Posted in audio, free tarot readings, FYI, mind body soul, pick a card, SuperQuick readings, Uncategorized

Audio: Love and Romance For The Next 3 to 4 Weeks

A Pick-A-Card tarot reading for couples, singles and those looking for inspiration for their romantic writing or creations.

Timestamps

Option 1 00:38
Option 2 04:20
Option 3 09:53

Free download on my patron channel.

For more downloaded audios like this on a variety of topics, be sure to check out my patreon channel. Free content available for those not subscribed. Subscribers have access to over 200 posts, including eBooks!

Posted in free tarot readings, FYI, mind body soul, pick a card, SuperQuick readings, tarot month ahead, tarotscope, Uncategorized

Tarotscopes September to October 2020

So, here we are in September (September!) 2020 and a friend of mine says ‘2020 should just get over itself’. It made me smile, though she’s had a tough year and hopefully the worst is over. Still, it’s hardly 2020’s fault it got grounded and sent its room. Mother Nature had just had enough of us, I think, and we all needed some time out, didn’t we? But now that we’re cautiously un-pausing and re-pausing as we shake 2020 (or the year that wasn’t for most of us) awake, I invite you to once again watch and consider that viral video that made us think again at the beginning of the The Great Pause (or that time the world got sent to its room).

The Great Realisation by Probably Tomfoolery

As for what the cards say about the next two months, it’s a bit of this and a bit of that. For most, there’s change—good change. And for some a reminder that you still have some work to do (on yourself). Please don’t carry old baggage and mindsets into 2021 that got us sent to our rooms in the first place, and now’s the best time to toss persistent old baggage aside and look at what we really, really need to be happy for the rest of our lives. What is it that your Heart really, truly—most excitedly—desires?

While you’re listening to your tarotscopes, feel free to check out and listen to the other freebies on my Patreon and YouTube channel.

Have an awesome, beautiful and prosperous September and October 2020!

Your Tarotscopes

Fire Signs

Leo
Sagittarius
Aries

Earth Signs

Virgo
Capricorn, Taurus

Air Signs

Libra
Aquarius
Gemini

Water Signs

Scorpio
Pisces
Cancer

Also Up On My Patreon

Short Heart’s Desire Meditation (Free to download)
Leo Birthday To Birthday Challenges 2020 to 2021
Spiritual Check-In Video
How Invested Are They? Pick A Card audio

Up on My YouTube Channel

Newest Relocation video. Look for more on relocation in my playlists.
Look at my Future Spouse Playlist for similar videos
Major Changes Over The Next 3 Months (Pick A Deck)

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, TBR, Uncategorized

The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers

For virtual librarians:
Ebook recommendations from my mum
for your older relatives and readers

My mum’s always surprising me. Just the other day, she mentioned she loves reading on her new tablet (her 70th Birthday gift from my Wee Bruv and Kleinsus) and that she now much prefers eBooks to print.

In fact, since the lockdown and mum’s inability to access print from the libraries every week or two, she’s been reading three to four books plus a novella or two every week—yep! Much more than I currently read. So, I thought I’d share some of my mum’s most recommended reads with you in case you’ve also become someone’s virtual librarian. Scroll further for the highly recommended if you’re in a rush as I thought I’d tell you a bit more about my mum and her reading habits first. Or, if you prefer: The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers.

NB: This post contains some affiliate links that keep us eBooks.

First: the technical stuff

Mum’s on android, so I downloaded Lithium from the GooglePlay store for her. She’s had no complaints. I’ve set the background to the one that looks like parchment or a standard paperback page, kept the font as standard black and made the font slightly larger than usual. She uses the grid view with the recently opened showing first. Sometimes, she forgets to scroll down when looking for a new book to read, but that’s okay.
She began reading eBooks on her phone a few years ago, but between the battery drain and having to hold the powerbank while she read sometimes, it wasn’t ideal. Enter Wee Bruv and Kleinsus with the tablet for her birthday. Mum’s in love with her tablet and the fact that she doesn’t need to recharge it so often even though she reads for at least four hours on most days. Also, she can read during loadshedding and not disturb Dad as much, too. Her tablet has Lithium with the same settings and what excited her a lot was the larger page area. We also set the screen brightness to about 40-45% so she doesn’t burn out her retinas and avoids eye-strain. Plus, this saves the battery, too.

