Writing Advice: How Creating Sims Helps You Write Better Characters

This is something I tell a lot of people who are just starting out. The Sims helps you give characters basic traits, it helps you work out their long-term goals, and it helps give you a vague idea of what they look like. 

Creating sims and sims houses from the ground up is still something I still do when I’m writing. To date I have a sim of every character I’ve ever written. 

Even if you have a good idea of your character in your head and you have most of their personality on paper, it is a whole different thing to sit down and create them in The Sims. 

I had already written a 300+ page novel about my most recent characters in Wixen before I sat down and created their sims, their house, and their love interests. This opened up a whole new world for me description-wise. When you have your character in front of you walking through this house you designed for them and picking things up, picking things to eat, etc. you learn so much more about them. 

Giving a sim the same traits and job as your character will give you better insight into how your character will react in certain situations. It could even help you pick out difficult favorites for them. Like their favorite food, favorite music, and favorite color. 

For example, after I created my sims, a fire broke out in their house. There were several small children inside. Violet, instead of helping any of the small children, ran outside and saved herself. Jasmine tried to grab as many children as she could and carry them to safety (even though she was only a visitor in the house). And Persephone and Caspian just stared at the fire and did nothing.

The fire nearly burned the entire house down because the fire department didn’t wanna put it out. And that’s how I decided a fire would be how Persephone and Violet’s parents died when they were young. 

It helped me work out generally how terrible Violet was as a person. Considering she literally left several children in a burning building.  Even though she was directly next to said children when the fire started.

You never know what The Sims will teach you about your characters. 

How to Write Convincing Romance (Semi-Straight Edition)

Romance was one of the first things I learned how to write and write well. This means I’m hellllaaa fucking picky about what kind of romance I read. Don’t let my username fool you, I’m almost 0% into the actual romance genre. And you’ll learn why.

1) Don’t force it. The number one thing you want to do when you’re writing a romance is let your characters come together naturally. You may have it in your head that you created a specific character for them to bang, but you could be wrong. Like in real life, you want things to progress naturally between your characters.  Let them work out their feelings for themselves and your romantic plot will be better for it. I promise.

2. Avoid Purple Prose. We’ve all been there. You’re in the heat of a romance scene and you’re describing things left and right. And it sounds so good and intense in your head how his “gorgeous cerulean orbs bored into her emerald ones and they experienced an intense moment of lust and electricity”. 

No. Stop. This sort of thing can pull your reader out of the story to contemplate what an “orb” is and why you’re using ridiculous over the top colors for your character’s eyes. Personally, if I see this shit in a book I have to put it down and bury my face in my hands. It’s not as pretty as you think it is. Most of the time it’s just confusing. 

3. Write interesting male characters. So many times in romance books I’ve come across writers describing their guys as tall, handsome, and muscular with “piano fingers” or “high sharp cheekbones” (Comma omitted purposefully) when in reality men are a lot more diverse. 

I see the worst offenders of this in Reverse Harem titles where all the men look exactly the same. Like they all walked right off the cover of a shitty romance novel. That isn’t reality and it hurts your audience and it hurts your characters. If I can’t tell them apart description wise or you spend a lot of time comparing how similar they are, then they’re not interesting. 

It’s okay to write male characters that are only average in build and average in appearance. It’s okay to have male characters that are shorter than 6′. It’s okay to have male characters that are overweight or have acne. It’s okay to love people who don’t look like they walked off of a romance novel cover. 

And for the love of God give them a personality beyond hot bro that likes the female lead a little too much. 

4. Write interesting female characters. As someone who mostly writes female characters because I’m a hardcore advocate for female representation, (Not to mention I have a mighty need for lesbian relationships that don’t center around shitty erotica) I will slap a bitch for writing awful female characters. Most romance authors are female, and in my opinion, females should know how to write females. Yet, from all of the romance books I’ve read (especially reverse harem), I find that women have a hard time writing women with personalities. 

Though I will say most of the time the female characters are more diverse than the male ones, they’re largely one dimensional. It’s like they’re not their own person outside of their romance. That isn’t cool and it doesn’t make for a good romance. Your leading lady should have personality! And for the love of all things holy, that personality shouldn’t be sassy and defensive or “she’s totally fucking smart guys”. 

