This week, as I continue my revision, it’s time to analyse the characters of my novel. Are they fulfilling my expectations? Have they over-egged their role? Do they need to be tamed or are they in hiding?
With my detective head on, I’m settling in for some character profiling.
So, to my protagonists, be warned – I have the power to hurt, maim or even kill you off.
Show yourselves worthy and you can stay, but otherwise – there will be no hangers-on, no control freaks trying to kidnap my story and definitely no time wasters, who fail to add anything of value to the plot.
The challenge is to go through each and every scene, identify all characters (even those who are only mentioned briefly) and determine what each of these individuals makes me feel. Then, I must question what it is that I want them to make me feel (are you still with me?) Do the answers match? If not, do I need to ramp up the emotion, the action and the drama? Is any character trying to take over and send me in an unknown – and undesired – direction? Shall I be merciful and rein them in or should I just wipe them off the page, never to be seen or heard of again?
This is character validation in the rawest sense, and blood will surely be spilled.
It’s going to be fun (I hope!)
It said; “The weak revenge, the strong forgive and the intelligent ignore.”
Is this not really the other way round?
Do not weak people ignore the misdoings of others , being unable to react due to their own lack of resources?
Is it not the so-called ‘intelligentsia’ that takes us into these battles, to right the perceived wrongs of others?
This is a little deep, eh? On a lighter note, the real reason that this saying incensed me is because my WIP, ‘The Nasrid Charm’ is a series heavily based around the idea of exacting revenge. I couldn’t sit back and let my protagonist be called weak now, could I? If I don’t defend her, who will?
In my mind, revenge – properly carried out – is an art form.
It requires patience, meticulous planning and attention to detail, strength of mind and the courage of ones convictions to see the task through to the end.
Petty, reactionary gestures are worthless, but true revenge is merely encouraging the natural forces of karma on their way!
Am I mistaken?
I think not, but you might think differently.
Don’t be afraid to tell me your views, after all, you are not a figment of my imagination and I cannot ‘kill you off’.
Or can I?
I’ve been busy revising my book and although I know I have made progress, there still seems such a long way to go!
So far, I have “created my target” – which apparently means deciding what I want my story to be, identifying where it actually fits that idea and where it doesn’t. This exercise took me a month – but I can see where my story spirals out of control and I’ve also found those snippets that TRULY work, and of which I am most proud!
Then, the next job was to identify the promises I mad to the reader. These vary from;
- the promises all writers make, that is to primarily create an interesting story, remembering to credit the reader with some intelligence and not waste their valuable time with utter drivel.
- the promises that I intended to follow through – so that if my plot promises that the MC will become a doctor, then she/he has to become a doctor.
- finally, these are the unplanned promises that seemed to appear from nowhere – you know the ones where your story takes an unexpected turn and your MC ends up in a police cell for no apparent reason! These promises have to either be kept or scrapped! There is no place for unfulfilled promises and readers will spot them with ease and hate you for leaving them in.
After re-reading my manuscript and identifying all of these plot promises, then next task was to sum up each scene in one sentence – being sure to identify the protagonist, the conflict, the antagonist, the twist and the setting. This was really enjoyable – it gave me hope that my scenes had purposes, that I hadn’t introduced any unnecessary or misleading episodes or omitted to keep the plot moving.
My story lives on and can be fixed!
Now this week I am looking at each scene again, and marking whether the scene is part of the main plot or a sub plot. These have to link together, so this is quite like doing an equation (which as an eternal spreadsheet geek I also enjoy!!) The main challenge is to hunt out any scenes that don’t fit into either category, so this will sort the wheat from the chaff.
So, whilst I am on exercise 4 of the revision course, there are so many yet to come – in all 22 delightful, difficult, enjoyable, stressful and absolutely necessary steps to reach my target and finally have the novel that I wanted to write.
This is a new skill, which will be more effective with each novel I write – yes, I am sticking with this writing mullarkey – but just one step at a time!
Note from Nick: This is a special day. Today’s post was written by my first editor, the guy who took The Golden Crystal and made it not suck! I recently got over an obstacle that many would-be authors never manage to conquer: I finished and published my first book. For my entire life, I had failed to finish this particular race, …
Start small,aim high … but most of all, enjoy the experience.