Next: where mum gets her books

Short answer, me! This is where I turn into the virtual librarian. To be fair, I’ve had practice since years ago when I used to finish work early on Friday and rush over to our local library to grab an armful of books in 30mins or less. It’s kind of like the same process, only this time it’s all digital and I have one or two steps more.

I usually download books from Smashwords and some other sites that offer free and introductory reads (like Prolific), and sometimes I buy an eBook from an author we enjoyed, as long as it’s available for download as an epub. This isn’t ideal, but mum talks to more readers of her age who are more likely to seek out the print and library versions of the authors she recommends, and once mum loves a book, she loves a book. Besides, we can’t afford to buy all the books we’d like to read.
Mum doesn’t read online so that’s another reason to download the books. Truth be told, mum gets overwhelmed and bored by scrolling through the endless covers and blurbs, sorting through the menus and submenus to find her genres and braving the other hazards of finding books that appeal to her in an online store or library. I don’t mind digging for gems for mum as it’s research and often good reading for me, too! Once I’ve downloaded and run a virus-scan (you can never be too careful), I transfer the eBooks to mum’s device.

Mum’s genres

Mystery, crime, adventure, thriller, romantic suspense and family drama. Sometimes she’ll read a horror (not very often), has long since passed the erotic romance phase, and likes a good humorous story especially if it involves pets and quirky characters. We’re talking about someone who grew up reading Agatha Christie and the classics, got stuck in historical dramas in the ’70s, spent the ’80s and ’90s reading Jackie Collins and Virginia Andrews, fought us for Terry Pratchetts and Alan Dean Fosters while reading Jack Reacher novels and Dick Francis from the word go. Mum’s always moved with the times as long as the stories are good. Now she’s bingeing on eBooks. She doesn’t usually read badly formatted or poorly written books, deleting them quickly. I’ve gotta say I’m really proud of mum’s reading habits 😀

Mum’s recommendations
for 2020

Highly Recommended

Author: Wes Snowden
Mum’s most recent bingeing has been the very enjoyable Wes Snowden. We just ‘discovered’ him this year, and she’s already talking to Big Sis (a big Dick Francis fan) about this author. I’ve read one of his books so far and got so engrossed in it that I stayed up half the night to complete the story.
I believe Wes Snowden’s books are also available in print, so you may want to ask your librarian for them.
One Last Move: This is the story I’ve read, the one that had me up half the night. The characters are warm and quirky, yet relatable. The main character is honest and his predicament not one you often find in a print. This is a gentle suspense with a hint of thriller and romance. All in all, an excellent read by mum’s and my standards.
Other books by Snowden mum’s read:
Snowfall In Venice: a novella
White Swan Wishes: Mum enjoyed this one immensely. She loved the humour. When I have a day or two to spare, I’ll read this next.

Author: Camilla Monk
The Spotless Series: I got the box-set for my birthday after thoroughly enjoying Spotless (the first book) as freebie and vowed to read the rest as soon as I could afford it. Mum and I read the series almost simultaneously, so not much work got done over those few days. We had convos around: Which book are you on now? When does March come in again? Did you reach that bit where Island finds out about the bad guy?
Spotless the series has all the elements mum loves: mystery, adventure, action, romance, quirky characters, humour…
Mum’s itching to read Book 5 as much as I am. Maybe for Christmas…

Author: Cecilia Peartree
Death At The Happiness Club: This one mum recommends to senior citizens looking for an enjoyable mystery. It’s part of a series so I’ll keep an eye out for more.

Author: Lizzy Lewis
Cake And Calamity: An easy mystery read that’s worth the time, says mum.

Author: Peggy Webb
The Rules Of Engagement: Another book recommended by mum to other seniors. I believe it’s a romance mystery.

Author: Iris Chacon
Finding Miranda: I read this first and told mum she should read it next. She did. It wasn’t her usual reading, but the quirky, characters and unusual plot and general humor also won her over. I highly recommend this, and mum would recommend it to those who enjoy Carl Hiaasen with less sweary words.

Graham Wilson
This Aussie author was the first that mum read on her screen—one who got her bingeing his thriller/crime series. I haven’t read his stories yet, but they pretty much have mum glued to her screen. She tried recommending him to one of her senior friends who’s still stuck on print and was sad she couldn’t share another good author with a fellow reader of taste.

Recommended

Eric Douglas
Cayman Cowboys: Mum particularly enjoyed the setting and the scuba-diving adventure aspects. I did try reading this and found it a little too slow at the beginning for me, so some patience required in getting to the heart of the story for this one, perhaps.

Sally Berneathy
Death By Chocolate:Mum and I both enjoyed the twists and turns in this mystery. Perfect for a long-weekend or Sunday read.

Connie Shelton
Sweet Masterpiece: Another solid mystery/crime/foodie story that had both of us hooked. An added bonus for me was the focus on art.

And that’s all we have for you, folks! Happy reading to you and the senior members in your family!

Posted in audio, design, FYI, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Resources Worth Checking Out: Hightail File Transfer

Hightail is a stable professional tool for serious remote workers

* This review is based on my personal use and experience with Hightail. I am not affiliated with them and this post contains no affiliate links.

Hightail’s website landing page

I’ve been using Hightail for confidential transferring and public sharing of media for over three years. I found it via an audio file share from a well-known personality in the Mind Body and Soul community in 2017 and decided to give it a try for those tarot readings I can’t email because the files are over 15MB.

It’s one of the most stable and professional sites that consistently renews my faith that developers and site owners (or some at least) know what they’re doing. Except for one week in July 2018 when it took forever to upload a 30-40MB file (I think they might have been upgrading the site then) Hightail works efficiently every time for my audio files, even with my slow internet connection.

There’s so much I enjoy about using Hightail. It allows you to create a separate space with a dedicated shareable link for different projects or clients. Team members or clients can go directly to the platform’s viewers, audio and video players to view the files or download the material. Comments are also enabled, allowing for direct communication (though I don’t use this feature much).

Spaces menu and a typical space in grid view

Viewing your spaces is easy in the grid or list view, allowing for quick access to projects and files.

The clean design is very professional without any kindergarten-feel fonts, colours or imagery. The functions are easy to find and intuitively laid out.

I have to confess Hightail has my favourite progress bar! Once a file begins uploading, it calculates the most time it would take, then constantly recalculates with two visuals—a bar that fills up as the files loads and a circle that does the same over the file icon. They’re both quite consist with each other and, most importantly, with their accuracy. For me, the most impressive thing about Hightail is that it doesn’t waste my time and data. The uploads are quick and it doesn’t drop my file data during the upload unlike some other sites. I mostly upload mp3s and so far have had no problems with Hightail’s players refusing to play back my media. I’ve also shared large PDFs and Photoshop files. Some day, when I can afford one of the Premium plans, I’ll share videos as well.

Hightail in-app audio player and controls.

Best of all, all but one of my clients had no problems using Hightail or accessing their files. For that reason, if I were running a team, especially one that shares larger files, I’d choose Hightail over Slack (which I dislike because it’s so hard to find files easily among all those threads).

Are there any cons to using Hightail? There’s only one that I’ve experienced, but it hasn’t happened in a long while. Sometimes, when my internet was interrupted, I would need to upload the entire file again. And sometimes the Hightail player isn’t available immediately after upload. It could take a minute or two for you to be able to preview the audio before sending to your client/colleague.

So, if you’re working from home, need more confidentiality than most file sharing systems, and hate having your time and data wasted, I recommend giving Hightail a go. You can try out their Lite plan for free.

