Category Archives: muses

Archetypes and why we use them

I hear you telling me that your character is 100% completely original and doesn’t fall into any kind of “archetype”, and I’m just gonna sit here and nod politely and force you to agree to disagree with me.

Archetypes aren’t a bad thing.

Archetypes are easily recognizable characters that are patterned in a certain way to fuel their desires.

Understanding the character you’re creating and where they fall in the 12 Common Archetypes (oh, yes, there’s more than 12, but I’m trying to keep it simple for you here!) can really truly help you in making a character who is multi-dimensional and realistic.

For example, if your character falls under the Lover Archetype, they’re  going to be more social, more passionate and their ultimate goal should be to be in a relationship or work situation that they love. A Lover craves intimacy and experience, and yeah, you’ll probably get to write some steamy love scenes with this type of character.

Understanding the things that drive your character is so important when it comes to building a character who is more than just words on paper. Even if you don’t memorize every single archetype there is out there, you can always go have a look and decide if your character is a Sage, or a Ruler. Is your character driven by selfish needs, or does s/he care about others above all?

And don’t forget, you can always bend these Archetypes and reshape them like putty in your hands.

Sure, you might have a Ruler who craves nothing but power, but instead of being a Heroic-ruler, he might be evil and vile and mean. Or, you could have a completely Benign Ruler, a champion and a hero with a dark and hidden past. It’s all about understanding your characters, understanding their motivation, and using that to build your character into something loved (or hated) and ultimately memorable.

Archetypes are not a bad thing, they’re building blocks. Like LEGO. What you do with them is up to you.

The world you create isn’t just your oyster, it’s more like an all you can eat buffet. You have the tools to build and create, and your only limit is yourself. Your characters bow to you, you are the creator god. You’re Odin and Zeus and Ra and Isis and Osiris all rolled into one.

And look, I even have a link for you.

Now go forth and use these Archetypes to help you create the characters you wanna create.

Tell me: how do you use Archetypes? Do you subvert them?

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Character Development: DESTINY

Yay for character development! This is one of the key things that you need to put your characters through; making them more than just words on paper.

There’s probably a million blog posts talking about ways to make your characters seem “more realistic” and “more relatable” so instead of talking about that sort of crap, I’m gonna talk to you about things that we writers love to throw in our characters’ stories that we usually overlook.

Today’s topic? Destiny.

From King Arthur, to Harry Potter to Luke Skywalker, all of our favourite characters have some sort of destiny that they are expected to live up to.

Why do we keep doing this? Why is this so standard? Why do we love a hero (or villain) with a pre-ordained future?

I don’t have the answers to any of those questions, to be honest, I can only speculate about why it’s so common for our characters to have a destiny bigger than themselves.

But that’s not what I’m here to do.

Let’s talk about destiny. A pre-ordained future given to (us) our characters by a bigger power (us writers) like the gods. This is such an important event to happen in all forms of storytelling. We see it in TV, movies, video games, books… everywhere, throughout history.

So, how do you avoid cliche with something that big?

As far as I’m concerned, you don’t. You embrace the cliche. So what if this was a task given to your hero by the gods? That’s not the part of the cliche that you need to be worried about. Embrace that. Embrace the fact that this is something that has happened in history before. Work that point into your story.

Then make the task set out by the gods original. Make the part where the hero overcomes his challenge something that has never been done before! That’s where your task lies, dear writer.

Break the mould, make it yours. Make it new and spectacular and embrace that cliche!

Now go forth and tell me in the comments how you keep your characters’ destinies from getting stale!


Damn, That’s a Spec Script

I think it was Chuck Wendig who suggested that all novelists try their hand at screenwriting and all screenwriters try their hand at noveling.

It’s funny to me because I started writing screenplays when I was 11 ish and I switched to books at 13 and switch back and forth between the two whenever I’m inspired.

The thing is, I’ve completed a bunch of TV spec scripts, a couple of movies, and a couple original pieces for both TV and film.

I have a pretty good portfolio.

It’s funny because I find that for me, I can do a script way way way faster than I can do a book. It might honestly be because I have a lot more practice writing scripts, and there’s a lot less words, but I dunno.

The point is that yep, I’ve completed yet another spec script. I think that makes 3 this year. I dunno, I kinda lost count.

