Tag Archives: Character Developement

The Beautiful Books #27: August 2017

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

It’s time for another edition of The Beautiful Books, where I write a blog-post discussing how little progress I’ve made on my WIP Novel Project, Orion – Volume II of the Pushing Boundaries series, YAY! Let’s begin with some writing advice, if you need some, check out the links bellow:

Jenna Moreci:
~Tips For Writers

Katytastic:
~WRITING / OUTLINING / REVISING

For this post, I’ll be focusing on Beth and James, hopefully that will make things easier. On with the Questions!

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?
Beth: Caffeine (tea and energy drinks). Beth has a stress-eating problem, but she’s more inclined towards cheese and biscuits, or say, having and enormous tub of Greek yogurt and eating it with savoy-biscuits like dip (IDK, honestly, straight Greek yogurt tastes super weird to me).

James: sweet treats and desserts. James (like Beth) has a stress-eating problem, James will stand in the kitchen and just eat a whole packet of dark-chocolate digestive biscuits without thinking about it.

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.
Beth:
01. Positive – Beth is helpful, she’s willing to help volunteer her time (sometimes overly so) if she perceives someone else needs it.
02. Positive – It takes Beth a while to get attached to people, but when Beth cares about a character, she really cares and they’re willing to do a lot for other people.
03. Positive – Beth is eager to learn new things.
04. Negative – Beth can be overly helpful, sometimes giving too much of her time (not being able to see that a project is doomed to fail or being taking advantage of), sometimes taking over a situation completely without asking, she can also come across bossy because of this.
05. Negative – Beth is introverted to a socially awkward level, it can make her insecure and prone to negative thinking.
06. Negative – Beth doesn’t really know what she wants and she’s incisive about things that should be easy to figure out, which is a difficult thing for her to admit to.

James:
01. Positive – James is honest, sometimes too honest, but I consider it a positive thing.
02. Positive – Like Beth, it takes James a while to get attached to people, but when he cares about a character, he really cares and they’re willing to do a lot for other people.
03. Positive – He’s very protective of his younger siblings, sometimes a little too overprotective, he really does care about them, but he finds it easier to display it with action rather than say
04. Negative – James can be super controlling about stuff, like his food and his environment, it’s bad coping mechanism and I’m hoping (over the course of the series) to help him grow out this behaviour and be able to let some things slide.
05. Negative – James can be petty about stuff.
06. Negative – James tries not to to be, but he does get jealous of Dominic, mostly because it seems like Dominic has all the things James has always wanted (a stable job, family acceptance and his own place), I’d like to write a chapter where James eventually resolves his perceived issues with Dominic.

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?
Beth: Emotional Baggage with both her parents

James: Emotional Baggage with his parents and some guilt/resentment issues with Mac (with what Mac has become and the way Mac is not-dealing with the situation). James also has problems with the way his mother refuses to not-deal with Mac, despite the fact that his mother is the exact opposite with him (his mother is nosy and tends to pry a bit with regards to James).

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?
Beth: Beth is more of a 5 or 6, she’s naturally a messy person, but she tries really hard to be neat and organised
James: James is more of a 8, he’s organised but it’s also part of a coping mechanism and is connected to his anxiety, so it’s not a natural thing.

What most frustrates them about the world they live in?
Beth: Beth gets frustrated by a lack of empathy or not noticing (or refusing to acknowledge) a problem, the more obvious the problem more irritating it is.

James: Communication with Neurotypical people. They don’t mean what they say and the don’t say what they mean. Conversation is where casual ableism usually shows up as well.

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?
Beth: Out = pretty vintage style dresses Mary has made for her, In = casual wear (like tracky-dacks and a t-shirt)

James: Out = overly formal, In = overly casual (track-pants, t-shirt, fluffy robe, thick slippers). James does wear a binder during the week when he’s at work.

How many shoes do they own, and what kind?
Beth: an excessive amount of shoes, wide variety of types, but Beth is prone to gravitate towards brightly coloured shoes.

James: a nice pair of black lace-up shoes for formal events, a pair of nice business shoes for work, a couple of pairs of running shoes, and a couple of pairs of work-boots (one for the farm, one for home).

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?
Beth: Beth tends to gravitate more towards dogs than cats, but she doesn’t mind either.
James: he has a calico cat named Sarah Jane

Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?
Beth: Her mother Claire, for being an alcoholic and being an abusive parent, as a result of Claire’s abusive behaviour, Beth has nothing to do with her. Beth also resents her father because, at the time, Isaac came across as taking her mother’s side, so there’s this unspoken resentment between them.

