-Gothic Tropes (disease, superstition, dreams and nightmares, eroticism, darkness, isolation, madness, witchcraft/magic/occultism,the aristocracy, death/afterlife, church/corruption, frame narrative and confusion, loners/outsiders)
-Literary Tropes (eye color denotes personality, dysfunctional family saga, childhood memories with water, someone died, title is a metaphor,purple prose, kill of the mentor, alcoholism, old professor with young student, it was all a dream, dogs bark in the distance).
-Set in the Present
-Writing Prompt: A walk through the woods helps me relax and release tension. The fact that I’m dragging a body behind me should be irrelevant.
A walk through the woods helps me relax and release tension. The fact that I’m dragging a body behind me should be irrelevant.
Tiffany had been such a bore anyway. No one in the family will miss her much. Besides, she was only a third cousin, twice removed. Whatever that means.
Well, what it meant was that she thought she could fuck my brother and get herself written into the will.
Dogs barked in the distance as I paused to draw on my unlit cigarillo. The amber taste hit my palate with notes of nutmeg and oak. I’d light it once I burned and buried dear, old Tiffany. Couldn’t have anything tying her death back to me now.
Might have to smash up her pretty red mouth, too.
Her body snagged on a root, and I gave her arm a good yank before it popped out of socket. It twisted her unhelpfully, so I grabbed her foot and tugged her on. The brush, branches, and slowly-crisping leaves crunched beneath poor Tiffany’s dead weight.
I suppose nature would have to take one for the team. It was a good cause after all.
Tiffany was a waste of air before she grew breasts. And she only got worse after. All of those low-cut shirts and skimpy swimsuits, long sweaters with no pants—and likely no panties. Summers were always hell with her, screeching and giggling and flouncing around.
I dropped her and puffed on my cigarillo.
Water pushed her to be a silly twit, and it was always my strength. Jumping off the tree swing into water, splash fights, races, and tanning on the shore. I was no pale beauty. I was the tan goddess, and summer was my time to shine.
All of my brother’s friends would follow me around and gawk. Some of them were easily led out to the corners of the lake behind the docks for a make-out session and a quick hand job. It didn’t stop when my brother caught us. Instead, he’d make eye contact as he watched, his own hand moving over himself under the water as his friend groped my breast and I moaned against their skin. He was there the first time one of them slipped their hand under my bottoms and sank their fingers into my pussy.
When Tiffany showed up, I became old news.
I couldn’t put up with that forever.
Picking Tiffany’s foot again, we trudged for the last few hundred feet to a nice hidden spot with wide, flat rocks that wouldn’t burn.
Unfurling a plastic baggie with a piece of chalk, I drew a circle around the dark stone and marked a pentagram in the center: a great means of pushing suspicion away from me. I’m a good, Christian girl after all.
Tiffany rolled into the center, and she lit up nicely. Especially since I soaked her shirt in cheap vodka. After she started to burn, I tucked dry leaves and twigs around her to keep her going.
That cheap shampoo laced her burning hair with coconut.
Become more of a cliche, cousin.
I tossed the chalk and baggie in the blaze with her and finally lit my cigarillo, and a wave of relief came with it. Fine tobacco and leaves coated my mouth and tongue and lungs with satisfaction.
-Trope Play (Sci Fi)—nano tech, interspecies romance, mutants/body mod, dystopian, air leak
Jamie shot upright in bed as the station shuttered. That wasn’t good. Space didn’t have bumps unless it meant impending death. Although, sometimes, it meant immediate death.
His heart pounded hard, and his shaky limbs met the cold, metal floor. The carpet didn’t help as much as he wished. Not with his overly hot and sensitive skin.
Body aching to sprout fur and claws, Jamie pulled on his worn uniform pants and the jacket without the shirt. That was wet and soaking in his utility sink—blood thanks to the damn mutant that got loose in the bottom floors of the station.
His door opened to Getty, one of the few female humans left on the crew. Those big blue eyes always swam with a jumble of emotion, unless she was ready to tear into him. She could be unbelievably clear when she was man enough to throw out threats. Now, fear and frustration and something else human mingled there.
“Section twelve-b and thirteen-f are leaking, and the mechanics and engineers are kicking chickens. I can’t get anyone down there to help me with the real problem in eight-h, so strap up and let’s get after it.” Getty let her gaze dip to his unzipped jacket and his burnt caramel skin before it bounced away. Her human colloquialisms were what paused him.