Don’t go laughing. Screenwriting is just as difficult as noveling. In fact, I’d say it’s more difficult because there’s a whole different pace and tone to the way a screenplay flows in comparison to the way a novel flows. There’s a lot less room for play in a script. A TV spec should be around 42-43 pages. PAGES, not words. And then there’s proper formatting to consider. (Thank GOODNESS for Scrivener, it’s so much simpler to format that anything else I’ve tried.)

And let’s no forget to mention the language used. You want to keep your language terse and tot he point. It has to flow and description isn’t the screenwriter’s job. You only need to put in the important details. Like, if there’s supposed to be a shot of a dead body on a hotel bed with blood on the sheets. You don’t need to describe the room dressings, because you’re not the set dresser. That’s not your job. It’s only your job to tell the story. The actors then make your words come to life. The screenwriter is only responsible for writing the story. It forces you, as a writer, to reevaluate what’s important in your dialogue, in your cues, and in your visuals.

If the antique vase in Great Aunt Mildred’s room isn’t important to the plot, don’t write it in.

I feel like writing screenplays has really influenced the way that I write novels. I find that my novels are almost always coming up short on the desired word count because I’m used to the flow and pacing of a screenplay. I write in prose that gets my point across without being flowery. I choose more powerful words than ‘pretty’ or ‘nice’ to describe my things in my books (most of the time, I mean, we all have lazy passages and word count padding tricks, right?) I find it difficult to get most of my stories above 80,000 words, just because of the way that I write, and the way that screenwriting forces you to think. Hell, even my short stories are oftentimes below word count minimums because the screenwriting methods are so ingrained into my mind! It’s a great way to get your point across without being wordy and long-winded. It’s probably why it’s next-to-impossible for me to write high fantasy anymore!

I really do think that it’s fabulous practice for ANYONE who considers themselves a writer. Even if you never show it to anyone else, except maybe a beta reader or critique partner, just for feedback, the things you’ll learn about pacing and writing from writing a screenplay are completely invaluable.

So now you know, if you see a film or TV show and the STORY sucks, that’s on the writer. Bad acting is on the director and the actors. It really makes you take a look at film in a new light. Try it. Separate the story from the acting and visuals and see if it changes your opinion of the movie or TV show you’re watching.

Am I off my mark? Do you think screenwriting and novel writing can go hand in hand?


Streamlined

This is gonna be short and sweet because of the title. As always, I am always 100% open to discussion and opinions about my blogs, so please please please feel free to start a conversation with me whenever/wherever.

I see so many writers getting sucked into the “there has to be more description” trap.

I see so many of my friends and colleagues get wrapped up in world building, and character development and making awesome fake restaurants to fit into their world.

That’s awesome. It means you’re really giving your story and the universe you’ve created some thought and a life of its own.

However, this is also a bad idea on some levels.

Think about it. Is a catchy jingle and adorable cartoon animal mascot that you spent hours and hours agonizing over relevant to the story? Is that made up Denny’s or McDonald’s equivalent actually going to be a place that has a reason to exist aside from a passing structure? Is the character’s whole family history actually relevant to the way that they perceive the world and handle different threats to their personal safety? Is this anecdote making a point or is your character just talking to pad your word count?

Seriously, ask yourselves with any plot point, any device you throw in, any twist, any scene: is this relevant? How is this relevant? Will it come back later? Will it affect the outcome of the story either in this novel or in a future novel?

If it’s not, then you need to cut it. Streamline your story and keep writing.


Holy Crap I’m Writing YA: Part 5

So I hit a kind of writer’s block.

And it was worse than any other one I have ever encountered. It was both a lack of imagery in my head and a lack of interest, combined with an inability to get out of the rut that this wild foray into a vast wilderness of things that I’m not familiar with has been.

I’m  out of the rut now.

And you wanna know how I did it?

I switched up my mediums.

That’s right! I pulled out a notebook and started writing the chapter that was giving me trouble in it. And I’m FINALLY FINISHED THAT CHAPTER. (Okay, so I have a few more lines to write but my wrist really hurts and I needed a break from the pen and notebook so I thought I would come and blog for you.)

This is a trick that I use a lot more often than I admit to. Whenever I feel stuck, I grab a binder or notepad and write by hand instead of on my computer, and vice versa. I find though, that I get a lot less “stuck” when I’m writing completely in a notebook. However, I lose a lot of the speed that I get when I’m typing.

(And my handwriting gets REALLY messy after a while.)

