While trying my hand at teaching high school back in the fall, I spent so long away from my current rough draft, I forgot half of what I'd written. So I've been going back to read through it. In doing so, several issues with the rough have been jumping out at me, but they all stem from one factor common in rough drafts, lacking conflict.
Readers have their favorites, and they don't enjoy seeing them put through the wringer, but at the same time, what are the chances they would be so fond of those characters if they never struggled? No matter if your story is plot driven or character driven, without conflict, there is no story.
Have you heard all the hoopla surrounding Star Wars being bought out by Disney and all the new movies? Some are all for it, but others, including Mark Hamill have some... issues... with the new storylines. Why though?
Well, to get at the answer, you have to understand a few things about the Star Wars fandom and the franchise itself over the past thirty years or so.
I think we've all seen or heard the "tortured" artist trope at one time or another. It's no secret a high percentage of notable artists, be they writers, poets, musicians, painters, sculptors, or any other kind of artist, have or do suffer from a range of mental health problems. Because of this correlation between mental health problems and creative success, popular notions of creativity have come to romanticize them as part and parcel to creative genius.
I hate this notion so much! Even if there's some truth to it, it's a dangerous and irresponsible idea in so many ways.
Is your story driven by its plot or by the characters? Does this make a difference? To some, perhaps not. However, some readers prefer one over the other.
What's the difference? It comes down to character development more than anything. Take Battlestar Galactica for example since it's been told both ways. Classic Battlestar was plot driven. Each episode had its own self-contained plot with the search for Earth tying it together, and there wasn't a lot of character development. The characters were there more or less to serve the plot. The 2003 remake was more character driven. Oh, it had plots and subplots to spare, but the plots served more as vehicles for driving character development than the other way around. You have those who love the classic and hate the reboot, and there are plenty of folks who feel the opposite. Those who enjoy both seem fewer in number.
Originally published March 28, 2010
I must have asked myself what the hold up is on Right of Succession a thousand times over the years. I mean, I started on the thing about this time of year back when I was thirteen, and I'll be 29 in a few months.
Filled with the self-assurance of the immensely amateur, at first I was sure it was simply the time eaten up with class and homework holding back the rate I could write. Then my family bought our first computer my freshman year of college, and I began researching publishing online and participating in writers' groups. After a couple of years and many blows to the ego, I realized I had a lot to learn about writing in general, let alone creating readable fiction.
One of the most important parts of getting started writing is choosing which voice to write in for the story you're telling. It's how your reader will experience the story from start to finish, so the impact it has on the piece as a whole is extensive. Make sure you pick the one that will work best for the story you are trying to tell.
So what is voice? To look at it broadly, voice determines which pronouns you'll use to tell the story. Would it play out better using I, you, or he/she? Beyond that, there is active and passive voice. Point-of-view plays a role as well. However, since I've already covered active verses passive voice and point-of-view, I want to take a closer look at first person, second person, and the variety of third person voices available.
One question genre writers get asked often is, "Why do you write in (insert) genre?" Sometimes the person shows a clear distain for the genre or genre fiction in general. Some feel similarly but are better at hiding it at first. A few are jaded and skeptical, certain you only picked your genre for the "built in market" it has, and others are genuine in their curiosity.
It's not always a question that's easy to answer.
C. L. and I were watching the latest episode of Supernatural the other night. It was one of those that revisited characters we haven't seen in a while, Jodie Mills, Alex Jones, and Claire Novak to be precise. As the episode went on, C. L. expressed his surprise at the behavior of the two teen girls based upon where the series left them last. He expected both would behave the exact opposite of how they were, and at first glance, that'd be an easy assumption to make. Yet, if you take a deeper look, the psychology behind the way the two girls were written is sound.
When creating characters and directing them through a story, how big of a role does psychology play? Is it beneficial for authors to study psychology?
New? Begin with lesson one.
So you've made your way through writing, editing, proofing, and publishing your work. Now what?
First off, congratulations. Now you get to start dividing your attention. You might think now's the time to kick back for a while, but it's not if you want a career in writing. If all you ever wanted to do was have a book in print, maybe, but don't expect to make much if any money from it. The upside of the self-publishing bloom is the market is wide open these days, but this also means each individual sale is more difficult to make than ever. You not only need to get the attention of potential readers, you need to earn their trust in order for them to take the risk of buying your book.
New? Begin with lesson one.
There are a couple more things you need to keep an eye out for when you're in the rewriting phase: dropped plot lines and info dumps. Even though we've talked about what info dumps are before, they can be sneaky things that pop up even when you've been trying to prevent them. Not to worry, rewrites are a perfect time to correct both issues.
How do I know if I have a dropped plot line?
Is there a part of your story left hanging at the end? If so, you have a dropped plot line.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
70566 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Trilogy Book 2
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4