On writing believable relationships

We all love complex characters. Even more so when they meet other complex characters and start interacting with them – there are so many possible ways for this to go! What do they really think of each other? Is there instant like, dislike, jealousy, admiration, attraction? Will there be drama, trust, betrayal, romance? Just like with our real-life relationships, we don’t necessarily think the same of all our friends, colleagues or loved ones/family members. Just as every real person is unique, so should our fictional characters be, thus making their relationships feel real as well.

This is no easy feat. There are only so many questionnaires you can fill about your characters middle name or favourite colour before you start feeling like your brain is just one big pile of superfluous information. But truthfully, this is another matter. My point is that it takes a lot of trial and error to get the relationships right, and I’ve been working on this lately as a way to further improve my story.

The method is simple, but requires having a draft to be able to use. I don’t know if this is common knowledge, I simply sat down and tried some things until I found something that worked for me. So I decided to put it in a video and share it with the world! Feel free to give it a watch and let me know if you have any thoughts, I always appreciate that. πŸ™‚


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Day trip to Copenhagen

While I can’t deny that I’m still feeling the repercussions of a very pleasant New Years Eve, today is going to be a rather active day. Oskar has taken this week off from work so we have decided to take a day trip to Copenhagen. Despite it being only 40mins away by train we only go there about once a year, which is a shame, but at the same time, it makes it all the more special. Being a history nerd, I just love to walk around the beautiful city centre and visit museums, and we’ve decided on the National Museum for this trip. Never actually been there before, as I tend to prefer visiting castles (again, history nerd). Afterwards, we will probably walk around some more, maybe even have a pint somewhere. For tonight we have a table booked at a restaurant which seems quite nice. In other words, it’s going to be a long but lovely day! The highly distinguished Niles von Fluffenstein will therefore be retreating to my grandparents’ house, where he will be spoiled with long walks and lots of cuddles until tomorrow.

A small trip like this feels like the perfect way to start the new year, as it will surely fill me up with inspiration. Although I can’t wait to tackle some of the things I have planned, I suppose we all need a little break from time to time.

End-of-year Reflections

I hadn’t really planned on taking a break over Christmas, but here we are. There’s no video ready for Youtube either, which makes me feel a little bad, but I suppose it was somewhat unrealistic to be able to stick to my normal schedule during those busy Christmas days.

But now it’s over, and we’re getting closer and closer to New Years Eve. I have mixed feelings about this to be honest. Whilst I’m super excited to start 2019 with a bang, I’m also a little apprehensive about my expectations and whether or not I will be able to meet my goals. I guess this is completely normal though.

What are my expectations? What are my goals? A few months ago, I played around with the idea of being able to publish my first novel in 2019. I haven’t quite given up on this yet – but I think the more realistic approach would be to aim for the end of that. It has come to my attention how much… well, preparation that needs to be done after the book is actually ready to publish. What I mean is, if I want to do things properly, I need to have the finished book printed and ready in my hand months before I can actually release it.

It’s a little bonkers, but it also makes sense.

As writers, we want to focus on writing, being creative, weaving together stories with interesting characters. But the marketing side of things is just as important as the writing side because we want people to read and enjoy our books, and if they don’t know it exists, well, then they won’t read it. With this in mind, I’ve come to realise that publishing a book – even self-publishing – isn’t as straightforward as I initially thought. But that’s okay.

To sum this up, next year will probably be quite a busy one, and I’m looking forward to it. I just have to try and calm down in my expectations, because ultimately, it doesn’t matter if I don’t finish in time to publish next year. The most important thing is that I keep going, that I work hard and never give up. As long as I do that, I can be proud of myself.

Say it with a vlog

Here it is. A completely unscripted video – some might say an unscripted mess – but at the same time, it’s authentic. It’s nothing more or less than me (and Niles being his normal diva self, of course), being completely honest about the experience of finishing the second draft.

Am I proud of myself? Yes. Does it show? Probably.

Cheesy Christmas movies – a rant about A Christmas Prince, The Royal Wedding

I’ll admit it. I love cheesy Christmas movies. Not because of them being genuinely good movies, but because of their guilty pleasure-value. It’s fun to make fun of, with the occasional moment that actually gets to you and you might even shed a tear (or several, because I’m such a girl). So – I had last Friday all to myself because Oskar was away at a company Christmas party. An excellent time for guilty pleasures, in my opinion.

You know, I quite enjoyed the first movie, A Christmas Prince. It had a certain something to it which made it feel cosy and nice, and therefore it should be no surprise that I decided to watch its sequel, A Christmas Prince, The Royal Wedding.

