If, like me, you’ve decided that writing the one novel is not sufficient time to really get to know your main character, and to put them through more trials than the most hardened criminal, then your only recourse is to turn that novel into book one of a series. One of the problems that I have found is that you really need to know what motivates your character, probably even more than you suspect what your own motivations might be.
I’ve been reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and his way of dealing with characterisation is to drill down deep. You really need to know your character and their life history, but at the same time you need to avoid info dumps of back story. Some of a character’s back story is, no doubt, essential to your story but as Brooks says, it’s better to drip feed the reader some of that information rather than interrupt the narrative flow.
Thinking Like Your Character
You need to know a series character well enough to think as they might think in every situation. In my opinion, writers are to some extent slightly schizophrenic when they’re in the middle of writing a story, particularly a story with a central, series character. Unlike my character in the Lambeth Croak Series, I don’t always see the future problems I might encounter, Bev on the other hand, is always pessimistic when she’s told that a job is a walk over and simply requires a paper chase. What I don’t get is why my series character has more common sense than her creator – and there is the problem. I’ve found that since I started the second novel I have two voices in my head a lot of the time, my own, slightly scatty one, and Bev’s more temperate one. Jazen Terrell argues that ‘series characters should be likeable’ not sure that is the case with mine, or with Sherlock Holmes. Sometimes I think readers take to a character because they are quirky and prickly rather than wholesomely likeable – although I agree with a lot of what Jazen has to say about series characters.
Revealing Character Over Time
A mystery or crime series has to show deeper levels of character as the series progresses. The character arc has to stretch over a number of books and more of the character is revealed with each successive case or story. Keeping a series bible is a great idea as it’s all too easy to forget some significant details in future books. I tend to write a lot of character and plot notes in a notebook, not a series bible as such, but somewhere to go when I forget something. How do you deal with series characters?
Posted by suejeff
| Tagged: series character
How on earth do you get going when the writing stops
. We all talk about writer’s block from time to time
but what about when the writing quite literally comes to a stop. Like this writer
, I sometimes write poetry as a way out of the block but for once, even this strategy has failed me. I wrote the first blog post in weeks some days ago and it really was a bad post you should find it beneath this one. I could cite all kinds of things, like most people I have my share of trouble and this year has a been a bit spectacular in that area so far, but I have never come to an almost complete halt before.
Write Every Day
I, like every other writer have no doubt heard that writer’s block doesn’t exist, you just have to turn up at the machine every day and open a vein or something similar. I have written on a daily basis since I was studying for my doctorate,it was the only way I could keep on top of things. As a freelancer I know that if I don’t write I don’t get paid and I lose clients – even that didn’t break the back of whatever was stopping me writing. For a person who has no trouble writing 1500 useable words an hour, I could barely manage a quarter of that.
I’d been having trouble with my second Lambeth Croak book for a couple of months, I’d almost finished and then I couldn’t seem to write any more, everything I wrote was deadwood. Yes I’ve had a lot of other things to contend with, like most other people out there so I don’t intend to bring that on as an excuse. The fact is that I have been virtually unable to write anything worth reading for a while, apart from a short story and one bad poem. I’ve tried free writing, something I’ve used for years and come up with nothing but rubbish. But I think that the light switched on again today when I came across a post about tools for writers.
750 words is a free tool for writers and is based on the Writer’s Way notion of morning pages, something I used to do and have tried to keep up with but never really understood, until today, that free writing for 750 words or three pages allows you to get underneath to what Natalie Goldberg calls the Wild Mind, that part of the mind where pure creativity breaks through. So, I think I have found the answer to my problem that you have to go for 750 words at least to get anywhere. I have to say that the first five hundred of those words were like pulling teeth and then the flow started again. If you are interested in using this tool, you can find it, and several others here How do you cope when the writing stops?
Posted by suejeff
| Tagged: when the writing stops
Swain talks about novel structure and about the structure of a scene, which should consist of a character’s goal, then there is conflict some obstacle or series of obstacles that prevents the character from attaining that goal and ending in disaster.
Once you have the overall structure of a scene you need what Swain refers to as the sequel. Your character is motivated by the conflict and disaster to a reaction, your character has to pull herself together after the disaster and decide what to do.
Your character may be faced with a series of bad choices and needs to find the least bad (dilemma). Taking that decision, draws your character forwards to a new goal. The new goal is where the whole process of scene and sequel starts again.