Character-driven stories are always the best kind of stories.
I don’t talk to my characters (I swear!), but they do control my story more than I might let on. Characters, though fictional, are fully fleshed out people living in your universe of fiction writing if writing is what you live and breathe every day. If you’re serious about your craft, I think that you should be strongly connected with all of your characters. I might take this a step further.
I confess that often, it really is my characters that decide the direction that they will go in a story. I have heard of a few writers admit to this as well. Some writers whose blogs I have read think that this level of thinking is weird/wrong and that they as writers are always fully in control of their stories. The latter type of thinking seems too mechanical for me. I prefer to think of writing as a way to tell the stories of the people who exist in one realm of my fantasy universe.
Of course I am the one writing my story, but as a writer, I am not living this life fully on my own. These characters exist in my rich inner world and they have influence over how I write them. Writing totally is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. Maybe this weirds you out. Perhaps you disagree. That’s okay, too. There are many different types of writers. This is how I work.
My characters do have minds of their own and I have changed the direction of nearly every story I have written because they disagreed with the direction that I was taking them in. Sometimes, I stress out about this disagreement and I hesitate to write their fate in a way that I originally planned not to.
Writing is supposed to be fun. Write what makes you want wake up in the wee hours of the morning just to finish that next chapter. Write what causes you to lay in bed at night thinking about your characters. Write something you’re passionate about.
If that means that you talk to your characters or if that means that you let your characters choose certain paths for themselves, then let it be.
Writers, do you ever feel a character pulling you in the opposite direction of where you want them to go? Do you feel them have a mind of their own? Do you think all of this is simply weirdness?
(Photo Source: http://www.everystockphoto.com by Shandi-lee)
In June, I took a long bus ride to northern British Columbia, which took another four hours by car to reach a wilderness lodge where I would work for the rest of the summer. The view was spectacular and I had my own room, so after my long days working with customers and guests, I was able to get a significant amount of writing done. It rained a lot, which fuels my creativity and inspiration.
I ended up revising one of my short stories, Eve and Adam. I was also able to edit and write several more pages of my novel, which is not yet titled. Speaking of which, I really need to work on that!
I found that I was able to focus much of my time on writing when I worked through the day, but on the weeks that I had to work a split shift, I mostly napped because I couldn’t sleep well. I do find that I tend to write better after working during the day. So wherever I end up moving to next, I will do my best to work a day shift so that my writing will not suffer.
How has your writing progressed over the summer?
The feel of your hand sliding across the page as you pen the words birthed from your imagination. Seeing a story handwritten in a notebook is an art in its own way. Watching your ideas and characters form into sentences by your own hand is simply breathtaking.
Writing in a notebook allows you to travel anywhere and sit in the most interesting places that might be awkward if you carried a laptop. Of course, writing on a computer is certainly poetic as well, as writing is writing. But one cannot compare the magic that takes place as the writer pens her or his heart out onto the page as they lean against a tall oak tree or sit upon a rock at the top of a mountain.
Write what you want to write about. Write about what inspires you. Write about what you think about when you’re walking under the stars or in the rain. Write the story that you have always wanted to tell. Write about the characters that won’t leave your mind.
Then, have the courage to write what you love. Then, re-write it until it works.
Do not worry about its marketability or who will like it. If you like your own work, it’s all that matters. Someone else will treasure it if you treasure it first.
Don’t just write about what you know, write what you love.
Thanks to Miss Writerlicious for mentioning this most fun site called “I Write Like”. You cut and paste a portion of your writing (At least a few paragrahs from your WIP) to see which author’s writings yours most resemble.
You can give it a try here.
My results show that I write like H.P. Lovecraft.
According to Wikipedia, “Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) — known as H. P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.”
I am flattered. I have no idea how accurate this is supposed to be, but it is interesting that, in my case, I tend to write darker stuff and have always preferred stories with fantasy or horror elements. Cool. And I like to describe myself as weird quite a bit. I will have to purchase some of his books now!
If you choose to try this site out, let me know what results you get.
For the first time since I have started writing novels, I have made the decision to write one of my books in the first person point of view. Normally, I love writing from multiple points of view – where the story is told from at least four different characters’ perspectives.