James: James does harbour some resentment towards his mother, he lives with his grandmother instead of her and he feels she should have made more of an effort in getting Robert’s half of the family to accept him as he is. *Upcoming spoilers* James’s biological father dies in a car-accident and James resents how he has to navigate all the complicated social conventions and social rituals for a person who pretty much abandoned him at five-years of age.

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?
Beth: snacks, like yogurt and crackers and cheese. Beth likes to have dried pieces of fruits because she forgets to eat fresh fruit and it goes bad

James: James can be kind of anal with his food, so everything is in organised Tupperware containers with labels or ziplock bags with labels. His fridge is most likely to have vegetarian stuff in there but also stuff to make smoothies with. James will often have enormous container of carrot-sticks.

So yeah, let me know in the comment section if you’re working on a Novel Project, I’d love to hear about other people’s projects (that way I don’t have to think about mine).

The Beautiful Books #25: June

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals
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Another monthly update on my Pushing Boundaries WIP Novel Project. I’m going to attempt to outline Orion – Volume II in preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo in July (here’s a link to my Camp NaNoWriMo profile in case readers want to join me).

These questions have taken longer than it should have for me to answer (honestly, I have no fucking idea what my characters dream about, maybe that means I don’t know my characters well enough, IDK), I suspect that the outlining process is going to take more effort than I first anticipated (here’s the link if people want writing resources from Camp NaNoWriMo).

Honestly, the Camp NaNoWriMo resources weren’t that useful for me, so I’ve included some links down the bottom of the blog post for Plotting and General Writing Resources.

What’s their favourite place they’ve ever visited?
James: Disneyland Paris

Beth: visiting London with Justine and Dominic

Mac: The small greenhouse Robert, James and Mac constructed together when Mac was young

Cassie: Camping with her family

What’s one mistake they made that they learned from?
James: when James was younger, he wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, he found it easier to manage open/casual liaisons. As James got older, he wanted to make an attempt at romantic relationships, however, his relationship with previous girlfriend Claudia was more along the lines of being in love with the idea of a stable relationship and thus was willing to put up with a mediocrity. In his mind, the mistake was entering into a relationship that didn’t meet all his needs and wants, and the lesson learnt was “don’t enter into a relationship just because you’re lonely”.

Beth: Beth is very suspicious of men, this due to bad experiences she’s had in the past and a previous abusive relationship (it became abusive when she ended it), in her mind, Beth thinks her mistake was being vulnerable too early in a relationship or entering into a relationship at all, giving her ex-boyfriend too much information about herself. Beth’s mental objective is keeping her distance for as long as possible, she often plays hard to get in romantic pursuits, if it seems like situation has too many variables or too much risk, she won’t bother, she’d rather go without then to compromise on her own set of terms of conditions.

Mac: Mac tends to be too direct and too honest, he can come across as a little intimating at first, he’s also a little socially awkward, he often gets excited and enthusiastic about comic books, so he’s learnt not to stand too close to women and not to stand in the way of doorways when talking about comic books.

Cassie: I think Cassie’s mistake is that she lacks confidence in herself and often doesn’t speak up about what she wants (and usually regrets it later). I hope that, over the course of the Pushing Boundaries series, Cassie becomes more confident and emotionally secure in what she wants and needs.

What was their favourite subject in school? Or favourite thing to learn about?
James: Astronomy and Science related subjects

Beth: Literature, Home Economics, Drama and Media

Mac: Woodwork and Metalwork

Cassie: Textiles, Drama and Literature

What’s their favourite flower/growing thing?
James: Roses, citrus scents, and herbs, specifically Rosemary

Beth: Lavender

Mac: Herbs

Cassie: Lemongrass and Citrus scents

Have they ever made someone cry? What happened?
James and Mac: Both of them have accidentally made women and girls cry by saying something insensitive or being too honest and/or too direct

Beth and Cassie: Both of them go out of their way to be considerate of people’s emotions, so neither of them had have made someone else cry, but Beth does occasionally suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome and sometimes Beth can be a little too direct.

Would you consider them a reliable or unreliable narrator?
James: Mixture of the two, he’s reliable when it comes to observing other people, but can be blindsided by his own biases and some preconceived notions about people, for example: he has a preconceived notion about who Cassie is as a person and has no problems about using her and discarding her in order to fulfil his own objective, James can be ruthlessly efficient.

Beth: Beth is the reliable type of narrator, but she’s the internal type of narrator, she’s honest with herself (to a certain extent), but that’s pretty much it.

Mac: Mac might be considered an unreliable narrator about himself, and he isn’t that observant about other people, Mac tends to wrap himself up in his own little world.

Cassie: Cassie might be considered an unreliable narrator, she likes to think the best of people and she’s kind of oblivious (sometimes it’s out of self-preservation, sometimes it’s naturally occurring)

They’ve gone out for a “special meal.” What would they eat?
James: James enjoys Asian cuisine, vegetarian meals mostly.

