I am a 22-year-old writer, artist, baker, musician, gamer, and internet fanatic. This is a collection of thoughts and things I find around the internet. I hope that someone out there finds enjoyment in my writing and the many things my mind can produce.
We had our first snow storm of the season yesterday, and my boyfriend and I traveled to Wilkes-Barre while it happened. We went to a NaNoWriMo kick-off meeting. We had lots of fun. The picture below is how my yard looked from the car when we got home.
This morning, it was super pretty out, so I took pictures. Click to zoooooooooooom. :)
Tim and I left not long after those pictures so we could get to his house and he could play games. There's a bridge on my road that's on a really sharp, blind turn. Tim always calls it a death turn. Well, we were going a normal speed like we always do around that thing, and there was this 10-meter-long patch of black ice. We lost traction, the front right part of the car hit the bridge, then the back end hit when the car fishtailed, and we bounced to the other side of the bridge where the front hit a wall and the airbags went off. We're both uninjured - just a little sore from hitting the seats sort of hard. The car, not so much. Lots of body damage and a bad coolant leak at least, so we don't know what his parents will do about that yet.
For anyone who doesn't know me in real life, I get really, absurdly excited when I get an idea. Read that first line with as much enthusiasm as you can envision.
TO THE IDEA!
To help out fellow novelists and aspiring writers, I'm going to start posting some of my tips and tricks that helped me get through Among the People Lost. Maybe it'll also serve as a reminder of what to do when 50,000 words starts looking like a lot.
I'll warn you ahead of time, my methods are, to say the least, ridiculous. I have the most round-about way of looking at things, and I imagine many people would say my methods don't make any sense at all. They work for me, though, and if they work for someone else, then great! If not, you get free material that you can use to question my sanity.
Let's get started right away, shall we?
Tip #1: Make your characters into ponies.
For those of you unfamiliar with My Little Pony, ponies are colorful, cute, and have "cutie marks" that are related to what they do for a living or a special skill they have. They're a pony's identity. Ponies can be an earth pony (just your basic pony), a pegasus, or a unicorn. Earth ponies do things by hard work; pegasi manipulate things from among the clouds; unicorns do things by magic.
Decide on colors. Colors are important. What sort of color scheme do you associate with your character? Is he always in black, or does he wear a tan coat? Hair color = mane and tail color, so that's easy.
Cutie marks are important. What makes your character special? What's his special talent, his calling in life, or his symbol? If you're having trouble, put some time into thinking about it. Giving a character a symbol can add a new layer to his personality.
Pony Dante is grey (because he wears dark colors to blend into the shadows) with a black mane/tail and grey eyes. He also has a cute little shirt since he's always in button-down shirts. His cutie mark is a red Japanese maple leaf, as he has one tattooed on his right forearm in memory of his mother. He is associated with that leaf/tree several times throughout the book.
Pony Dante is not very colorful.
I made my pony in this pony maker, which you should use because it's fun and cute. :)
For a lot of people, it's noise. For others, it gets them all riled up and angry. For me, it's an outlet for all the anger I'd hold inside otherwise. Channeling my emotions through the music I'm listening to keeps me sane and relieves headaches. It can calm me down almost instantly. It's a learned thing, and I'm sure a rare one, too.
That's likely an addiction talking, but whatever. It makes me feel better when super stressed.
For the days when headaches are a little too much for my high pain tolerance to handle.
Hug a cat and see if it doesn't make your day 20% better. Unless you're allergic. Then you should hug a toy cat.
Sylvester is worth 5 hugs.
There's something about the way I do crafts that makes the tedious, meticulous, monotonous work very relaxing. It sort of lets my mind drift while still staying stimulated. I can work on things for hours before I need a break.
When I have my own place and stuff, I might make a panic room filled with pillows. That would probably be fantastic. Sinking onto my pillows is the best part of going to bed.
My bedroom walls are covered in photos and posters. I stare at my photos a lot when I need to think about things. Seeing friends can help clear your mind really well, even if it is only a photograph.
