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.
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.
When it comes to handling the rewriting phase, issues don't come much easier to fix than inconsistencies and repetitive material. Yet, they can cause a lot of problems if left unattended because it can give the reader a sense the author didn't care enough to double-check their work.
But what if I need them to serve a purpose?
To be clear, I'm not talking about things like an unreliable narrator, red herrings, themes, or any other instances where these things are included purposefully. The inconsistencies and redundancies I'm talking about today are the ones that happen by mistake. Changing your mind while drafting a story, having new ideas that don't mesh with established material, or simply forgetting you've already included something happens. It's part of the writing process. It's just one reason the rewriting and editing stages are so crucial.
The biggest things you will need to fix during the rewriting phase is filling in plot holes and correcting sequences that are out of order. No matter how throughly you planned out your story, they're still bound to turn up during the drafting phase. As you write, new ideas form, old ones shift, and characters take off in unexpected directions because your subconscious mind is always working ahead and making connections you might not see consciously.
It is to be expected, especially when writing your first few stories. It's a natural part of the creative process, and this is one reason rewrites and edits are essential steps. Plot holes and trouble in the sequence of events aren't disasters at this stage. All it takes is a keen eye to find them and a bit of work to make these changes fit into your narrative without lapses in logic or flow.
Whether you set about to purposefully set the pace of your story or not, it will have one. It's a natural result of the structure of language used. Knowing what factors go into the rate your reader will experience the events happening adds one more tool to your box, allowing you to speed or slow the pace of the narrative to suit your design.
Shouldn't all work aim to be fast paced?
I can see why you'd think so with society's tendency toward sound bites these days, but no, not every piece needs to speed by without slowing down. Life has an ebb and flow to it. Your story should have the same unless your purpose is to create a sense of rushed stress or slow realization for the reader.
A. B. England is a small business owner, home-schooling mom, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves fantasy, mythology, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
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Icarus Trilogy Book 2
Yekara Series Book 3
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Yekara Series Book 4