Beth: Beth has a weakness for bacon and hard-types of cheese, however, Beth enjoys Lasagna, Asian cuisine, and baked-potatoes.

Mac: Mac enjoys steak, chips and salad

Cassie: Cassie enjoys home-cooked meals but loves Pad Thai and Asian cuisine

What’s at least one thing they want to do before they die?
James: James has become hyper-focused on taking down the Acker Family, this is mostly because he doesn’t have a strong concept of long-term goals, it’s difficult to him to think past this goal.

Beth: Beth wants to travel around Europe, she wants to do touristy things, despite the fact that she doesn’t like crowds.

Mac: Mac wants to get married and have kids, but he’s beginning to sort of rethink those objectives, “are romantic relationships really worth the hurt and pain?”, he’s kind of in the mental state of “Life in general is not worth the effort”.

Cassie: Cassie wants to get away from her immediate family, with the exception of her Aunt, and establish her own safe space. Cassie wants to be a primary school teacher to prevent her type of family situation from happening.

Do they have any distinguishing or unique talents?
James: Justine and James work well together, Justine handles calling people directly (something James isn’t particularly good at), James is good at writing the required script, finding the right information, James is good at picking up details that other people may miss.

Beth: Beth has this ability for people to feel compelled to tell her personal information (although she doesn’t see it as a talent and would prefer if people didn’t dump their problems on her). Beth could consider her cooking skills and her experiences with her catering business to be her better talents. Beth is happy to make desserts or cakes but isn’t interested in eating the items she makes. Beth is also skilled with crocheting but terrible at sewing with a needle or with a sewing machine.

Mac: Mac is good at hands-on tradie-stuff, carpentry and landscaping. He’s good at gardening and DIY Home Projects.

Cassie: Cassie is good with sewing, she often makes clothes, but she doesn’t wear them (she often donates them).

Links:
~NaNoWriMo Plotting Resources
~Worksheets for Writers
~Four Steps to Putting Your Plot in Order
~THE ONE PAGE NOVEL PLOT FORMULA
~THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GOOGLE DOCS FOR WRITERS (+ WORKFLOW VIDEO & PDF CHECKLIST)
~Story writing websites: 151 of the best
~Plotting and Scheming Cheat Sheet
~Creative Writing Tools


The Beautiful Books #23: March 2017

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

Welcome to another installment of The Beautiful Books, where I bather on about my current WIP Novel Project, which would be Orion – Volume II in the Pushing Boundaries series (yeah, I know, it says Scorpius is the title of Volume II on the Pushing Boundaries link page, clearly I need to change that, Scorpius will be the title of Volume III instead), however, there have been some complications with the plotting and outlining process.

I’m supposed to have a finished outline for Volume II by the end of March so I can use it for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, but right now it’s just super hard to sit down and think about what I want to happen in Volume II, let alone write it down. One of the numerous problems is that currently I don’t know what’s going on with Beth and James, so for the mean-time, I’m just going to focus on Mac and Cassie and, hopefully, that’ll work out instead. On with the post!

What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
Mac: Mac enjoys Marvel and DC Comics (the whole Marvel/DC rivalry doesn’t make any sense to him), so he’s enthusiastic/passionate about Comic-to-Movie adaptation, he likes being able to explain the adaptation differences and domino affect it would have on the plot-line.

Cassie: Cassie enjoys cheesy romantic-comedies but her favorite movie would be The Notebook

Is there anything they regret doing?
Mac got Cassie pregnant when she was seventeen and he was twenty and, while they don’t regret getting pregnant per say, they regret the circumstances and events that happened around the two of them at that time (so it’s more of a “guilt by association” type thing).

Mac: When Cassie first told him that she was pregnant, Mac went to James for assistance and James and Justine offered to help discreetly arrange an abortion for Cassie, which is something they both objected to (Cassie didn’t want to get abortion and Mac was supportive of her choice, he was willing to provide whatever Cassie needed), however, Cassie’s family eventually realised that she was pregnant and organised to have Cassie “sent off to a relative” when her pregnancy became more noticeable and for parents to adopt the child. Mac objected to this attempted to (for lack of a better word) rescue Cassie from this arrangement (Cassie was pretty much being forced into giving up the child, but she have a small say on who the adoptive parents could be, Mac didn’t get a say at all). James found out about this and, with Justine’s help, tracked Mac and Cassie down and brought Cassie back to her parents.