I have no idea why this is. Handwriting takes a lot longer. I mean A LOT LONGER. I wrote a 50,000 word novel during one of the NaNoWriMo events one year and then transcribed the whole thing — all within a month — but it still took me a heckuva lot longer to finish that novel than it did for me to type up the next one.

I’m notorious for pumping out 20,000 words in a day (usually takes me 6-8 hours, to be honest) and it’s hard to do on the computer. 20,000 words by hand is almost impossible. I mean, the hand cramps alone would be murder!

Still, when I’m facing a huge wall of writer’s block, this is my best trick by far.

And so far, I don’t really hate this chapter either.

What kind of tricks do you employ to beat writer’s block? What sort of situations GIVE you writer’s block?


End of the World: Boondock Saints 3 Speculative Deleted Scene — “Conjugal Visit”

Well, the world didn’t end, so as promised. Here is my “Conjugal Visit” scene from my Boondock Saints 3 speculative script. For those of you unaware, “Spec script” means that I basically just wrote a more technical fan fiction for my favorite movie series and have put the finished project into my portfolio for when I start handing out my CV and applying for jobs in the film and television industry. I write a lot and this was honestly a labour of love more than anything else. It definitely brought closure to my relationship with the Boondock Saints. And made me love the story even more.  

Anyway, I do hope that nothing actually happens in the next 24 hours… that would suck. 

Enjoy.
Love,
Kai Kiriyama Continue reading


NaNoWriMo follow up

Warning: Contains me being positive and uplifting, supportive, cussing AND LOVE. (Taken from my tumblr)
So we’re 6 days into December and NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Holy crap. Time flies. Now though, I’m hearing a lot of people in the writing community complain about their “wins” and “losses” in November. 
Let me put it right out there in black and white for everyone: not hitting 50 k words in November is not a “loss.” IT IS NOT A LOSS. Hitting, meeting, or surpassing 50 k words in November is not a “win.” IT IS NOT A WIN. 
Do you see where I’m going with this?
The numbers and the deadline are arbitrary. Just because you were unable to pump out a first draft of 50,000 words or more in 30 days doesn’t mean that you’re “not cut out to be a writer”, or that “you’ll never make it as a novelist”, or that “you’re not good enough to write,” or any of the other negative things that you’re probably complaining about after your so-called “loss”. It means that maybe 50,000 words in 30 days doesn’t work for you. And that’s all right! Maybe your one story didn’t quite make it to 50,000 words. That’s also cool! Maybe November was a busy as hell month and you couldn’t devote the time to writing that you had anticipated. That’s perfectly all right, too.
And let’s look at the flip side of that! Just because you wrote 50k, or 100k, or, like some insane people that I know, 285k and beyond, well, that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna “make it” as a writer either. It doesn’t mean you’re “good enough” or that you’re “cut out” to be a writer. It means that you had a whirlwind month and one or more story ideas that seemed to magically flow from your fingertips onto the pages of your draft and into your computer or whatever the hell you use to write that many words in 30 days. (You insane, freaky ass cyborgs you.)
While yes, the feeling of accomplishment from finishing the first draft of your novel is a great thing, the point is to build good writing habits that should theoretically stick with you year-round. Making yourself the time to sit and write 1667 words a day (minimum) is the goal. They say that it takes 30 days of repetition for an action to become a habit. Oh look at that. Writing 1667 words per day for 30 days. Huh, seems like they were trying to reinforce the idea of making writing a habit, wouldn’t you agree?
Personally, I do NaNoWriMo every year. I have been participating for 4 years. And I participated in both “Camp NaNo” session this year. I have completed (and surpassed) the 50,000 word goal on every one of them. Out of those 6 sessions, only 2 works have been polished enough to merit submissions to anything. The third one is nearing completion but is getting cut down to around 35,000 words and will finish life as a “novella”. The other three things I’ve written are being completely discarded and reworked when I feel like delving back into them, which will likely never happen.
All of the works I’ve submitted have needed major polishing. Nothing was perfect right out of the gate. And, I’ve managed to keep the writing habit year-round, however. I write other things too, so there’s one good thing about being a “Wrimo”.
The point of it all is this: stop beating yourself up over an arbitrary number that dictates whether you’ve “won” or “lost” NaNoWriMo. Face it. “Win” or “lose”, you still ended up with more words than you had at the beginning of the month. And that is the goal in the long run.