Thursday, July 30, 2009

When Characters Have a Mind of Their Own

My characters have a mind of their own. Not a bad thing at all, really, except when they want to take off on a detour that doesn't support the plot. I did extensive character interviews before beginning this novel, so each of their personalities are well-defined in my head. It makes the conversations fun and easy to write - most of the time.

Every now and then a character has their own idea - one I hadn't planned on including. The strange thing is, I'm finding they are usually right, and I'm not. When I'm stuck or confused, I pull out their character sheet, and sure enough, their needs, flaws, desires and worldview support the words and action they wish to take. My job is to make sure it supports the logline and sticks to the plot. It's a puzzle, and I love creative problem solving.

I've looked at quite a few character interviews and worksheets. Some are intricate and others are bare-boned. I keep mine simple by using the following format:

• Character name and physical description
• 5 important facts
• List of hobbies
• Personality traits
• Character Flaw
• Needs of character
• Desires of character
• Worldview before inciting incident
• Worldview after inciting incident

I like this format because it usually fits on one page and is easy to read. A necessary thing for this easily-distracted brain! What tools do you use for character plans? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nervous Wreck!!!

My daughter has finally been released from physical therapy and went back to gymnastics tonight for the first time. She was sooooo excited to get back! I was a nervous wreck... She made fabulous progress getting her arm straightened again (after a total dislocation and broken elbow). It only took two months. But the doctor made it clear she's not completely healed. "Go back to the gym, but no impact activities. You WILL dislocate it again if you don't follow my directions!"

I watched her tonight. She worked hard and had a ball. I held my breath for nearly the entire two hour workout. She has permission to work on the beam and the bars. No Vault, and only the dance routine for floor. She has to mark the tumbling runs. I worried about her hanging from the bars. I worried about her falling off the beam. I watched her climb a 30 foot rope to the top in no time flat, and worried that her arm would be too tired to come down. I was sure she'd fall, and we'd be back at square one. When it was all said and done, she was fine. I didn't need to worry.

I was like that in the beginning with her therapy too. I was so upset because I thought she was going to hurt. She was a trooper. Never shed a tear, but I did.

Friday is her next practice. I'm going to drop her off at the door and leave. I'll pick her up when it's over. She'll be better off. I'll be better off. We live less than ten minutes from the gym. I can get there fast if I need to.

I say that now. We'll see...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again - First Drafts

Whew! Back in the writer's saddle again. Thanks Adrianne, for the 5 minute writing block suggestion. I sat down with intention of writing whatever came to mind on the page for 5 minutes. Next thing I know, it's and hour and half later, and I've completed an entire chapter. The thoughts that have been simmering have come to a boil and burst through the surface. What a relief to get my thoughts on paper again!

First drafts are so much fun to do. People have lots of names for it. I called it the vomit draft. Sorry. Not a pretty picture, but it's true. You get it all out, then you come back and clean it up. I throw everything extreme I can think of into the story when I'm mining ideas. Later, when I'm finished with the 1st draft, I weed out the extra and do my best to make the rest believable. I have an excellent critique partner. She reads everything - even the vomit drafts, bless her. That's a true friend. Later, when I'm preparing for submission, I present at my writer's group. They are a varied lot, highly opinionated, and extremely helpful. I can't imagine sending out a submission without my critique partner's discriminating eyes!

I'm heading back to my WIP progress now before I lose steam. Carpe diem!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bad Writer! Bad, Bad Writer!

I've been bad. Yup. Really bad.

You would think that I would get all kinds of writing done during the summer - since I have time to do so. But no, I've been playing hooky. Tooling around in the garden, playing online games, surfing the net for "research." The result? I have a sum total of 5500 words written for the summer. That's a far cry from "I'm going to complete the first draft of my WIP by the start of school."

I get like this when I start writing a new novel. I find myself thinking about it quite a bit - dialogs in my head, plot details, etc., but when I sit down to write my brain goes other places - none of them in my story. One of my writer friends said, "your story is cooking. Let it simmer." But my head says it's more of a lack of discipline. My summer days are not structured like my school days. I am most productive with structure.

I'm going to take the housekeeping advice of the FlyLady and apply it to writing. In short - get down to business. Get dressed down to shoes and go to WORK. Set aside time to get the job done, and do it!