Toby’s Update – February 2019 – What a start!

How do your character’s make decisions? Read on, I’m learning as I go…

Ploughing through. It is the best way I can describe what I’ve done this month. I lost seven days of writing time which is a shame, but hey that happens sometimes. At the same time, the third draft now has as many words in the first ten chapters as the entire second draft had in its entirety. It is an improvement, methinks. Yes, I look forward to editing these pages.

Why such a change? Well, from the feedback I received from my alpha readers, the set-up of the first two chapters did not support the type of story I wanted to tell. Some characters required more of an introduction and tension between them and events in the world needed to be constructed better. Also, the story seemed to pick up after the midpoint. Not a good sign.

By adding scenes in which characters get introduced more deliberately, I feel the story comes together better now, although there is a lot of verbiage there which I will need to clean up. It happens. That’s what writing is.

What is the plan? As January comes to a close, I think it is realistic to say that the third draft will only be done by the end of March. Not for lack of time. Simply because of the pace at which the writing progresses. That’s fine. Once done, I’ll put this aside for a week or two and pick up another story I started working on last year but put aside in favor of this one. It will be fun to do the outline of that story on a board and clear my head of all the adventures the current cast characters have taken me on. To explore another era of Ealisia with another cast.

For the next two months however, I will be at it every day – every morning to be exact – in order to finish this story.

One of the things I realize is how hard it can be get into a character’s situation and then decide what she or he will do next. In this case, through my protagonist’s actions I have found myself in several situations where I knew what I would do myself, yet struggled with the character’s point of view. Not good.

So I spend time writing up character backstory and motivations. This helps. Giving one character a personal incentive to help the other informs decisions he may make in the story.

Another thing I’ve done is written up scenes from another character’s point of view. Why? By forcing myself to write about the location where the scene will take place before the protagonists, whose point of view I use for the story, arrives, I get to experience the details of the place from another character’s perspective. What does she see that is different? Which things does she notice that the other character would not? What is her attitude to certain cast members? How does that reflect in her actions? When the protagonist arrives, how does she react?

This writing is not in the manuscript by the way. These are simply techniques I use to explore the voice of the cast members my protagonist encounters. I’ve found writing such instances particularly helpful and fun.

That’s what it is all about for now: having fun. Exploring writing as I am now, I find it is both a challenge as well as a pleasure.

Challenges come in many different forms, however the dominant challenge is related to driving the story forward. Many times I have an idea of where this is going to go, but the sequence of actions, events and scenes to get there eludes me. I just write. That’s all there is to it. Sometimes it takes a two days, other times it takes two weeks and then, like a torrent, a leg of the story falls into place. Just like that.

There is no point in sitting around, waiting for inspiration. Inspiration comes from hard work. Just sit down, and do the work. Write now. Edit later.

In my experience, I need those extra words in my process to understand my character’s motivations and actions better. How did they get themselves into a certain situation? What choices have they made?

As you read, I am still at it and learning a lot. I hope the effort pays off. Stay tuned, be in touch and let’s see where this adventure goes!

Sincerely,

Toby

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