Sunday, 8 January 2017

How to Add Characters to Your Writing Bullet Journal

Bullet journalling can be both a tantalizing and an overwhelming prospect. You might love the idea of using it to store notes on your characters but have nary a clue where to begin. Today we're going to break down the collections I use in my own bullet journal to keep track of all the information you gather during character creation.

Creating a bullet journal for your writing is an amazing way to stay organized.  Find out how to keep track of your characters in collections within your bullet journal by clicking through to this post! | Something Delicious

Start with the basics of character creation

Every character has its quirks, but, given time, chances are you'll narrow down your character creation process to some key questions and prompts. Start a collection to keep track of these go-to questions and you'll save valuable time the next time you start writing a novel.

Haven't figured out those go-tos just yet? I went over the basics of character creation in a recent blog series, or you can go beyond the basics in Create an Epic Character Foundation.

Once you've gone through any resources or books that catch your fancy, jot down the prompts and questions that appealed to you most in this collection in your bullet journal. Next time you create a character, you'll know exactly where to start!

Create a collection for each main character

Each of your main characters will require a space of their own. I'd suggest setting aside two pages per main character from the start. If you need to add more later on, you can just add them to your index: that's the beauty of bullet journalling!

For main characters, I include things like:

Their name. This could be just the name or the significance behind the name, too.

Their gender and approximate age. Self-explanatory!

Their background. What events from their past inform the person they are today? What events play into the story you're writing?

Their evolution. What is it they want and need at the beginning of the story? How is this achieved and/or how has this shifted by the end of the story?

Their priorities. What do they spend the majority of their time on right now? What short and/or long-term ramifications does this have?

Their motivation. What is their 'why'? What drives their current goals and ambitions?

Their relationships. Who are their VIPs? Who would they hate to disappoint? Who would they turn to when they need support? Who would they take a bullet for? Describe each of these relationships.

By the way, here's one of the awesome things about bullet journalling: when you start a section elsewhere for one of these other characters, you don't have to repeat the whole description of their relationship. Just say something like "see page 'X' for info about their relationship with 'Y'."

Their appearance. Any time you mention something about their appearance in your WIP, jot it down here. That way they won't shift from being 5'9 to 6'3 without your noticing. Not that that happened in one of my rough drafts or anything. >.>

On the other hand, if they cut their hair or change their appearance in some other way, write down what happened and when. Consistency is crucial.

Their speech patterns. What's one word they always use incorrectly? What curse words do they use? Do all their sentences sound like questions?

Don't fret if you can’t fill all of these sections in at once. Just do as much as you can and fill out the rest as you write your way through the story and get to know the character more thoroughly!

Conversely, don't limit yourself to just these sections. Add sections for the people they admire, their favourite quotes (this gives you some good insight into their worldview, sense of humour, and philosophies on life), their hobbies, or anything else you can think of.

Don't forget to put a limit on these optional categories. It can be addicting to discover more and more about the people inhabiting your story. Just make sure you actually tell that story too, eh?

Create a collection for supporting characters

I'm a big believer in supporting characters being as well-drawn as the main character(s), because it contributes to a well told story and a believable world within that story. For the most part, though, I don't go into quite as much depth with supporting characters, so I like bringing them together in one collection, even if that collection does end up spanning a multitude of pages.

For a supporting character, I like to know some or all of the following, depending on the character's relative importance:

Their name. Walk-on characters may not need a name, but supporting characters should at least have a first name, if not a surname.

Their gender and approximate age. Again, self-explanatory.

Their importance to the main character. How do their lives intertwine? How would the main character's life be different without this character in it? How will their presence affect the main character's evolution?

Their interconnections with other characters. Does this character solely interact with the main character or with other characters, as well? What are these connections? Are these connections in flux, subject to change throughout the story, or will they stay static?

Their associated subplots. If this is a relatively minor character, they'll likely play into few of your novel's subplots. Whatever subplots they are involved in can be written down here.

Their current state of affairs. This is where I do a few quick jots about things like their relationship status, employment, and/or current passions. These might not factor into the story at large, but a random friend named Sue who always happens to be free for coffee whenever your character has something to run by them might not be quite as interesting as their librarian friend Sue who has a few minutes on her lunch break but needs to get back, because the book she'd chosen for storytime got coffee spilled all over it and she needs to pick a new one.

Their identifying features or dialogue quirks. If this is a character who you've introduced as having pink hair or a tendency to speak in self-centred monologues, that's not something you want to drop halfway through. Consistency is key to a believable storytelling experience.

