Nicole Dell



Hazelnut Latte

Maintaining Realism in Fantasy

I should be working on my book right now, but I’m struggling. My writing process is in this huge nasty funk and I’ve been ignoring the problems for a while. My book is split basically in two parts – 1995 and the present. My main character is in each of them. I have one other character (albeit different) that serves as point of view in the past and present. I’m fine with the 1995 character, but the present day character completely alludes me. I don’t know how to write her so I’ve basically been ignoring this part of my novel. It’s just sitting there glaring at me and starting to throw a huge tantrum because it’s being snubbed. This character is basically a version of myself. I know this deep down. However, I just can’t figure out how to make her work. She’s also in future scenes and works nicely there. I have that figured out. But in the present, I don’t know her. Also in the process of writing, I have discovered that I find it much easier to write my male characters then my female ones. Since I’m a girl, it’s surprising. I thought writing female characters would be easier. It’s amazing to me the things I discover about myself as I write.

Writer struggles are real!

I think my issue is that my book is speculative fiction. It’s very much set in the present real world, but also has numerous fantasy elements. I want to make sure her actions and motives are realistic to what someone would actually do. But at the same time, running away from danger doesn’t fit my plot. Being skeptical of strangers coming into her life, doesn’t fit my plot. Numerous thing I need her to do in order to advance the plot from point A to point Z, a normal person would probably not do. I need to balance the realism with my fantasy elements, because in way she’s the reader. She’s the one who represents what an actual human would do. I’ll figure this out, but it’s the most frustrating thing sometimes. I know the answer is staring at me in the face, but I can’t see it. I’ll either make it work or make changes. I’m sure others have similar struggles. Did you scratch characters when you couldn’t make them work, go the unrealistic route, or rework your plot? I don’t want to scratch her. I don’t want to go the unrealistic route. So that leaves me with reworking my plot to make her work within my novel, because she’s a very central character. The thought makes me sigh in despair as this seems like a never-ending process and I wonder if I will ever get there. The 60,000 to 80,000 word finish line is just over the horizon, but still unreachable. I’m starting to believe all writers need a motivational speaker in their corner – always.

Enough for now, I need to get back to my characters and work myself out of this writing funk.

Thanks for reading!


Number of Hazelnut Lattes for this post: 1

Listening to: Birdy


Then I defy you, stars!

I’m very fortunate to live near Louisville, KY. I love the city, though I’m really a small town girl at heart. Living where I do gives me that daily small town feel, but the city is a mere thirty minutes away. One of the things I love about Louisville is KY Shakespeare. They put on three performances each summer for Shakespeare in Central Park. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. The players really do a fantastic job and I’ve yet to walk away disappointed. Plus it’s completely free. This summer they performed “Two Gentleman of Verona”, “A Winter’s Tale” and “Romeo and Juliet.” I couldn’t make it to “A Winter’s Tale”, but was fortunate to see “Two Gentleman of Verona” earlier this summer. After braving a 45 minute downpour last night, I was able to watch “Romeo and Juliet” and thankful the players waited out the rain and agreed to start an hour late.

I’m a sucker for a good Shakespeare tragedy. “Romeo and Juliet,” though, is my least favorite. I had to read it years ago in high school (doesn’t everyone?) and I’ve read it one other time. I’ve also seen the 1968 movie and also the Baz Luhrmann production a few times. Usually, I find it very unbelievable that these two can meet, marry and kill themselves over love within a matter of a few days. Love is definitely the decisive theme of the play. As I watched the play last night, I found myself feeling a little different about it this time.

Having started writing a novel, I’m constantly looking at various works I read and evaluating them differently. I look at characters in a completely different light. With Romeo and Juliet, I found myself looking at how fate really determined their destinies or at least, the characters allowed them to be controlled. The whole play requires the audience to believe that fate ultimately defines the events of the play. We don’t even learn why the two families are feuding. The audience has to accept this aspect as undisputed. It makes the whole love at first sight a little different if you believe fate didn’t really given them a choice.

Mercutio has always been the main reason I watch the play. I find his character interesting because he not only serves as comic relief in the first half, but his death ultimately leads to the tragic ending of the play. Plus I really love this line from Mercutio, who happens to be one of my favorite Shakespearean characters, because he’s a catalyst for everything in my opinion.

A plague o’ both your houses!
They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it,
And soundly too: your houses!

I love good dialogue and writers who say things creatively. In this instance, instead of they have killed me, Shakespeare writes the above line. Things like this make me abnormally happy when I see them to a point where some find it weird when I’m pointing out reasons I love a book or a song on the radio. I imagine that creative quotes make me feel like a dog does when he has a scratch reflex and thumps his foot. Ahhh.

I like the second half of the play because each situation is important and builds leading to the end result. Shakespeare really expertly crafted this domino effect. Without Mercutio’s death, Romeo would not have killed Tybalt and have been banished. Had Tybalt lived, Juliet’s family may not have rushed her marriage to Paris.  Had the priest’s messenger delivered his message, Romeo would not have sought the poison from the apothecary and killed himself which resulted in Juliet stabbing herself. Mercutio also taunts Tybalt and draws his sword first, so one could argue that he is solely responsible for the remaining events of the play.

This is what I walked away with at the end of the two hours. I can’t really scorn the play for unrealistic displays of love and marriage when fate is really the driving force, because fate is a huge part of my novel. My main character is forced to fall in love with two women and is “responsible” for both their deaths. I use the word “responsible” lightly because their deaths were really not in his control, but the result of a plan set in motion by someone quite devious. It was ultimately fate that led him to become what he is and fate that led to the demise of his two lovers. My character also falls in love quickly, albeit a period of a few weeks, not days. Every action the characters take ultimately leads to their fate at the end of the novel.  So I can’t help, but notice similarities. It may not be on par with “Macbeth” or “King Lear” or “Titus Andronicus” (the blood!) in my opinion, but I don’t feel the same disdain for it as I may have felt before.

Thanks for reading!

~ Nicole ~ 

Number of Hazelnut Lattes for this post: 1

Listening to: The Piano Guys


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