Character rising

This is an interesting blog entry on what the writer calls “Self-rising characters”–characters who weren’t in the original outline or conception of a story, or who were but were minor at best, who become (spontaneously) fully realized as you are writing because the story needed them, or at the very least, they were a voice inside you somewhere that needed to speak:

Practical Meerkat Returns: On Self-Rising Characters

I never thought of these characters as being a Mary Sue danger, however. And as the author points out, we use that expression way too much and too lazily. There are very few characters labelled ‘Mary Sues’ that actually are one by the actual definition, and sometimes, even if they ARE one, so what? Sometimes, that’s the whole point of the story/character.

But that’s a digression. I have always seen self-rising characters as awesome, because they come from that “Shut up and let the subconscious do the driving” place where your story actually lives. This is why I am a pantser, at least during the first draft, and find outlines so antithetical. The story I really want to tell, and the characters that really need to inhabit it, are locked in a vault on the right side of my brain I can’t access during the very left-brained, top-down, before-hand outlining process.

The main character of my first novel, Valerie, was a self-rising character, stepping out from a cast of a dozen names and descriptions to take over the story and make it her own.

In my new story, I had a young man appear out of nowhere to become a love interest of sorts for one of my main characters, who was supposed to eventually get involved with another guy–a guy who as the story evolved developed no chemistry whatsoever with her.

Self-rising Young Man didn’t appear spontaneously in the story in order to be a love interest, he entered the story to spy on Ms. Main Character, which he did by seducing her. And then they sort of fell for each other. And doesn’t love/lust/hate always read more convincingly when it isn’t forced on a character?

Adventures in Indie* Publishing

Most folks in the writing/publishing bag probably use the term “Indie publishing” to mean small, independent presses that are, for all their smallness, still publishers in the traditional sense: they accept submissions, chose what works they will put out into the world, and then produce and promote them for the author, either in print or electronic form or both.

But I am seeing the phrase thrown around a lot now to signify those who are really self-publishers, authors who do all the work themselves, or at least arrange for and pay for it to be done: writing, formatting, distributing, and marketing.

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Good Reads

So I’m setting myself up on Good Reads, which is proving more difficult than it should be. ‘Cause there are books

(1) I own, but read so long ago, I don’t remember if I liked them or not,

(2) I think I remember reading, but that was so long ago, I am not sure if I read them, or maybe it was my sister that read them, or my best friend in junior high….

(3) I read during that period of time when I was poor and living in San Francisco and got all my new reads from the library, so I didn’t keep a record of them,

(4) I own, but for the life of me, can’t remember if I read, or if I just bought them intending to read them but haven’t,

(5) I own them, read them, maybe even liked them, but don’t want to admit it,

(6) I’m pretty sure I only saw the movie. But maybe I read the book. Or maybe not. If it’s the former, it’s tough to judge a book by its movie.

(7) I read, I hated… do I dare list it to let everyone know of the hate, or risk giving it the attention it doesn’t deserve?

Write, write, write

Okay, so I am doing this:

2012 Clarion West Write-a-thon

2012 Clarion West Write-a-thon

to push myself through the final five chapters of the first draft of my novel. My participant page is here:


Clarion West brings new writers to the field of speculative fiction by providing a venue for a transformative experience in the form of a lengthy and intensive workshop focusing on literary quality, diversity of viewpoints, range of material, and other essential qualities.

The write-a-thon is to raise money for scholarship support for the Clarion West writer’s workshop:, which has an in-person six-week version in Seattle. Go here to sponsor me: