Letting Characters Write Themselves

Writing is an experience which changes from person-to-person. Some are very straightforward: outline the work, write as they’ve planned, and stick to what they initially imagined. Others…this one is for you…let the writing take over. Some may let the characters do the writing for them. Even with an outline to give an overview of what’s to come, sometimes a character’s personality or background won’t allow what’s been planned to happen the way the writer may want. (And we don’t recommend forcing it!)

The character may become the author of their own story – you’re only the vessel!

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If you’re feeling as though your story is straying away from the original plan, don’t worry – this may come with purpose.

During the editing process, make sure everything links together. Even if your character takes the wheel and steers you in a new direction doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always going to be right! Nervous about taking the leap? Duplicate the document, re-read each chapter as it’s written, refer back to your notes and put your brain to work!

Writing doesn’t have to be a cut-dry part of your life; your characters have a story you’re destined to tell, so let them help you tell it.

A Lady Bird Prophet


Prophetic bird with the head of a woman.

  • Perched on top of a pedestal of wisdom and knowledge, the gamayun speaks only of divine messages and prophecies.
  • She lives on an island; this particular island is considered to be paradise.
  • It might not seem like a paradise to us, though. She lives on this island alone. It might be due to wanting to separate herself away from humankind and other animals since she knows the demise of it all and wants to watch it all unfold.
  • Alongside another mythological creature, the Gamayun played a huge role in integrating Christianity into society.
  • A singer of hymns and all-knowing creature…the Gamayun still has her influence on Russia. She can even be found on the coat of arms for some towns!

Dancing Fireball

This week is our last week in Eastern Asia. Disregard the photo chosen for this week’s creature; there weren’t many options that really embodied what the creature is but there is very little to go on! You can be the judge.

Next week, we embark on mythological creatures deriving from Western Asia. Join us on our journey around the world!


Santelmo | Philippines

“Spiritual presence in the form of a dancing orb of flame.”

Basic Facts:

  • The name santelmo translates to ‘St. Elmo’s fire.’ It is also referred to as ‘Santo Elmo.’
  • Recently, the fires seen dancing along have been debunked by scientists…even though these fires have been reported since the Spanish era (that’s almost 500 years ago!)
  • Where did the name St. Elmo come from? To be clear, St. Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. Whenever the weather phenomenon (which is what scientists have deemed the fire) occurred, sailors saw it as a good sign. That’s a bit scary to be called a good thing, if you ask me.
  • If the santelmo was inspired by a weather phenomenon which occurs at sea, what does the creature look like? The best description is as follows (from Cryptid wikia!):

St. Elmo’s fires have ranged from a ghostly dancing flame to natural fireworks. It usually is of a blue of bluish-white colour attached to fixed, grounded conductors and has a lifetime of minutes. The flame is heatless and non-consuming occasionally accompanied by a hissing sound. These latter properties prove the myths of a spiritual presence.

  • The ball of fire spirit can come from the spirits of those who die in a river, the sea or while it’s raining. These versions of the santelmo are dangerous. They’ll drown someone!

Woman of the Mountain

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Maria Makiling Philippines

“Nymph guardian spirit of Mt. Makiling in Laguna”

Basic Facts:

  • She is considered a fairy or forest nymph, who is guardian to the mountain and helps the villagers and townspeople who utilize the resources the mountain provides.
  • The reason the guardian of the mountain is a woman and not a man resorts back to what people see when they look at the mountain: a woman’s face and two breasts, with long hair going down her back.
  • When spotted, the woman is seen to be young and doesn’t age. She’s usually surrounded by a white fog and her clothes are radiant.
  • There are a variety of superstitions when it comes to Maria…she’s not exactly pleasant all the time and will steal men to live with her in the mountain. Ladies, you’re safe…for now…
  • Her powers include: immortality, magic, nature control, conjuration, and invisibility.

Foxy Lady


Gumiho Korea

“Nine-tailed fox that freely transforms into a beguiling woman.”

