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Saturday, June 27, 2009

What I learned From First Manuscript Crit - Part VII


Today wraps up this series on post-analysis of my first crit:

Fact 11: Even When You Think You Know Your Characters, You Probably Don’t Know Them As Well As You Should

When I started writing, I deeply desired to be a plotter, not a seat of the pants writer. And I tried to force myself into the plotting mold. It didn’t work.

But I’m not a seat of the pants writer, either. I fall somewhere between those who do no planning and those who write character biographies in excruciating detail.

In any case, I spent a whole lot of time talking to myself on paper, jotting notes about my characters. And I thought I knew them pretty well.

Turns out that thought is a little premature, because I have learned based on character feedback that the motives for one of my characters isn’t anywhere near as clear as I thought to myself it was. So I’ll have to give considerable more thought to retooling this character and what defines him, motivates him to do what he does throughout the story.

To be honest, I haven’t really learned how to better approach this problem on my next novel. I’m not going to suddenly start writing exhaustive character bios. I know me. I just can’t make myself do that. But I will have to find some natural method of examining my characters under a microscope before I turn them loose in a story.

I’ll have to wait and see what additional insights I gain in the months and years ahead.

Fact 12: I Must Learn To Be Mean To My Characters

Although I’m sure you could find people who disagree with this statement, I’m a pretty nice person (at least most of the time). I hate to see people suffer.

Even my fictional characters.

Which can be the kiss of death in fiction.

Nicey-nice = low tension in fiction most of the time

I’ve got to learn to be a low-down, no good, dirty rotten scoundrel to my characters. But I admit, it’s like watching someone kick a puppy.

But if I want to write good fiction, I need to get over it. Or to use my favorite phrase, “Suck it up and deal with it!”

Because I deeply desire to write great fiction.

That’s what this whole pondering session of posts was all about.

And I hope there will be something in these posts that helps other writers to write better, stronger, faster (I can hear Oscar Goldman’s voice in my head as I type the words).

Above all, enjoy your writing journey. It’s a time to be treasured. And there are rewards to be gained. To quote Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God, “God has something good in the bushes.” 8-)

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