It’s okay to write women that don’t have it all together. It’s okay to write older women or women who are mean or women who are of average intelligence. If you have to keep pushing the topic of your character being “totally smart” or any number of traits repeatedly, then it alienates your reader. It’s okay for her to be smart, but actually show her being smart, don’t just tell your audience that she is repeatedly without evidence. 

5. Bechdel Test. This one is important. In order for your romance to be convincing, your main character’s life can’t completely revolve around it. If she has a female friend (she should) or other females in her life (sister, mother, cousin), she shouldn’t spend every scene with them talking about her relationship. This shit pisses me off more than anything else on this list because it makes the whole story seems flat. It also makes every relationship in the book feel forced. 

If you have to constantly remind your reader about the relationship then I’m sorry to say it isn’t going to feel real. Have your character talk about herself with her female friends. Have her talk about her interests and their interests. Give them all a distinct personality. You can even have them talk about romantic preferences, but please for the sake of the stars above, flesh out your female characters. And your male ones for that matter. 

If they don’t have a personality beyond attractive then you’re not doing this right.

6. Don’t put too much emphasis on a first kiss. Kisses aren’t the do all end all of romantic stories. Your character can kiss one person and realize that they would rather kiss someone else. The emphasis should be on the journey to the relationship and the journey after it. 

Personally, I hate books that have the entire story revolves around the romance and ends with the two characters finally getting together. The lead up is only part of the story. The rest of it should be the characters facing the actual plot of the book together. 

7. Give your book a plot that doesn’t revolve around the romance. This is the #1 main reason I have a hard time enjoying anything out of the actual romance genre. I don’t like books that revolve around romance. The central plot should be something else. 

Romance should only ever be a subplot in the midst of a much larger story. You can focus more on it if it’s pertinent to your larger plot, but it should feel like the characters just so happened to fall in love because the plot brought them together. It shouldn’t feel like the romance brought together the plot. 

8. Men should not be violent or manipulative. I see this so much in romance. The women are soft-spoken, but sassy when they need to be (to make them seem more relatable) and the men are big hulking nightmares of testosterone who make all of the decisions for the female character. 

The female main might put up a fight at first, but eventually turns a blind eye to it and goes along with her male counterpart(s) instead of getting the fuck out of there. That’s not how this works in real life. This isn’t romantic or sexy. It’s terrifying. The moment a man gets violent or possessive and isn’t corrected or chastised for his behavior is the moment I stop respecting whoever wrote the story. 

Romance is an incredibly difficult thing to master. There are a lot of things that go into creating a romance worthy of your audience. And none of those involve your male characters trying to control your female character’s life. Or, if you’re like me and your only write lesbian/gay/ace/trans/etc romance, one character should never try to control the other character’s life in the name of love.

Just don’t do it. 

Writing Advice: When You Have a Bad Day

I don’t have anything that anyone expressly asked me today, but I was reading a few blogs yesterday because I was feeling really down on myself. To date, I haven’t written very many creative works that have been published. I have a whole ton of published news stories and blogs, but nothing creative. 

I just want to tell everyone that it’s okay to not have a lot of creative works published and still be working on a book. There are a ton of people out there that never wrote anything prior to writing some of the most famous books we have in existence. J.K Rowling and Stephen King come to mind. 

It’s never too late to get started. Write the book that keeps you up at night and don’t worry about what other writers are doing. Your success is not measured by their success. 

Writing Advice: Overcoming Writer’s Block

I’ve been in the game long enough to know that everyone gets writer’s block. It’s simply a way of life for people who pursue careers where they have to be creative. Having a creative block is nothing to be ashamed of, but there are several ways you can work around it. 

1. A block is a block is a block is a block. Creative blocks are a normal part of the creative process. There are different types of blocks depending on your personality or what you’re working on, but they all mean the same thing: you’re having issues getting ideas you can put down on paper. 

2. Don’t fight the block, own the block. Creative blocks are dumb little things that make the creative process harder and when you’re writing, that means everything is going to sound hella stupid. Your writing isn’t going to be good by any means, I know mine isn’t when I’m suffering from writer’s block. So the best thing to do is own the block and power through it. Write stuff that you know is bad or you think is funny just to try and get something vague on paper or spark an idea. 

3. Cut your word count or skip a few days of writing. For my process post that we went over yesterday, I write around 2500 words a day, but when I’m blocked (or suffering from depression) I cut that word count down to 100-300 words a day. The important thing is that you’re writing every day, not that you’re meeting your “good day” word count. 