Cassie: Cassie doesn’t regret going through with the pregnancy, but sometimes she does wonder if she should have had an abortion (would it have spared Mac all that turmoil and stress?), Cassie also regrets not being able to talk to Mac about the situation, Mac just assumed that they would be a continue to be couple and they would automatically become a family, Cassie wanted to be Mac and she loves him very much, but she realizes now that she didn’t want to be a mother at that point in her life and she’s afraid of saying anything about it because she doesn’t want to sound like she doesn’t care about Mac or the daughter they have. So Yeah… A lot of angst there.

If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?
Mac: Emilia is a little precious with Mac with when Mac is sick

Cassie: Cassie normally just takes care of herself (depending on how bad it is, usually she’s not that bad), her mum checks on her but her mum is more the aloof/distant type.

Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?
Mac: Mac has sonograms of his unborn daughter tucked away safely, but he also has a copy of them on his phone, for obvious reasons.

Cassie: Cassie wishes she had sonograms (her mother took her copies from her to give to the adoptive parents), I’m planning on writing a depressing/touching scene (depending on my writing skills and reader’s perspective) where Cassie finds them on his phone.

What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?
Both Mac and Cassie have a strong sense of loyalty to their friends (it does manifest in different ways, Mac is more aggressive and willing to pick a fight, where are Cassie is more passive and willing to do stuff on another person’s behalf). Beth manages to win them both over being nice to them and cooking them food.
Mac: Mac is more of a common interest type person, Duncan and him have been mates since secondary school and while they both have an interest in drawing, Duncan no longer has time to pursue it (busy with work and a girlfriend), Beth has more of an interest in manga than comics but she knows enough of a general overview of Marvel and DC so that she had keep up with Mac. Beth also has a list of Marvel movies and TV shows she’s been meaning to catch up on.

Cassie: Cassie is pretty tolerant of people, but she won’t accept homophobia and, even though she’s rather timid when it comes to defending herself from her brother Mark or Donoghue, she is quick and sharp to call Mark and Donoghue out on their bullshit. Cassie can be a little clingy, although she doesn’t always realise it, Seamus sometimes has to remind her when she’s being too clingy with Beth.

Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.
Mac: work boots, flannel shirt (usually in a shade of blue with a navy blue singlet underneath) and jeans.

Cassie: feminine method of fashion, pastel colors (pink and blue), likes to where knitted items of clothing and make her own items of clothing.

What’s their favorite type of weather?
Mac: Summer and spring, but mostly summer, Mac would love the idea of Australian summer, which generically speaking involves wearing shorts and thongs (the shoes in case that wasn’t clear), going to the beach and having a backyard barbecue

Cassie: Cassie likes spring, she loves the smell of roses and flowers in bloom, she also enjoys hiking and walking trails

What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?
I suppose it wasn’t a fight, but more the absence of a fight, the pressure of things left unsaid. When James and Justine came to collect Cassie from the caravan-park they were holed up in, James held Mac in a head-lock until he passed out (James made sure to get Justine to stay with him to prevent him from chasing after Cassie), so neither of them got a chance to say goodbye and get proper closure from the whole incident. The lack of closure affects them both, it just affects them in different ways, Mac gets drunk and lashes out, while Cassie takes to selling drugs so she can get away from her parents.

What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?
Mac: Mac doesn’t have any nicknames because he’s name is already so short, although Beth does develop the habit of calling Mac “Macca” (which she does to annoy him, although it annoys James more than it does Mac)

Cassie: Cassie’s full name is Cassandra, but she prefers Cassie

What makes their heart feel alive?
Mac: Being with Cassie

Cassie: Being with Mac

So Yeah… that’s about it thus far, now I just have to sit down, and figure out how to shove all of those past events into a 60 000 novella *manic and slightly panicky laughter.

The Beautiful Books #22: February 2017

 

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

Last year when I answered these questions, the couple I chose to focus on was Beth and James, however, this time around I’d like to focus on another couple. This time I’d like to focus on my side-characters, Mac and Cassie, this is because in an indirect way they’ve managed to spark the catalysts of my main plot and a couple of side-plots as well. I would also prefer to focus on Mac and Cassie at this point because (to be honest) they’re the only couple in my Pushing Boundaries series where I have a definitive answer for how I want to resolve their relationship problems and what kind of place (growth-wise) I want Mac and Cassie to be in by the end of Volume II.

How and why did they meet?
Mac and Cassie met at a mutual friend’s house party, Duncan, they did have a few drinks but they spent the whole night talking to each other about Comic Books and Comic Book Adaptations (movies and tv shows) and that was a new thing for Mac, despite the fact that Cassie was seventeen at the time and he was twenty.

What were their first impressions of each other?
Cassie was a little imitated by Mac and was uncertain of how to proceed (mostly because of how James and her older brother have a big feud). Cassie was expecting Mac to be hostile towards her because of the feud, but he wasn’t. Mac was expecting Cassie to be a snob or a malicious bitch because the Acker family have a history of being arseholes, Mac’s idea was that Cassie wasn’t worth the effort, so he pretty much ignored her until Seamus introduced them and mentioned that Cassie liked graphic novels and manga.

