Welcome!

Cheryl Reif headshotI'm a fantasy writer, daydreamer, and science geek currently based in sunny Boulder, Colorado. I have my PhD in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology (MCDB, if you want less of a mouthful). I put that degree to use creating detailed explanations for magic systems and mythological creatures; and, of course, the science background let me write about cool science and nature discoveries!

Join me Mondays and Thursdays to explore storytelling and the creative life—and how the old "rules" no longer apply.

It's time to rewrite the rules that hold us back. Don't you agree?

Character Date Ideas #3

This week, we’re taking a look at different ways to spend time with our characters.

Why “spend time” with them, you ask? Because we want to learn more about them…and since most of us don’t have a crystal ball, we’ll have to actually get to know those characters up close and personal-like.

Santiago_Nicolau_Flickr_Creative_Commons-ribbet
Photo courtesy of Santiago Nicolau, Flickr Creative Commons

If you want your characters to trust you with their innermost thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires, you need a good relationship with them. Or–if your characters aren’t the trusting types–then you’ll need time to learn to read between the lines of whatever they DO tell you.

We looked at a few “character date” ideas on Monday and Wednesday. We’ll wrap things up today with some more general resources on creativity. If you have any to add to the list, please give me a shout in the comments!

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Character Date Ideas #2

This week, we’re taking a look at different ways to spend time with our characters.

Why “spend time” with them, you ask? Because we want to learn more about them…and since most of us don’t have a crystal ball, we’ll have to actually get to know those characters up close and personal-like.

Beverly_Flickr_Creative_Commons-adj
Photo courtesy of Beverly on Flickr Creative Commons

If you want your characters to trust you with their innermost thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires, you need a good relationship with them. Or–if your characters aren’t the trusting types–then you’ll need time to learn to read between the lines of whatever they DO tell you.

We looked at a few “character date” ideas on Monday. Now it’s time to explore a few more active options. Have fun!

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Getting to Know Your Characters

You know how I wrote about my recent return from a trip to upstate New York? Well, what I didn’t mention was the poodle. The paranoid poodle, who has been slinking around ever since I returned, as if she’s sure I’m going to beat her with a wooden spoon at any second.

Lily, Poodle Muse Extraordinaire

I swear, I have never beaten her, with or without a wooden spoon, but poodles are very intelligent…in a paranoid sort of way.

Finally, this morning, I invited her up on the bed and spent forty-five minutes brushing her. After five minutes, she was still eyeing me suspiciously (“What?” I asked. “Do you think I’m going to disappear while leaving the brush behind to cover my tracks?!”), but did consent to rest her head on the pillow.

After ten minutes, her eyes drifted closed.

After twenty, she twisted to lie fully upon her back, legs splayed wide and belly exposed–so I’d get the hint and start rubbing it.

Now she’s sprawled beside me, legs twitching occasionally in a squirrel-chasing dream, snoring and contented. I guess all she needed was time.

The Power of Time

I think people–both those in the real world and those populating our fiction–operate much the same way. Spend too much time away from them, and they may become a bit withdrawn. You don’t know what’s going on in their day-to-day lives; maybe you don’t care; maybe you don’t even know them anymore.

Yeah, even characters (especially characters?!) can get a bit paranoid. It’s amazing what a little concentrated time can do for your relationship.

What do I mean by “spending time”? You can’t exactly invite your characters out for dinner and a movie, after all, so you may have to get a bit creative. Fortunately, you’re a writer. Creative is your best thing!

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10 Ways to Spark Creative Connections

This post was originally published more than 2 years ago, but I still go back to it. It reminds me how important it is to use the intuitive side of my brain in ALL parts of my life, but ESPECIALLY when writing. Since I just finished working with my writing coach–more on that soon–I thought it would appropriate to revisit this, which was inspired by my coach’s early encouragement for me to embrace intuition!

The Intuition Challenge

I shared yesterday that my writing coach challenged me to use the intuitive side of my mind for my first approach to problem-solving during the month of March, and how doing so has been challenging, educational, and surprisingly beneficial.

h.koppdelaney-3 Photo Credit

One unexpected benefit came by what I like to call the “red car” effect—the tendency to notice red cars (or anything else) the second you start thinking about them. By keeping the idea of intuition/right brain thinking top of my mind for the past month, I began to notice it more often. By noticing when my intuition was engaged, I was better able to take advantage of the insights it offered.

I also started to notice some of the approaches that helped me to engage the more intuitive side of my mind when writing, and thought I’d share them with you. Hope these are helpful!
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