Decisions, Decisions

So I’ve STILL been thinking about writing lately. A LOT. But rather than coming up with new projects, my brain seems content to chew on Telepathic Soulmates*** while I wait for some final commentary/critique from a friend. We’ve been chatting about themes in my work, and I’ve been asking her to look for certain things that I worry are issues, and it’s been a very useful thing. And when I get the manuscript back, I’m going to take her comments and another friend’s and start going through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb. I’ve already started a list of things to cut and things to reinforce, but one thing I’ll definitely be focusing on is character and motivation, and whether or not the characters are, if not likable, at least relatable and understandable. I’ve got three POVs, and it seems one’s in good shape. It’s the other two that fight for likability during the book, and those two definitely need focus. And the ironic thing is this: on a first read, those two characters are really frustrating. But once you get the ending and understand what’s happening, re-reading makes the characters seem so much more sensical. You get where they’re coming from and why, but it’s not something I can reveal at the start of the novel.

What I have to do in revision, however, is curb my instinct to write WHOLE NEW SCENES that somehow make these characters more likable/understandable from the get-go. While I suspect a new scene or two may be in order, what I really want to be able to do is read through the POVs of those characters and find ways to tweak reactions. A line here, an observation there. Maybe acting slightly differently in certain situations. And to do that, I discovered my next writing project, so to speak.

Character vignettes.

In other words, I’m going to sit down and write out the backstories of the three POV characters of my novel. It’s their history. Their origin story (sort of). It’s stuff that’s touched on in the novel proper but not fleshed out in flashbacks, which — in the novel — is exactly what it needs to be.

The vignettes won’t end up in the novel, but they’ll allow me to take a focused look at each of my POV characters and examine who they are, where they came from, and what they wanted out of life years before the novel took place. It’ll put me back into the frame of mind of Telepathic Soulmates, which will allow me, during the editing/polishing process, to make the tweaks I need rather than resort to my default rewriting. Better still, it’ll gear me up for the sequel, Prison Planet, something I’ve already given a lot of thought and outlining too, but realize I still have a ways to go, because I’m not quite happy with the over-arcing plot as it stands (it has logic problems, especially when compounded with my vague plans for a third book).

The trick is, now, to decide how many to write and how I’m going to hold myself accountable. I already know I need an “audience” for my work: immediate feedback keeps the warm fuzzies going and allows me to continue (sue me, I’m a performer at heart, and no, I’m not kidding: I majored in Vocal Performance in undergrad). I suspect what I’ll do is send them to my reading/crit partners even though the vignettes aren’t novellas or short stories or anything like that. They’re free-writing. Pre-writing.

But it’s still writing. And that’s what I need to do.

*** = As always, titles used here are aliases for the REAL working titles I’m using. To find out why, click here.

8 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions

  1. Sounds like a good idea! Writing characters like that (unlikable at first, but likable by the end) seems to be really tricky. I’ve seen some instances where the characters pretty much go through personality transformations once you learn the information that makes them likable, which is really forced. The character shouldn’t change just because the audience has learned something new. There’s nothing wrong with developing them, but it needs to be done in a logical way.

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    1. My change is a very, very tricky one, because it’s not that the audience learns something new, but the characters do too. It changes how they view themselves and casts a new light on their actions. Very, very tricky… 🙂

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  2. I’ve had problems with the project I’m working on right now, not because there are several different POVs but because there’s only ONE POV–which makes it difficult when I know something has to be revealed to the reader, and I can’t figure out how the POV character is going to find out about it. I tend to go through various stages of, “Wait, how could she possibly know that?” and, “Wait, why is she even there?” and, “Would it be too boring if somebody just TOLD her about it?” and then, “Maybe she should read about it somewhere…”

    I think I’m finding it hard because I usually use at least two if not more POVs in my writing, and it was an active decision I made at some point to stick to only one with this novel–which is third-person limited, by the way.

    I’ve written character vignettes in the past, although I haven’t done that with this story. Personally, I never found them particularly helpful, although that’s an entirely subjective opinion on my part. I think because of the way I write, my own opinion about my own characters tends to change over time–it’s almost like writing for me is a voyage of discovery, as much as it is for any of my characters, as if I’m discovering them at the same time that they’re discovering themselves, if that doesn’t sound too hammy.

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    1. One thing to consider about my particular vignettes is this: the characters I’m writing them for? The book they’re in has already been written once to discover the general story (and the characters) and then rewritten exhaustively to make it not a piece of crap. 🙂 In other words, in Telepathic Soulmates, I’ve got characters that aren’t going to change much in revision, because there’s really nothing NEW-NEW to discover, rather I’m tweaking the situations to utilize other aspects of their personalities. The vignettes will help me do that, simply because I can look at my characters when they were younger (the stuff I’ll be writing about is roughly ten+ years prior to this book) and use that to reinforce what I’ve already got.

      If I were writing a first draft of something? Probably wouldn’t bother with vignettes unless I was trying to sketch out a world-building issue or explore something for the hell of it that I knew wouldn’t go in the novel. 🙂

      Writing in one POV when you’re used to writing in more than one is VERY challenging, but also very, very useful, especially when it comes to learning how to make one’s character proactive instead of reactive, and especially when it comes to plotting. Good luck! That’s a project I need to try myself one day (both of my books have three POVs). 🙂

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      1. I hope it didn’t sound like I was trying to discourage you or anything, because I totally didn’t mean it like that. 😦 I just meant my writing style is really…”organic” I guess the word is. 😛

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        1. No worries! I just wanted to clarify where I was in the project. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an organic/pantser writing style (when you’re figuring it out as you go), but you may to a point when you finish your draft and are polishing it that these may help. They may not, but I think it depends on where you are in your process and what you need.

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