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Invitation: Character Clinic

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to host a “101 Ways to Love Your Characters” clinic here on the blog, beginning Friday, 2/13 thru Sunday, 2/15.  This invitation is open to anyone on the planet who has anything at all to say about characters.

If you’re a reader, I want to know about your all-time favorite characters and why you love them.

If you’re a writer, I want to know about all your tricks and techniques that help you create memorable characters.  My friend Jenna is going to blog about using tarot; my friend Soleil is going to use astrology; and I’m going to talk about a variety of things, like static traits and possibly what I’ve learned using I Ching. 

The clinics will be informal, chatty, and above all, fun!

I’ll post daily Clinic entries here, linking to everyone who’s participating to share the link love.  Simply e-mail me (see the About tab) or comment on any post and leave me your link to be included.  I’ll be giving away two prizes:  one to the posters; one to the commenters (on any participating blog entry, not just mine).  Posters may comment to gain more chances to win. 

Since Ann and Bethanie can attest to how much I suck at getting packages in the mail *mutters at self and eyes the box on the corner of my desk that I should have mailed last freaking year!!*, the rules are very simple.  Up for grabs:  two $20 prizes, winner’s choice

  • Amazon order (that qualifies for Amazon Prime or includes shipping) up to $20
  • any online book retailer $20 gift certificate (Amazon, B&N, Fictionwise, Drollerie Press bookshop, etc.)

So make a note on your calendar and I hope to see you next weekend!

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Characterization by I Ching

So you know I’ve been working on the SFR story tentatively called “Seven Crows.”  I’m hoping to make it my Feb. project, even though I’m pretty behind in Revision Xibalba.  I ended up drawing heavily on ancient Chinese history for the hero’s inspiration, which I hadn’t planned.  One thing led to another, and there I was reading through different dynasties.

Then the Chinese New Year came.  I got an innocent little advert from offering a free I Ching reading to celebrate the Year of the Ox.  Amused, I checked it out.  (I enjoy reading my “horror-scopes” because they’re never true.  I blame it on the cutoff between Taurus and Gemini.  5/21 is right on the line, and some Gemini elements fit, while others don’t at all, but Taurus isn’t right either.) 

Something started nagging in the corner of my mind.  Is this something I can use for the hero?

Turns out, yes.  I did a little research into I Ching (Google is my friend).  One of the 8 trigrams is “dragon”, which immediately caught my eye.  This is a shapeshifter story and you know how much I love dragons!  Then I looked up various hexagrams involving that symbol.  I ended up being very surprised at how much of it seemed to fit with what I already knew about my character.  I even started to get more plot ideas.  The biggest thing:  I have his static trait now, and lots of ideas of how it will affect plot and deepen his character.

Then I had to decide what symbol to use for the heroine.  Now she’s not based on the same culture, but I wanted to see what HE would think, looking at her and trying to discover her personality.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a symbol involving “crow.”  *snort*  But fire seemed to fit pretty well with my ideas for her (and its animal was the pheasant, which at least has wings), which lead me to another list of hexagrams to look up.  They’re not quite as clear to me, but I have a feeling they’ll be very useful when I’m in the hero’s POV trying to figure out what he knows, sees, hears, etc. from her.

Here’s another strangely cool inspiration that is now starting to make sense.  “Seven Crows” came from a crow augry poem, which was used to foretell the future based on the number of birds seen:

One crow sorrow,
Two crows mirth,
Three crows a wedding,
Four crows a birth,
Five crows silver,
Six crows gold
Seven crows a secret,
which must never be told.

How cool is that?  I never intended for astrology to play a part in this story at all!

Has anyone had luck using other forms of astrology to develop characters or plot?  I’ve used the Archetype Storytelling cards and personality tests before, but this is a first for astrology.