The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

When I get around to working on my own stuff, it will be the swordfighting ms. However, it wasn't the swordfighting ms I was thinking about today while Tyson and I were walking; it was the former GN. Technically that's closer to being finished than the swordfighting ms is. Most of it seems to be in place. The story is all laid out, I've got a goodly portion of the actual writing done, and when I do sit down to work, the GN ms tends to go faster than the swordfighting ms just because the writing itself is so streamlined.

The problem, I decided today, is that I don't have a character arc. Without a character arc, the ms is just a bunch of words set down in order. I have the story arc, and if you asked me I could probably tell you what and how the character feels and changes. But I don't have a grip on it scene by scene.*

I had a lot of thoughts about this (I think T. and I walked about three miles), but some are fading and they were scattered to begin with. Some of them had to do with girl characters, about the goals that girls have in real life vs. the goals they have in books. Historically, a girl's goal was to marry well. Period. But that's not the kind of goal that makes you want to read a book. Some other thoughts were about how a lot of the time people (esp. kids and teens) simply don't have one strong goal they struggle to attain, the way book characters generally do. There are more Bella Swans in real life than there are Harry Potters. And still other thoughts were about the same old problem that keeps rearing its head, the problem of a negative character goal.** Do you have to reframe a character's negative goal as a positive goal in order for a story to work? Even if you don't, does it have to happen subconsciously--I mean, would a new, unbiased reader see a positive goal for your character, even though you were never really thinking about it or writing in that direction? Or are there things to keep in mind if you want a story to work with a negative character goal? Or is it a matter of the reader's goal for the character being different from the character's goal for his/herself?

The main thought that stuck with me from today, though, is that it'd be best to set the former GN aside until I know what my character wants. Or rather, until I feel what she wants. I can talk about what she wants all day, but if I'm not feeling it, it'll never get on the paper.

*It could be that I should feel discouraged by not having a grip on the heart of the story. But it could equally be that I should feel good to be struggling with the same basic problem in both my current WIPs. Both have an already-laid-out plot; I'm not just throwing character-driven scenes against the wall and seeing which ones stick. In both of my WIPs, I have to figure out how to have character-driven stakes in every scene and how to raise them in every scene--even though the stakes have already been decided for me in advance. So maybe I should feel good because it seems my writing mind is determined to force me to crack this problem, even though my two current mss are nothing alike and shouldn't have the same issues at all.

**Like, the character doesn't want something, s/he wants something not to happen.

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