Posted in FYI, Happiness is, mind body soul, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Bakin’ Bread

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been looking at more of those easy-peasy recipes make-at-home-as-good-as-the-stores recipes. And as the Covid-19 numbers increase drastically over here, I thought it was time to make like a Masterchef and try my hand at homemade bread. My only memory of making bread (shop-type bread, not hand-made bread or rotis) is of my gran’s brief foray into yeasty stuff back when I was about four-years old. Still, Matt Preston’s 2013 recipe made baking bread look sooo easy, surely anybody could do it! And so I did! But not all at once.

No, first I tried the super-easy 2 (or 4) ingredient (if you don’t have self-raising flour) multi-purpose bread dough sans yeast.

Bagels (No Yeast, please!)

Video Video alternative

The nice and short YouTube video tells you how to prepare the dough and the most crucial bake-time for pizzas, bagels and something else that I forget now. I double-checked the recipe on another YouTube video (so learning it could be a 4-ingredient (and what to substitute) recipe for a healthier base…

If you don’t know the recipe all you need to remember is:
one cup self-raising flour and one cup plain yoghurt, mix till dough-like, shape and stick in the oven for about 45mins (?).

That.Is.It!

The dough was nice and soft which I shaped into bagels.

They’re far from bagels-bought (bagels or bread) but very nice nonetheless, especially if you’re running low on bread or all out and need a sandwich or two in just over an hour.

Encouraged by the lack of failure, I determined it was time to move into more adult ways of making bread and try a recipe my gran would have loved.

Masterchef’s Matt’s Easiest Bread (Yeast)

Video The blogpost I used

I used a 4g packet of instant dry yeast, and remembered (after having to reschedule the first baking day) to make the dough the night before.

Your must-remember for this recipe is: make the dough the night before!

Since it took me less than 20 minutes to gather the ingredients, combine, then stick the dough in the fridge and clean up, the hardest part is remembering to actually do it.
It really was as easy to make as demonstrated on TV and it yields a lovely crusty, ciabatta-style bread.

The ingredients: 1kg flour, tablespoon instant dry yeast, tablespoon salt, 950ml warm water.

Combine ingredients into a bowl that allows the dough to double in size (I used a pot), dry ingredients first, then add the water. Leave overnight in the fridge. Take out and let stand at room temperature for an hour and stick into two pans. I tried making 6 rolls as Matt did on Masterchef, and one large loaf. Bake for an hour.

We had to let the large loaf cool and dry out for a while as it came out a little damp when I cut into it, but it was cooked through and perfect for curry or sopping up gravy.

Will I try these recipes again? Definitely! There’s still a packet of yeast left, and I’ve just gotten more plain yoghurt too!

Let me know how your own bakin’ bread adventures have gone in the comments below.
Stay safe and be well!

Posted in free tarot readings, FYI, mind body soul, Uncategorized, writers prompt

8 Channeled Love Letters: Is one Yours?

I finally got around to channeling love letters. These are for your entertainment and enlightenment and are a part of my video reading in two parts.
These are quite specific readings and letters, so take what resonates or be inspired to write your own to the one you love. Maybe, you’ll even hit send this time 😀

Below are the channeled love letters in their entirety. On the videos, you’ll get a further mini-reading on the situation between the two of you or the dynamic between you and your future partner.

Choose your crystal for channeled love letters Leenna naidoo

Choose your crystal if you haven’t come here from the YouTube video, and scroll down to your letter. Read it and take some time to process them. I was both delighted and shocked to see so all eight have distinct energies and messages. Whatever you get from the letters and the readings, I hope it helps you see your person in a new light and helps your relationship grow stronger, or helps you understand what your person/future person will find most amazing about you.

Enjoy and may love and understanding grow!