4. Read, look at art, do research, go for a walk, take a shower. Ideas can sneak up on you from anywhere. If you’re struggling with where to start writing, go outside or read a book to get yourself out of your head. It’s okay to get inspiration from other writers or from your own life. Anything to make it so you get your story out. 

5. Editing is a writer’s best friend. Eventually, your block will go away on its own and you can go back and fix the trash you wrote while you were on it. Nothing is set in stone. Not even once you’ve published it (that’s what revised copies are for). So don’t sweat the small stuff. Writer’s block doesn’t have to be the end of your career. Keep pushing forward and eventually, you’ll make it through!

Writing Advice: My Process

The important thing to know is that no two processes work the same. This is just how I manage to get everything done. 

Thanks for asking!

1. It starts with an idea. It’s probably something vague like « how can I make this already well-established story gayer? » or « it’d be interesting to put lesbians in space. » (since I almost exclusively write gay fiction)

2. After the idea comes the outline. Now this doesn’t actually have to be set in stone. Most of the time I scribble mine into the margins of a too full notebook or journal because I’ve run out of paper. And tbh my outlines are always an ongoing thing. I recently re-wrote an outline for a story I’ve been writing that has well over 1000 pages.

I actually used to skip the outlining part, but dude if you wanna write anything you need an outline. It tells you where to go with your story. You aren’t going to write something long like a book in a single night bro so you need to have your outline down to remember all the twists and turns you want in your story.

3. Write the ending. Like the outline, the ending isn’t set in stone, but I prefer to get it out of the way early on so I have a goal to write to.

4. Realize you don’t actually have to write anything in order. If you have a good outline you can just flit around writing fun dynamic scenes and fill in the blanks later.

5. Not everything is going to be dynamic. Get that through your head. Some stuff is gonna be boring and hard to write and it’s gonna drive you crazy, but the good news is that should be minimal. You just need to write it and move on.

6. Get a timer app. I use Wordzy, an app that locks my phone and computer until I’ve hit a word limit I set. Basically run writing sprints until you hit your daily word count (I do 2500 a day split up between 4 sprints with a 20 minute-1hr break between). It isn’t going to be pretty and it doesn’t have to be. Because you’re going to edit that shit.

7. Edit. Edit everything. Just go back through and start deleting shit you don’t like. And by deleting I mean cutting and pasting into a document titled outtakes. You don’t wanna actually delete your writing just in case you wanna go back to it later. Just saying, what doesn’t work in one story or part might work in another.

8. Once you edit most of your shit have google read it out loud to you. I do this and it helps me catch so many stupid errors. Stuff like repeated words or incorrect words that I didn’t catch in my read through. It’s literally a godsend. And it also helps catch if your story is nicely paced or if it’s boring or you’re putting it on a little too strong.

9. Edit again. A lot of the stuff I write I edit a minimum of 10 times. Even though at this point in Wixen some chapters I’ve edited 24+ times. Others I’ve edited around 14. Some only 5.

10. Don’t be afraid to cry! Writing is difficult and emotional and probably also evil. It’s okay if you feel shitty and frustrated and annoyed with it. But remember! NEVER STOP WRITING!!! Don’t give up even if it’s hard and you hate everything you write. Because someday you won’t and it’ll be okay!

So yeah. That’s my process, but like with less crying than is usually involved. Haha. Hope this helps all you writers out there.

You literally DO not have to write this way if it isn’t what makes you happy. You can write a book without an outline, but the idea of that terrifies me so much. More power to the lot of you who can handle that kind of pressure.

Character bios: Violet on Hard mode

Does your character have siblings or family members in their age group? Which one are they closest with?

Yeah. She only has the one sister. Persephone. 

What is/was your character’s relationship with their mother like?

She doesn’t remember her. 

What is/was your character’s relationship with their father like?

She doesn’t remember him. 

Has your character ever witnessed something that fundamentally changed them? If so, does anyone else know?

Not that she knows of. (bwahahaha)

On an average day, what can be found in your character’s pockets?

Her phone. She carries a bag for everything else. 

Does your character have recurring themes in their dreams?

Hahaha. Sure, if you call hallucinating on “love potions” dreams. 

Does your character have recurring themes in their nightmares?

Yes.

Has your character ever fired a gun? If so, what was their first target?

No. 

Is your character’s current socioeconomic status different than it was when they were growing up?

She was comfortable as a kid and she’s comfortable now.