Don't forget some master lists

I love lists. I could make lists all day, partly because they're fun and partly because they're as useful as someone who actually knows how to drive the TARDIS. When it comes to keeping characters straight in my bullet journal, there are a few lists that come in handy:

Story appearances. I list each character's name and which chapters they make an appearance in. This way, it's easy to see if a character stops showing up a third of the way through, never to be seen again. You might also notice that, say, your main character's love interest and best friend rarely show up in the same scene. If that's intentional, no problem! If it's not, you can write a scene or two to rectify the situation.

Homes and workplaces. These can be brief descriptions, but the idea is to list the job each significant character has and where they live. Unless you've done it on purpose, if all of your characters live in bohemian apartments or none of them have 9 to 5 office jobs, you might want to rethink a few things so it doesn't come off as overly coincidental or samey.

Updating the index

Don't forget to update your index to account for each of these new pages!

A collection for Character Creation Basics can easily have its own listing in the index.

I'd suggest giving each of your main characters their own listing ("[Main Character Name] for [WIP name]"). Add the page number for their character-specific collection. Then, any time you reference them in one of your other collections, add that page number, as well.

Truly significant supporting characters could each have their own listing, too, or you can just add them to the index under "supporting characters for [WIP name]".

For easiest reference, if you create some of the lists we talked about earlier for story appearances or homes and workplaces, you’ll want to add those individually to your index.

As it stands, that's the gist of how I keep track of characters in my bullet journal! If that evolves over time (and I'm sure it will), I’ll make sure to update this post with any new developments.

Feeling overwhelmed? Please don't be! This takes a bit of time to set up (maybe a couple of writing sessions, if you're really focused) but once you have, you'll love how easy it is to look back and reference all the important information about your characters, especially once you've indexed everything.

To help you get started, I’ve created a checklist of everything we’ve talked about today. Just click here to pick it up.

Any questions?  Feel free to run them by me in the comments below!  Otherwise, go forth and bullet journal! ^_^

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like my introductory post on Bullet Journalling for Fiction Writers, where I share some of my favourite tools and other must-have collections, or Decluttering for Writers, a resource to help you declutter and organize all of your writing paraphernalia!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Why It's Beneficial for Writers to Get Organized

When I was growing up, the visions of writers floating around in my mind were full of glorious chaos. They wrote notes on whatever paper/napkin/skin/piece of furniture was handy, had a pen in every room except the one they were in at the time, and were surrounded by precarious stacks of books.

As I got a little older and became a writer myself, I realized that … well … it’s not necessarily that far off from the truth. We’re a little more careful with our books, precious goods such as they are, but for many writers, chaos feels inextricably linked with creativity.

Words like “order” and “organization” fight against that romantic image of the scattered but brilliant writer, and so we burrow deeper into bedlam until suddenly, one day, we realize we’re spending more time trying to find that bit of research or that character idea or the most recent story draft than we are actually writing.

Is this realization always so sudden? I doubt it. The important thing, no matter how much time it takes, is recognizing that you need a change, and sometimes the best way to figure that out is by looking at everything you stand to gain.

Unlike the traditional, romantic notion of writing amidst chaos, aka piles and piles of paper, I've found that decluttering and getting organized has done wonderful things for my writing.  Find out what's so great about it, and some action steps to start your own decluttering journey, by clicking through to this blog post! | Something Delicious

Finding what you need, when you need it

No more do I embark on fruitless searches for crucial bits of information, wasting valuable writing time. Everything now has a home, somewhere I immediately know to look.

You know those moments when you could swear there are only five places something could be, but you’ve searched through all of them and, darn it all, it’s still nowhere to be found? What a nightmare!

It’s a lot harder for that to happen when you know that:

  • all of your research material lives in a folder in the top drawer of your filing cabinet,
  • every unexplored story idea gets written down in a bullet journal, and
  • the draft you promised to send to your beta reader lives in a folder on Google Drive

And so on!

Action Step: Assign a specific, consistent home for something in your World of Writing, like unexplored story ideas, and stick to it!

Less makework → more consistency → better storytelling!

Before I got organized, there were times when I would outline scenes in a story, only to find the outline I’d started a few days before; hammer out the dynamics between two characters, only to discover that I’d already done so (and in a much better fashion); or write a few thousand words on Draft version 2.5 when the one I should have been working on was version 3.

