Lauren Porty: Character creator
Meeting the Rising Writer No. 27
Lauren Porty grew up in a rural area outside Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She still lives close to home, and she’s a writer who delves into the development of her characters. She has grasped the understanding that characters make the story and without them, the story is simply a plot. Today, she has agreed to share some of her experiences and knowledge with us today, as well as an idea of what her own work includes.
When did you start writing?
I have memories as far back as about age 7. When I was younger, I did not particularly enjoy journaling and reflections in school, so instead of writing about myself to the teacher, from time to time I wrote stories instead. I was a daydreamer from a young age. Around age 12 I started writing outside of school creative writing projects, wrote short stories and started pieces of stories throughout the rest of my school years. Since then it has been a struggle to continue writing in my fiction world, or live in the real world. I always seem to start a story but not quite finish it, a trend I have been trapped in for over 10 years.
What do you think has prevented you from completing a project? Have you taken steps to overcome it?
I believe what has prevented me from completing a project is I have allowed myself to get caught up in other projects and tasks of life, poor time management, not having the determination to stick to the project to see it finished. I haven’t taken steps to overcome it yet as I get overwhelmed with everything that I need to do.
What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?
About 10 years ago, my life took on a new path and with that I started a new story, and since then that story has been stuck in my head. It’s some sort of sci-fi about an assassin’s life and learning the queen she serves is something evil. She is later faced with the choice to ally herself with an odd couple and fight against the queen, or resist any help to save her team of commandos that are left behind. I’m always drawn to strong female characters and wanted to create my own. It’s still quite a work in progress. I may have a vision for the story in mind but I’m allowing myself to free-write through the process.
I’m also experimenting with other fantasies in my mind, allowing myself to put it to paper unfiltered with no limitations or censoring myself. Perhaps no one would ever read it, but it has become a fun process to help with emotional days.
Where do you like to write most, and what’s a good day of writing for you?
I’m always on the go, go, go, and I carry my notebook almost everywhere for when I find a pocket of time I can scribble some notes. It’s not a useful plan, but it’s what I do. I have a little corner at home with a small desk and it’s a great little place away from the bouncing puppy and my snoring sweetie. Some early mornings, I go up to that spare bedroom and it has become a place of peace to allow my thoughts to flow through paper. A good day of writing for me is satisfying some journal writing to calm whatever moods invade the day, a page or two of handwritten fantasy, then some handwritten pages of my main project.
I’ve tried outlines but I found when I sit down to write the scene, new ideas pull me in a totally different direction. Recently, I’ve allowed myself to let the inspiration take lead.
What inspires your writing?
Escapism has always inspired me to dream or write to a fantasy place away from reality. It’s for the bad days when life feels difficult, the challenges ahead wear me down. But even when I take away the escapism factor, every day I wake up wanting to write, wanting to return to my binder or notebook and continue the story and get it out of my head. It is why for this year I decided to return to writing and work more on the goal of finishing the first draft of some sort of novel story. The stories in my mind tire of stirring trapped in that space, calling me to put words to paper.
Give us insight to your main character. Who is he or she? What is his or her purpose?
Striker is a Duc’tean assassin in service to Queen Medulva, has always been in the Queen’s Court for all she could remember. She is the first to have received a brain implant and training to be part of the queen’s group of death commandos. She, in turn, had recruited and trained others to join the group. Their actions had drawn a lot of attention from the governments of other nations. Throughout her missions and journeys, she had met an assortment of people and some have become unlikely allies. Through those experiences, she starts to learn perhaps she may be leading a wrong life path that had been altered from such a young age. Whether she becomes a heroine or a villain is yet to be determined.
What does your character mean to you?
Although the life stories are not the same, I guess I created her with elements of me in mind. It’s the “what if” fantasy of if I were someone else, what would I do in that scenario or situation, if I had supernatural abilities greater than the average. The similarities may be that she and I could be seeking a purpose in life and could be understanding what is right or wrong.