“I’ll be less than a minute.”
She nodded, and Jamie laced up his shoes and strapped on his gear, most of which were long-range weapons since he didn’t need anything for close proximity. Not with the claws he could unleash in a swipe.
Getty looked him over again.
She stomped off, light and stormy, and the standard clean soap masked her sweet and earthy scent. Something distinctly Getty. He could find her in any room, regardless of how many other beings packed into the space.
People swarmed when they hit the lower floors.
“Are you going to fill me in?”
Her dark blonde hair flew through the artificial gravity as she pegged him with a look. “Does it look like I know what’s going on? All I know is that an alarm went off in eight-h, and that’s my sector. Do I need to tell you anything else?”
“I mean, it would be helpful.”
Her aggravated sigh made Jamie smile to himself.
They dropped another few floors via the stairs this time, and she bounced like a pixie, although he’d never say so.
Getty tapped on the security pad to eight-h—her birthday—and pushed open the door with a whoosh.
Jamie grabbed her by the shoulder to stop her entrance.
“What the hell?”
“You came to get me, and you didn’t do that to follow you into danger.”
“Let me go first.”
That stopped her, and her arms crossed over her stomach.
Jamie took the lead, stepping into the dark hallway, lined with doors. His moves were slow and steady, and he could feel Getty at his back. Her warmth was nice and new.
Knocking had him turn left at the end of the junction, and Jamie held a hand out to her, claws extending without his command. She paused, gave him some more space, but didn’t allow him to leave her behind. He liked that about her.
Animal musk and perversion filled the air, and Jamie’s wolf genes sprouted hair along his back. Something had gotten out, and since Getty worked with clones, mutants, and body modifications. What she did with them all, other than create new tools for fighting the rebellion.
Jamie braced before the attack and met the solid body of a mutant. It was a mix of reptile and bear and human, making it sturdy, fast, and deadly. But they weren’t as smart as him. Didn’t have the training, only the instincts.
Fists and teeth and claws clashed. Pain erupted in Jamie’s shoulder and left side.
The beast fell in less than a minute.
Getty whimpered behind him. “Try not to kill them all.”
“Only if I have to.” Jamie’s growl vibrated in his voice before a snarl tore through him.
She pressed her hand over his ribs and frowned at him. “It’s just a med patch.”
The cool relief of localized pain killers distracted him from the buzz of the nanobots mending his injuries. He grumbled his thanks.
Another wave hit the station, and they had to be under attack.
“If it’s the rebels, we should redirect them.”
“And do you have a plan for that?” Getty folded her arms across her stomach again, and Jamie wanted her to touch him again instead. Even if it caused him pain.
With the mutants and other modified weapons redirected. Jamie escorted Getty back to her room, grip firm on her arm above the elbow as she stomped beside him.
“You are not very good at covert.”
“I do not want to be stuck in my room when I can be helpful.”
They turned the corner to her hallway, and he tapped her room open with a simple command before shoving her inside.
Her eyes widened with surprise when he followed and the door closed behind him. “And I don’t want to worry about you while I’m out there.”
“Like my room is any safer?” Getty poked him in the chest, and her sweet, earthy scent mingled with her sweat. That jumble of fear and anger and something else in her eyes again.
“Yes. Being in a room you can lock down is safer than running off to meet the rebels.”
She huffed and poked him again. “You are so unbelievably modified male.”
Jame took her hand on the last poke and turned her into the wall. Her fear amplified, but the anger slipped away.
Getty’s mouth parted as she panted into the small space between them. She hadn’t made him, but she had studied and worked beside him for more than a year.
“You are mad that I want to protect you?”
Her face tipped up to challenge him, her nose brushing his with a spark of heat and ice. “Yes.”
Fucking maddening. Her mouth was so close that he could easy dip the inch to kiss her, and she seemed to be daring him to.
Jamie’s breath came hard, fighting back the wolf in him. He didn’t want his claws to come out.
The station rocked again, and she gasped, hands finding purchase on him.
He seized her mouth.
Her soft little moan made him press in tighter, and Getty kissed him back, fingers sinking into his hair like she might climb him.
Groaning, Jamie wished they had the time to make the most of this, to lift her in his arms and wrap her legs around his waist. To explore the desperate and hot need that went deeper than he’d let himself acknowledge before.