Sometimes, there's nothing like getting lost in Tamriel for a few hours and beating the hell out of some mud crabs.
I've had a lot of life experiences in the past 20 years. Those experiences have made me who I am now, and I don't really regret any of them. There's something to learn from every failure and some worth in every hard time.
1. School is worthless after you know the basics.
I knew everything I needed to know for how to stay alive by, like, 7th grade. I've always believed that the biggest issue with school is how much they force on you. I wouldn't have minded 7 classes a day if 6 of them hadn't been things I didn't need. By high school, most of us have a good idea of our strengths and weaknesses. I didn't necessarily know what I'd be doing for life, but I knew it wouldn't involve math and science, so why take those when I could be in art courses? Anyone can get through school and have all that knowledge, but it's a big waste of time in my opinion. While all my friends were falling asleep in calculus, I wrote a novel and advanced my business.
2. Wisdom comes with experience, not age.
Old people tend to have accumulated more life experiences, but that doesn't mean anyone should discredit the experience of someone else just because they're young. I've been through things 90-year-olds know nothing about, despite how much time they've been out there living. Everyone's situation is unique.
3. Having intelligence is different than being smart.
Having good grades, completing college, and getting a good job means you have intelligence. That takes a lot of memorizing and understanding. That doesn't mean you catch on to things, are a quick thinker, or are innovative and clever when you need to be, or that you can figure things out for yourself, for that matter.
4. People change.
If the people around you change for the worse, it's time to be around new people. If they grow, you likely will, too. Sometimes people grow in different directions. It's an inevitable part of life.
5. Your beliefs and ideals will be challenged.
Don't believe in premarital sex? Guess what - you're going to meet someone you like who doesn't think like that. Don't drink? Some day, someone will put a drink in your hand and you will be very confused and very conflicted. Point is, you are your own person, and as you grow in life, you're eventually going to grow close to people who think like you. If you give up your ideals and put off the growth, then you'll just end up surrounded by people you don't really like or agree with on anything.
6. Sometimes it's no one's fault.
It's easy to place blame on other people, and really hard to place it on ourselves. Sometimes, though, things just happen.
7. There are things in life that you cannot get away with.
Sometimes, you get caught doing things you shouldn't be doing. Learn and move on. If you're doing things you shouldn't be doing and you haven't been caught yet, quit while you're ahead.
8. Love is a very unexpected thing.
Relationships can kind of sneak up on you sometimes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
9. Your accomplishments will sometimes go unnoticed.
What's important to you is sometimes really silly to someone else, and they might not care a whole lot that you did it, but that doesn't make it less important. Always remember there are other people out there who care.
10. You need to know how to stay alive.
You won't get anywhere in life (because you'll die) if you don't know how to cook, clean, and function in society.
11. People will complain about things they can easily fix.
Life is full of options. If you can't stand paying for checking, switch banks. If you hate your phone service, get a new one. It's not worth it to be miserable forever and make everyone else miserable when you haven't made an effort to fix things.
12. Your family will not understand you at some point in your life.
Whether you're suddenly a pagan in a Christian family or you want to drop out of school to paint giant pink unicorns, there will be times when your family wants to sit you down and lecture you for a week. Or maybe they just want to send you to the local mental hospital. Either way, most will just nod and let you go ruin your life (in their minds, at least).
13. You will not understand your parents at some point in your life.
Maybe they make a decision that makes no sense or is clearly influenced by how much they like your sister more than you. Maybe they can't seem to remember that the computer monitor and the TV are two separate entities. Whatever they do, they will do old people stuff at some point, and you will want to cry.
14. Your appearance matters.
If you go out every day looking like you just got out of bed, good luck making friends with anyone who doesn't look like that. We all have our standards. We look for friends and partners that are similar to ourselves. You have no one to blame but yourself if you put zero effort into looking nice and attract the scum of the earth.
