Yes, it’s true – that’s what I discovered last week (before things started coming together) – I had been writing posts about characterization and the importance of setting scenes and circumstances against which those characters operate, or react, whatever – Funnily enough, it’s frequently not until you explain something that you see it clearly yourself – There I was, having a continuing set of hassles with EVERY character of Book 3 and WHAT pops up?
Yes! You got it! Facts and figures, setting and circumstances! That’s what one of the problems was. Not plot at all. Not my mind going. Not burn-out. Not lack of imagination. I’d thrown the entire cast of characters into the deep end. Not as a group, either, but individually, and then wondered why I was having issues with each and every one of them.
Of course they were out of whack. I had managed to divide every single character from their normal lives and expectations.
Every single one of these characters features in Book 3.
Every single one of these characters have had their circumstances totally disrupted.
Every single one of these characters have to (at the very least) reevaluate their situation and their standing.
No wonder they weren’t talking to me!
Realizing all this helped a lot. Here I was thinking I couldn’t get my act together when all the while it was perfectly understandable.
This was just one of the knots I had to untangle, but I knew then that as far as all that was concerned, all I had to do was give them each a little time and they’d be reacting against their new circumstances and letting me know all about it.
Which they did.
I just had to look through the right lens.
(And I call myself a writer – Sheesh.)
I actually had a “small” out-of-character segment of my second draft of Darkness Concealed. One of my characters was treating the others like garbage, then justifying it by saying that she was worried about their survival. Overall, the bad justification “worked”, but it didn’t feel “right.”
Add onto this her overall arc before then, where she was more interested in being “honorable” than necessarily being helpful. Even after she seized control of the group, she felt flat, like a generic anchor for the group without any nuance herself.
Fast-forward to the third draft revision I’m working through. She still kickstarts herself into the plot by finding her previous work rooting out the isolated monsters “where they live” essentially a deathwish. But I layered on top of it an unarticulated guilt about still being alive, of the friends who had been murdered in front of her having died for nothing.
In the second part (which I haven’t revised yet, but I’ll get there), she feels even more powerless as she sees the full extent of the Darkening. Her guilt grows all the more, with a tinge that she must atone for what she has done (lived, of all things).
The third part (which I’m working on now), she gets the opportunity to learn magic, to become more powerful than she ever could have hoped to be. Her drive for atonement morphs into a demand for revenge, a belief that she is the harbinger of the Darkening’s end. She reinforces the belief by trivially killing some of the monsters who show up out of nowhere.
In light of this different arc, the section where she’s being a jerk isn’t because she’s worried about their survival in the wilderness, it’s because she is driven to find the “end,” at any cost. I’m actually going to keep the flaw of being completely motivated by revenge at the end of the book, all of her agreement with the group purely because having allies will make her goal all the more certain.
It’s like the lights going on, isn’t it, when you suddenly see through to what is really going on. These sorts of issues can crop up very easily in something that is complex and multilayered, or at least that’s how it seems to me. It’s like, “Hey, I’m the author, why am I the last to know?”
Thank goodness there is “something” that alerts us to something not right – until we can understand it, then we can make it right, or channel it the right way or show the reasoning that makes it right.
I like that you’re sticking with what came naturally to your character, either giving your story a twist or extra realization, or just another layer that makes all come clear. That must have felt good, finally seeing what was “wrong”. 🙂
Oh it most certainly has. I find revenge to be a delightful undercurrent motivation, because while it may be wrong, it can motivate a ton of right things. How deep it burrows, how much it consumes, only happens far later. I don’t know what’s going to happen with her in the next book, but that’s a problem for future me. 🙂
I agree with you. Revenge is a powerful motivator. Right or wrong, it’s a human response and how does one draw the line, anyway? I think people love movies and books partly because we can explore issues that we don’t want to encounter in life.
Ah, the old “push that problem into the future” thing – yep, kind of like I’m doing. I just hope I’m not going to paint myself into a corner at some point. LOL. 😀
I know I’m not going to paint myself into a corner on it, but I’m also trying NOT to overthink on the next book before the current one is set in stone. The “ending point” of that character just changed drastically, and if I do any real plotting of the next book before I know how the others end up would be a really bad idea.
Totally agree with you there! One thing I’ve learned is NOT to work on the next book while working on the one I’m doing. It’s too easy to get distracted and to lose time AND things can change, as you’ve just pointed out.
WOW. It’s a good thing you saw it and then had the courage to face it head-on. This reminds me of the “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones. I haven’t read the books, but from what I’ve seen of the TV series, half of the characters have just had their worlds come crashing, completely, down. What do you do after something like that?
More coffee? 😀 Actually it confused me, so I had to find out what was going on. Once I saw what the problem was, it was easier to clear up. All I had to do with each of those characters was to be very aware of their new circumstances (through their eyes), and let them react accordingly. My problem had been not taking natural reactions into account – I’d been looking at where the story was going, rushing it along, and not allowing them time to respond to the changes. So, the solution was simple, the trick was seeing the problem. 🙂
I like Game of Thrones, we’ve got it on DVD, but not the latest series. Mammoth show. 🙂
You wind up in the crazy space of “I don’t know what to do.” But that’s the thing — you don’t have to know. The characters know! Sevi would do this, Aleisha would do that, and so on!
After the kick in the head of last season I’m wondering if I’ll stick with Game of Thrones. We’ll see. Suspense is one thing, being dragged through the wringer week after week. My brother tells me I need to start watching Orphan Black.
Never saw it on tv, we just heard it was good and got the DVDs – I could imagine it would be painful to have to wait the week out to see the next bit. 🙂
As for my project, it wasn’t what my characters would do that was an issue, what I was leaving out was how they felt about what had happened. While that was missing nothing felt right. At least they are all talking to me now. 😀
Oh, when characters are p*ssed at you, that’s the worst. You’re right, understanding what they’re going through helps a lot with that.
That’s where most of the fun is, too – inside their heads. 🙂