First and foremost, thank you for having me, Rowena. It’s great to be on the Space Snark blog!
When I received your blog topic of interest, How I research and get into character, the answer didn’t come as readily as I anticipated. Truth be told, I always allow the muse control and don’t over think the research. With Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between, the pieces fell into place. Aside from learning the geography of New York (props to my ever wonderful friend, Ty, who guided me through the mean streets on many a frustrating night) and checking into a couple of things like muti and necromancy, there wasn’t a whole lot involved in the process.
Then, my writing took a drastic turn.
After I wrapped up Dead, I began plotting a paranormal series of books featuring various creatures, races, and realms. I wanted something unique, dark, and appealing, but also something people would recognize and think, “Oh yeah, I know that!” Vampires, werewolves, and shifters have been done. That meant I had to create my own race of beings. After a lengthy consideration, I decided it was time to create my own brand of shifter – Draigens: half-men, half-dragons who patrolled the realms to maintain the balance between good and evil. However, the idea wasn’t enough. I needed more; fuel for the fire, if you will.
This resulted in an extended journey into Greek Mythology, heaven and hell, and various other places to stockpile nuggets of wisdom which were stored away until needed. When I had all of my bases loaded, I sat down and started writing. I was incredibly excited, and had the first chapter finished in record time. In my excitement, I dove into chapter two. As I did, a nagging sensation told me something wasn’t quite right. Sure, the story was going great and I was very excited, but something was noticeably missing. Pushing forward, I continued to battle an invisible villain, unaware of why I couldn’t get a grip, focus, and write.
When the realization hit midway into chapter three, it was staggering. All of my work up to this point had been a first person narrative, but in writing romance, the hero had to be heard. There was no way around it. I rebelled against it, tried to make it work, but try as I might, it just wasn’t possible. People prefer third person romances to first person narratives for a reason. They want to experience the tension from all sides, including the hero’s perspective.
Getting inside the mind of one character is always easiest. While you think you know (and more than likely, you do know) the other characters just as well, everything is always altered by the perception of the eyes which guide you. Allowing all of the characters a venue to speak is another thing entirely, and that meant I had to rethink my strategy.
With this in mind, I turned to my favorite weapon in the writer’s arsenal – my trusty composition pads. I already had one stocked full of laws, races, and a small timeline (as it is intended to be a continuing series), so adding a few more for the characters wasn’t that difficult. I started with the basics – physical descriptions, likes and dislikes, character motivations, etc. I didn’t delve too deeply, but when something came along, I’d add it to the mix. Some friends gave advice, all of which was good (but I did not necessarily employ): Do interviews with the characters. Have them interview you. Sit down and write out what a day out with the character would be like. Write a short story involving an event in their past which doesn’t appear in the book.
Armed once more, I began the tedious task of starting anew, and let me tell you, it was tough! My brain kept shifting to a first person narrative and, as a result, the MS took much longer to write. But just when I was ready to cave and say to hay with it, I settled in, found my bearings, and got comfortable. It took a lot of time, but the end result was more than worth it, and something I was incredibly proud of.
Strangely enough, I seem to prefer a third person narrative now. I enjoy getting to know the hero, the secondary characters, and the motivations that drive them. In giving myself time to become acquainted, it adds to the worldbuilding for future novels, and aids me in deciding where I want to go and how I want to get there. That’s not to say I won’t write first person any longer, as nothing excites me more than a first person narrative in a dark urban fantasy. However, when it comes to erotica or romance, it’s pretty much a given.
I’m curious about everyone else out there. Do you write in both narratives? Was the transition easy or difficult? And most importantly, how did it affect your research as a result?
Jaime AKA J.A. Saare
Excerpt from Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between:
My shoulders drooped in defeat. Of all the shitty luck.The only way my life could get worse is if I got my throat ripped out. Coincidentally, I was due to leave my place of employment and enter into a darkened alley to meet up with a vampire. So the odds weren’t stacked in my favor. Not at all.My boots squeaked on the linoleum as I strode past the coat rack, walked down the hall, and entered the narrow concrete hallway. The big steel door at the end distorted, appearing too close and then too far, invoking images of The Shining. I finally reached it and limply grasped the knob.I stood there, fingers loose and flaccid. Once I turned the knob, I was sealing my fate. My pride wouldn’t stand for beating on the door and screaming like a pansy to be allowed back inside. I exerted my backbone, grasped the knob, and twisted. The door opened with a protest of metal against metal.I scanned the area quickly and then sagged in relief. The alley was empty. Thank you God, hallelujah! The door slammed shut behind me as I rushed down the narrow street. I was dodging a bullet, and I knew it.The moon wasn’t out but the streetlights lit the way decently enough, the circular swells of white shining bright against the darkened concrete. The air was slightly chilly, sending prickles along my skin. I’d have to break out the jeans and sweaters soon.I hooked a right, keeping my ecstatic pace, until I glanced up.Disco was propped casually against the wall, his broad back braced against the red bricks. He was standing beneath a nearby street light that shone off his hair, the pale honey blond intense. Pulling out a cigarette and lighting up, he waited as I approached. I watched the red tip brighten as he took a long puff, lifted his head, and exhaled slowly into the darkened night.So much for dodging a bullet.Some girls get to be prom queen, others get a perfect SAT score, but not me. I was the biggest winner on The Price Is Right, and Johnny just told me to come on down.
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