Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Never Leave Your Character Alone

The bad news is that I’m already falling behind on my blog, having missed the last two Wednesdays in a row. (Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger.) The good news is that I’ve been spending the time making progress (finally) on my story. And it’s not just because I now have more free time in which to write. It’s because I think I’ve finally figured out how to start my story. (It’s about time, too. I’ve only spent the last eight months trying to get it right.)

 I’ve come to the realization that my biggest hurdle probably came from the fact that all my previous openings suffered from the same problem. The main character was either discovering something or having something happen to him...

While he was by himself.

Chuck Palahniuk might have been thinking of me when he said this.

"One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering." 

Or in my case, “starts becoming boring.” Unless there’s so much going on in a scene that the scene practically writes itself, my prose turns clunky when there’s only one person around. With no dialogue, I have to carry the scene with descriptions and interior thoughts, and those are not my strong points. Having someone else around allows me to show stuff via dialogue, which I find much easier to do.  And this week, I figured out how to start my story with someone accompanying my MC. I’m not saying there won’t be major changes to the chapter before it’s finished, but I’ve got a framework now and that’s all I needed.

Hope you're all making progress on your stories.

6 comments:

  1. I can take that long to start a story.
    Oddly enough, all three of my books start with the character alone. Someone ends up joining him after a page or two, but always alone. Crap.
    Fortunately my current manuscript starts out in the middle of a party!

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    1. Hey, if it works, go for it. Just because I'm bad at having my MC alone doesn't mean other people are.

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  2. That's good advice. I've been reworking my start to chapter one. It wasn't exciting enough. I think I fixed it. I hope.

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    1. Glad to hear you're making progress. You have a nice way with words in your stories.

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  3. The last version of your middle grade that I read didn't have your MC alone or I would have told you I already went down that road and it didn't go anywhere. I didn't think your other book's MC was alone either because of the owl. Either way, this means I'll get to read another chapter soon. Woot! Even if I have to unpack first. This time our closing is only delayed instead of cancelled due to a freaky paperwork error. We might close next Friday instead of this one.

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    1. You have no idea how many versions of chapter one I've gone through. This time I think I'm close.

      Good luck on the new house. I'm sure you're tired of living out of boxes.

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