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TricksterShi

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TricksterShi last won the day on February 28

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About TricksterShi

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    Running with the moon.
  • Birthday 03/28/1988

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  • Writing History
    20+ years
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  1. TricksterShi

    "Said is Dead" and Dialogue Tags

    Said is definitely invisible for me and I try to be super sparing with other dialogue tags. I think you can convey how something is said with other indicators sprinkled throughout the text, especially body language. Example: There are times tags other than said work well in a text, but on the whole I think said is best. Unless, of course, you have a couple characters trapped in a dark closet, then tags like whispered, hissed, or shouted work because the regular visual cues and such would be absent, but you wouldn't need many. In the closet situation you could begin an exchange with some of those tags to set the scene and then peter them out to pure dialogue exchanges by keeping the voices distinctive . Otherwise too many tags makes the work clunky and I feel it robs the reader of the full chance to visualize the scene for themselves.
  2. TricksterShi

    Fixing a Character Megapost

    I'll have to give that podcast a listen, these were some really interesting questions to work through! How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? I usually run into this problem with side characters that aren't fleshed out or haven't had much page time. I rarely run into it with a POV character since I spend so much time in their head and they become distinctive through each draft. When I fix the issue with a side character it usually entails taking time to draw up their backstory and get a feel for them through that. Then I can bring in nuances through dialogue and their actions. Or I cut them completely if they aren't truly necessary to the story. How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? If I have to constantly go back and double check names and facts about a character and find I'm confusing them then that's a pretty sure sign the character is the problem. Or if my primary beta reader can't keep them straight. Or if I become avoidant about certain passages I know something about them is throwing me off and I have to sit down and pick it apart to find what it is. How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? Well, short answer is: I don't. As I've gotten older and dealt steadily with depression through my twenties up to now I find my attention span has shortened immensely. If a character doesn't hold my interest and can't be engaging then I either throw a wrench at them or scrap them completely. I don't have the energy to spend on a character who doesn't add anything new or keep the book going. I'll work with them a bit to see if they can shape into a character who pulls their weight within the story, but if they don't I'm not going to keep them around to clutter up the page. How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? I spend time with them behind the scenes. Bad guys or antagonists are the heroes and main characters in their own minds so I will let them take the reins, so to speak, and let them show me who they are. Depending on what their deal is I may need to do extra research so I understand or can empathize where they are coming from. My current villain is a budding teenage serial killer. In his case he is a true sociopath and is unable to feel empathy towards other living creatures or people, but he is able to blend in with his community and fake human emotions and connections very well. Research, in his case, means delving into true crime documentaries and books that focus on the psychological makeup of such a person. His main drive is obsession and without the usual checks and balances of empathy and sympathy the way he goes after what he wants and why is different than other characters. Beyond him there are less extreme antagonists who aren't sociopaths but are ruled by purely emotional factors, such as greed, love, hatred, bigotry, etc... Then I just have to find that same component within myself and explore it. One of the most helpful things I've ever come across to help with all my characters came from this Maya Angelou video: How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? Still working on this for some of my characters. Right now the ones who are powerful are witches capable of greater than ordinary magic but are kept in check by strict laws, societal distrust, and they are outnumbered. Also, delving too deeply into using more magic than one is capable of carries the danger of burning out or going mad. Other challenges I'm currently toying with have to do with individual personal stakes. Power of any kind doesn't come for free, so there has to be consequences for obtaining or using it, and it has a greater impact when the challenge comes from dealing with those consequences. In my current project my main characters obtain a connection to each other that gives them a greater capacity for using magic, however this puts their sanity and social standing in jeopardy, especially with their mother who has finally obtained respect for being a competent and trustworthy witch. In trying to protect their neighbors from the teenage serial killer who is also using magic they have to break laws and rules and then deal with the social fallout. How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? They have to have something personal at stake in something that I can relate to. Even if they get thrown into the most extreme of fantastical situations a character will get boring if the only stakes are something like, the world is going to literally end apocalypse style. That's fine to use as a plot, but the ordinary character getting through the situation isn't equipped to worry about the large scale event as a whole and nothing else. They have to have something personal that's driving them to survive, like trying to get back to their family or finding a safe zone or finding the cure for their loved one, even just surviving for their own sake. They have to want something and need something, and it's far more interesting if those things are relatable (and at cross purposes because, yay, tension and conflict!). The world going down in flames is not that interesting, but how people deal with it to fulfill their needs and wants is. How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? If it's an old manuscript I would probably take time to go behind the scenes with the characters and establish those interests first, then have the existing manuscript and a new document on screen side by side and just do a massive rewrite. With the way my brain works, if I tried to go in and tweak things here and there I would end up with a knotted mess and even more work. I can do that if the manuscript is 90% complete and I'm just doing touch ups, but those interests are completely absent that has the potential to change the existing manuscript in pretty fundamental ways. I'd feel more comfortable taking it page by page. I actually did something similar to the book I published last year when I had to go in and add things to the plot line that needed to carry forward into book two. It was tedious but kept everything straight in my head.
  3. TricksterShi

