During the month of October, as I got ready for NaNoWriMo, I was really rather obsessive about preparing to write my novel and learning more about my craft. Jeff Gerke’s Plot vs. Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction was a perfect companion to my obsession.
I have often felt character development was a weak link in my writing. Gerke’s book provides a practical guide for building fully detailed, well-rounded characters, a meaningful inner journey for both reader and character, and a detailed guide to plotting your action using three-part story structure.
Having read the book, I developed two new characters who are so much richer, more real, and more flawed (one of my personal weaknesses in creating protagonists).
I developed an inner journey/character arc for my main character, Lillianna Violetta, and a three-act story arc using the plot ideas I’d been considering and additional plot ideas inspired by Lilly’s basic nature and the inner journey she must undertake.
It was so fun to begin writing yesterday.
If you are a writer who needs to build either your plotting or characterization skills, this is a book I would highly recommend.
NaNoWriMo Day 1: I wrote 6,241 words.
I am actually not writing this today. I’m writing it in advance because I am away at another writing event—the Oregon Christian Writers Conference.
This is a conference I have attended for several years now. It’s four days and three nights, with mornings devoted to a single two and a half hour coaching class, and afternoons passed in workshops. I’m really looking forward to my coaching class. It focuses on developing believable characters.
I will be pitching agents here as well, and I have an appointment set up for mentoring with Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press, who has worked in a variety of publishing houses and now specializes in speculative fiction. I am eager to talk to him about what I have done—retold folktales, written a middle grade fantasy novel, written a young adult, (or is it adult—as has been suggested by an agent from Willamette Writers) retelling of medieval romance, drafted its sequels, and drafted a fantasy novel, and what I look forward to doing–drafting another fantasy novel during NaNoWriMo this November. I have found him to be an excellent writing instructor during past conferences and so look forward to hearing what he has to say.
So, read and write on all you readers and writers out there. I shall be sure to report on my experience next week.
Today I finally reached last Friday’s goal (Yes, that is LAST Friday you read) of revising through page 50 of The Swallow’s Spring (my latest title for my novel). I stopped working to make dinner after page 59.
Since November 1, I have revised a total of 59 pages and written 7 new pages.
Why seven new pages? It was rather a new experience for me. When I submit folktales I am often asked to cut the manuscript length, once by nearly 20%. So why am I adding pages to The Swallow’s Spring?
When I did a quick read through to prepare for revision back in October, I realized there were two things not yet developed properly in the novel—the subplot, and the main character’s relationship with several family members.
So, last Friday I wrote a temper tantrum (worse than a two-year-old denied her free cookie in the grocery store) for the main character’s mother. It was fun. Things got thrown (on paper, not in my house). There was much shrieking and wailing. Oh, and did I mention my heroine got slapped? Now it may be more apparent why she is such a goody-two-shoes peacekeeper and wants more than anything to control her own life. I also got to arrange a medieval Irish funeral for her Uncle (the research for that is what kept me up until midnight on November 1).
Now, the rushed through first quarter of the novel does not feel so rushed through anymore.
Next Wednesday: I’ll report my progress and share my main mission in this revision.