Usually this only elicited an exasperated sigh, but sometimes these unintentional overlaps created major inconsistencies that were a pain to sort out. Untangling them sometimes left holes that were difficult to stitch back together, and still feel like a raggedy lump to date. There are so many puzzles to decipher and tangles to unravel in writing a story as it is; I’d rather avoid the unnecessary, self-induced ones, thank you very much!

The process of sorting, purging, and organizing my writing was a hefty one, but not having to deal with nearly as many of those wee little mishaps has been worth it.

Action Step: Are you unnecessarily holding on to multiple versions of story drafts? Look through them, decide which one(s) need to be kept, and delete or recycle the rest.

Saving time and space

Getting everything organized (and tossing what you can along the way) means it’ll take far less space. This means you’ll:

  • use less of your computer’s hard drive;
  • take up less of those precious space limits in Dropbox, Google Drive, or other online storage spaces;
  • have less to tidy up and around in your physical space;
  • need less time to back up files to a USB drive; and
  • have less of a load to tote to your local coffee shop, a writing conference, or a writing retreat!

All of that “less” means more time and headspace freed up to write!

Action Step: Spend an hour looking through old writing notes and recycling/deleting/crossing out any that no longer interest you or that you’ve since made use of.

Peace of mind and elevated powers of concentration

The more you pare away the unnecessary and clarify what you truly want and need to keep, the less chaos will surround you. The less chaos surrounds you, the easier it’ll be to focus.

As writers, we don’t just write. We have families, friends, knit nights, movie dates, chores, and all sorts of other things that pull our attention away from writing. It’s rarely an easy thing to focus on our writing, especially not when we get caught up in self-doubt or one of the other nagging monsters that blocks our creativity.

The more we can do to help ourselves focus, the better. What better way to begin than by clearing away the writing detritus that no longer belongs in our lives?

Action Step: Gather all of the clutter in your immediate vicinity (making sure to keep with you anything actually relevant and important!) and sweep it into a basket, a box, or some other container, and then conveniently misplace it for a week. See how it feels to write when you’re not surrounded by chaos.

Here’s the truth of the matter: organization doesn’t swamp creativity, it encourages it. Being organized gives creativity room to flourish and grow, rather than allowing it to be hemmed in by mountains of physical and electronic clutter.

A little bit of chaos is okay (and the tipping point is different for everyone), but let’s throw more of the chaos our characters’ way, mm?

I’m not going to lie; organizing takes effort. That effort is worth it and then some, but sometimes it helps to start small. That’s why I’m going to suggest you start with one of the action steps we talked about in today’s post. If you thought of another one, share it in the comments below! Let’s inspire each other to clear the chaos.

When you’re ready to declutter your World of Writing once and for all, I’ve created a four-step guide to help you do just that. You can take a gander at Decluttering for Writers right here.  Getting organized made a world of difference to the amount of focus and care I was able to give my writing, and I’ve put together everything I know about making that happen in this ebook so you can do the same.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

4 Ways to Cut Fluff and Boost Conflict in Your Writing

"Pointless fluff will inevitably work its way into your draft as you write."  Discover four ways to slice out the fluff and boost the conflict within your novel in this stellar guest post from Abria Mattina | Something Delicious

G'day, chickadees!  I'm so excited to welcome Abria Mattina to our cozy corner of the internet.  Let's pull up a chair and see what she has to say about cutting the fluff from our writing, shall we?

Writing fluffy prose is a lot like wandering around an empty parking lot at 3 a.m. It’s pointless and often makes you feel stuck. It’s unnecessary padding; an authorial whim that adds words without adding value to the reader’s experience of the story. Fluff must die.

Elmore Leonard, when asked about his writing and revision process, said, “I leave out the parts that people skip.” Every part of a story needs to pull its weight and draw the reader in. The parts that don’t — definitely fluff.

Pointless fluff will inevitably work its way into your draft as you write. I tend to put much more of my thought process on the page than the reader needs to enjoy the story, and end up cutting enormous chunks out while editing. Overwriting helps me get a grip on my stories and characters, but I know I can’t be precious about these scenes. When it comes time to revise, I have to do it with a chainsaw.

Whether you cut fluff in the post-draft process or as you write, you need a good strategy so you can be strict with yourself and stay consistent. These are four of my favorite ways to cut fluff while boosting conflict.

Combine Minor Characters and Plot Lines

Cut Fluff: Every character should think he or she is the main character in their own version of the story. That means every character, no matter how minor, has individual desires, motivations, biases, and qualities. The more characters you have, the greater your potential for conflict as these characters work together or fail to work together.