How would they prove their love for each other?
Mac’s the type of guy who doesn’t say he loves people with words but with actions, he’ll do something he doesn’t particularly like because it will make person X happy, he’s also the type to get into fights defending people (but in a way that’s more using someone else as an excuse to get into a fight).

Cassie is the type of person who is physically affectionate with a lover/paramour/partner but rather shy and reserved when it comes to talking about her feelings, in fact she tends to avoid those types of conversations (which is why Mac doesn’t know where he stands, he can’t tell if it was just some silly fling or a meaningful connection)

What would be an ideal date?
Mac: freshly shaved and nice clothing, most likely dinner and a movie kinda deal, but he’s also the type to want to go for a walk after dinner and explore the nearby area, maybe get dessert from a different place.
Cassie: Cassie the type to want a later dinner at a restaurant, that way there’s less people and it’s more intimate. But Cassie also likes group outings like dragging Mac along to a LARP situation (Cassie and Seamus are into LARP and Dungeons & Dragons). She likes her perspective partner to show an interest in her activities and being able to get along with her friends.

Is there something they emphatically disagree on?
Mac has a pretty black and white perspective on Cassie’s abusive family situation, he refuses to let Cassie “explain” away her parents behavior (“Dad is only like that when he’s drunk, he doesn’t mean it and he makes up for it later”). Beth helps Mac understand that the situation can be more complicated and that it is not always that simple because her father is a police officer.

List 3 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)
01. Mac is average at cooking, but there’s two meals he’s really good at which is scrambled eggs and pancakes. This is because James taught him how to cook them when he was younger.
02. Not sure if this is food related, but Cassie is a competent deer hunter because her dad likes to deer hunt as well, she also knows how to properly skin an animal and the basics of tanning.
03. Mac is more Sweets Orientated and Cassie is more Savory Orientated

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?
Cassie knows that Mac is a good drawer and encouraged him to pursue it professionally. Mac knows that Cassie enjoys performing with the choir but hates performing solo pieces for the church, she feels that she’s getting the solo because her parent’s influence on the church council, not because she’s talented (she is reasonably talented though)

What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?
Over the two years, both of them have contemplated suicide, Cassie tends to be more inclined towards drinking and self-harming, however, both of them seem to be heading towards self-destructive burn-out, Beth is the one who notices this in both of them and both of them ask Beth not to mention it to the other (something Beth doesn’t approve of but understands).

How would their lives be different without each other?
That’s an interesting question. If Cassie and Mac hadn’t met, Cassie wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and Mac and Cassie wouldn’t be the parent to a daughter, but for Cassie, her life situation wouldn’t really be that much different, if anything her current situation is kind of unbearable because when she was Mac she realised what it was like to be truly happy and what it felt to break away from her family situation (even if it was just for a couple of hours or days). I like to think Mac would still feel as though he was without a purpose (he just wouldn’t know why), he felt as his relationship with Cassie gave him purpose, that he felt he was really was making a difference in someone else’s life. Mac would be less depressed but he would just as emotionally lost.

Where do they each see this relationship going?
Both of them don’t see it working out and that they’re better off without the other (naturally this isn’t true). Beth and Seamus think it could work out which is why they get involved as match-makers which mostly consists of getting Mac and Cassie in the same room and making them talk to each other (Beth and Seamus haven’t put much thought into plan), primarily at Justine’s shed as it’s kind of a more neutral zone (much to Justine’s annoyance).

So yeah… That’s my Beautiful Books post, if you want to talking about your latest WIP Novel project, feel free to leave a comment down the bottom. If you want to leave a link to your own Beautiful People post, please do so in the comment section down below, and if you’re interested in partaking in Camp NaNoWriMo in April, let me know in the comments section.

Links:
~Paper Fury: BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE #22 ~ COUPLES EDITION

~Paper Fury: How I Get Ready To Write A Novel

Audio Stimming: Postmodern Jukebox

Image Description: The keyboard of a piano with a single page of sheet music on top of it
In my family, Music is a big deal, and every Christmas I would make Mix-Tape Style CD’s for my friends and family. Unfortunately, one of my parents would regularly work Christmas Day, and would listen to the CD on the way to work. My father is a walking encyclopedia on the History of Music. If you give him the name of a band, he will rattle off the band’s history and placements of specific songs on radio charts. My partner on the other hand, as kid, did not possess an interest in music. He had limited exposure to FM Pop radio stations and ABC on AM, which didn’t change until he finished secondary college and moved to the “big city” of Bendigo for University access. The only time he listened to music regularly was in the car as he and his step-father traveled into Melbourne together.