15. Poor spelling and grammar make you look like a monkey.
I swear, when I see some of the status updates from friends on Facebook, I think they must be fighting to reach the keyboard from a foot away while thrashing, so much so that they must use only the shortest abbreviations and have tons of typos. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on our technology. How you type is essentially how others hear your voice. If you want people to think of you as more than a three year old, put some effort into sounding intelligent.
16. You will offend someone at some point in your life.
You might not even realize you're doing it, but you'll do it.
17. Life is all about balance and compromise.
You'll have to give up about 40 hours of your week at some point in exchange for staying alive. You'll have to make compromises in relationships because you care about the other person and that's what relationships are about. There are tons of unpleasant things we all have to do in life, but if you're good about it, you'll still have plenty of pleasant things, too.
18. Things always get better.
Unless you kill yourself. Then you're dead and nothing gets better.
19. You will have unexpected obstacles thrown at you out of nowhere.
Maybe you get pregnant despite tons of precautions. Maybe health problems sneak up on you out of nowhere and ruin your life. Maybe you suddenly lose a family member, a friend, or a limb. Humans are very adaptable; you can work through it.
20. Life is what you make it.
Don't feel like you have to go to college and suffer through 4 years of school just to have a job. It can make it easier, but if it's not worth it to you, find an option that is. I think a lot of us look for things we don't need to do but that society has ingrained in us we should do, and we complain that we don't want to but we have to, and we do them and make ourselves miserable. It doesn't have to be like that. Spend more time on what you want to be doing rather than conforming to a norm no one is making you follow.
When I wrote Among the People Lost, I did something interesting in that I used locations I was familiar with. I've been to Baltimore, and I live right near Scranton. I already knew what those places were like. It's set in the not-too-distant future, so I didn't have to worry about researching tons of things to get a feel for the time period.
Scranton, I love you and hate you.
The story I'm going to be writing for NaNoWriMo is entirely different. I'm starting it off in the small town of Lanesboro, Iowa in the summer of 1974. Lanesboro is so small that all the info Wikipedia has on it can fit on the screen of my laptop at once. I don't even know if it existed in 1974! I've certainly never been there. We're talking middle of freaking nowhere, and that is exactly how I want it.
Furthermore, being born in 1991 makes it a little tough to know what life was like in the 70s. I feel like I'm totally out of my element on this one, and I hope I can get all the information I need before I start writing. I already put a lot of effort in to finding names that were popular in the years my characters were born.
Mostly, I'm just winging it and hoping it flows really well. It won't hit 50,000 words if it doesn't, so here goes nothing!
There's this thing referred to as NaNoWriMo, which means National Novel Writing Month. You have 30 days to write a minimum 50,000 word novel.
I'll be adapting this short story I wrote a little while back into a full novel. First person, general fiction centered around a romantically-driven plot, set in the 1970's or somewhere around there, and without any deadly diseases, dragons, burning buildings, or magic!
I love drow. I love the Forgotten Realms world in general, but mostly, I love drow. The black-skinned, white-haired, spider-worshipping dark elves that live in caves untouched by the sun are pretty much the best sort of elf to ever exist in the pages of fantasy. There are a few spoilers in here, so if you haven't read The Legend of Drizzt or War of the Spider Queen books but plan on doing so, maybe skip the ones you aren't familiar with.
10. Vierna Do'Urden
Vierna is a rare drow. As a priestess, she is expected to be horrible and evil; sometimes, however, a little bit of her calmer, nicer inner self shows through, and she's not such a bad person after all. Then she goes crazy and turns her brother into a drider, and you can forget about her being nice ever again.
9. Quenthel Baenre
A high priestess of the Spider Queen, Quenthel is very dedicated. She is completely dispassionate towards her fellow drow, and maintains her faith through very difficult trials.
8. Lord Dyrr
Dyrr is a lich. He's amazingly powerful and wants even more power all the time. He doesn't care at all who gets in his way.
7. Halisstra Melarn
Halisstra is a high priestess of the Spider Queen until she converts to a freer, more peaceful religion followed by a group of drow living on the surface. She changes her evil ways completely to live a life of dancing under the moon, and she even falls in love. I was legitimately very angry with her when she later abandons that life to go back to the Spider Queen. It ruined my life.
