While my follow up to my post on cliche is coming soon, I wandered into this amazing article on Writer Unboxed. The articles on WU are usually amazing, however, this one particularly struck me, because it spoke to my current struggle in my current WIP 2nd draft.
Right now I am working on a 500 page draft of a fantasy (meaning, it’s 500 pages at first draft, but will be shorter, hopefully). It is a baby of mine that I am ashamed to say I’ve been working on for years. I’ve lived with the characters for so long that they feel real to me. But, at the same time, one gets weary of writing the same story for so long. I took a hiatus for a couple years and banged out another novel, but now I’ve returned to my fantasy one.
Even though I have to whittle 500 rough as rough pages down to 300 or so brilliant ones, I feel happy. I recently participated in a writer’s critique group in California and plan to find another one here in Florida. And, Writer Unboxed makes me feel less lonely.
But it is hard. I started drafting draft 2 only to realize that it was, well…just not working. The revisions felt hollow and phony. So I went back to chapter 1 and started in again. Now I’m on chapter 7 and “draft 3”, as I like to pretend it is, is going better. I’ve been drawing up web with questions in the middle about my villain, villain’s backstory, protagonist’s family — digging deeper into details I already knew, because I realized I needed them. Yet, something still seemed to be missing…my draft still felt a little wooden and strange, like my first attempts at draft 2 did. What was wrong? I’ve been trying to figure it out. Until now.
This article at WU made me realize what I’m missing in my “draft 3”. I may be figuring out what happens, making the plot tighter, less cliche, and fixing problems, but…what I’m not figuring out is how what happens makes my characters feel.
Without knowing how my characters struggle internally, what realizations they make, what disturbs or angers them, etc., then even the exciting-for-me, “ooh” plot changes that I’m making will mean nothing, because without affecting my characters, they won’t affect my readers.
This all connects back to fearing your readers, cliche, The Artist’s Way, The Courage to Write, and other topics I’ve discussed on this blog. They all come back to a central point, in my mind, which is:
How do we write an amazing novel that comes from our hearts, while also keeping in mind practical methods that work and affecting our readers?
Or something like that, eheh.
All of this means a lot to me because, of the two novels I’ve written, one came very easily and one came with great difficulty. The one that has more character but less plot and doesn’t always make sense, has a lot of heart, and the one that has better plot, needs some more heart. I think both of my novels have potential to be powerful and say something, and I can’t abandon these characters from my heart, and this is why I must finish them. And I feel that I have to find an answer to that question above, in order to finish both novels well.
Please wish me luck, or give me blessings, so that I can finish them.
Do you have a story you’re working on now that causes you trouble? What’s your trouble? Do you focus on your characters’ internal struggle more in writing, or lean more towards the plotty, what-happens side of things?
Tata for now,