But too much conflict (or even smooth cooperation) between minor characters can bloat your book with action that isn't integral to the overall plot. By combining or eliminating minor characters, you'll eliminate their minor conflicts as well.

Boost Conflict: When you eliminate the minor, petty conflicts of your story, you create more room on the stage for your story's central conflicts. Readers will have an easier time focusing on the problems that are paramount to the story.

A streamlined story is easier to appreciate, because there's less to hold in your mind as you read. That's not to say that the story needs to be sparse -- there's plenty of room for subtext, subplots, and nuance. The key is to pare down the bits that aren't driving your plot forward like a sledgehammer through drywall.

Use Character Bias to Set the Scene

Cut Fluff: As a kid, your teachers may have told you to describe settings or "set the scene" from the outside and work your way in. You start with the broad strokes -- time of day, climate, prominent physical features -- and move on sensory details: the smells, sights, sounds, tastes, and tactile sensations.

This is a great way to introduce the concepts of setting to new/young writers, but it's an elementary technique that results in fluffy prose.

Instead, describe your settings according to character bias. If your point-of-view character wouldn't notice the shape of the floor tile, don't mention the floor tile. If s/he is sensitive to smells, focus on scent. Hone the descriptions of your scenes, sharing only what your readers need to know, by focusing on what your characters would notice. It not only reduces fluff, it sharpens the focus of your perspective lens. Readers can't mistake that they're looking through the eyes of one particular character. It not only makes that character memorable, it's a sign of strong characterization and storytelling.

Boost Conflict: What your character notices, fails to notice, or perceives (perhaps incorrectly) can have an enormous impact on the progression of your plot. A mis-observation could send a character off on a wild goose chase, cause them to wrongly blame or suspect other characters, or give them false confidence.

Every interaction with the environment is an opportunity for things to go wrong for the characters. It's a lesson straight out of Plotting 101: things must go wrong for the protagonist, and then go wrong again, and go wrong some more. Seize these opportunities to let your characters take a wrong turn.

Sharpen Your Language

Cut Fluff: Don't use three words where one will do. Popular writers are often remembered for their storytelling ability, but the ones that live on in literature syllabi are usually the authors who made brilliant use of language. They shaped it like blown glass, forming the most poignant sentences in the most succinct, clever, or original terms.

William Shakespeare is a prime example of this technique. Was he the best playwright of his era? No, not really. Were his stories groundbreaking and original? No, not really. But the dude did invent hundreds of words and phrases that are now in common parlance today. His novel use of the language influenced practically the entire English-speaking world. That's part of his enduring popularity -- he could have used staid, common language, but he sharpened his linguistic blade and never stopped jabbing it.

Boost Conflict: Use action-oriented, polarizing, and specific language to emphasize the conflict, define the opposing sides, and escalate the drama… without sliding into melodrama.

A well-told story makes it clear to the reader exactly what is at stake, and relates the characters' attitudes and actions with unshakeable authenticity. Every word is chosen precisely, its punching power calculated for its ability to drive the story forward or influence the reader's perceptions.

As a young author, it was a revelation to me that characterization -- and particularly dialogue -- is just as much about what isn't said as what is said. Subtext is a powerful storytelling tool. It's also difficult to get right if you're not confidently entrenched in your plot, your characters, and your literary voice.

A special thrill runs through me every time I pick up a new book and see that the author was acutely aware of what they weren't saying as they wrote. I think to myself, "Yeah, this is gonna be a good one."

Reverse Outline Your Draft 

Cut Fluff: You made an outline before you started drafting this book (you did, right?), but stories have minds of their own and are wont to wander from the original outline as inspiration takes over.

To assess the fluffiness of your story, compose a reverse outline. Open a new document and make a tiered bullet list of everything that happens in your story, as it is currently drafted. With this bird's eye view of the story before you, you'll be able to spot the weak points, the tangents, the deviations that cost you momentum, and can plan your next draft accordingly.

I find I need to take this step when I'm 3/4 of the way through my first draft. That's the point where I feel mentally bogged down by all the plot threads I'm trying to weave. I've been staring at the same story, same characters, same settings, for months, and it all looks like a tangled snare. The reverse outline give me some distance. Reducing the mess to a list of bullet points makes it seem manageable.

Boost Conflict: When you're planning your next round of revisions with the reverse outline, don't just focus on what to cut. Think about what you can add, shift, or expand in order to strengthen your existing conflicts or replace minor conflicts with stronger ones.

