft.

5. Don't be afraid to make it personal.

I Am Stardust turned out to be a very personal story. A lot of the internal struggle my main character goes through is similar to something I went through a few years ago. Obviously the circumstances are different (I didn't become a superhero lol), but the heart of the story is the same.

What have your WIPs taught you about writing? How has your writing process changed?


Where Have I Been? Life Update and Belated 4th Blogiversary

Hello friends!

So...this year I haven't been blogging every Monday. A lot has been going on, but I'll try to summarize it.

1. I graduated high school!

*celebrates* I am FINALLY done with high school! (honestly this is a huge reason why I haven't been posting. High school takes up an enormous amount of time. Also, whoever told me senior year is supposed to be the easiest lied.) I am so excited for college and this next stage of life. (And also kind of terrified, but I'm trying not to think about that until August.)

2. I've been taking time to grow as a Child of God.

Yeah...God still has to do a lot of work on me, but recently I rededicated my life to Him and I'm working hard on my relationship with Him. It's hard, but so far, so worth it.

3. I'm working on growing as a writer.

Last year was a pretty bad writing year. I didn't write very much, and honestly, I wasn't very interested in writing either. I guess I didn't feel the need to write? (This is part of the reason my posts have been few and far between this year.) However, now I love writing even more than I did when I first started a long time ago. My WIP has taught me so many valuable things about writing, and it may have even given me a system. It has taught me to take things slowly in the story and really let stuff organically develop. This is my first cohesive novel that is over 50,000 words and still going strong. (My deadline is Tuesday...so I'm kind of on a mad dash to the finish.)

4. I got back into filmmaking.

Okay, so I kind of fell in love with filmmaking again. A few months ago, my English teacher gave the best assignment in the world: make a movie based on a book or short story. Oh, and make a movie we did. I worked with two amazing partners and friends, and the three of us (including 9 other cast members) recreated 3 scenes from Pride and Prejudice. (Don't worry, everything is word for word from the book.) Did we go a little overboard on this assignment? Definitely. Was it a blast? Yes.

What have you been working on while I've been gone?


Read to Find Jesus, Not Just to Find the Story

Hi everyone! Sorry I've been M.I.A. recently. That's mostly due to graduating high school and attending festivities related to that.

Anyway...on to the post.

A few days ago, I had a long conversation with one of my best friends, Hosanna Emily, and she said something that really stood out to me.

She told me to read my Bible to find Jesus, not to find the story.

That really got me thinking. You see, I've never really known how to read my Bible. I just kinda figured it was like reading a book, and Sunday schools always teach us about Bible stories.  People always tend to focus on the story instead of asking this question: What does this tell be about God? How does this point to Him?

Most Christians already know the story of Daniel and the Lion's Den and Jonah's story, but do we understand how each word points to our Creator? Now, I just want to pause and say that I by no means am saying that this is the tried and true method for understanding the entire Bible. Only God can reveal things to you, but I encourage you to look beyond the story and scrutinize every single word to find His truth.