Channeled love letter for amethyst
Amethyst Love Letter. See Part 1 of the video for your mini read.
channeled love letter wood
Wood Love letter. See Part 1 of the video for your mini-reading.
channeled love letter Acorn
Acorn Love letter. See Part 1 of the video for your mini-reading.
channeled love letter sapphire
Sapphire Love letter. See Part 1 of the video for your mini-reading.
Rose Quartz channeled love letter
Rose Quartz Love letter. See Part 2 of the video for your mini-reading.
channeled love letter green tourmaline
Green Tourmaline Love letter. See Part 2 of the video for your mini-reading.
Channeled love letter lace agate
Lace Agate Love letter. See Part 2 of the video for your mini-reading.
honey calcite channeled love letter
Honey Calcite Love letter. See Part 2 of the video for your mini-reading.
Video Part 1
Video Part 2

Additional Love Letter

Tarotscopes September to October 2020

As for what the cards say about the next two months, it’s a bit of this and a bit of that. For most, there’s change—good change. And for some a reminder that you still have some work to do (on yourself). Please don’t carry old baggage and mindsets into 2021 that got us sent to our rooms in the first place, and now’s the best time to toss persistent old baggage aside and look at what we really, really need to be happy for the rest of our lives. What is it that your Heart really, truly—most excitedly—desires?

The Secret Lives Of Senior Readers

Short answer, me! This is where I turn into the virtual librarian. To be fair, I’ve had practice since years ago when I used to finish work early on Friday and rush over to our local library to grab an armful of books in 30mins or less. It’s kind of like the same process, only this time it’s all digital and I have one or two steps more.

Posted in audio, free tarot readings, FYI, mind body soul, pick a card, Uncategorized

Audio Pick A Card: My Next Travels or Vacation

Welcome to more of my audio readings 😀

I recorded this before the lockdowns. Hoping this gives you some new ideas for your vacations and business opportunities 😀

Disclaimer: These readings are for your entertainment and enlightenment only. Exercise your discretion and do your own research before following any suggestions.

Pick your option and jump to the timestamp.

Timestamps

Option 1 : 00:39
Option 2 : 04:32
Option 3 : 08:15
Option 4 : 11:41
Option 5 : 15:55
Option 6 : 19:00

Choose a tier or follow on Patreon for free
Posted in cards, free tarot readings, FYI, mind body soul, pick a card, SuperQuick readings, Uncategorized

SuperQuick Video: Gimme The Good News 1

Pick A Deck: Gimme The Good News Super Quick

Time stamps below.
Please note that these are general readings for your entertainment and enlightenment, and may not resonate with everyone, or on every aspect.
Check out my Patreon for exclusive readings as downloadable audio mp3s from only USD2! https://www.patreon.com/LeennaNaidoo

In this quick general, short-term oracle reading, we take a look at good news heading your way next.
Simply choose one of the three decks and find your reading using the timestamps. Enjoy!

Timestamps

1 LeNormand 01:00
2 Gypsy Witch 03:44
3 Situation No win 06:23

If this reading resonated with you and you’d like to say thank you, you can comment below or buy me a chai latte via Kofi: https://ko-fi.com/writerstarotleenna 😀
Thank you for your interest and support! And best wishes to you 🙂

Decks Used

Gilded Reverie LeNormand
Gypsy Witch Oracle
Situation No Win (WIP by Leenna)

Posted in design, FYI, Uncategorized

Evolution Of A Book Cover: Situation No Win

Situation No Win is finally revised and re-released! Along with the new chapter and polishing of the prose, comes the new cover.

I think it’s my best yet, even better than Three Million’s A Crowd. Scroll to the end of the post to see the final 2020 cover or read on.

The Situation No Win cover has come a long way from the hastily one done over a couple of late nights after class in Harbin. It’s actually taken over three years to complete! That sounds like a lot but it’s been an on and off project. After all, this revision of Situation hasn’t been that easy for me, with the big a-ha moment of what needed to move things into focus regarding the story only happening last year during the prep for my Tarot For Writers course, and then…Well, this year just about everything has been delayed by one thing or another, right?

So, I thought I’d take you on a walk-through on the evolution of this particular cover in celebration of the book being available again!

The Original Brief

As a new writer and cover creator, I wanted Situation No Win’s cover to reflect the main, unique location of the Mu Desert. For me, back then, that’s what made the story special. Also, as a reader, I hate when book covers mislead as to content and location. I didn’t want to be that cover. I also didn’t want readers to think the story was related to No Distance To Run—a cover that had been quite effective. So, I settled on dunes as the main image.

