return to writing // historical deep-diving + character development

Hey y’all!

I was looking for a nice quote to start this post off with, and I didn’t find one so have this instead, I guess. Oh well. It’s the same effect really, just with different words and also a frog. XD

To start off this post at break-neck speed, I am going to announce a spectacular thing!!

*drum roll*

I have started writing again! After a mini hiatus (because hello junior year was a heck of a thing), I am finally getting back into the world of creating worlds, and BOY does it feel good!

One of my favorite writing websites, Story Embers (please go check them out!), is hosting a short story contest, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to dip my toes back into the proverbial water.

While I will not be sharing the content that I will be creating for this contest, I will give a bit of information, and then I will proceed to sing the praises of their FREE resources.

Picking from a vast selection of tiny, shriveled pieces of vague ideas, I decided on a pale pink idea that I had had for a full novel. Deciding that it would be better as a full novel, I stripped it down to the bones to rebuild. And this is where, dear readers, I had the brilliant idea to place it in the Middle Ages. 1290 AD, to be exact. I have just finished my extensive background research and the character development stage and will be proceeding to move on to full-on plotting shortly.

Let me tell you something. This is the first historical fiction I’ve written and I am loving every moment. I don’t know why I haven’t done this before but GUYS. I really enjoy having facts already laid out for me, not having to go create a whole world system out of thin air.

The story focuses around Gwendolyn, a twenty-something (she doesn’t know) mentally impaired girl, who decided to run away from the Welches, the family she works for. Along the way, she meets Tobias, a young Jewish tailor who is running away because of the intense persecution that had begun to heat up again. I am really enjoying developing this idea, not only because I am in love with England at all times, but because I feel like there is going to be a really important message that will emerge as I am planning it.

One of the things that has really helped keep my thoughts organized has been the Character Questionnaire provided by Story Embers on their website. The main reason why I am such a big fan is that it isn’t just the “how tall are they” and “what color are their eyes” questions, but “what do they believe about religion” and “what do they believe about education.”

Another reason why I find this worksheet extremely helpful is the ability to zoom out and in on the character. By this I mean that it instructs you to create the big picture first, then narrow it down bit by bit until you are left with the core essence of the character, and then zoom out again.

I am aware that one could probably find these type of worksheets several places on the internet. Another resource I would recommend is K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development. But as far as easy access goes, with simply explained questions and room to work with your beloved characters, my current favorite is the Story Embers Character Questionnaire.

For example, there is a section in which it asks you to describe the character’s personality in one paragraph. I think this is super, duper important because oftentimes I get caught up in the perfect (but long-winded) way I want to describe my character. Condensing it down helps BUNCHES.

Not only that, but it takes it a step farther.

“Boil that paragraph down into one sentence. Who is your character?”

Yeah, I had a bit of a crisis when I saw that question. Excuse me, Mr. Story Embers, sir, you want me to CONDENSE AGAIN? It took me an hour (or more…..) to craft that last one and now you have the AUDACITY to ask me to keep going?

However, despite the difficulty, this step was critical. The essence of your character becomes the guiding principle for how the character operates and functions.

For Gwen, “in her pursuit of stability, she has disintegrated her own foundation and is looking everywhere for people who will hold her up.”

For Tobias, “Tobias Chayim Feder is a Jew who just wants justice for wrongs and the ability to care for others as intensely as he can.”

To sum it all up, I really have enjoyed using the Story Embers free resources. They are easy to use and allow enough room for my ideas and plans. I would highly recommend using their supply, because there are so many good things available on their website.

(I’ve been eyeing the worldbuilding one, and I plan on using it after I finish this short story.)

That’s all for today, friends! I hope you enjoyed my rambling about writing resources! Apologies to you who don’t follow me for the writing advice and discussions!! XD I sometimes just want to talk about writing things.

I am praying peace and blessings over all of you as we continue in this strange, strange time. God has been using it to illuminate some things in my life, and I encourage to ask Him to do the same for you. 🙂

love you all!

~m

4 thoughts on “return to writing // historical deep-diving + character development

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