Wow, slack blogger Jackie! *slaps hand* It’s been a week – nearly. Groan. In my defence, I should say that I’m not online so much for a reason. Being obsessed by writing hasn’t been good for me so I’m reconnecting with non-writing things, and that means less time at the computer and more time doing other stuff. So apologies if I’ve been slack at visiting blogs. On the upside, I am gaining some much needed perspective (slowly) and that’s got to be a good thing, right?
Anyway, so my new process is actually going quite well. If you can consider spending three weeks on the first chapter ‘well’. My usual modus operandi is to write like the dickens until the whole thing first draft is done, so as you can imagine, 3 weeks on one chapter is torture. On the other hand, it does mean that instead of getting halfway through and figuring out what my characters are like, which means another round of rewriting, I am getting a really good idea of them beforehand. And, what’s more, when I run into a problem, instead of pushing through and writing it out, I am stopping and thinking about it. This is working for me, I gotta say. I have about four stories in the planning stages and all this character groundwork is proving invaluable. Normally I begin with the characters as people without pasts, their pasts only becoming clear to me as I go along, but now they have pasts right at the beginning! I can’t tell you the difference it makes to the story, and to my writing as well. Doh!
Because it is all about the character. At least, the kind of stories I want to write are about the character. I don’t think I truly appreciated before quite how true this is. I saw the conflict, the character and the plot as three separate entities and I treated them as such. But of course they’re not. All three are inextricably linked. And, in my opinion, character comes first. You start with your protagonist. You decide who they are. What type of person. Then you give them some conflict – and the type of conflict that will provide the most friction given the person they are. And after that comes the plot – the story is driven by the choices the character makes and the actions that they take. That’s a character driven story.
Now the above is just my own musings and how it makes sense to me. I don’t know whether it’s right or not and since I have been waaaaay wrong in the past, I could be waaaay wrong now. But I’m putting this into practice with the Chessman. Yes, my lovely chess player who fell by the wayside. I learned quite a bit while writing that particular ms, most of all about moving your characters to suit your plot and not the other way around. It was also the ms that gave me the first intimations of what a dog’s breakfast I’d made of my Hammerpants ms. As you can imagine, I have a love/hate relationship with it because of that. Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I re-read it last week and discovered it’s actually not sh*t. The heroine’s conflict needs tweaking but the hero’s is all there. And I’m also at the best bit – the black moment! So I’ve stopped labouring over rewriting the old ms for a while and I’ve gone back to my Chessman to finish it. Not sure what I’ll do with it when I finish it but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. The main thing is though, that it’s character driven.
I think. 🙂
So how about you? Like character driven stories? Or are you a plot person?