When he finally pulled away, her fingers twisted in his shirt. “You think I’m going to stay behind now, and you’re fooling yourself.”
His snarl only made her smile, her hands smoothing down the front of him.
“Give me your laser, and let me watch your back. I promise to not go running off on my own.”
Jamie unhooked his two lasers in their holsters and attached them to her utility belt. The intimacy that pulsed between them with every small move and touch charged him with protective instincts.
Getty’s gaze glowed with determination. “Let’s go save our home.”
Her pat had him moving again, opening her door, and scanning the hall before he stepped out. She followed, and they made their way to the lower sectors, where most of the commotion seemed to take place.
The dead lined the floor, and he hated every step over them, his claws out and nose tracking the scents home to their satellite and their people. Jamie jumped out as two engaged in close combat. An engineer in red and an invading rebel in black made his moves easy, extorting an opening the other man could not, and slicing his claws through the man’s middle. Red and white guts spilled from the black cloth.
The engineer jumped back, trembling before he saw Getty. Nodding, he disappeared into a corridor that bleeped and buzzed with error codes.
Let him take care of their station. Jamie had the enemy.
Each new corner seemed to hold a victim to his claws and teeth, speed and strength. He sprayed blood across the walls, and spilled innards across the floor. His pile of dead bodies began to match the ones he’d stumbled upon to begin with.
He was so sure he’d conquered them all, when he heard the soft, whimpering cry behind him. Getty’s eyes were round and clear, but blood dribbled from between her lips and down her chin until she collapsed.
A rebel wiped her blood clean on his black uniform. “You don’t have to fight for her anymore. She doesn’t have to control you or tinker with your parts anymore.”
Jamie roared at him with the rage of loss.
“Take your freedom, or take your death.” The rebel slogan.
“I will take your life for hers.”
The man blinked and shook his head, sad and resigned. “She had her claws deeper in you than I thought. Damn corruption at every level.”
“Getty was not corrupt.” She was the most innocent of them all. The sweetest. The human. And this man murdered her for the sake of some ideology that wouldn’t trickle down to the lower dregs like him any better than the ones in power now.
And he’d die for it. Jamie would see to that.
The fight wasn’t a fair one. Not for the man. Not this close up. Jamie’s claws pierced his flesh as easily as the man’s weapon opened Jamie up.
Once the man’s arms stopped swinging, the rise of his chest sputtering and failing, Jamie tore him open to scatter his insides around in a fury. Until his own breath labored and the pain hit in full.
Crawling to Getty, he stroked her pale cheek, spreading gore across her perfect face, and he curled around her as the black cosmos swooped in to claim him for a final time.
“Sorry, but you don’t meet our requirements for a heavenly afterlife. Here’s a paper of other heavens you can try and hells if none of those work–sorted by least painful. You can try the reincarnation wheel, but tries are limited, so be careful,” said a tiny, elderly man with Mr. Magoo glasses amplifying his dark eyes.
The paper he dropped in my hands was lengthy and the variety of heavens and hells boggled the mind: food heavens, art heavens, sexual heavens, adventurous heavens, magical heavens, and library heavens, or suspension hells, burning hells, cold hells, sharp hells, annoying neighbor hells, and children-filled hells. They were all odd and too focused.
If I couldn’t stay in the large, ever-changing heaven, I might take my chance at the reincarnation wheel. It meant another try at that ultimate afterlife. I wouldn’t live forever.
But there were no indications of the reincarnation options. That fluttered low in my stomach.
I nodded to the Mr. Magoo gatekeeper. “I’ll take a chance at the reincarnation wheel.”
His hands clapped together, and the list in my hands vanished.
“We offer you one spin, and you get what you get.”
My muscles shook with fear and anticipation. “Okay.”
A wheel materialized from nothing, each option slivered so small that I could hardly make them out: human, ape, elephant, lion, rat, snake, guinea pig, worm, snail, spider, octopus, carp, eagle, pigeon…every animal on Earth was there. The range sucked a few hard breaths into my lungs.
“Whenever you’re ready.”
I stepped forward and spun the wheel with a good amount of force and watching it twirl for ten full seconds before it slowed. It ticked by with caterpillar, salmon, flamingo, frog, koala, ameba…tick, tick, tick.
I sucked in a breath and let it out just as quickly.
