27 December, 2011


Katin, Katin, Katin... I've just nailed down how she develops through the end of the novel. And in doing so, I realized something about how I wrote this novel, that I will hopefully rectify going forward:

I really, really enjoy writing prose. I do not, so much, enjoy structuring story and character development. It's difficult and painful, and I spend a lot of time feeling slightly nauseous and wondering how I'm going to get myself out of this jam. A lot of times, the way out means destroying what you've created and starting over. After doing that for the last couple of hours, I've gotten a solid sense of where the character of Katin should go, and how she should develop, and how her dramatic flaws should manifest.

The tricky part is, when tomorrow I reread the notes I wrote today, there's a chance that I will spot obvious glaring problems. Then I will feel nauseous again as I have to wade through figuring out, once more, exactly how Katin is going to progress as a character.

I spent a lot of the last six months writing prose and doing world-building. What I did not do nearly enough of was nailing down the characters. It can help to write an exploratory draft, to get some ideas about things that can happen; but nothing in there should be gospel. Break it apart, and save those ideas to reuse later somewhere that they fit. Meanwhile, go nail down the characters, who are (and should be) what drive the story.

I had a long phone call with a friend the other day. He's read the entire second draft of the novel, and he made a lot of very good points, a lot of which boiled down to me realizing that I hadn't really done my due diligence of nailing down the story and character progression. I kept telling myself the novel was pretty good as-is, which is probably the case (people seem to like my prose), but good prose doesn't make a good story.

And that brings me to another danger of, specifically, handing out sample chapters to people: A sample chapter does not contain enough material for people to judge your character and story skills, only your prose. I've posted versions of chapter 2 and chapter 5 on Mythic Scribes, and in both cases everyone has praised the prose, but looking at the story as a whole, there's a lot more work to be done. At least at this point, I'm confident that my writing is an easy read, even if it doesn't quite add up to what it should.

No comments:

Post a Comment