    Moodboarding

    I've always seen mood boards on Tumblr and I love the concept, but like @Penguinball I usually just create a Pinterest board. The one for Witches of Texas is fairly extensive, so when I need inspiration I just go scroll through it or look at the graphics I made on Canva that I put out on Facebook and Twitter to advertise my book. I'd love to know what program you used for yours, it looks awesome!
  4. I wrote words!new total: 6,252 words
  5. Finally upgraded to Scrivener 3 and am loving all the new features, especially how it implements Dark Mode.  Makes it so much easier on the eyes.  Only trouble is I've been playing with features all afternoon instead of writing...🤫

  6. The seer gives up her eyes in a complicated ritual to achieve cosmic knowledge. However, cosmic knowledge is a...highly subjective term. The seer ends up being able to access the knowledge of a particularly long lived whale in another galaxy's ocean who knows everything that's happened in the deep blue since near the dawn of time. Fascinating stuff, and utterly useless to apply to most of her own world. New trope: the Plucky Sidekick.
  7. TricksterShi

    Deductive vs Inductive Story Telling

    I've never heard of this before either, but they do make a lot of sense! I'm usually always inductive with my stories. I come to them by way of a scene, a conversation, or just a flash frame that looks interesting. The first book I ever finished started that way. I was doing dishes and listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra near Christmas and was hit by a powerful wave of loneliness and then saw a scene where a boy was watching his family celebrate the holiday through a window. I knew the boy had been missing for years, that bad things had happened to him, and because of it he could never walk through the front door. I knew he also had wings, so when I got to a notebook and wrote it out I had that for a foundation and built it from there. I find I often get lost when I try to start broad and narrow stuff down. I don't feel a good connection to the story on an emotional level. I can world build all day long because it's interesting, but doing that first and the crafting characters to fit the world causes me to lose interest, or go off on tangents and re-create things that muck with the entire system. I already know how everything works, I guess, so exploring it through a character a second time isn't as appealing. Now, given that I'm currently writing a series I have to do some deductive writing just to keep everything in order, so I end up trying to balance planning just enough to keep it all straight while leaving enough blank to explore so I don't wander off to play with something else. It's kind of like placing strategic piles of toys and treats within a large playpen area to keep a toddler occupied and simultaneously unaware of the fence so they don't try to escape.
  8. TricksterShi

    February Writing Challenge Voting

    Thank you so much!
  9. TricksterShi

    Share your latest accomplishments!

    Well, today I bit the bullet and rewrote my outline. Turns out I wrote the initial draft from the wrong POV, so now I have to do a complete rewrite. I changed up the outline to suit the new POV and then wrote 3600 words the big resolution scene at the end. It felt awesome to finally write that scene properly! I'm excited to finish it out and then go back and write some of the other juicy scenes I have lined up. Below is my favorite part:
  10. [color=green][b][u]I wrote words![/u][/b][/color] [b]words to add:[/b] [3,605] words [b]new total:[/b] [3,605] words
  11. Well, I recently realized I was trying to write from the wrong POV in the book I was trying to finish up, so I guess I'll be going back to Taz and rewriting it all from her perspective instead of working on something new. It makes sense when I step away from it because I'll be completing the arc I set up for her in book one, but I wish I'd realized it before I ended up with so much unusable material. Despite that, I am looking forward to being in her head again. I'm looking forward to tackling the witch-apprentices friendships in this one. And the now side-view of Fred's teenage romance that develops. I'm also taking time to write a lot of flash fiction pieces for the future books so I'm going to continue doing that alongside the main project. They've been incredibly fun and freeing to write and I'm hoping to turn some of them into little short anthologies for a few of the side characters. I'm particularly invested in using 100-200 word pieces to explore Tevis and Viv's friendship and story that happens before the main book events. So many shenanigans await there. 😄
  12. TricksterShi

    Writing and mindset

    I feel this on a soul level. I hate revealing any writer that hasn't gone through revision and editing first. A lot of it stems from one point in my childhood where I shared a story with someone whose opinion I really valued and the only thing they said about the piece was that I should have spell checked better because I wrote 'bowel' instead of 'bowl'. I have to be productive every day to be a good writer. This one is the worst. I have so much mental exhaustion from work that some days it's just impossible to find two creative braincells that can still spark something. I can steal some time at work to write, but when I get home I don't continue. I end up berating myself for laziness and that just makes me even less apt to work some days. I try to combat it by recognizing when I start in on myself and step back to see, okay, am I really just being lazy or avoidant or am I experiencing exhaustion or depression? That one quote that goes around about how nothing in nature blooms all year long is helpful. I need to put it up on my wall so I can see it every day. If I don't get in gear and produce a lot of books on a rigorous schedule I'm never gonna make it. My biggest goal in life is to get where my writing supports me. Or at least is enough of a second stream of income that I don't have to be chained to a full time job. I'm fully aware most writers keep a day job, but I've also studied up on writers who couple writing with other online ventures that allow them to stay at home and I desperately want that. I try to implement what I learn from them into my own schedule and stuff but I get overwhelmed between that, writing, and work, and I'm not that great at marketing. I end up berating myself again for being lazy and stupid which doesn't help anything. Combatting this is a work in progress. I can only handle so much, but I feel like at this point I should be able to handle more than I currently can. My brain is broken because reading books is hard now. This is probably an offshoot problem from depression and exhaustion, but most of the time I just don't have the drive to read the way I used to. I devoured three to five books a week when I was a kid/teen and it's gotten harder to do as an adult. I lose interest quick unless the story grabs me at the get go. I lose interest if it gets boring or if the second hand embarrassment is too much to handle. But fan fiction is easier. I can go through tons of fanfic in a week and stay engaged. I'm not ashamed of reading fanfic, I just miss reading books. Not reading them makes me feel like an imposter because how can I expect to write a good book if I can't stay with one very long? So I buy cheap books when I can afford them and hope one of them catches my attention long enough to finish it and appreciate the story. And I tell myself that, one day, whatever I don't read now I'll eventually get to so it's not like I'm wasting money, it's an investment.
  13. TricksterShi

