Posts Tagged ‘characters’

Interrupting the Plot

Technical-ish post!

In case you haven’t read the ‘synopsis’ of my story, I am writing a sci-fi/fantasy/post-apocalyptic blend story.  I’m trying very hard as I write to follow a few of the traditional ‘quest’ archetypes while still maintaining believable characters and a unique setting.  I’ll admit that it’s harder than I thought it would be.

Now, I’ve read enough epic fantasy and science-fiction to know that there’s really only one good way to get from point A to point B in a quest novel (or series).  And that is to encounter as many interruptions, sidetracks, false trails and frustrating no-win scenarios as you possibly can before finally stumbling headfirst into the fiery lava chambers of Mount Doom.

My characters are not traipsing their way through Mordor quite yet, but I’ve discovered as I’m writing that I’m really a much meaner person than I’ve ever given myself credit for.  I mean, if I personally ran into the types of plot-problems and dead ends and such that I put my characters through, I would be lying on the fetal position whispering strange chants for hours on end by the end of chapter three.

But, I’m also finding that by throwing these characters into the types of challenges that I have been, two very important things start to happen. One, I have an actual story developing, which is pretty outstanding, and two, I’m learning more about my characters than I ever could have imagined.  Their reactions, their dialogue, everything is coming alive for me.  I feel like, by interrupting all of my characters’ plans, I’m finding out who they really are, which is going to be oh-so-helpful when it comes to rewrite time, because I will know exactly how they will react.   I will know what they will say and do in almost every situation.  They will become believable and I will be given all the credit.

Being a writer is awesome.

Keeping Ahead of the Curve

Day two is in the bag, and I’ve plunked out another two thousand or so words.  I’m busy for the rest of the evening, so that’s going to do it for me for today.  I’m more than satisfied with my progress so far, too, since I’m about a day and a half ahead of schedule, and I’m actually on track for finishing out the month a shade over seventy-five thousand words.  Since my whole novel will probably range somewhere between 110,000 and 150,000, that’s certainly a good chunk to get out of the way in just 30 days.

Specific to the NaNoWriMo challenge, I think it’s very important to me to keep myself ahead of my goal.  The idea is not so much to give myself a buffer in case I have an off day – but believe me, that’s certainly going to help.  Rather, it serves as sort of a pacer.  Given the option, I’d much rather pace myself ahead of schedule than behind, and I find the challenge of pushing ahead to give me extra motivation also.  I like the idea of knowing that I’m doing more than maybe some other people are. I’m not one to rub that in anyone’s face, but it makes me feel good.

With regard to my actual novel, I am already seeing things that I know are going to cause headaches in the future.  Specifically, my lack of planning is going to be an issue.  While diving headfirst into a novel is definitely the ‘nano’ way to do things, tackling an entirely new planet with it’s new political structures and races and money and social constructs is… well, daunting.  The biggest hurdle I see myself running into is going to be going back, as I’m writing, to be sure that those things are internally consistent.  I’m going to give myself a little license, at least, though, because I know most of those kinks will be worked out as I take notes for my first rewrite.

Characterization has always been my strong suit, and I’m trying to use that to my advantage as I write this novel.  It’s not so much a matter of making sure that I explain every detail of my characters’ thought processes to my readers, but I find that drinking deeply of their motivations and concerns, anxieties and tendencies, really helps me to flesh out the scenes that I’m writing.  I don’t have to wonder what’s coming next, because the story really starts to write itself.

That brings me to my last thought. Scenes. I have tended, in the past, to only break novels down into chapters, which are convenient dividing lines at spaced at approximately even intervals.  What drives a novel, though, I’m finding in the writing, is the individual scenes.  I spend less time worrying about how much of the chapter I have left to write, and I’m focusing on what scenes are coming up.  Some will be longer than others, to be sure, but it really has changed my thinking about what the building blocks of the story are.

All that said, I am falling in love with my protagonist, who is as antihero as they come.  He has just enough charm to be likable, and everything else is grit and gristle.  He’s so much fun to write about.  I’m on the verge of introducing my first major supporting character, too, and I have some great ideas about her as well.  But, that’s all for tomorrow.  Cheers for now!

Entering the Fray

Well, it’s begun.  I took my lunch today to crank out my ‘quota’ for the day, and already I’m tired.  I did it, though, finishing up just in time with just over 1,700 words. I’ve met my main character. He’s a bit grittier than I suspected, and his sense of morality is somewhat questionable, but I think he and I are going to get along just fine.

The first few paragraphs, I’ll confess, felt more than a little daunting.  My internal editor wasn’t quite finished packing, and tried to make a few ‘helpful suggestions’ as I typed, but I gave him the boot, and after several minutes, my fingers and my imagination picked up a steady rhythm.  I remembered, as I trudged along, that I actually like writing, and each sentence became an adventure, and a new obstacle to conquer.

I suppose what I’ve written so far makes up about half a chapter or so, and I’ve already started identifying key issues with my writing.  I’m choosing, though, to ignore those issues and just keep plodding along.  This month, my goal is productivity.  We can worry about quality later, once the whole store is actually out there.  I’ll have plenty of time for editing, later, and to tell the truth, I’m looking forward to it.  But it’s not time now.

I’m not even finished for the day, I don’t think.  My goal is to pump out another session of 1,667 today, maybe even two if I can find the focus and the energy.  I honestly believe that getting a good healthy start is the key to pushing through those long dry stretches later in the month where I start to hate my novel and my characters and the fact that I ever thought it was a good idea to do this.

Let’s be fair, too. This is only the first day.  I’m already feeling excited about the prospect of reaching word 50,000 and beyond, but I have to reach each goal before then, first.  My first goal is accomplished, and I’m feeling the energy to keep going.  I’ve never felt so excited about a novel before, so I think this is a good thing.  I hope your novels are going well, also, and for those of you not writing, I hope that you’re enjoying this blogging experience so far.