This was a strange idea for me to grasp when my partner told me this. It was very difficult for me — a person who is sometimes overwhelmed by sound — to comprehend that for my partner, bands and songs were not distinguishable from each other, but rather blurred together to form one large homogenized blob of decade-associated-noise. Which is why my partner and father will occasionally have weird moments, such as when I play a song my partner vaguely recognizes and I tell him it’s (for example) by Fleetwood Mac. He’ll raise an eyebrow at me and say “That’s Fleetwood Mac?” (though in his defense Fleetwood Mac does change it’s vocal-line up frequently). My father will be incredulous at my partner’s inability to detect a particular band’s style by a mere few bars of music. My partner will shrug non-nonchalantly (“What are you getting all riled up for? It’s just music.”), which will naturally annoy my father further.

Although, I have exposed him to my weird and strange assortment of music, I must confess it mostly consists of 90’s alternative rock — I am a product of my time period in some ways. As my partner’s car is a Japanese import, it can only access AM radio stations, which makes it a little difficult to keep up with modern music. So, it has only just recently come to my attention that auditory stimming is a thing. I hadn’t realised it until I saw a tumblr post mentioning a list of stims, and “listening to the same song over and over again” was one of them, which is something I’ve been doing since I was kid.

The thing is, I still do this and I’m starting to think it might be one of my “feel good” stims (as opposed to my “stress relief” stims which are fidget/hand orientated) and I hadn’t realised it until now. It’s funny, I’ve been trying to figure out “feel good” stims for my characters in my Pushing Boundaries series, and I should have realised sooner why I was having such difficulties. If I couldn’t figure out my own ones, I could hardly figure out ones for my characters. At this point, while I can figure out Mary’s “feel good” stims, it’s going to be more difficult for a character like James, who mostly listens to audio books and classical music, and I have a feeling that it’s going be a process of elimination.

So, for the last two days, I’ve been listening to Youtube videos made by Postmodern Jukebox, and these videos have been helpful for character development and Auditory Stimming:

The Original Artist:
~All About That Bass by Megan Trainor
~Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
~Closer by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
~Habits by Tove Lo
~Hotline Bling by Drake
~Lovefool by The Cardigans
~Stacey’s Mum by Fountains of Wayne
~Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging by Fall Out Boy
~Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood
~Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys and Barbie Girl by Aqua (the 90’s was a weird time)

The Postmodern Jukebox Version:
~All About That Bass – Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version ft. Casey Abrams, Haley Reinhart, Morgan James and Ariana Savalas
~Bad Romance – Vintage 1920’s Gatsby Style ft. Ariana Savalas and Sarah Reich
~Closer – Retro ’50s Prom Style ft. Kenton Chen
~Habits – Vintage 1930’s Jazz ft. Haley Reinhart
~Hotline Bling – Vintage ’40s Swing ft. Cristina Gatti
~Lovefool – Vintage Jazz ft. Haley Reinhart
~Stacy’s Mum – Vintage 1930s Hot Jazz ft. Casey Abrams
~Sugar, We’re Going Down – Vintage Big Band Style ft. Joey Cook
~Sweater Weather – Vintage French Pop / Edith Piaf-style ft. Cristina Gatti
~Barbie Girl – Vintage Beach Boys Style ft. Morgan James

This is just a small sample I’m working with. I’m hoping if I use a small sample, it will make it easier to focus my attention. I am so easily distracted by noise and sound. There are way more songs available from the enormously talented singers and musicians that work with Postmodern Jukebox.

All About The Bass: I’ve already written about my issues with the Megan Trainor version (link is here), however I can’t deny I enjoy listening to this version of the song. Morgan James also changes the line to “go ahead and tell those skinny ladies that”, and coupled with her delivery of the “Naw, I’m just playing, I know you think you’re fat” line sort of makes it more tolerable? IDK, it’s up to personal interpretation. My favourite part of the song is when all three ladies harmonize together (which is audio catnip for me). The first time I listened to this song, I couldn’t help but close my eyes and sigh; I was not aware I was doing that until my partner raised an eyebrow at my behaviour.

Bad Romance: The funny thing is that Lady Gaga herself is a self-taught pianist, so she often performs Poker Face in this style, which I think is great. If anything, I encourage artists to be able to sit back and strip down their music to the essentials. Ariana Savalas and Sarah Reich work great together as a team, with Sarah performing tap dancing. I would have thought the tap-dancing would make it distracting, but it’s complimentary (or at least that’s the case for me).

