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

GamayunRussia

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!


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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

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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.