Darkness enveloped me, vision pixelated, but the scent of dirt swallowed me whole. I crawled up a path, following a familiar scent up to the surface. Grass and dew greeted me, and I marched on.
I chased my brethren toward candies and breads and cheeses…a tantalizing scent of buttered meat turned me off course, under a leaf. I trudged through shrooms and fungi to get to the giant morsel.
My exoskeleton itched, burned, and I chewed on the meat before returning to my hill, my family, and circled until I found myself out in the grass and underbrush again.
The moist air soothed the ache, but compulsion sent him to a place I couldn’t put my antennae on.
This became my days, home, food, and circling out to the damp and warm climate. My jaw ached as I bit and chewed. Then, my jaws clamped down, my body shook, and pain ripped through the top of my skull before everything erupted.
I blinked back at the gate.
“Sorry, but you still don’t meet our requirements for a heavenly afterlife. Did you want to try another spin of the reincarnation wheel?” asked the tiny, elderly man with Mr. Magoo glasses amplifying his dark eyes.
The wheel reappeared, and I gave it another good shove, dazed by the pain of my short life.
My legs wobbled, a warm tongue lapping across my head and shoulders. Fresh milk found my tongue as I suckled a teet.
Rough hands pulled me away, spread my legs, and handed me off.
Stuffed, I stood in a tight pen, chain around my neck, head through bars to keep from moving, and time slowed. My muscles ached.
Days and nights and meals ran together. I sat and ate and stood and slept, crying from the pain. Crying for my momma. Crying for it to end.
But it didn’t for a long, long time.
Fat and weak, I wobbled as they let me free of my chains and pain hit me in the back of my head. Dazed, I half-felt them dragging my limp body, tie up my hind legs, and hoist me into the air.
Burning and sharp, my throat split open, and I gurgled against the blood gushing down my mouth and eyes, into my lungs. My heart cried as hard as my soul
“Sorry, but you still don’t meet our requirements for a heavenly afterlife. Did you want to try another spin of the reincarnation wheel?” asked the tiny, elderly man with Mr. Magoo glasses amplifying his dark eyes.
Gulping back the possibilities, the last life made me gun shy.
“This will be your last chance.”
One more time wouldn’t break me, and it could be the life I needed to find my way into heaven.
The wheel popped up before me, and I spin it with all of the gusto I could manage, but I still felt weak.
Options clicked by. Human long past. I should have known the chances of getting a second life as a human were astronomical.
I skittered across the dark, flat plane, a light flicked on, and I dashed away, finding nooks and crannies, and a means of escape. Light meant death.
Dipping and dodging, I found my way to the street only to hide under a bin as screams and the thundering of people moving too fast had me hunker down and wait.
Something didn’t feel right, and it wasn’t simply my new life.
I crept back out when the noise settled.
A whistling sounded, and the sky was a mix of darkness and light.
Something slammed the earth, and I hunkered down as air rushed over my shell.
The mushroom cloud blooming into the sky sank what I had of a heart.
Cockroaches are the only thing that would survive a nuclear blast.
Check out my writing vlog where I work my way through the end of my first draft thanks to some magic margaritas.
Week two went great! Not only did I log more minutes than I needed to, but I finished Wooing the Alpha. I’m still in shock.
Beyond that, I’ve logged some words in my other stories, done some story planning in my other series, and nearly finished editing Cycle Seven. Next week, I’ll read it to my mom.
As far as I am, I feel like I have a long way to go still. But next week, I plan to celebrate, at least a little bit, for the giant milestone that finishing a draft is, especially one that’s currently 1,011 pages and 264,000 words.
I took me fifteen and a half months.
Don’t worry, though, those damn blurbs are still driving me bonkers.
So, let’s look at my final numbers:
Week Two | July 4-10
Minutes Logged: 665/630
Minutes Ahead: 50 (Whoo!)
Words Written: 2,964
I’m ahead of the game, and it feels wonderful.
Let me know how your writing is going this July in the comments below, and I’ll see y’all next week for another update.
Alisha Costanzo holds an MFA in Creative Writing as well as a BA in Communication Studies and a BA in English (writing). She spent three years as a line editor for Sapphire Blue Publishing and is a college professor and published author.
NTK: What got you into horror and how old were you?
AC: My first Goosebumps book when I was eight. After that, I claimed a corner of the living room with a small bookshelf and a purple bean bag chair where I read my ever-expanding collection of horror books.