This is also a prime point to tackle any sections of your story that give you a niggling feeling of, This just isn't working. You can't ignore those points in bullet list form. Take it as an opportunity to test out alternatives to your current approach. If you’re a visual thinker, try making a story web to explore several alternate plot lines until you find the one that give you chills.

Remember: Perfect is the Enemy of Good

It’s impossible to erase 100% of the fluff from your prose, because at least some of that fluff comes from personal style. Perfect prose is elusive because the standard is entirely subjective. Regardless of your writing and editing style, aiming for perfection will slowly drive you mad.

The goal isn’t to ruthlessly cut everything you enjoy about your story — to “kill your darlings” by removing style. You’ll sterilize your prose. The goal is to make every sentence, every word, serve your reader’s entertainment. As you trim away the parts that are too long, too wordy, or just irrelevant, remember to boost the conflict along the way. When all is said and done, you’ll be left with a tightly written page-turner that readers won’t want to put down.

Abria Mattina makes resources for genre fiction writers, and is currently at work on two novels. She teaches authors how to turn their book into a lead magnet and build their mailing list organically.

Thanks so much for joining us, Abria, and happy writing!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Creative Round Table: an interview with Kristen A. Kieffer from She's Novel!

In this latest installment of the Creative Round Table, I talk to Kristen A. Kieffer from She's Novel about developing your creative focus, what it takes to write a spectacular novel, and why her dream book club involves a dollop of snark! // Something Delicious

Hello, beautiful writers!  Welcome to another installment of the Creative Round Table, a gathering of wisdom, advice, and inspirational stories from some amazing creative souls. Today, we're talking to Kristen Kieffer from She's Novel about developing your creative focus, what it takes to write a spectacular novel, and why her dream book club involves a dollop of snark!

Kristen: Victoria, thank you again for having me! It’s such a pleasure to drop by your blog. I can’t wait to get started!

Victoria: Thank you for coming, Kristen!  It's a delight to have you here for a scrumptious cup of tea and a chat about writing.

You’re one of my favourite examples of why you don’t need to complete a university degree to be fulfilled and successful.  How do you find your skills and habits as a self-directed learner play into your writing life?

Kristen: Oh, they’re so entwined! I was a hobby writer for many years, but when I decided I wanted a career in writing, I knew I needed to take the craft seriously. I began digging into every writing resource I could get my hands on–blogs, craft books, Youtube tutorials, you name it.

I spent so many hours learning about writing rules, tropes, structures, techniques, etc., as well as information on platform building and industry standards. Before long, I realized just how valuable a single, ultra-informative resource would be. I’ve been endeavoring to create such a resource ever since via my website,

Victoria: You’re a great lover of both reading and writing in the fantasy genre. Do you find fantasy moreso allows you to escape from the world, or to see the magic in everyday life?

Kristen: JRR Tolkien once said, “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory.”

Writing and reading fantasy has always been an escape for me. Funny enough, I often prefer grimmer fantasies like A Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but I don’t think escapism and idealism necessarily go hand in hand. I like characters with demons, real-life problems, and uphill battles.

There’s just something about a good cynical hero or anti-hero fighting back against a world that’s just all too big for them that creates the perfect mix of intrigue and entertainment. Oh, and bonus points if there’s a dragon. *wink*

Victoria: I'm alllll about the dragons! ;)

What is it about writing that brings you back to the page, day after day, month after month, year after year?

Kristen: The stories. I don’t consider myself so much a writer as I am a storyteller–a serial daydreamer, if you will. I’m that crazy person who talks to her characters and always seems to be staring off into space. I daydream constantly, and if I don’t provide an outlet for these stories via writing, my characters get rather mad at me.

Of course, we can’t have that, and so I write.

Victoria: What advice would you give to a writer who feels lost and unsure of their worth as a writer, who’s tempted to throw in the towel because they think they’re not good enough?

Kristen: You aren’t good enough. Harsh words, right? But hear me out.

Writing is much more of a skill than it is a talent, and skills take years to refine and master. Just like you can’t learn to play the piano or run a marathon in just a few months, you can’t learn to write a spectacular novel in that time frame either.

So yes. It may be true that you aren’t good enough skill-wise to write a publishable novel today, but let me ask you this: What’s stopping you from becoming good enough? What’s keeping you from working your tail feather off each and every day to improve your skills?