6. Zaknafein Do'Urden
I really liked Zaknafein's presence in the Legend of Drizzt series. He is a father figure, a master trainer, and a friend, yet the empathy he clearly possesses has been suppressed due to the violent and evil he lives in. He is a good-hearted character who lives a miserable existence to survive, and he does his best to make sure Drizzt doesn't succumb to the evil ways of the drow. Even when manipulated by powerful magic, he refuses to kill his son, and destroys himself instead.
5. Ryld Argith
Ryld is a weapons master who isn't a particularly interesting character until he abandons his life in Menzoberranzan to settle down in peace and love on the surface. His empathy is unusual for a drow, and it is even more unusual that he acted upon those emotions and gave up his old lifestyle simply for love. Even when betrayed, he has no regrets.
4. Jarlaxle The leader of a band of rogues, Jarlaxle is one of the most influential male drow in Menzoberranzan. His presence is tolerated and even approved by the Spider Queen herself. He has a wide array of magical items that give him a huge assortment of abilities. He never runs out of tricks, and often uses illusions to his advantage. He's eccentric, brilliant, and highly resourceful.
3. Gromph Baenre
The archmage of the largest drow city, Menzoberranzan, is Gromph. He's got tons of power, tons of influence (especially for a male drow), and tons of crazy secrets. He fights Lord Dyrr at some point, and the battle is stretched over two books (probably about 8 chapters in total) just because they kept outdoing each other. Gromph has a typical lack of compassion and a total disregard for anyone who gets in his way.
2. Drizzt Do'Urden
If you know drow, you likely know of Drizzt. The Legend of Drizzt series contains some of my favorite books to date. Drizzt breaks the stereotypical evil of his race and lives as a ranger on the surface, beneath the sun and with the dwarves and humans in the cold north. His constant struggles to escape his past and his unmatched swordsmanship skills make his adventures quite interesting and dynamic. He forms very strong bonds with his friends, and their safety is always his top priority. I love the mentality he maintains throughout the series, as he talks about the importance of sticking to your beliefs and such.
1. Pharaun Mizzrym
Pharaun is significantly awesome. He's a very skilled wizard who doesn't care a whole lot about the Spider Queen. He likes keeping his appearance tidy and neat, and he's often complaining about getting dirty. He's very drow-like in his egocentric mindset; he will eliminate whomever he has to in order to secure a better position for himself or keep himself alive longer. One of my favorite things about him as a character is his dialogue. He's always going on - in a very formal way - about the intricacies of everything, carefully examining every slight flavor in his wine and dwelling on the characteristics of everyone he meets. Pharaun is also good at talking himself out of bad situations (probably to avoid messing up his hair), and he'll try whenever he can. He once asked a very large demon, "Will you consent to parlay?"
I have a seriously huge amount of things going on in my life right now. Some people very close to me are going through some major life changes, and in at least one case, that life change is in a very different direction than I am willing to go.
I was all set to start college his past fall. I was totally ready to just go ahead and make some new friends and such. That didn't happen. Mostly, some things came up for Tim, and the plan was to go together, so I didn't apply. Well, he may not start this year, either. As soon as I realized that, the desire to just go ahead and continue on my way without him became really strong. I decided I'd start for the spring semester. Unfortunately, the spring semester starts in December. I was hoping for January. I know it's not that big of a difference, but there's a bunch of stuff I'd like to get done between now and school, and a lot of that stuff goes down in December. I'm going to have to wait until August now.
I really can't wait to go to college. I've been out of high school since 2009, and that wasn't even by choice. My senior year of high school (and part of my junior year) was taken away without any warning, and I lost a lot of friends because I was never there to talk to them.