Closer: While it’s clear that the guy from The Chainsmokers could not sing to save his life, this is not the case with Kenton Chen and the other vocalists Mario Jose and Vince Cannady. They provide lovely tenor and countertenor harmonization. But this song highlights the fact that talented musicians and vocalists are still restricted by the song. The lyrical clunkiness of the chorus is highlighted because these are talented musicians and vocalists. Much in the same way that Elvis Presley’s bad acting was highlighted further by surrounding him with a cast of talented actors. But, getting back on topic, I just love this style of music. Amongst my favourite songs are I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by The Four Tops and Why Do Fools Fall In Love by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers.

Habits: I love the Haley Reinhart version of this (I’ve replayed this countless times over the last two days). I adore Haley Reinhart’s smoky/raspy Mezzo-soprano voice, or at least I think that’s what it’s classified as (I am in no way a music expert). Haley Reinhart is an engaging performer and she is exquisite to listen to.

Hotline Bling: While I despise the original version of this song, I do enjoy the Hotline Bling memes which are hilarious (the Star Wars one is the best, no exceptions). But much like All About That Base, when Cristina Gatti sings this song, it somehow becomes more tolerable (is that the right word?). When I asked my partner to listen to it, he said “Great, now I have to take this song seriously.” He described it as “like Amy Winehouse”, to which I replied “Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing?”, especially since I also love Amy Winehouse’s music such as Rehab (I play this constantly), Back To Black and Valerie (I know this is Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse, but you get the general idea)

Lovefool: As stated previously, I adore tracks performed by Haley Reinhart, but I also really like the original as well. It’s one of my favourite songs, I think both versions are good, but my partner thinks this version is too close to the original. Let me know in the comments section if you agree or disagree.

Stacey’s Mum: This song is a bit of guilty pleasure of mine, and while I enjoy both versions, I’ve got to say that Casey Abrams is mad talented.

Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging: Although I am a big Fall Out Boy Fan, I love it when female artists do covers of songs originally sung for/by men. After all, despite the fact that Otis Reed originally did sing it, Aretha Franklin’s version of Respect is the one that’s most well known, and it’s obvious Aretha Franklin’s version is the better one (not sorry in the slightest). Joey Cook’s version does not disappoint, it sounds just like I imagined a vintage big band to sound like, and the black and white visual adds to the jazzy atmosphere.

Sweater Weather: While I do like the original, I prefer Cristina Gatti’s version, not just because she is lovely to listen to (singing in French!) but also because, unlike the original song, the music composition is consistent throughout the track, the original track slows down the melody for some weird reason near the end. This reminds me strongly of Dancing With Myself by Nouvelle Vague, although I do also enjoy the Billy Idol version of Dancing With Myself as well.

Barbie Girl: With regards to Aqua, I actually have a copy their first album (I give full permission to laugh) and while Barbie Girl was most certainly overplayed, it wasn’t Aqua’s best song, my preferred Aqua songs would be Good Morning Sunshine (even though it has a weird rap moment?) and Happy Boys and Girls (if you could turn Diabetes into a sound, I’m fairly certain it would sound like this). With regards to The Beach Boys, I think Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys is an overrated and, quite frankly, jarring song (there’s a reason people only use the first minute and thirty seconds of that song). I feel that Wouldn’t It Be Good (one of my favourite songs) and I Get Around are better examples of The Beach Boys trademark harmonizing vocals.

And this is why Youtube is both a terrible and wonderful thing. For the last two days, I’ve been feeling happy whilst listening to music, but feeling positive and feeling productive are not the same thing. It’s impossible for me to write and sing at the same time (I’ve tested this). Words can be distracting to productivity, which is why one of my PWE teachers recommended listening to instrumental sounds while writing like cinematic soundtracks or classical music instead.

I have found that I’m more productive with music playing in the background with speakers. I’m not as productive when I’m listening to my mp3 player and headphones, but then again, I live with just my partner and me so that’s possible for me to do that (I understand that’s not possible for everyone). If using Youtube, make use of the playlist function, I found that the playlist function was super helpful and I didn’t have to worry about what video to play next, it automatically went to the next one. This way I could just run it in the background while I did the dishes and the laundry.

So, let me know in the comments section down below if you’re into this type of music or if you like an alternative cover version of a song.

Links:
~Queer Without Gender – Experience Atypical: Sound
~Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist: Signs And Symptoms Of Dysfunction
~Todd In The Shadows: Closer by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
~Todd In The Shadows: The Best of 2013
~The Rap Critic: Hotline Bling by Drake
~When you try all the sounds and beats on your synth while only playing coldplay – viva la vida
~Auditory Stimming

The Beautiful Books #21: September

Beautiful Books - Writing Goals
It’s time for another installment of The Beautiful Books – September Edition. Unfortunately, the effort of trying to make sure Pushing Boundaries: Volume One is ready for publishing, I’ve been a bit slack with regards to blogging (sorry about that) so naturally I fell a bit behind and am now #LowKeyPanicking especially now that this year’s NaNoWriMo is fast approaching (I need a freaking Freeze Ray, time is going way too fast).

