Saturday, February 11, 2012

Following the Lead

Last week I managed to gain a lot of headway on book 1, which is what I am supposed to be doing, yet all this week book 4 is haunting my backside.  Everything I do leads me back to the characters in that book.  I'm supposed to be creating the beginning of the series and setting up the characters, landscape and rules but the problem is, in some cases I already know the rules and don't want to stop and define them.  The other issue is, as I write the books in the future, the rules become clearer or I am able to think about them in different terms.  What's a girl to do?  Keep ignoring the characters that seem like they really want to come out and keep plugging away at the beginning, or am I allowed to play with the characters who are demanding attention?  I've decided to play in book 4 for a little while, lest I forget everything that I have come up with.  Slap me on the wrist but I'm going for it.

While driving this week I focused on a relationship that I knew was bad between two people, but I didn't know why it was bad.  I hate when I know the end, but don't understand the reasoning behind it.  I know they don't like each other and they have a long history of hating each other.  I met the first character in book 2 and he told me hated the character in book 4.  Well great.  At least I know something about them.  Unfortunately I only have his perspective on their relationship and as we know, there are always two sides to the story.  The character in book 4 really hadn't found his voice yet, so I didn't know why they really hated each other, what the core problem was.  Thankfully he spoke up this week and gave me a really interesting reason for the fight.  It wasn't something as simple as, he liked a girl that I liked, or he stole my favorite shirt, it was something more fundamental, faith.  They had lost faith in one another.  I was shocked.  The more I write these characters, the more heartbreak I seem to find.  All of the characters in each book know each other and have decided to go their separate ways.  My heroine is trying to bring them all together, and yeah right, make them get along. 

I feel like I'm writing a high school reunion as a minor theme underneath all of the paranormal aspects and kissing and plot.  I knew my characters no longer liked each other and decided to disperse into the world, but I didn't know how dramatic it would be to bring them back together.  While I haven't written all of the relationships yet, I know that I'm going to have to tackle the issue.  At some point they were mostly friendly with each other, but now so much as happened to them its hard to get past all of the old issues.  Can you ever become friendly with your high school bully?  Maybe, maybe not, but what about the guy who used to be your best friend, that you loved like a brother who managed to somehow change and leave you behind?  Can you forgive him?  I'm not sure about that either.  It's easier to continue hating someone that you feel you have reason to hate.  It's hard to hate someone that you should forgive and love.  I guess that's why families have such a hard time.  As much as you may want to hate them, something inside tells you that you should get a long with them, even if you would rather pull out your own eyes.

When you have a person that you are loyal to and take them as a leader, you put your faith in them.  You believe in what they are doing and want to help them attain a common goal.  It's doesn't matter if that goal is fighting a war, running for political office or making sure the gym is ready for the Homecoming Dance.  You follow someone because you believe they have the ability to accomplish something that you feel you can't accomplish on your own.  What happens when that person quits and leaves you in the lurch?  Do you pick up where they left off and become the leader?  Do you find someone else to take the helm and finish the task?  Do you quit and give up too, knowing that you can't do it yourself?  This is what my bad boy in Book 4 goes through, only it's not the Homecoming Dance he has to worry about.  He has to worry about losing himself to the darkness that surrounds him.  He looked to his leader to guide him when the choices were impossible to make. He had faith in his leader to get him through the tough spots because he couldn't do it on his own.  Once his leader was gone, my guy lost it.  He no longer knew how to function.  He gave up and turned to the darkness and lost faith.   Knowing this made me like my character so much more. 

All of these guys have done really bad things over time but you have to find a way to like them and redeem them.  I was not looking forward to writing the bad boy for book 4 because I thought he was just a jerk and not redeemable.  Then this huge reason for the way he is rears up and kicks me in the face.  Now I feel like I can write him.  I feel like can finally open up to him and allow is voice to come through.  I'm looking forward to finding out what happens between him and my heroine and if he can come to terms with his former leader.  If not, it should be a really great fight.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Middle

I saw a twitter post the other day that said a writer wished he knew what happened in the middle of the book.  I couldn't agree with him more.  I find that I run into one of two problems.  Either, I know the beginning and end or only parts somewhere in the middle.  It's a rare case when I know what will happen straight through the story.  Of course the story is ever evolving and changing and the amazing things tend to take place when you aren't looking.

I have been focusing on Book 1 again and I had the same issue.  I knew the beginning and mostly the end, but the middle was rather murky.  I decided that I needed to change perspectives and tell some of the middle from a different character's point of view.  I had a lot of information that I needed the reader to know, but it would have been a bit draggy if the same characters threw out all this description.  I found that when I'm stuck on how to present new info, I should change my character and give the reader a new vantage point.  I was also able to let the readers learn a little about a character that would continue on throughout all the books.  He was able to guide me through some tricky spots and then hand off to a third character that will be equally important.

So I was writing the big reveal the other day and I was having trouble arranging it so that it made sense.  I had all of this information, but it felt like one giant mess.  I decided to slow down the pace a little and instead of having huge descriptive paragraphs from one character, I made it more of a conversation so that the information flowed more easily.  I ended up cutting and pasting and rearranging the info and allowed my character to process it all before hitting her with something else.  I didn't want all of this news to be hurdled at her, but broke it up into understandable chucks and let her drive the conversation.  I am much happier with the result. 

In short, sometimes you have to allow a story the freedom to grow and develop in a way that feels right.  I tried to force the writing a number of times in that section and I hated it each time.  This chapter has been weighing on me for months.  I tried coming at it from different angles but it wasn't right.  I felt so much more relaxed once I had taken my time and let the story unfold rather than jam everything together and give the reader and my character whiplash. 

I was having so much fun writing the other day that I wrote a scene that I hoped would make the first book, but in the end I decided that it should really be used in the 2nd book.  I love writing something that is fun and cracks you up as you are writing it.  I told my son, Thing 1 what I had written, and the King of the One Liners threw out the funniest thing I had heard in awhile.  Thing 1 has a tendency to not only have great witty remarks, but the tone in which he says it would break the most serious person.  I was driving the car at the time and actually considered pulling over to the side because I was laughing so hard.  He's had this ability since he was about 2.  The kid is good.  It was so awesome that I decided to add it to the scene.  This is the kid that was condemn for not having enough creativity to write his own book.  (He is currently considering writing a story about dragons, having moved on from vampires.)

I am grateful to have the support of my family so that I can get through the tough middles and impossible endings.  Whenever I'm stuck, I can always go to Thing 1 and talk about a monster or an odd problem and get a new perspective.  Even if I don't use his idea, I can talk it through with him and find a resolution.  Thankfully Thing 1 takes after me and loves vampires, werewolves and zombies.  (Actually I have to thank his girlfriend for getting him into horror novels, but still we both have a love of the unexplained, and superheros, and Greek Mythology.)  I'm hoping that he doesn't become a serious adult who only watches the news and Masterpiece Theater, though somehow I don't think he will.  I'm hoping that one day he can write a book and I can help him with his impossible middles.