Even deeper than that, I really look forward to the fresh start that college will give me. I had some strange phases in my school life. I'm sure I put off a lot of potential friends. I think I've changed a lot since I dropped out. No one sees me as an artist and writer, though; they see me as the girl with tons of health problems who dropped out and lived with her boyfriend at 17. They also probably see me as the girl who's always angry at everything and has the most pessimistic views ever. In reality, I'm really optimistic, and not really all that angry. I know that's the image I sort of put out there for myself, and I know it's my fault lots of people didn't like me. Now I'm older and want to change that.
It feels like a lifetime ago that I was in school. In ways, it has been a lifetime. All of these health issues have really changed my perspective on life. They aren't going away, and I'm done with doctors doing inconclusive tests every few months. I'm stuck with this failing, fragile body, and I'm probably not going to live very long (in comparison to the average, at least), so I'd damn well better start making the best of it. I'll be the first to admit that there are days I'd rather curl up and die than get out of bed and deal with the pain, but I always do it. Other days, I remember that I have stuff to do, put on my serious face, and blatantly ignore the pain while I get that stuff done. The joys of being bipolar, right?
Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I'm not the person that my schoolmates knew and disliked, and I'm ready and willing to go out there and meet some new people. You know, people I actually have things in common with and meet on my own, who know me the way I want to be known.
Related - I realized a few weeks ago that even though I have a full novel published, English teachers are going to hate me. English teachers always hate me.
This post seems sort of incongruous with the rest of my blog...but here! I'm doing it anyway! I'm low on ideas for posts at the moment because I'm really busy with Halloween contests, costumes, other events. Also, I clearly only pay attention to vocalists. This list was supposed to be a top 10, but I could only scrounge up 5. I'm bad at this. XD
5. Matthew Bellamy
I don't listen to a lot of MUSE, but as I was browsing through my music to dig up some hot men, I remembered that their lead singer is pretty cute.
4. Sebastian Bach
Probably the most effeminate guy I've ever found attractive. Maybe. I don't know. My taste in men is questionable at best sometimes.
3. Alexi Laiho
Finland produces some sexy people. In fact, I could probably do a list of sexy Finnish guys that would be longer than this one...and now that I'm thinking about it, I could probably add at least two other Finnish guys to this list, but "top 7" is awkward, and they'd definitely be numbers 6 and 7, so let's just make this concise and keep it to a top 5, shall we? Okay. Good.
2. Adam Gontier
Specifically, this younger and fluffier Adam Gontier. Newer, short-haired Adam Gontier isn't sexy at all. About 99% of his sexiness is contained in his hair, and facial hair is worth about negative 70% sexiness. Those are my numbers and I'm sticking to them. Don't doubt me.
1. Ville Valo
Like I said, Finland is where it's at. This image is also a weird size where one size setting bigger makes it too big for my blog, so it's the smallest. It's annoying me slightly.
So there's an artist on DeviantART that likes drawing fan art. She's good, too, so it's nice to see lots of her work on the front page every day. She recently got obsessed with Death Note, so I was seeing lots of fun Light and L pictures constantly, and it sort of renewed my interest in the series.
I watched it a while back, and I generally enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot less once Near and Mellow were there (because I really hate Near and Mellow), and I think the last episode was pretty much the worst thing ever, but it was generally good. The first half was really good. I'm a Light fan, and L added some entertainment, and Misa is dumb.
I may have enjoyed the manga a little more in some aspects. The ending was better in some ways and worse in others, I think. It was easier for me to follow the side characters and such because I'm really awful with Japanese names, and seeing them rather than hearing them made it a lot easier for me to understand what the hell was going on and who Light wanted dead.
On the downside, the translation I read switched translators often, and sometimes there were drastic differences in names and such. One translation kept using question marks in place of commas, and it really threw me off. I also got a few interesting mistranslations, like L saying, "You can make love outside," when it was supposed to mean either "make out outside" or "make love out of this building." Either way, it was just sort of amusing.
So I guess those are my thoughts, and totally spoiler free thoughts, too. Yay, me!