Does your character feel more comfortable with more clothing, or with less clothing?

Violet wears a normal amount of clothing. She isn’t super into swimming so she probably never wears bikinis, However she’s thinking about it. She does wear a lot of weird revealing clothing to push boundaries with Jasmine, though. 

In what situation was your character the most afraid they’ve ever been?

Spoilers~

In what situation was your character the most calm they’ve ever been?

Probably finally realizing what she wanted for her life.

Is your character bothered by the sight of blood? If so, in what way?

Lol, NO. Wixen/Casters regularly use blood casting in day to day life. She literally draws runes on her arms in her own blood. 

Does your character remember names or faces easier?

Violet doesn’t care to remember people who aren’t interesting. 

Is your character preoccupied with money or material possession? Why or why not?

Um?? No??

Which does your character idealize most: happiness or success?

Both.

What was your character’s favorite toy as a child?

She has a hard time remembering playing much as a kid. Her parents died in a fire when she was very young and a lot of those memories of them are missing now. When she was in boarding school she mostly read hand me down books and by the time she was 9, they were looking at her for advanced medical casting. When she was 12 she joined the junior medical corps and began learning a set of specialized runes and techniques for surgery. 

She didn’t have much of a childhood. 

Is your character more likely to admire wisdom, or ambition in others?

Kindness. Above all, she admires kindness. 

What is your character’s biggest relationship flaw? Has this flaw destroyed relationships for them before?

Most Casters have issues in relationships. Violet is no exception. She doesn’t know how to act around someone she likes. That translates differently for different people, Violet tends to get violent and freak out a lot

In what ways does your character compare themselves to others? Do they do this for the sake of self-validation, or self-criticism?

Hm. That’s a good question. Violet tends to compare her fashion sense to others and can get jealous when someone dresses more glam goth than her. Though, that’s how she met her best friend Tiffany. 

If something tragic or negative happens to your character, do they believe they may have caused or deserved it, or are they quick to blame others?

She mostly pretends it didn’t happen, but she does beat herself up a lot about Idaho. 

What does your character like in other people?

k i n d n e s s and u n d e r s t a n d i n g.

What does your character dislike in other people?

fuckbois. 

How quick is your character to trust someone else?

No.

How quick is your character to suspect someone else? Does this change if they are close with that person?

Yes.

How does your character behave around children?

She doesn’t have an opinion on children. (Yet).

How does your character normally deal with confrontation?

Murder.

How quick or slow is your character to resort to physical violence in a confrontation?

Uhhh. A normal amount?

What did your character dream of being or doing as a child? Did that dream come true?

She’s always been a smart little brat. She wanted to do something to help people. She understood from a young age what being magically inclined meant. And no, her dream hasn’t come true.  

What does your character find repulsive or disgusting?

Delivery services. 

Describe a scenario in which your character feels most comfortable.

Uh. Writing in her potions journal. 

Describe a scenario in which your character feels most uncomfortable.

Hm. Probably when people think sawing bones makes a “crunching” sound and not a “popping” one. She’s very disgusted by people’s lack of medical knowledge. As a medical professional herself. 

In the face of criticism, is your character defensive, self-deprecating, or willing to improve? 

Willing to improve most definitely. 

How does your character behave around people they like?

Terribly. 

How does your character behave around people they dislike?

By not killing them and merely ignoring them because murdering everyone she dislikes is a GOOD WAY TO GET ARRESTED. 

Is your character more concerned with defending their honor, or protecting their status?

Uh. Neither. 

Is your character more likely to remove a problem/threat, or remove themselves from a problem/threat?

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Both. 

Has your character ever been bitten by an animal? How were they affected (or unaffected)?

Uh. I don’t think she’s been in a situation where this could have happened. She has, however, been bitten by several humanoids and magical creatures seeking medical treatment. 

How does your character treat people in service jobs?

like regular people.

Does your character feel that they deserve to have what they want, whether it be material or abstract, or do they feel they must earn it first?

Sure?

Has your character ever had a parental figure who was not related to them?

Definitely. Hecate 4 ever.

Has your character ever had a dependent figure who was not related to them?

Yes. Her best friend Tiffany.

How easy or difficult is it for your character to say “I love you?” Can they say it without meaning it?

LOL.

What does your character believe will happen to them after they die? Does this belief scare them?

She believes what every Wixen believes, that their bodies become energy and return to the leylines.