NTK: What’s your favorite horror movie?
AC: Don’t laugh, but it’s Scream. The satire did me in, and the music, and Matthew Lillard. I’ve seen that movie more than three hundred times now…
Since I chose a Pastoral Romance poem, let me briefly explain. This is a poem without strict form rules (rhyme, meter, etc.), and it focuses on idyllic views of nature. Think: city life bad, country life good.
Without further ado, here’s my terrible attempt at the Pastoral Romance.
Evergreens shroud the horizon
Putting miles between them
And industry’s dirt and smog.
Sweet morning dew swathes
Her bare ankles and long, sneaky
Vegetation slips up her skirts.
Bushes full of berries, plump and ripe
Leak juices along her fingers
As she loads her basket.
Tart and refreshing for him working
Sweat plastered cloth to his back
And chest as he licks his fingers clean.
Cutting trees and carving wood
Has his blood humming as red
Stained her mouth and tongue.
She gathered up her voluminous skirts
And tempted him with her pink skin,
Ripe and ready to be devoured.
Wind rustled the tall grass and
Sheep bleated as he thrusted a moan
From low in her belly.
The sun dried her tears and
Between her thighs before
They rose back to their duties.
Herding sheep, picking fruits and nuts,
And sowing wild oats for the land
To bloom and fruit for the Fall.
Yup. That wasn’t great, but it was fun to try! If you want to join me on this poetry series, learn about poetry forms and types, and write some poems with me, please share them with me! I’d love to see what you write.
After the twelve-day headache, the pain finally broke, but not before a terrible, group interview. Ever go in and have an expert try to tell you about some marketing trick they don’t do for the wrong reasons? Everyone looks at you like an idiot, even though you know the guy is full of it. Yeah, that’s how my week went.
It showed in my word count and minutes tabulated. Thankfully, I had all of those minutes racked up from the last three weeks.
Anyways, let’s look at the numbers!
Week One | July 19-25
Minutes Completed: 691/840
Minutes Behind: 14
Words Written: 6,455
That brings me to 31,022/20,150
Regardless of the weaker week, I’m still almost done with cycle six, Midnight, and onto Marsh. Man, this is going so quickly! I love it.
Want to watch me do all the things, like making chocolate cake, re-reading a project, stretching, and wrangling cats? Check out my camp writing vlog:
How has your July been? Let me know in the comments below!
Most of us lean toward Greek’s collective of Chaos, Eros, Darkness, and Nyx, etc., which represent the most basic components of the universe that materialized at creation. These are the gods that represent bigger concepts—the beginning of time and the foundations laid for the other gods. They are further separated from the other collections of gods and further more from humans.
Some of my favorites are Chaos, Chronos, and Gaia, probably because they play a vital role in the creation of my first vampire, Phea. Time and Earth are the most present in my everyday life, so that might also be why I favor them so greatly.
But thinking about pantheons—and creating new ones for an upcoming series—got me thinking about other culture’s primordial gods.
One of the more interesting was the connection between the massively-referenced Greek versions and the Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) creation story. The birth from darkness, the formation of the earth, and the full-formation of life all reference back to the primordial gods.
In fact, the concept of darkness seems to connect with every version of these founding creatures. Ancient Origins has an excellent post about the links.
For the Aztecs, Ometecuhtli was self-birthed in their creation story and is the primordial being of fertility. It’s a dual, androgynous being that acted as mother and father to the other major Aztec gods, Huitzilopochtli, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, and Xipe Totec, who represent the four cardinal directions. Ometecuhtli championed opposing natures: light and dark, chaos and order, and sometimes, good and evil. Living in the thirteenth heaven, or the highest plane, this deity is disconnected from human affairs and those of the other gods.
Hinduism has a trinity of important, top-tier gods: Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Shiva, the destroyer. Vishnu and Shiva are worshipped widely, having many followers and temples, but Braham does not garner the same attention. This is because he is the personification of brahman, an indefinable and unknowable divine principle.
Egyptian mythology worships eight primordial gods, or the Ogdoad (“the Eightfold”), that predate the common gods, like Osiris and Anubis. These deities were made of four male-female pairs that have similar symbols as the Greeks, and paired with the primary elements of the universe: water, air, light, and time. The couples were meant to create balance in the universe, but at least three different creation stories are attributed to this set of gods. Learn more about it here.