Ok, that’s enough backstory, let’s start the rant. There will be spoilers, obviously.

The amount of ridiculous things in this movie is truly baffling, even for someone like me who actually enjoys corny movies. I’ve therefore made a list of things that I noticed whilst watching. Some of it will seem nitpicky, but I simply couldn’t resist.

  • There is a scene with four people sitting in front of a computer, each of them having a cup with a hot beverage. The funny thing here is that all four cups are different from each other in size, colour, patterns, everything. And this is a CASTLE. This just made me wonder if the royal family of Aldovia couldn’t get a set of matching cups.
  • The wedding planner is an Indian gay guy who is so over-the-top that it makes me cringe into my cushions. Also, who starts to plan a wedding only a week before it will take place?
  • Amber’s father. We all know this standard character, the one that is supposed to be very out of place in a high class/royal environment because they’re so “down to earth” and familiar. That’s him, times 10, despite him only being one person.
  • It’s always nice when the plot requires some hacking skills to solve a problem, and all of a sudden, someone on the team just happens to be really good at hacking! How lucky that someone could take care of that stuff right when they needed it.
  • What’s up with the archery? It’s thrown in so haphazardly that I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a call back to the first movie or if an earlier draft of the script had a proper purpose for it that made sense, but was cut out later on. Also, who keeps a bow and quiver/arrow set as wall decorations in a castle? Swords and shields I get. Suits of armour I get. But archery set?
  • This is a corny detail that I actually loved because it made me laugh, and that was Amber’s notes as she was talking to a guy about the strange on-goings in Aldovia. You know it’s pristine journalism when they write “fishy” in their notes. Just in case she forgets that there’s something… well… fishy going on.
  • I haven’t been to many weddings, but isn’t the dramatic wedding fanfare supposed to play after the ceremony is concluded and the couple is exiting the church? Here it plays as the bride walks up to the altar, and it felt really weird. As if she would have to march to keep up with the music.
  • Speaking of churches. Never been to a royal wedding either, but oh my did they pick the smallest church they could find for this wedding. It just looked so sad, and the only guests were members of staff and that boy the little princess has a crush on. I have to say, I was expecting a little more royal flair!
  • Oh the shoes! Listen, if you’re the kind of person who can’t walk in heels and prefers to wear flats – specifically converse – in your everyday life, that would of course mean that you would prefer to wear converse on your wedding day, too. Because people are that one-dimensional.
  • We have to talk about the crown jewels. So – we’re at a photoshoot for Amber and the King (I’ve forgotten his name, aaaah), and Amber wants to wear a locket of sentimental value. But then, the Indian gay guy insists that she should wear the crown jewels, and takes out this very modern looking necklace. It’s a floral design on what looks like a heavy chain, and it’s gorgeous – but it doesn’t exactly say “crown jewels” as much as “fashion spread in a magazine”.
  • This might just be my foot phobia talking – but I really didn’t need the close-up of her gay friend’s foot as she painted his toenails. I mean, it’s Tuesday now and I’m still not over it.

I had so much more, believe me, this movie is full of weird decisions. Overall I had a fun time watching it, but I have to admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for what I was getting. I’d recommend seeing it with friends, though. Maybe add some drinks, that would surely make it even more enjoyable.

I finished the second draft!

Yesterday was a milestone – a pretty big one, too! Like the title says, I finished my second draft. To explain it a little further, I finished editing the first draft. I feel like I have a new understanding of novels and how they are created. The first draft is, without doubt, terrible. I don’t think there is a writer out there whose first drafts are flawless. Once you start really looking into your writing, your world, your characters, the plot oh my god, the plot… you realise you have a lot of work to do.

It would be interesting to have a specific number showing how much of the first draft I kept and how much was deleted or rewritten. Trust me, it’s not much at all. Kind of a depressing thought when you think about it: I spent six months writing the first draft, and ended up rewriting most of it. Even the outline changed as I worked. But you know, it’s still not a “waste of time” because in the end, my book will be better for it. I’ll probably do a lot of rewriting again once I start with the third draft.

However, before I start with that, I’m going to have a look at my characters and their arcs. I did this for one of my antagonists the other week, just to see how useful it would be: I wrote their backstory, from childhood and up, and then I wrote their side of the story in the book, kind of like an overview of their perspective. I had always known in my head what this character’s personal journey would be, but now I put it into words and fleshed out the details of it. It turned out great, really great. I see this character in a new light now, I know every move they make and why – that is the most important thing for a story in my opinion. Every character has to have a reason for their actions.

