In a way, getting characters to cooperate with an outline is like herding cats. Characters are independent minded people who have their own agendas that might not match up with the plot you have in mind. The trick is convincing them to do what you need them to do without making it looked forced. Just like cats are gorgeous creatures until you try to make them do something they don’t want to do – they they are all claws and teeth. I’ll tell you right now, you don’t want to be on the business end of a cat stare (they really can kill). Fighting with your characters has the same effect on your book.
This excerpt is from a character interview of my next novel, “Hero’s Call”.
It’s a horrible thing to be aware from such an early age of what other people think. By the time that Mother started leaving me with Missy, I knew that the pain I felt was from Mother not wanting to leave me. Then there were the thoughts of pity from Missy and the others who knew who I was. I could handle that; it was love in a way. From the men who frequent Missy’s pub, I learned all kinds of things that most children never hear. Some people don’t even have the “pleasure” of knowing what some men think of children who can’t scream.
I’ve been watching the news lately with a strangely distanced eye. Mostly because I’m so tired of the current debates that I just don’t want to see them anymore and yet there they are so prominent and so full of misinformation on all sides that it’s rather disheartening. But from my writer’s observatory I look out over the issues causing all kinds of consternation today and see parallels with the issues of the past and with issues facing other cultures around our world. I see them reflected in the stories we tell ourselves of other worlds and gods. The patterns are there, even if the issues are different.
Everyone has heard the old adage that “actions speak louder than words” but how many of us have actually taken the time to dig into the meaning of that phrase? It’s something that it just feels like it’s right. Well, it is. Just looking at the literal meaning of the phrase you can imagine plenty of examples where it is literally true.
The first thing I remember learning about geology was that gravity was always in charge. This was way back in grade school and we were given the impossible task of making water run up hill in model water system. Our teacher was a great believer in hands on learning, and also, I think, had a cruel streak that enjoyed watching us get frustrated when we couldn’t complete the task assigned. In this case it took us all of about fifteen minutes before every group had given up. Then we got the lecture about how the water system worked. He pointed out that somehow the water had to get back up into the clouds so that it could fall as rain and sent us home that day with the assignment to figure out how that was possible.
Everyone believes in something. Even Atheists. The problem arises when that something, isn’t the same thing as someone else’s something. Worse yet, when those two someones who believe in different things use the same words for them. Differences over the meaning of “god” have caused wars. There have been great upheavals when two powerful people have looked at the same ancient text and decided that it tells them radically different things about how to live.
And these are just examples from real life.
In fiction, you would think that we could come up with some truly spectacular stories about the differences between various sects. We probably could… but for the most part, we don’t.
I first heard of White Room Syndrome on the OWW (Online Writering Workshop) to describe the issue many first drafts have of forgetting to describe the environment.
I’m guilty of this in my first drafts, particularly when the action gets wild and I’m really into what the characters are doing. I’ve even heard from some prolific and famous authors that this is a constant struggle in first drafts. “That’s what second drafts and first readers are for” – Mercedes Lackey (CONvergence 2008). Unfortunately for many new writers, it is a problem that persists into later drafts and may be one reason they find their stories hard to sell.
Edit: v To revise or correct, as a manuscript
Dreadit: v To actively avoid editing a particular manuscript (I’ve been Dreaditing “Cookies For All Occasions” for the past week).
My dear friend Devin Harnois , coined this term to describe the process of getting ready to edit something. It’s that time when you know you have to get down to the business of editing something so that it is ready to face the world, but you just don’t want to spoil the perfection you imagine that it is by actually looking at it.
Recently I was taking a walk with my dear friend E.P. Beaumont. We were walking along the river talking about our recent projects and Day Job frustrations when she paused to notice how green the trees were. It took me by surprise, not because I hadn’t noticed that the trees were green, but that it was worth mentioning. I had a similar response to my Great Aunt’s visit and her constant chatter about trees in the city.
Writing “In the Dark… We Hope” has been a multi-layered challenge.
First and foremost, the very premise of the book scares me. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that this book has been pestering me to write it for more than 10 years, I wouldn’t be writing it now. It’s just that I know it won’t go away if I ignore it, no matter how much I try. I’ve tried, it hasn’t gone away. So maybe it will leave me alone if I write it. That’s the theory anyway.