In Pre-Islamic Arabic mythologies, a slew of pantheons was common amongst tribes. Allāh, the Meccan creator god and supreme deity prayed to primarily in times of despair because he intervened in extreme crises; he is the father of the gods, angels, and jinn. Awal, the sea god, worshiped by Taghlib, Iyad, and Banu Bakr bin Wa’il tribes. He is the primordial guardian of the Gulf waters. Tihāmat is the divinity of chaos and the abyss, the eternal that existed before Allāh. Falak, a dragon or giant lizard that resides in the Realm of Fire, is the primordial spirit that rules over volcanoes, lava, and magma, and is only kept deep beneath the earth because he fears Allāh.
Finally, Norse mythology has Ymir, or screamer in old Norse, who was born when the melted ice of the World of Mist met the hot air from the Realm of Fire. The frost giants sprang from his legs and armpits. As the ice melted, the drops created the divine cow, Audumla, whose udders sustained Ymir. Three sons—Odin, Vili, and Ve—of the primordial giants killed Ymir, drowning all but two of his children in the sea of his blood, and his body was used to create heaven and earth, his blood to make the oceans and lakes, his bones to fashion mountains, his hair for trees, and his brains for clouds. Ymir’s eyebrow formed the Realm of Men, and dwarves were shaped from the maggots infested in Ymir’s flesh.
Want to watch me prep for my Fall Semester and check out my new classroom? Check out my new Day in the Life vlog.
Y’all, I have never had a summer fly by as fast as this one did. Man!
The good news is, I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family back in New York, I published a novella, finished the first draft of a novel—completing Camp NaNoWriMo, started vlogging about writing and editing on YouTube, finished my first round of edits on an old novel, and put together a cookbook for a client. Wow, when I put it all down on paper, that sounds like way too much. Still, it was a lot of fun!
I’ve got plenty of new goals for the rest of the year, but I surpassed a major milestone in these last few months and that’s my word count goal for the year. FOR THE YEAR. By August. Um…what?
My original goal was 106,000 words, I’m just shy of 116,000 words.
I didn’t think I’d get past 100,000 since I’d been struggling these last few years to get words to paper. I will admit that since the start of August, my word count has dropped significantly, but I’m trying to not completely lose the habit amongst the chaos of the Fall Semester, teaching four classes, editing an anthology and two books, and publishing another.
I wonder, however, if my yearly habit should be front heavy. Writing packed into the slow times of the year, and focusing on editing and marketing for the last quarter. Ooo, y’all, I have so many new ideas to get ahead.
Honestly, I’ve been leaning more and more that way the last couple of years, but I feel like my yearly planning system is about to change. Here’s hoping I can keep more realistic goals, so that I can keep meeting them.
Okay, sorry for that tangent, but when ideas strike, sometimes, you just have to go for the ride.
To end, I want to highlight some of my favorite memories from the summer:
~My plane landing early and ruining the surprise my mom planned with the kids holding signs with my name on it. They were still really cute, and I loved it.
~Strawberry picking with the family.
~Having a no-looking drawing contest with my niece in the back seat of my mom’s car.
~Chatting with my brother about Arizona
~Watching Bosch, Absentia, and Timeless with my dad; A Discovery of Witches with my mom; Letterkenny with my friend/sister, Donna; Entourage with my Uncle John.
~Going to the craft show with my mom and forgetting to pay the library ladies for the coffee and donuts before remembering and literally running back to pay them.
~The cookout with my Aunt Mikki and cousins Joel and Cameron, and making that’s-what-she-said jokes to him and his girlfriend much to their shock.
~Visiting my grandma in the hospital and having her mistake me for one of the nurses, but the moment she knew I was there, she boasted about me to the actual nurses.
~Having dinner and drinks and talk around the bonfire with my Aunt Karin and cousins Rachel and Naomi. We toasted each other all night.
~Going to the gym with my step-dad, Dan, and teasing my mom whenever we went somewhere together by singing, “waiting on the woman,” to her as we waited for her to pull the car out of the garage.
~Going to Strong with my mom and step-dad, and the nurse asking him to flip over his hand, so he gives her his other one, and all of us giggling together.
~So many trips to the ice cream stand and lots and lots of food!
It was a good time, y’all.
How did your summer go? Tell me in the comments below!
I love interviewing my characters, especially to give those who don’t get an internal voice the chance to express themselves and provide the reader with more insight.