Yep, there’s dunes all right.

I had wanted to draw some kind of artifact on the image as well, but didn’t have the illustrative abilities. I had a limited range of fonts and limited software as GIMP wasn’t quite as advanced then, or so I thought, compared to Photoshop that I’d been used to working on as a DTP/Junior Designer. I loved the 2013 result, but it’s underwhelming…more so by today’s standards.

In 2015, when I began my first effort on the revision (yes, there was more than one), I decided to bring in some effects of the device after realising I couldn’t draw the intricacies of the device in a way that would also signal that the story is an adventure thriller with fantasy elements. So, I added some effects over the sky to bring in a sense of tension and mystery. I had still a lot of growing to do as both a writer and cover creator. You’ll see that I was still hesitant to deviate from my original cover. This was the result.

Yep, those dunes are still there…but it’s starting to look like a Leenna!

By 2017, I was maturing as a cover creator (and writer) and decided to experiment away from my original brief. I wanted to signal the power of the device even more, and what better imagery to use than lightning, shot in Ladysmith by my trusty of Canon D10. I added a snazzy font from dafont.com to bring in the some flavour of the device and region. The faded hieroglyphs were just random scribbles from the original notebook I’d written the story in. They were my attempt at getting a visual of the glyphs as Lui and Tom would have seen them.

I also darkened the overall feel tending towards more black as I’d enhanced the No Distance To Run cover to a purer black and liked how it look. By this point, I also wanted to readers who looked at No Distance To Run to consider Situation No Win, too.

If I had completed the revision in 2017 or 2018, I would have definitely used this cover. For that period, I think the cover would have stood a good chance of capturing eBook readers attention. What do you think?

Still those dunes, but it’s beginning to show the excitement of the story..I hoped.

Along Came 2020…

Then we got to 2019/2020 and I realised that last cover wasn’t good enough. I did two more versions, adding one totally new concept using photos from Yulin and integrating some of the elements from my 2017 cover.
I polled my Patrons as to which cover they most likely would click on. Which one would you choose?

Using my patron’s suggestions, I tweaked the most liked cover and ended up with this:

Nothing says mysterious, powerful artifact more than a deep, dark cave…

It’s come a long way, but I’m glad the cover has completely matured. Best of all, it remains true, although re-conceived, to the intentions of the original brief—to reflect the story and story elements inside.

What do you think?

Read the first chapter of Situation No Win on my Patreon.

Posted in Agonist Aunt, Agonist Aunt Letters, artists, FYI, nonfiction, Tips and Hacks

Dear Agonist Aunt: Ideas Overload, Fleshing Out Characters

Welcome to our Agonist Aunt’s desk. She’s here to help out all creatives who may be struggling with getting started, finding inspiration, dealing with blocks and whatnots in the whole creative process or getting a project complete. Agonist Aunt does not currently answer career or love-themed letters.

This week, Agonist Aunt advises a creative who’s got too many ideas and a writer who’s looking for the real character behind those Character Sheets. Much gratitude to these two souls for sharing their difficulties that so many of us can relate to.

To write to Agonist Aunt, scroll to the end of the post and fill in the form. Only three letters at most will be chosen each week.

Disclaimer: Agonist Aunt is only a sounding board. Her reply is for your entertainment and enlightenment only. Follow any suggestion at your own discretion and own it for yourself. Agonist Aunt accepts no liability and no credit in any event.