I have decided to do this for every important character in the manuscript before starting with the third draft. Some people might think that I’m very late to do this now, but I’m actually quite slow when it comes to building characters. I need to create them as I write my story, they come alive in the setting I’ve made up for them. I have a feeling that this exercise would also be very helpful in discovering potential plot holes and such, which is an added bonus. So that’s what I’ll be working on now!

I hope everyone else is having a pleasant Monday πŸ™‚

Summer recollections and Winter madness

Every morning when I wake up, I am immediately surprised that it’s December. Seriously, where did October and November go? Usually by this time I have already started getting tired of knitted jumpers and woollen coats (which is depressingly early in Sweden given the fact that winter lasts until May here). Not this year, though! I’ve only just started wearing them! Also, I can clearly remember the hot summer we had, and all the things that came with it. Like how difficult it was to sleep because of the heat. I remember swimming in the ocean and it not being too cold for once. I remember all the spiders on the boat during our sailing trip. Every single one of them.

My point is, summer was yesterday. Today is December and we’re already half-way to Christmas.

People around me are buying Christmas presents, decorating their homes and baking seasonal treats, and here I am, completely baffled and nowhere near the Christmas spirit that they seem to emulate. I’m just running around in circles trying to make sense of my second draft.

I suppose the reason why I’m feeling stressed by this is that I had hoped to be much further along in editing my manuscript than what I am. I had set a goal for myself to start finding beta readers in the beginning of January, and I honestly don’t think that will be possible anymore. I’m still changing things on an almost daily basis, therefore it would be impractical to let anyone read it. It’s always sad when you realise that you can’t reach a certain goal, but I’m also very much aware that when it comes to writing, patience is key. Not just any key, I mean a sneaky key that likes to play hide-and-seek.

I’m not going to beat myself up over it because that won’t make it go any faster. I’m just surprised, and a little taken aback at how fast the months fly by, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this! Anyway, this post was just a side note (i.e. distraction), since I’m supposed to be working on planning this week’s Youtube video. Speaking of which, I should really get back to that.

I hope everyone else is having a great week (and that you’re not panicking about the upcoming year-end)!

Shame on me!

I’ve taken a longer break from my blog than I initially intended – I must admit that. But it’s not like I’ve been procrastinating in vain, I’ve actually gotten a lot of things done! I am currently in the editing phase of the last two chapters of my second draft. It’s been a long ride, people. A whole year to be exact, since I first started writing my outline.

I suppose this is a given fact to anyone who’s writing books for a living, but I keep getting surprised at how my story grows with me as I become a better writer. It started out as a little baby first draft, and now it has certainly grown a lot bigger. Who knows what will happen once the third draft is finished! Hopefully, one day, it will spread its wings and get out into the world.

…but until then, there are more lessons to learn! This week I have focused a lot on endings in general, what makes a good ending, what is mandatory and what is superfluous etc. It has been quite the learning experience, so I decided to make it my vlog topic this week. Feel free to have a watch, let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject! πŸ™‚

Another week has passed

Last week, my aim was to get more editing done by cutting down some of my blogging and social media time. I have to say that it has proven most effective. Like I’ve said earlier, writing and marketing are polar opposites when it comes to the mindset of the writer, and I’ve found that I struggle a lot when toggling these different mindsets. The result was simple; I got 2 chapters done instead of one.

I’ve decided to continue with this for the upcoming week, to the point where I’m even sacrificing my weekly Youtube video to get more chapters done. You’d be surprised at how much time goes into making a video of 8-10 minutes in average length! You have to plan and structure the content, record the video and edit all the raw footage into something that feels accessible and (hopefully) fun to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it and every week is such a learning experience, but it’s impossible to deny that it’s time-consuming.

I suppose this is just another experiment where I will see how much I can manage to do without any other distractions (although, there might be the occasional blog post or IG post if I need a break from editing). The reason why I really want to get more editing done is that I only have 5 chapters left! Well, for the second draft, that is. After that, I’ll start with the third draft. But I have this goal that I want to start looking for beta readers at the beginning of January, and in order to do that, I have to have a final draft.

Anyway, I hope everyone else is making progress on whatever projects they’re working on, and I hope you have a pleasant week ahead. πŸ™‚

AuthorTube Newbie Video

Greetings people! I uploaded a new video today, called AuthorTube Newbie Tag. The point of this tag is to answer 13 questions about you as a writer and authortuber. I know – I’ve been doing Authortube for several months, but I still feel like a newbie most of the time. (insert awkward smile here)

If you want to get to know me as a writer a little better, hear about the misfortune of my first ever novel writing attempt, or just want to stare at Niles’ fluff for 10 minutes, then be my guest and take a look.

Cheers πŸ™‚