This On The Outside

This On The Outside

This On The Inside

This On The Inside


And all of my assignments are due on the same day, the last day of term, huzzah! Because I need that extra layer of stress (did I mention I’m attempting to Graduate this year from my degree? Whose foolish idea was that?). Anyway, I’ll stop bitching (I’m sure there are worse off people than myself) and I shall get on with the post.

How did you come up with this character?
James: While James is his own person, the two people I was inspired by to make James are similar to each other but neither of them are similar to James. I wanted James to be distinctively different from them.
The funny thing about James is that personality-wise, he and I more alike than the two people I loosely based him on, and by based on I took a personality trait I liked in others but lacked myself (like say blunt method of talking combined with a dry sense of humor) and added that to James.

Beth: There are elements of my sister in Beth, they’re both Auslan interpreters, they both wear more socially acceptable feminine style of clothing, they’re women who understand the idea behind feminism but aren’t interested in actively participating in it, they’re both mildly eccentric (but not too weird) and a little awkward with people they don’t know well. But there are elements of Beth that are more like me rather than my sister. Beth only wears make-up when she has to (I rarely wear make-up and usually only do so for a special occasion) and Beth is more introverted than my sister.

Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?
James: No, especially since James lives with his Scottish grandma, when he spends time with his Scottish extended family, they are constantly trying to get him to eat (James is a vegetarian with a high metabolism so he’s often underweight). However, James has felt “starving for attention” rather than food.

Beth: Beth does detox cleanses regularly or for a special occasion, something James thinks is pointless and super weird. Beth might also fit into the “starving for attention” category as well, but she’s not the type to say or do anything about it.

Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?
James: James and Robert have a mutual interest in Astronomy, James is very proud of the fact that he can point out constellations (with a good pair of binoculars) and he can show people planets with Robert’s telescope. Although James doesn’t know the Greek mythology behind those same constellations

Beth: While Beth has skills she’s proud of, like her domestic skills (cooking, cleaning, organizing), I think it’s her talent for dancing that’s a little more interesting (or it could just be me). Beth has a talent for dancing, but no interest in the sport or surrounding culture of it, where as Mary loves dancing but struggles with coordination because of her autism.

Mary loves Dancing, so she’s willing to try harder and put up with the shitty attitudes that she can encounter in the Dancing industry, however Beth isn’t willing to do that. When Mary and Beth were kids and teenagers, Beth was made to feel as though she had to go along with it so Mary could be included.

List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.
James: Bigotry (particularly Ableism, Racism and Homophobia), people parking in the disability car-park without a disability sticker and his triggers such as Lavender and Witch-hazel.

Beth: Family/Emotional abuse, Ableism (especially towards Mary or Deaf people) and people saying ignorant/stupid things about Homeless people, mental health and Alcoholism.

What is their favourite type of weather? Least favorite?
James: James has a high cold tolerance which means he can’t stand the heat (which always makes Beth laugh as she’s from Australia).
Beth: Autumn, it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold and the Autumn leaves piling everywhere just so she can kick them.

What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?
James: Hogwarts House: Slytherin MBTI: ISTJ
Beth: Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff MBTI: ISIP

Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?
James: Both, sometimes they combine together
Beth: More likely to focus on current problem

What is their favourite thing to drink?
James: Tea, it’s calming and ritualistic
Beth: Hot chocolate with the wafer-chocolate stick things in them (they come in tins)
chocolate-wafer-sticks

What is their favourite color? Least favorite?
James: Navy Blue or Cobalt Blue
Beth: Robin’s Egg Blue or Green (various shades)

What is a book that changed their life?
James: I’m not sure if changed his life is appropriate, but James’s favorite book is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, he has it in multiple formats (special edition hardback and audio book), as well as a DON’T PANIC poster on the back of his door.

And, in a strange kind of way, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. James has read the books but didn’t purchase them (James refuses to purchase a copy, so he took his mother’s copy of the trilogy and then returned them with post-it notes through out them, as in “Màthair, this is terrible grammar, I can’t believe this is in a published book, how can you defend this?”) The fact that E.L. James could publish badly written BDSM pornography and make money out of it gave James the idea that if she can write it and make good money out of it, he could do the same thing.

Beth: As Beth has experienced Family Abuse/Emotional Abuse from her mother (who is a high functioning alcoholic), she tends to find books that deal with those particular issues to be in the “hit or a miss” category. The Child Called It by Dave Pelzer is very triggering for her. However, she often reads fiction as a form of escapism (Beth will read from most genres but her predominant genre would be romance)

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