Friday, 6 April 2012

"Of Chairs, Cataclysms and Character Abuse": Teens Can Write Too! Blog Chain, April 2012

Yes, yes, I know I'm not supposed to post today, but as I'm not going to be around over the weekend, I think I'm allowed to break my rules just once. Especially for something as cool as this.

I've been a follower of the awesome Teens Can Write Too! blog for some time and, though nowadays I find it hard to comment due to overwork, funky internet connection and frequent distraction-by-shiny-object, I have finally taken it upon myself to join in one of their famous blog chains! The theme this month is...
“What are your writers’ habits and eccentricities?”
Let’s face it, we all have them. Maybe you have a certain article of clothing you like to wear when you write, a la Jo March. Perhaps there’s a certain kind of character or situation that you strongly love or dislike to write. Is there a particular way that you must go about editing? Tell us about it!
Writing eccentricities? You's-a talking mah language! As if writers weren't weird enough from the outset, it turns out some of us can take our sometimes-strange behavior to whole new heights by decorating it, like a three-year-old's creatively constructive Christmas confection, with a delightful range of eccentricities and personal quirks.
And now, dear readers, for your enjoyment, I give you ... mine.

Number One: Death By Biscuits!
When writing, I find I often come up with my most dastardly ideas when I am licking the crumbs of a particularly delicious snack off my fingers. But, weirdly, only when it's a very specific type of biscuit. Unless I have my daily fix of these three-part tickets to sugar-and-raisin-based utopia, there ain't much evil in the barn tonight! So, rather than pelting me with rotten fruit for being such a little sadist, you can - literally - blame it on the biscuits. It's like a sugar high for my inner evil genius.
Number Two: If I Fits, I Sits.
Fun fact of the day: Charley hates chairs. Due to a combination of bony backside, long legs and an incurable fidgeting habit, I find sitting still for any period longer than about fifteen minutes to be a very uncomfortable experience. Cushions help a little, but, overall, the physical discomfort chairs cause me is enough to sometimes put me off writing.
To fix this, I have taken to sitting in / on / around anything that isn't a chair. At school, I like to sit on my bed, with my pillows propped up to make a sort of mini throne (half these pillows aren't necessary, but I like my throne shape). At home, I substitute my pillow throne for a specifically-shaped beanbag. I can literally spend ten minutes wriggling it into the correct shape for Writing Mode after I've slouched downwards while reading or browsing the internet. Edges of tables, comfortable wall niches and even a cupboard have also been locations in which some innate force has told me that writing is a good idea.
Number Three: The Dragonborn Comes!
Not only is the song one of the most awesome pieces of gameplay accompaniment I have ever heard, but my little buddy Llewellyn has been my constant companion through many of my most epic typing phases. Thus far he's invigilated two NaNoWriMos, a trilogy, multiple short works and, most recently, chapters of St Mallory's Forever! 
In fact, he's sitting with me right now. I wubs my widduw buddy! I always feel like something's missing when his head doesn't slightly obstruct my right wrist while typing.
Number Four: Author's Darlings.
This one is probably a little obvious, but I don't like "normal" characters very often. I just can't stand writing about those typical "so-and-so is an average guy/girl/being-of-indefinite-gender" premises. Even if it is only unusual taste in takeaway and a penchant for fluffy scarves, I feel I have to make my character engaging and interesting to the reader. The fact that I mostly write high fantasy and dystopian-style stories may or may not be related to this need for excitement and escapism beyond the hum-drum. This doesn't, of course, mean I take overdoing the original-ness of a character as a good thing. Trust me, you don't want to get me started on those.
On a similar note, I am a terrible offender when it comes to over-indulging my favourite characters - the nasty ones. Rin could give you a spectacular account of the horrors I allowed his various foes to get away with; from ridiculing his background and vicious name-calling to mass homicide and sadistically-driven maiming that left him with more than his fair share of battlescars, he had the lot. Of course, not all the characters I indulge are neccessarily villains - many of them are just nastily-inclined anti-heroes, or even unintentional allies in the end - but they're genuinely always two things: one - unpleasant by name and nature and two - able to convince me it's okay to let them get away with anything and everything.
No wonder I never know how to let the hero win anymore...
Number Five: Earthquakes! Wars! Plagues! Lumpy Custard!
Inevitably, an author who fawns on her nastier creations is more likely to be inclined to inciting disaster at every turn. But, I hear you cry, is that not the point? Stories need conflict, otherwise there's no point! This isn't an eccentricity, you cheater! Also, to most who know me, I'm a very friendly, upbeat person whose aversion to conflict and sensitivity to the sadness of others would indicate I'm probably no worse - and probably less inclined to - than your average author when it comes to sticking in nasties. 
Hehehehe. You know nothing, dear readers. Where most people would settle for one or two major conflict points in a story, I have more. A friend of mine once asked if I was some sort of repressed megalomaniac in my past life, because of how gruesomely I once described a battle scene. During the Aeserion Trilogy, said friend said she very nearly had to stop reading because the story was getting too dark and depressing for her to cope with much more. 
Call me evil at its worst, but I feel that I'm not doing my duty as an author if everything is running smoothly. I probably overdo it at times, but I am not ashamed to admit it. My characters no sooner have to poke their heads above the parapet before I'll send a panopoly of bullets, knives, arrows and flaming tribbles flying towards them. Nothing delights me more than orchestrating wars and disasters, and watching people battle like stink to get out of it again.
And if you think this is bad, you should see what happens when I play The Sims ... Mwua ha ha ha ha ha ha!
And, last of all, on a less psychotic note:
Number Six: Remember My Name!
I'm one of those people who takes great care over naming their characters, and I won't rest until I've got the right one for them - even if it means running an intensive "Search and Replace" through my 300-page Word document at multiple points in the story. I have to check it matches up with their nationality and background (though I'm less often inclined to check the name's meaning, unless I'm really in a corner about a name). Baby name websites are frequent raiding spots - especially those that have names from unusual cultures. Seriously, if the name does not fit, the story will not go. Thus is the unspoken Law of Charley's Brain.
Overcomplicated names are not a problem for me either - blame my good linguistic skills - so, unfortunately, I'm going to be one of those authors who has to put a pronounciation guide in the back of her books, and provides copious amounts of nicknames, to avoid tying my readers' tongues in knots.
Advance apologies to Lywellen, Caiafal, Triskaedekaphobia, Deladier and Erinestionavarial. Especially the last one ... sorry fella. It's a good thing you're cute with a name like that.
What about you lot? Got any eccentricities you want to share? Tell us all about them in the comments or, if you're feeling particularly inspired, write your own blog post about it!
The rest of the blog chain can be found here:

April 5––Comfy Sweaters, Writing, and Fish
April 6– — The Leaning Tower of Plot
April 7––Lily’s Notes in the Margins
April 8–– From My Head
April 9––This Page Intentionally Left Blank
April 10––The Word Asylum
April 11––Rachel’s Book Reviews
April 12––Novel Journeys
April 13––A Farewell to Sanity
April 14––Sword of Ink
April 15––The Dreamers Adventures
April 16––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
April 17––Here’s To Us
April 18––Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)
- Charley R


  1. I'm a sucker for Romance... no make that true love. I hate all the Romance crap of lovely dovey or bodice ripping sort. I'm all about love, and there's bound to be love somewhere. The kind of love where people will die for each other. Soulmates if you will. And yes I do have mushy parts, just little ones, often interrupted or disrupted... Just like real life no?

    In fact it's such a problem, the obsession with love, that I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to do my younger YA involving a 13, 14, 15 and `16 year old group (two boys two girls)... I hoping I can find a way to make it the kind of love that true friendship is made of, rather than the romantic kind. :}

    1. Ain't nothing wrong with a bit of love - I'm just useless at writing it due to lack of experience, so I avoid the specifics of it where possible. Damn Rin and Florien with their decisions to say "you know what, I want a girlfriend, so up yours Spook you'll have to cope". Curse them xP

      I'd be more than happy to give your YA a look if you ever got around to it! :D

  2. I can say that last one, but I can't remember it for more than about a minute...

    THE BEANBAG! You know what, I think we should make a pact to both have the IKEA snakes of awesome in our 'author photos' (if we have them) for St Mall's.