All my characters speak to me and want my attention. They keep me company when I work alone. I owe it to them to let their stories be known.
Have you had experiences with other books where you could compare yourself to other characters?
Of course. It’s one of the great things about fiction writing and being able to explore new worlds and adventures through the mind’s eye.
Every book has its own differences and including what I see in each character that speaks to me. For Stephanie from the Stephanie Plum series, I would love to be in her shoes as she has relationships with the two men in her life, but I don’t wish to have her life of living broke and all her cars blowing up. When I was a teenager, I was drawn to the Mara Jade character from Star Wars, how she was determined and strong, a loner who had difficulty with trust. As Mara grew within the series with finding love and family, so did I. As for her origins of an assassin and a Dark Force user, not a life I wish to have.
To you, what’s the most important thing about character development?
Right after high school I took a course at the local college night school called Crafting a Novel. The first night the teacher, who has published romance novels, taught us that, as people, we enjoy talking with others to learn their stories. Without the people, the story would be one-dimensional. It was a lesson I never really thought of before. I used to be plot driven without making the effort to focus on character development. Since then I tried to find the human element of my characters, some way for the reader to connect and have feelings for the person, regardless of them being a hero, villain, or supporting character.
What is the biggest mistake you think you make while writing? How do you overcome it?
Losing focus and motivation, allowing myself to become distracted and be led off track from the goal of finishing a book. I use the phrase “Keep moving forward” to help me continue the art.
My other problem is I really need to work on my “show, not tell” skills.
Are you reading any books right now? If so, what are you reading? If not, why?
I am currently reading Top Secret Twenty One by Janet Evanovich. It’s like one of my guilty pleasures for an easy fun read. Although the series follows a formula, I still seek the answer to the question: Will Stephanie settle for Morelli or Ranger? Ultimately, I need to realize Janet may never answer that for the readers, it would be up to the readers’ imagination to play with the idea of which guy the character might ever choose.
What/who are your favorite or most reliable support groups?
I have dabbled into some writing groups when I was younger, but I have found Authors’ Tale to be the most supportive and friendly. It’s a warm and inviting atmosphere that is so needed for the kind-hearted writers around.
Providing feedback is something I struggle with. I have been very judgmental with my opinions in my personal life and I have been trying to learn to chill. In regard to critiquing writing works, I’m nowhere near an expert or educated on what is the correct way to shine a story. I fear of stepping on some toes but I’m learning through it. I’m terrified of how others would perceive my own writings, if liked or not, and how it shows my weaknesses in my writing.
However, Authors’ Tale is a great place to help me emerge from my hibernating cavern.
When do you usually write? How often? Do you have a word goal or page goal when you write?
I write whenever I find a chunk of time. It’s not as frequent as I’d like but it’s all I can get. When I do sit down to write, I do try to accomplish a handwritten page. I used to do word and page goals years ago but I found it overwhelming when I would not accomplish it.
I do need to try again a better consistency goal plan that I can work with to keep myself motivated and on task.
Between writing by hand and typing on a page, which do you prefer and why?
It depends on what the project is and the intention. Typing is a lot faster when time is an issue. At work, I forgot my handwritten habits and use quick notes instead, then turn to email to elaborate on the calls and messages I receive. But, when time is of no obstacle, I take the slower route with the handwriting and that is my preference. There is something therapeutic to me to write by hand with a pen and paper. I find pleasure with each pen I use and seeing notebooks accumulate finished pages of notes and novel progress. I don’t get that same feeling from typing and seeing my writing on a computer screen. I will print my typed notes just to have some of the happy feeling of seeing it on paper, but just not the same.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Life has several evils. Keep on writing.
BONUS QUESTION: How would you react to someone saying they compare and relate to your characters?
Scared because I still wonder if I can make a connection with a reader. Also, I would be questioning how dark the reader is since I like creating characters with a twisted past and a tortured future.
Where can others learn more about you and your writing?