    Character Internal Conflict

    Taz Wyatt Role: As a child she is an apprenticed witch to her mother alongside her sister. Her role is to learn to use magic (and magic-less psychology) in a variety of ways to help the people who live in their community. She is also tasked with much of the mundane work of keeping a house, garden, and livestock when not working with her mother, and with helping her sister expose a teenage serial killer lurking within the community who has it out for them. Relationships: Taz's strongest relationship is with her sister, Fred. Fred is a mixture of friend, sister, and mother to Taz, because their mother low-key resents Taz's presence. Taz isn't her child by blood, but was the last survivor of a tragedy Fred and their mother stumbled upon. Fred refused to give Taz up, which put a big strain on a young mother with no money, stability, or prospects. Taz tries to please Mama and yearns for her love, but never quite achieves it. Mama is by turns cold and then tries to love her, but never manages to see her as a real daughter and pushes her away in favor of Fred. Status: Witches are in a murky area of status. They can use magic in ways normal people can't and so they are essential for survival in the wilderness, but they have a tendency to go too deep into magic. Sometimes that results in madness, loss of identity, or burnout and death. They are feared yet needed and highly scrutinized, which leads to a lot of mixed views ranging between corrupted lowlifes and reverence. Competencies: Taz is a child still building her skillsets, but she is the best at being eternally hopeful and painfully aware of how everyone perceives her. That leads her to practicing anything thrown her way until she's proficient, especially when it comes to magic and survival skills. How does this lead to internal conflict: Taz has a lot of self esteem issues centered around legitimacy. She doesn't feel like she belongs in her family except when it's just her and her sister. She works hard to conquer what she sees as her inadequacies, which often blind her to other people's true motives. She compares herself to others when she doesn't measure up and it kills her confidence. She keeps trying with people long after they've turned away from her, even when Fred tries to get her to see they aren't worth it, because Taz subconsciously tries to give others the chances her mother never gave her. This was a really helpful exercise to play with! Even though I already have one book with this character it helped me zero in on a lot of stuff I'd touched on but never deeply defined for myself.
  14. TricksterShi

    Immortal/Long Living Characters

    When I was initially brainstorming my books I played with consequences for immortality before settling on longevity. An immortal race of beings didn't make sense, even though I toyed with introducing Celtic fairies for some of my mythology. I had a lot of fun crafting story lines for characters who obtained longevity rather than being born into it. Whether it was their own fault or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I decided to keep the spirit of the fairies in the consequences. In my world magic can cause longevity as it has an awareness and penchant for chaos. Belief also feeds into magic, so sometimes gods happen because they were people who became heroes and then legends and then warped into beings (a lot of) people prayed to. As such there are gods who didn't sign up for that particular gig but are bound by the chaos of belief to their stories, even when the stories change. As gods fall out of fashion for new stories they get forgotten, but they don't die easy. Gods and their stories tend to bleed into each other as time passes, so they get entrenched in the world until all seeds of their story disappear from the tellings. My main characters experience this in a backward sort of way by meeting raw wild magic face to face and their belief in each other is all that saves them. As time goes on they find they are fully capable of dying, each time ending up in a sort of pocket dimension world of their own making between the veils. They find their way back to the regular world but time moves on without them so it could be days, months, or decades between their departures and returns. Having to get used to all the advancements and changes is hard, but what's worse is knowing that even though they always come back they never get to stay. I like the idea of exploring life and death as fluid states that compliment each other and cycle together rather than being at opposing ends. I also want to dig into the idea of Becoming. Instead of 'character vs nature' turn it into 'character becomes nature'. I'd like to use the vehicle of longevity to explore what it might mean if people stopped holding themselves separate from the world they were born into and learned to be it. I think it's going to bring up a lot of interesting questions to play out, especially what it means to be human.
  15. TricksterShi

    Fifty Word Fantasy: Master

    “Do you know who I am?” the condemned witch screamed as the noose went over his neck. “I’m a master of witchcraft, a professor! I teach, I don’t kill!” “The people of Sparrow Down say otherwise.” The executioner slapped the horse’s rump and the witch swung beneath the cottonwood. 49 words!
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