      Also, LOVE the idea with the IKEA snakes. We must do it! xD

  3. You sound really weird. I've found another kindred spirit! Llewellyn is a pretty great name... but do you know how to pronounce it? (No, it isn't just "Lou-Ellen".)
    Great post, and welcome to the blog chain!

    1. Heehee, oh yes, I am most definitely a weird one ;)
      Lywellen - it's Welsh, hence the weirdness - is, I think, pronounced with a Welsh "L" in it, so "Loo-ech-len", with the "ech" being the Welsh L ... am I right there?

      Thanks very much :)

    2. I believe you're close, as far as I can tell from my extremely limited knowledge of Welsh. (I just like acting smarter than I am.) But I thought the double L was pronounced as a sort of non-English sound approaching "thl", where your tongue forms the L sound, but you blow from either side of it. Anyway. Welsh is just so cool...

    3. Yeah - I can SAY it correctly (I'm teaching myself a little bit of Welsh), but it's really hard to do Welsh phonetically in text - it never looks quite right, even though you read it right someone else might not xP

      It really is awesome - hence why, as mentioned before, I'm going to teach myself a little big. I can already say the name of the longest town in Wales (with a rubbish English accent xD)

  4. Nice post! And funny too. I just have to ask, when you said "flaming tribbles" you were referring to the purring balls of mass multiplying fluff from Star Trek right?
    I sadly, create too normal main characters. It's annoying. I have some wonderfully quirky side characters, but main characters, not so much.
    Those character names are something else. I'm impressed.

    1. Yes, THOSE tribbles! Yippee for someone else understanding the reference! :D :D :D

      LOL, i"m the ohter way around .. when the side characters can sneak past their normal ness. I htink I'm allergic to normal, hehe.

      I'm glad! yes, they really are weird, but for some reason normal names just won't fit ... and it's only in Fantasy and the other genres I write that I can get away with them xD

    2. Yippee for finding another Trekkie! Is there any chance you're a Whovian too?

      I write reality based mysteries at the moment, so names aren't quite as fun. I have a fantasy idea I'm developing, and I seem to be drawn to names with "y"s in them. And Welsh names too.

      Of all the things in the world to be allergic too, normal-ness isn't bad ;)

    3. By all that's wibbly wobbly and timey wimey, yes I am! :D

      SAME! Except not so much on the Y front ... *giggles at inadvertant underpants joke* .... Sorry xP

      True, true. Beats my horrible nut and sesame seed allergy for sure xP

    4. Sweet!
      Oh, definitely. I'm allergic to nail polish, but that's not as bad as nuts. :(

  5. I'm sorry, wait. You named something/someone after the fear of the number 13??
    Wow. That's odd, even for you ;P

    1. Yep. And he hates me for it, bahaha!
      Trust me, my weirdness knows no bounds! *cackles*

  6. I've heard of this blog chain before...I may have to take part sometime, it seems like a lot of fun!!

    And your strange writerly habits were fantastic! I especially like Llewellyn. Such a cutie. ;)

    Also, I know what you mean about characters. I like characters who have at least one interesting personality quirk! Or characters who are complexly realistic. There's no fun in a Plain Jane character, and when you overdo things...well, said character turns into a Mary Sue and gets picked apart by the rest of the reading/writing community. So...yeah.

    Great post, Charley, thanks for sharing! And Happy Easter - if you celebrate it, I hope you enjoy your day! Hugs!

    1. D'aww, thank you very much! Do join in sometimes - this was my first one, and it was so much fun! If I'm free next month I'll probably do it again :)

      YES! Plain Jane mutates in to Stinky Sue too easily, and I like quirky ones. They're more fun to engage with on paper, so I try and do the same in my own works. Self-indulgent that I am ;)

      Happy easter and lots of hugs to you too!