Sometimes, first person just works best. I was a little nervous to do this at first, but I think it will be great to try something new and challenging. I say challenging, because it’s going to be different for me to portray the other characters’ personalities and behaviour through just one person’s eyes. Though, I do enjoy reading first person sometimes, because it can give such an intimate portrayal of the protagonist as though you were reading her/his journal.
Interestingly, my current work in progress is a sort of survival tale, much like The Hunger Games, which was also narrated in the first person.
I’d also like to add that one of my favourite bloggers and writers, Lauren Waters, does a fabulous job of writing her books in the first person, because I can imagine everything that is going on around the main character with great detail – from plot events to the other characters. So, first person can certainly be very effective.
So, writers, how about you? Do you ever write in the first person? Do you write in both first and third narrative? Which do you find works the best?
I love Corey’s list of our writer quirks. Hope these make you smile today. I can relate to all of them, especially the daydreaming and active imagination parts. Feel free to add more in the comments!
Check it out:
20 Ways to Tell You’re a Writer.
Before sending your work to a professional editor, I highly recommend having at least two people (fellow writers or avid readers) read over your book and let you know what they thought of it. Editors are amazing at fixing grammatical errors, sentence structure, and some will even comment on things like characters or the flow of the story, but you really need to have a few people give an honest opinion of your story to see if the concept works well.
I have had two beta readers go through my work and they have been absolute life savers. They pointed out some considerable flaws like continuity errors (i.e. forgetting one character dyed their hair and mentioning that they had their previous hue – oops!) and there were some significant historical inaccuracies I had missed, despite research. It would have been so embarassing to have my novel out on the market with such errors. Having two writers go over my work was the best decision.
Something to learn about self publishing: There is no rush.
Take the time to edit and tweak your story line until you are absolutely satsified. Then, edit it again. Have a few people do a peer edit after that and then, when everything makes sense and the details are in order, send it over to the editor.
Do you have a certain number of beta readers go over your story before sending it to an editor? Tell me your thoughts on beta readers.
One morning, I thought it would be really inspiring to walk to a secluded area of the park near my home and write in my notebook rather than on my laptop. I sat on a bench and wrote an entirely new story idea. The quiet, natural surroundings provided the perfect whimiscal setting. Sun streamed through the tall trees above me and I wrote for a solid hour.
In the past, I have been exclusively a laptop writer. “You have to type up your story eventually, so why not start out that way? It saves the time and the work of transporting the words from the paper to MS Word,” I said.
I used to think that words flowed better when I typed, which can be true at times, but in the right setting, handwriting your story works wonders. Gripping the page as I wrote down the ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for days gave me this sort of symbolic freedom to pour everything out.
In that single hour of writing, I got over 1,000 words into the story.
I think it’s good to always challenge ourselves to write in different settings and to switch it up between handwriting and typing. Every time I take a break from the computer and pen the words on the page, it feels so natural and rewarding. I may even try writing the entire first draft that way and see if the whole story process flows faster. Plus, as one transfers the words from notebook to computer, you are editing as well. So, that takes care of the first edit right then and there.
What is your ritual, fellow writers? Do you handwrite often? Never? Just sometimes? Be heard.
Two years ago, I was horrified when the first draft of my third novel sat at a mere 24,000 words. That was back when my life’s dream was to get an agent. I thought at the time that all the energy I put into a story I really had written from the heart was all for nothing unless I added a whopping 50K or 60K more words. The thing is, the skeleton of the story was good the way it was. Sure, it needed some work. With some editing, I have added more depth to the story but it still only sits at just over the 30K mark.
Some stories are just meant to be novellas. With Amazon and smaller presses, it is far easier to publish a short story. I am comfortable that this third book will never be a full length novel.
Now the question is, how marketable/desirable are novellas these days? I have been thinking about this with every edit.
I came across an article about novellas whole doing a Google search. It’s two years old now, but it is an interesting take on the step child of books. Apparently, they are no longer considered the “ugly duckling of the literary world”. Woot!
A lot of people might enjoy a quick yet intense read. Others may feel cheated and wish there was more. Or, maybe some people that wouldn’t normally read might pick up a book if they noticed it wasn’t super thick.
I am curious to hear your opinion about novellas. Would you purchase one? Have you? Do you like reading shorter stories?