If we’re being honest, the answer is probably fear. And the only way to overcome fear is to face it, to diligently and passionately write no matter the doubts and struggles that crop up along the way. That determination is what makes you good enough and will transform you into the writer you want to be.

Victoria: Other than writing, what forms of creativity are present in your everyday life? What does creativity mean to you?

Kristen: I’m a firm believer that everyone is a creative and that creativity manifests itself in many different ways. Some creatives are imaginative, others resourceful. Others still are innovative or artistic. It’s finding the facet of creativity that resonates best with you that allows you to live a creative lifestyle.

When I was younger, I channeled some of my creativity into knitting, drawing, and other fun crafts, but my interest for them waned as I got older. For the most part, I now live out my creativity through writing, though I do also get a lot of enjoyment out of designing layouts, graphics, and printed materials for She’s Novel.

I’m also a low-key fan of interior design and fashion, but I’m afraid I don’t give them the time they deserve. Whoops!

Victoria: Do these different creative passions play well in the sandbox, or do they start to compete for time and attention?

Kristen: It’s funny that you ask this since I only really channel my creativity into a few key tasks, all of which relate to my career or where I’d like to take my career. I think one of the biggest reasons why I stopped crafting was because of how much time it took out of my schedule.

Running a small business is extremely time- and energy-consuming, so I have to be very protective of my schedule. If it doesn’t relate directly to She’s Novel or my works-in-progress, I normally don’t participate. I know this sounds a bit like I’m stifling my creativity, but it really doesn’t feel that way.

In fact, I feel more creatively focused and passionate now than I ever have, and I think that’s because I’m seeing how the results of my efforts are manifesting themselves in better and better finished products. It’s absolutely thrilling to feel like you’re working towards mastering a creative skill.

Victoria: On days where you're feeling drained of energy and inspiration, how do you deal with it?  Do you march yourself to the blank page regardless?  Do you settle in with a book and a cup of tea?

Kristen: A little bit of everything, actually! I do maintain a daily #WriteChain, so on days when I’m not feeling very inspired, I still make sure to write enough to reach my daily minimum (which is 200 words written or 10 minutes of work, if you’re interested).

Oftentimes, though, my drain is a result of being too sedentary. All of my work revolves around a screen, so often just taking a simple thirty- to sixty-minute walk or run is all the refreshment I need to get back in the creative groove.

But I’m certainly not invincible. I do have days where creative output is just not gonna happen, and when those days come, I do turn to books (and tea!) or movies (and more tea!). Anything with a great story is the perfect way for me to relax and recharge my creative batteries.

Victoria: In your recipe for living a creative life, what would be the top three ingredients?

Kristen: Ooh, how fun! Are chocolate, coffee, and tea acceptable answers? Haha!

But in all seriousness, exercise is definitely very important to my creative lifestyle. I highly recommend going for a walk or run–or even doing some yoga–if you’re looking to boost your creative energy.

I also find that listening to my creative peaks and working during those times is essential. I never bother writing during the afternoon because that’s when my energy is at its lowest. Instead I work during the evenings and at night, when my creativity is running high, or on occasion during the morning hours.

The third ingredient? I’d have to say daydreaming! Whenever I have a few empty moments–be it as I’m making breakfast or showering or falling off to sleep, etc.–I always let my mind wander. I try not to tell it where to go. Instead, I simply listen to where my thoughts take me.

Sometimes this results in the perfect answer to a plot hole I’ve been struggling with while other times I’m left with half-baked vision of what my dream home would look like if I were a bajillionaire. Not always so helpful, but I try to go with the flow. More often than not, I end up with something pretty awesome!

Victoria: Bonus Question: If you could host a book club with four of your favourite characters, who would they be and which book would you read first? What sort of discussion would ensue?

Kristen: Oh, this is such a great question–but tough, too! Okay, nerd alert. I think I would invite Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, Tyrion Lannister from A Game of Thrones, Mark Watney from The Martian, and Po from Graceling. We would call ourselves the Snark Club, and we would read Twilight first.

Why? Well, I can only imagine how ridiculously glorious that conversation would be and–man, oh man–do I want in on that. Can I add Loki to the mix, too? It’d be sheer perfection!

Kristen Kieffer is a fantasy author and the creative writing coach behind She's Novel, where she helps writers craft novels that will endear readers, excite publishers, and launch their writing careers. When she's not writing, Kristen loves being a coffee snob, Tolkien nerd, and all-around crazy book lady. You can learn more about Kristen and check out her free resources for writers by clicking here.

To find out more about Kristen, be sure to find her on Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!