Characters, I hinted toward the fact that my original protagonist met an early fate. No matter how much planning is done there are times when characters take on a life of their own. Yes, despite all a writer’s best intentions these things happen and it does not always coincide with the plot.
Some characters that are meant to live don’t and then some characters who were genuinely meant to die just keep on hanging on for dear life. That’s my grumble after what occurred late in my second novel, I am still unsure where this will lead needless to say it may be interesting further down the track.
My point is for all the planning in the world when you bring a character to life that character makes choices that you don’t always anticipate. Whatever you do avoid trying to stifle the character it just makes things worse, I was tempted but then I prefer to think that choices give a character depth by allowing them to react the way they would if they were real.
Initially I tried following the recommended approach that I had read and began making cards and describing each character. I’m afraid this method was not for me and this is where I became bogged down and disillusioned placing my early descriptions away for another time.
I am a fluid writer, I set the scene with one or two characters and then the events bring the other characters to life. The characters then develop with the story and I keep a useful index with categories for terms, beasts, people and places. For me this process has been a life saver, I simply open my document scroll down to the designated place and find the character or add a new one with a short sentence that I can add to later as the character develops.
Characters need to have flaws, they may not always see things form the same perspective and are prone to make mistakes. Sometimes it takes a while to find a character’s voice but I find it is well worth the effort because it adds another layer to the story. This is an area where the further I go the more I learn because there is so much about characters to get to know.
Writing is an ambiguous topic considering I am working on the draft for my third novel. I have been racking my mind trying to remember the steps I went through originally when embarking on this long journey. Initially poetry held my full attention broken only by a few short pieces of writing. It was as though I had to completely shut down one method in order to immerse myself in the preparation for beginning a novel.
Over a couple of years the wonderfully thick note book filled with scribbles was put away and I began the first step of creating a map. After all what fantasy world would be complete without a map to gain a sense of one’s bearings. A few unworthy attempts were made to describe potential characters and then this too was shelved carefully put away in a space slightly larger than a shoe box.
Procrastination is something I tend to do quite well and while I was lost in this train of thought I had a wonderful conversation with a friend who shared with me her life’s dream and then asked me what mine was. That was the first time I had told anyone I wanted to write a book and filled with a renewed sense of purpose I sat down at my computer and began the first chapter.
This is where I have a confession to make you see I did not like my writing so I stopped part way through and began my first novel at chapter two. Why, because I was describing the story rather than showing it through the characters and their actions. Oh, and I changed the protagonist the first one met a tragic end in in the beginning of the story my apologies for the spoiler for those who have not read the book. This was a short lesson in the need for creating a character with enough substance to become gritty and real.
So there you have it, this is how I began spending about an hour at the end of each day to write my novel. I was quite content travelling along writing until tragedy struck, if there is one thing I can say for having a chronic disease all that initial shyness went straight out the window. With this in mind I finished the last chapter of my first novel and there it stayed for a good six months before my uncle suggested sending it off to publishers.
I knew before I sent it that regardless of the outcome I would publish the novel and spent this time steadily writing the second in the series, however this time it was easier and I finally understood the usefulness of a story plan. The first novel did not have a plan as I had thought the story through so often however when writing my second novel the action was so intricate that I could not have written it without a plan. I will not lull anyone into thinking it was easy and I have certainly gained a new found respect for other writers after all the work involved.