Dear Agonist Aunt,
How Do I Focus On Just One?
For my writing and artwork, one of my problems is that there are just unlimited possibilities of what to do, and I freeze up trying to decide on one. How do I focus in on one thing, the more limited the better probably? Limits seem to expand the creative possibilities, but in a manageable way.
Thanks.
Nine Tailed Foxe

Dear Nine-Tailed Foxe
Temporary ditch diverging possibilities in favour of merging possibilities.
I hate to admit I suffer from a similar problem to your own. Yes, it does lead to paralysis and procrastination, or feeling that you’ve scattered your energies too much. I have two approaches to this problem. Choose one that works best for you at the time.
Work on two or three projects simultaneously. This lengthens the time of completion for each project considerably, but also stops the other procrastinator monster, the dreaded creative block, popping up. For those bursts of creativity (or inspirons as Pratchett termed them) that intrude upon your concentration, file them in a notebook, sketchbook or other note-system. Personally, I like keeping a small notebook handy and jotting down notes or making indecipherable sketches/drawings that lead to later creative surges or inspiration for challenging parts of projects much later…sometimes years later.
Another method is to take similar or complementary (or even contrasting) ideas and use them as elements in your current or other project. This way you get to explore your current passion without losing time or getting too distracted by ‘new’, shiny ideas. I find this way great to grow as a creative and to change my style into one that’s more distinctive—more me!

I pulled a card for you and it’s Achievement. During contemplation of all these awesome ideas and ways to utilise them, it’s important to focus on what you wish to achieve with them, or how they’ll contribute to your overall achievement. Some ideas are just for fun, and you don’t need to do an in-depth exploration of them all, especially if they’re costing you too much time and energy and setting your almost complete or half-way through projects even further behind. Keep that sketchbook/notebook handy or even a character who doesn’t quite fit into you current works on file. Some ideas also need the right time to fully blossom and serve their purpose. In the meantime, you can achieve much more with your time in merging workable ideas or using them as new elements.
Wishing you more clarity, focus and achievement
Agonist Aunt

Dear Agonist Aunt,
How do I find my character’s voice?
Having a fair amount of experience crafting plots and building worlds, the one area where I still stumble most is in moving my original characters beyond a set of traits on a Character Sheet so that they can become a living, breathing person on the page.
BB Wonkycandle

Dear BB Wonkycandle
Tune in, drop out, and observe your character.
Before we get to the crux, let me congratulate you on your attention to crafting plots. Many’s a well-told story that’s sabotaged by a degenerating plot as the story continues.
Ah, yes, Character Sheets. While they make you feel terribly productive, they often only give you a clinical look at your character. To get a more visceral and rounded look at characters, you need to drop your pen/keyboard (or at least set them aside), get a nice cup of tea/coffee/tipple of choice, and find a comfy seat. Now, close your eyes and imagine your character in a scene of your story. If you see your plot like a movie, press the pause button. What is their expression in that scene? How are they feeling at that point? How are they standing? DO NOT WRITE DOWN A THING. Just KNOW this about your character. Carry on noticing your character through the scene. The way they move, the way they speak, their facial expressions. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THEM FIT TO YOUR PLOT IF THEY ARE BEHAVING DIFFERENT TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Characters dictate, enhance or emerge with plots. They are not fully formed and we do not fully know them until the end…sometimes never. Let yourself discover your characters as you would a new acquaintance or friend.

If you have trouble visualising your character so minutely, you might want to try casting your favourite/least favourite actor in their role—a great way to justify binge-watching if you need it. Now you have a template for their facial expressions and physical movement, and it should be easy to imagine them playing out the scene in your plot.
I also find dialogue and ‘hearing’ the character’s speech very helpful in revealing aspects of them: their accent, their choice of words, their verbal tics and their silences. All of these can be far more indicative of their inner workings and foreshadow their strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, having a ‘character song’—one which typifies them in some way can also conjure them up almost instantly. For example, in the movie Bunrako, music was used to enhance each character’s nature without dialogue, but it told us so much about them in that moment. Play this song/music when you write about them.

I pulled a card for you, and it’s Empathy. I think it sums up wonderfully what we’ve been talking about. The illustration even has an ear on it, so ‘hear’ your character speak and hear what they’re feeling and how they choose to reveal (or hide) themselves in that moment. Only then is it time to pick up your pen (or keyboard) and let them interact with your plot.
May all your relationships with your characters be long, fruitful and full of empathy.
Agonist Aunt

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