I’ve been working on my elusive fantasy novel. I have avoided it for too long, primarily because my villain and I were not seeing eye-to-eye about her behavior. However, I think I am finally back on speaking terms with all of my characters. We may not agree, but we’re on speaking terms.
I’ve decided to simplify the novel’s perspective. Instead of writing from each character’s viewpoint and shifting around, I am going to return to the original concept and just follow the main character. At least for the time-being. I think this is going to make more sense. It’s also going to facilitate something I really struggle with in my writing: Keeping Secrets. Writing from one perspective will, I think, cause the reader to ask more questions; and it may be, in the end, that only Koon, Steve, and I know who else was at the Temple on that fateful day.
I am struggling, however, with age propriety. I have already made the characters older than they were in my very first draft for believability’s sake, but I sense that they are still behaving older. It may require some tweaking, but I suppose it will have to wait for my beta readers.
Interestingly, I met one of my brother’s students and she had the same name as the Healer in my story. I thought I was being original in my name selection, so this came as a surprise to me. Still, kind of cool.
Where does it end? In an episode of NCIS, DiNozzo gives McGee grief about not knowing how his story is going to end. I laughed, but the truth is that I know a lot of writers who don’t know how their story will end. It’s more common than I would have expected. Still, it concerns me. If I don’t know where it ends, I won’t know where to stop. I am so in love with this world and these people that I fear I would just keep writing and writing and writing and…and someday realize that I’ve outwritten the story I started with.
So. Anybody have a suggestion for an ending?
The short answer is: I don’t really know. I’m sort of making it up as I go along.
But there are a few things I’m working on lately:
- The Legend of Ae: I’m slowly (S-L-O-W-L-Y) working through Legend, rewriting, revising, cutting, cutting, cutting, replotting, renaming, cutting, cutting. What tiresome, wonderful work. I love writing, even when it induces migraines.
- The Prophecies of Wicket Lake: I am sifting through this piece that I began last year for NaNo, trying to work out the actual storyline before I invest too much more time into it. The nice part is that much of the world-building is already done (as it takes place in the same world as Legend). I am seeking perspective on this, as I’m not sure how to accomplish what I want to accomplish with this story.
- Hebrew Parallelism: I am going through the Psalms (again, yes) and dissecting them to really wrap my mind around the different forms of Hebrew Parallelism. I’m really learning a lot through this exercise, and I just want to remind you that “studying” Scripture does not undermine the ability of God to speak to you through Scripture. If anything, it bolsters my ability to rightly perceive God’s voice. I am really, really enjoying this process in addition to my regular daily reading.
- Theology of Music: There are those words again. I’m not even sure I know what to say about those words, except that I am digging. My hands are filthy with this topic. I have no idea why God keeps bringing me back to this.
- Let Mercy Lead: After cleaning and restringing two of the guitars, I spent an evening working out the chords for this song by Rich Mullins. I confess, I have really enjoyed playing it.
- Operation CLEAN DESK: Seriously. My desk is perpetually a mess, even when I’ve just cleaned it. It helps me, every couple of weeks, to put everything back in its place, to touch every project I’ve worked on, to remember where I put a pen or the three-hole punch, to re-file, to shred what needs shredding, to figure out which journal I’m supposed to be writing in at any given moment, etc. Seriously. I love my desk. Thank you, Carolyn, Desk Gifter.
- Letters: I have been in gross avoidance of letter-writing. It’s just a funk I go through. Sometimes I write several letters at a time, and sometimes I struggle to write one. But one of my Writing Goals for 2010 was to write a particular letter to a former classmate, Anita. I need to do it. I’m doing it. This week. Someone ask me on Friday if I’ve written to Anita.
So that’s what I’m doing. Writing, writing, studying, digging, playing guitar, cleaning my desk, and writing.
How about you? What are you doing?
Food for thought.
If your life were a novel, would you be the protagonist (the hero) or the antagonist (the villain)?
Life is a collection of stories. Each one of us plays several roles at once–the main character of our own story, the villain of someone else’s, the supporting character of friends’ and family’s stories, a passerby character in the stories of people we meet but don’t get to know, et cet. The possibilities are literally endless.
That is one of the problems of fiction, in my opinion. One character is typically made out to be a good guy or a bad guy–black and white, good and evil. But real, living beings are not this way. We are some sort of conglomeration of good and bad and random and supporting roles. Probably more of us are Boromirs than Aragorns. We struggle with right and wrong, and if the situation is dire enough, we will probably choose poorly. There aren’t many of us who just pop out [of our mother's womb] with an innate determination to do what is right. Maybe there are none of us. I’m not sure. I’ll let the philosophers and theologians argue that one.
But about one thing, there can be no argument: We are not flat characters. We are motivated by fears, passions, responsibilities, relationships, economics, culture, religion, and a countless number of other things.
That is what fiction needs–characters who have logical motivations. It was logical for Boromir to try and take the ring from Frodo. His people were dying. His father was expecting him to save the day. Right or wrong, his choice to pursue the ring in his moment of weakness was absolutely understandable. It was not a random literary wrench that Tolkien used just to stir the plot. It was a logical result of the character of Boromir (note: logical, not necessary).
So who are you in your life’s novel? Good guy or bad guy? And are your choices logical to your character?