Struggles

Hello Again

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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.

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Rounded Characters

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Recently, I’ve really been struggling with finding my protagonist’s motivation and core need, two vital ingredients for likable, believable characters. I think that to find this, you must look at the character’s whole personality. Today, I tried a new approach for character development that worked very well: mind mapping.  I use a free software called XMind.  This created a picture of my protagonist’s complete personality: strengths, weaknesses, fears. To start, I put his name in the center.  Then, I made a main topic for each of his personality traits.  Then, I created subtopics off of the main topics.  These are examples of the personality trait or how it affects their life.

Example:

Main topic: strong

Subtopics: he likes to exercise, he’s a good leader, he’s calm under pressure.

 

Click to see my protagonist’s mindmap

Nathaniel Kapaun mindmap image

 I learned two things today. First, find your character’s motivation and core need before you figure out the rest of their personality, and second, use a mind map and a character development worksheet. This forces you to think about your character in two different ways, it uses different parts of your brain. 

I wish I was an Artist…

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paintbrush imageAs I’m finding inspiration pictures for each my characters I’m thinking it would be really great to be a skilled artist.  Then, I could find an inspiration picture and redraw it, changing the parts I don’t like or that don’t fit the character.  Or I could  start from scratch, and draw them how I envision them in my head.

I’m so jealous of Burdge-Bug.  She draws the cutest fan-art for her favorite books.  If I could draw like her, I would include my drawn pictures of my characters in the back of my novel (even though it’s not published yet).

 

But, I’m far from an artist, so I guess I’ll have to be content with modeling my characters after actors and actresses or random people I find on Pinterest.

What are your favorite ways to find inspiration pictures for your characters?

Writer’s Ups and Downs

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Writing is like riding a bike in a hilly area.  Writing can make you ecstatic when the you have perfect inspiration and the words flow beautifully. This is a wonderful feeling, like going downhill on your bike.  It’s easy, the wind is in your hair, and you just feel great.  But sometimes, writers experience a time of no inspiration and the words just won’t flow no matter how hard you try.   This is difficult and discouraging, like going uphill on your bike.  It’s very hard work and the fun is gone.  However, when you push through, you may end up with a beautiful piece of writing, but even if you don’t, you usually learn something.  I’m having one of those hard writer times right now, but I’m confident that being a writer is worth it, so I’m going to persevere through the hard spots.

What do you think is the hardest part of writing?