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.
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.