Daphne is going to be my main character in the story with Flash, that biomechanical dragon I put up a few days ago. It's a long way off while I figure out how the hell the world is supposed to make any sense. Right now, it's sort of a mess. Also, I wasn't going to post her since she's not 100% done, but I don't know when I'll finish her. She's supposed to have throwing knives strapped to her right leg and a belt with her katana's sheath. I might also touch up the fabric folds a little. I drew this months ago, and drawing Vyse much more recently taught me a lot about fabric folds.
I have this vast list of skills and talents, all in varying degrees, and most of them not all that useful. Here now are some things I can't do that I wish I could.
People are hard as hell. I can't draw them without a reference, and forget about expressions and such.
Draw in an Anime Style
It looks easy. It's just lines. It looks so freaking easy. It's not. It's really damn hard. I can't get myself to think in terms of lines and perspective well enough to get anything good.
The arthritis has never helped, and the new pains I've been getting in my left index finger will definitely impede any further progress. I will get you to do what I want, hands! :|
I'm lucky if I can go up the stairs in my house without my chest hurting, my knees creaking, or getting out of breath and blacking out a little. I think I have the body of a 90-year-old sometimes.
My house is probably one of the worst environments anyone can live in. I have no money and no job, and that means I'm sort of stuck here. At least I got a mini fridge for my bedroom.
Make Clay Things
I can't do much of anything with clay. I don't have much ability to put things in 3D in the first place.
Play Games Better
I'm bad at video games. I'm always the one person in a group who hasn't played a really popular game, and I know if I tried, I'd be really bad and probably give up. I like things that don't require tons of manual dexterity.
Get a Job
It's hard finding a job when you have no work experience. The unemployment rate in my area is terrible, too.
I always learn about community projects after they happen. I'm slow on the local news, I guess. It always makes me wish I had known so I could help out with stuff.
See Without Glasses or Contacts
My vision is awful. I'm terrified of surgery, though, and eyeballs sort of freak me out, so laser surgery is not an option.
Reach My Kitchen Shelves
I'm five feet tall. Watching me try to get a bowl off of the top shelf while standing on a step stool and still failing to reach it is really pathetic. My boyfriend can verify that.
Numbers fall through my mind like sand through a fishing net. :(
The second theme was a fantasy game, and we had to make a stormy blue character and his pet. This is my result. It came out pretty well, considering I did the entire thing a few hours before it was due. XD
I took part in a group on DeviantART called Concept Wars. The idea was that we'd be given an assignment from a fictional video game company, and the best concepts won points. It's on indefinite hold at the moment. This one was a steampunk mafia game called Pioggia (rain in Italian), and we had to design a character and a weapon. I really like the steampunk revolver I came up with. But then, I like revolvers in general. :P
Let me interrupt my daily artwork and useless lists with something serious. I don't associate with any particular religion, though I've said in the past that I most closely identify with pagan beliefs that we should treat others with kindness and respect, be thankful to nature for all that it provides us and try to take care of nature in return, and just generally be nice and peaceful. Occasionally, someone will ask me why I don't have a religion, and the answer is simple: I don't like all the intolerances that religions preach.
I'm going to pick on Christianity for a minute here, so bear with me. I have seen so many sites, books, magazines, etc. written "in the name of God" that talk about how gays are evil, how we should try to get the whole world to abandon their own religions and convert, how pagans are evil and worship the devil, and so forth.
In my opinion, if you're using your religion to preach hatred and intolerance, you're doing it wrong. Hating people for who they naturally are, what they believe, and what they do is all sorts of morally wrong, and when you start preaching those views to others, you're just inciting more hate. That isn't what religion is about. Religion is about devoting yourself to something you love. It's not a tool for violence and prejudice.
There are, of course, the people who also have incredibly radical beliefs and refuse to learn all the facts, then they spread hatred and half-truths to get others to think the way they do. On one hand, it's absolutely comical to read the claims that communism is a secret weapon of the Illuminati, and on the other, it's really pathetic that someone can believe so fully that a Greek god of fertility is a god of rape.