Basic Facts:

  • How does the fox become the woman? It lives a thousand years.
  • The goal of the gumiho (also called Kumiho in Korea) is to seduce boys and lure them off to eat their organs. They focus on primary organs, such as the liver and heart.
  • Since the legend of the gumiho originated in China and also has a sister legend in Japan, the gumiho is differentiated by the item it carries. The gumiho keeps a marble of knowledge but it’s also used to help drain human energy. If a human steals the marble…they gain knowledge!
  • Even though they can turn into a woman, they maintain fox-like features.
  • Hoping for some good news? If the gumiho doesn’t kill or eat any humans…they’ll become human. Don’t forget…they’re spirits, not actual animals.

Be Rewarded


Pixiu China

“Winged lion that words off spirits and attracts wealth”

Basic Facts:

  • The Pixiu is a protector of those who practice Feng Shui.
  • A creature well associated with wealth; it is also associated with Earth and Sea elements.
  • There are male and female variations of the Pixiu. They’re referred to as Bìxié (male) and Tiān lù (female). The Bìxié is known to be in charge of the wealth, while the Tiān lù shoos off bad spirits.
  • In terms of the wealth they bring in, they are picky. The prefer gold, silver, and jewelry.
  • As years have gone by, the Pixiu has maintained their love for wealth. Statues are often used in the practice of Feng Shui and the philosophy is: wealth will come. They’re also used in Jade pendants in modern jewelry.

That Awkward Moment When…

michael scott.gifEvery writer has an awkward moment. Whether it comes to them in the art of writing their poem, short story, novel, or thinking about their next project. It’s always good to be reminded that you’re never alone in your writing endeavors. Here are my five favorite awkward moments, inspired by some Tumblr posts:

  • Writing until 3 am
    This incident is Dangerous with a capital ‘d.’ Some people are prosperous (and courageous) enough to quit their day job to become a fulltime writer. Some people haven’t gotten there yet and instead set aside an hour or two every night to dedicate to their WIP (work in progress). Sometimes, those people lose track of time and end up writing a lot later than expected, spending much longer on their computer, feeling their eyes grow heavy and their brains turn to mush. Then when that person is actually coherent and looks back on their so-called “progress,” they realize they wrote a bunch of nonsense for six hours. I feel as though that would make a good book in itself: collecting the sleep-deprived rambles of one person and calling it The Sleep-Deprived Rambles of the Working Person: A Collection.
  • Clearing Internet History
    The internet is a broad and informative world. This world teaches us much more than 10th grade algebra and that one biology course in college we are required to take and pass with at least a ‘C’ average. The internet becomes a writer’s best friend to help teach and inform them of things they don’t know about. Things such as different ways blood spatter occurs, the blueprints of the Pentagon, or how much rain falls during Monsoon season. Writers want accurate portrayals of concepts they aren’t informed about, but I one question for you: have you cleared your internet history yet? Because Big Brother is watching and he knows you Googled how to break into a government-owned building last night.
  • Drinking Your Choice of Poison
    Coming across a writer who chooses to drink and write is always a fun time. Just ask them. Similar to writing when exhausted, writing while slightly intoxicated can spring ideas into writing some never thought imaginable. We’ve talked about what to drink while reading on this blog previously but never have we thought about talking about writing and drinking. That’s crazy talk. Writing and drinking could be amusing, only if done responsibly – so why not try it out and check in the following morning to see what drunk you had to say about the plot.
  • Doubting the ability to spell
    It’s happened to all of us at least six or seven times. Writing the same word over and over and over and over again triggers something in the writer’s brain where that word starts to look wrong. Having a dictionary on hand or on the computer is always necessary in instances like this. It becomes even funnier when the person reaches out to a friend or their editor and says, “Hey, I think I’m spelling ‘please’ wrong, can you double check this paragraph so I can keep going?” only to hear, “Why are you spelling it ‘pleese’ or ‘puhleese’ or in 100 different incorrect ways?”
  • Writing about how to cure writer’s block
    We do our best to help those trying to overcome their latest bout of writer’s block. From writing about tips from other authors to simple words that can be used in texts, we try to cover it all. Even on social media, we often share a captivating prompt or two that we find could be helpful in at least getting a writer back on their computers and typing away. So, we know some writers are familiar with that awkward moment where they sit down with their drink in hand and fingers ready to type…and end up not being able to produce anything at all. Not even a single word. Then they spend their allotted hours on Googling ‘how to cure writer’s block’ as if there was a medicine or natural remedy on WebMD or something.