Coming up with a new list of questions with each new book, story, or character either becomes repetitive or draining. This often leads to endless searches on the internet.
So, instead of repeating this process each and every time I want to write a character interview, I decided to compile a list of my favorite questions from the lists I often visit.
This is going to be long, y’all.
I took a good chunk of questions from The Writing Kylie below, but she has SO many more for us get to know our characters, but I tried to pinpoint the ones I thought would work best for interview purposes instead of development. There’s even some for villains in the mix:
Do you have a motto? If so, what is it?
Do you have any annoying habits, quirks, strange mannerisms, or other defining characteristics?
How would you describe your childhood?
would you describe your childhood?
How much schooling have you had?
Did you enjoy school? If not, why did you struggle?
Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities?
Did you have any role models? If so, describe them and why they were your role models.
How did you get along with the other members of your family?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When and where were you the happiest?
When did you have your first kiss, and who with?
What do you consider the most important event of your life so far, why?
What is the most evil thin you have ever done so far?
Do you have a criminal record?
What is your greatest regret?
If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?
Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?
What is the most evil thing a human being could do?
Under what circumstances do you find killing acceptable or unacceptable?
How do you measure success?
Have you ever been in love?
What is your most treasured possession?
Do you like to read? If so, what?
How do you spend a typical Saturday night?
What makes you life?
How do you define happiness?
How do you deal with stress?
What are your pet peeves?
Which talent would you most like to have and why?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What three words best describe your personality?
If you have 24 hours to live, what three things would you do in the time you had left?
If you were to die and come back as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think it would be, and why?
On Monday morning, are you excited to go to work, or are you sad?
If you could go back in time for one day, where would you go?
The next set are from Helping Writers Become Authors. They have a nice infograph and a character interview sheet that you can print to develop your characters as well. But these are the ones I like best:
What do you like best about the main (other main) character(s)?
What do you like lease about the main (other main) character(s)?
If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be?
What kind of person are you?
Who do you sympathize best with?
Here’s another chunk from Gotham Writers. They gave another few I hadn’t seen in the others:
What was your favorite journey?
What is your most marked characteristic?
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
On what occasions is it okay to lie?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Which words and phrases do you overuse?
And another snippet from Writers Write. They, have a great, long term process for understanding your characters:
What was it like being raised about your parents?
What traditions are important to your life?
Which teacher or authority figure had the most impact on your life?
What’s your favorite quote?
Here’s Writers Write again, with another list that has a lot of personal prompts for creative nonfiction writing that inspired me:
What’s your best physical feature? Why do you like it?
Which part of school did you enjoy the most?
Would you wish upon a falling star?
What superstitions do you believe in or follow?
What was your favorite toy as a child?
What’s your favorite season?
Do you connect with your zodiac sign?
What would you tell your younger self if you could?
What would a wanted ad for your ideal roommate read like?
Can you describe your personal style?
Do you believe in fate?
What would you like to teach the world if you had a platform?
If you had to wear a sign around your neck explaining something about yourself before somebody spoke to you, what would it say?
AutoCrit offers “Four Methods For Interviewing Characters,” which has an interesting example of a free-form interview for development that also showcases the way character answer questions that may pry into topics they may not answer in an expected way:
If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they’ve known you for a while?
What’s your idea of a good marriage? Do you think it’ll happen for you?
Do you think you turned out the way your parents expected?
What would you like your tombstone to say?
I relish an opportunity for new and non-traditional questions, and WayUp gave us a few traditional job interview questions and what their answers might be:
Batman vs Spiderman: Who Would Win?
In what ways are you lucky?
If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be and why?
If you were a crayon (or paint swatch) color, which would you be and why?
Do you enjoy “roughing it,” or are you a creature of comfort?
How do you feel about the government (rulers) in general? Why?
If your features were destroyed beyond recognition, is there any other way of identifying your body?
Would you rather questions also make for interesting answers from questions, but it’s best to sprinkle these amongst others rather than having a 20-question volley with your character.
And finally, since we’re on the topic, here’s one last great resource of questions for fantasy world building from Patricia C. Wrede that is just massive, and I couldn’t do it better justice if I tried.
So, there it is. My list of questions. Stay tuned for part two, where I elaborate on how I choose questions for characters, how I answer them, ways to create a scene or indicate movement during an interview.
Got a favorite question that I missed on my list? Leave it for us in the comments below.