It’s been over two years since I last posted. So here’s a little recap.
For a while, I took a break from writing. No inspiration was coming and I was struggling with some learning problems and writing was too taxing on my brain for the moment.
Then, I started outlining an novel idea I’d been having for about a year and wrote the first 50 pages of that story. In December, I send those first 50 pages to Ellen Brock, an editor (who I really recommend). She told me it had promise but needed some major structurally overhauls.
Basically, this was the problem:
My main character was pretty pathetic and most of her ‘conflicts’ she created for herself and there was no clear motivation behind her actions.
My antagonist wasn’t antagonistic enough.
This created a story without conflict and story without conflict is no good.
So, I was discouraged for a bit. Then I decided to revamp my story, but keep some of elements I liked most about my original story. I forced myself not to write anything for at least 9 weeks as a I outlined and ironed out all my plot problems and figured out why my characters were doing what they were. I cut some scenes, I changed some scenes. I made some of the main characters more minor and took some away completely. I also decided to write in third person limited with two POV characters instead of first person.
So it’s been about 7 weeks now, and I have a pretty good plot plotted out. I have a list of scenes that follow the goal, conflict, consequence pattern. My main character, Rebecca, has more personality and a definite reason for her actions. It’s really amazing what focused time each day can do for a writing project!
So my next goal is to write my the first 50 pages of this story and send it to the editor again. I’m hoping she sees improvement. After that, I will continue writing (or re-plot if she feels that’s necessary). Of course I’ll be discouraged if she still sees flaws in my story, but I want my debut novel to be as good as it can be because you only have one chance to be a new author in the industry. I want to make an impression.
I wrote this snippet of backstory for my character, Rebecca. It may never be in the final draft, but writing a short scene helps me deepen my characters. After I wrote my rough draft, I put this piece into the The Hemingway Editor. This editor highlights adverbs, confusing sentences and when you used the passive voice. I found it very helpful.
Glass shattered. Rebecca startled awake. They’re fighting again. She looked over at her bedside clock. It was 1:57 am. She heard the sound of angry voices from the kitchen, but couldn’t understand what her parents were saying. Rebecca gripped her pink sheets and turned to her five-year old sister, who was curled up on the other side of the bed.
“Amelia, are you awake?” she whispered.
“Yes.” Amelia whimpered.
Rebecca moved closer to her sister and snuggled her close to her body. “It’ll be OK.” Rebecca said soothingly, though her eyes burned and her lip quivered. Amelia sniffled. I hate that it has to be this way.
Rebecca heard more incoherent yelling and a feminine scream followed by a loud crashing noise. Why does she let him treat her that way? Rebecca was used to nights like these. When she was younger she used to cry as her parents fought, but now she only cowered, berating herself for not being stronger, for not defending her mother. But, what can I do? He’ll just beat me if I try to stop him. A door slammed shut. Then a car started and sped away. Rebecca hugged Amelia tighter. The house was silent for a moment. Then Rebecca heard the hum of the T.V and her mother’s stifled sobs.
I find it very helpful to keep a writing binder for each of my story ideas. This keeps all my papers and notes from getting lost or wrinkled. I divide my three ring binder into different sections ex. characters, plot, setting, research with page dividers. I always have a regular lined notebook to write down random ideas or to brainstorm with my binder.
Here are the things that are in my ‘character’ tab:
- Each of my main and supporting character’s sketches.
- Each of my main and supporting character’s inspiration picture so I can envision them more clearly.
- K.M Weiland’s blog post on character archetypes.
- Any other helpful blog posts on creating or developing characters.
Tomorrow, I’ll show you what’s in my ‘plot’ tab!