I just think it's really sad to see so many people who worship a being that's all about love hating so many things. My boyfriend's parents are a great example of this. They won't hate you if you're gay, but there's no chance in hell they'd go to a non-Christian wedding. They see that as "supporting the movement," even though it has nothing to do with any movement and has everything to do with supporting the people you love. It recently came up with my boyfriend that if we ever get married, the ceremony will likely be a pagan hand-fasting ceremony. We're 100% certain that they would refuse to attend their own son's marriage just because it's a religion they don't want to "support."
In short, stop it with all the hate. You're not making the world a better place; you're making it a more divided place.
As someone who's actually taken the time to finish a whole novel, I can say that there are quite a few things you have to take into account when you set up a story. When I wrote Among the People Lost, I tried my hardest to make my characters, setting, plot, and everything else very accurate and believable. I didn't do anything without having a reason (or reasons) for making things that way.
I'm reading a book right now that is the epitome of terrible writing, in my opinion. The lead character has no depth, the world seems conflicting and poorly designed, and the plot is, well, stupid. It makes me wonder how other people get so far as to finish a book without taking some really important things into consideration.
This is a list of important story elements. The top item is what I consider most important, working down to the least important. Note that all are of importance, and having great characters doesn't mean you should ruin your plot. The list will vary depending on who you ask, of course.
-Feel of the setting (empty, bustling, scary, dangerous, etc)
-World "rules" (how society perceives certain behaviors, laws, what is necessary for survival)
While a lot of aspiring writers pursue courses for creative writing and journalism, I took an interest in psychology. My knowledge of mental disorders, social interactions, attraction, and general human behavior has played a big part in developing my characters to be very realistic. I don't like making characters who don't seem real, and it doesn't matter to me if their actions end up being a little predictable because of it. Realism is my priority. I even take great lengths to develop appearances and such, as explained in part 1 of my OCD series (Original Character Development), which shares its name with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder because I've joked in the past that you need the disorder to possibly put as much thought into characters as I do.
The main story you're working with needs to be interesting, plausible, and thought out. Admittedly, I wrote Among the People Lost with no idea where it was going. Lesson learned. It made it difficult to write at times, and when I looked back, I found a lot of places where not much was happening. There was also a character that I tried to kill off about a dozen times, but it always seemed really out of character, so I let her stay. She survives the book and the sequel.
Feel of the Setting
Among the People Lost is set in a sort of post apocalyptic world. I wanted to create a feeling that reflected the survival-of-the-fittest lifestyle the characters lived. Things are grungy, lots of buildings are abandoned, fresh food is a luxury, and everyone is always on guard. No one uses their real name for fear of being hunted by gangs, and they hunt the gangs themselves to keep others safe. It's this really brutal, dirty setting.
I was working with a city I know, Scranton, PA. I know that there are a lot of brick buildings, and even though I used almost no real buildings as references, it still feels like you're reading about Scranton. I feel research is important if you're using a setting you don't know in real life, and if it's a fictional city, I think it's important to decide how the occupants live.
Time periods will affect your world's technology, the common mindsets, and even popular names. It affects everything in ways, so it's important. With my book, set in 2026, I had quite a bit of leeway to work with. It all depends.
If magic exists, it's important to know its limitations, costs, and management. Does it work by praying to the world's gods, or by manipulating nature? Does it make the caster exhausted? Are there laws against excessive magic use? There's certainly no magic in my book, but different rules apply than they do in real life. Killing is necessary to survive, and no government exists to regulate the violence and drug trade that has no become a way of life. The world is essentially in anarchy. Morals have shifted from "defense of yourself" to "defense of all innocent people," and hunting down the gangs is the right thing to do. Every setting is unique, and it's up to the writer to set rules that work for each world. Having things that contradict those rules, such as an airplane in a sword-and-spell fantasy, make it hard for the reader to suspend disbelief. The book I'm reading now has werewolves with air ships. There's no evidence that the werewolves have powerful magic (or any magic at all), and technology in the world is far from producing air ships. It just seems really dumb and out of place.