I got some VIP work done this weekend.
You know, schmoozing with the bigwigs, rubbing elbows with women in dark sunglasses and men with stylish facial hair. Drinking cosmos. Punching paparazzi.
So, maybe that was just a nightmare I had Saturday night after watching Aliens and eating too much bacon.
No, this Sunday was dedicated to Very Important Planning. I am about ten percent through my book, without a detailed outline (I’ve come to the realization that I work better without one [more on that another day]), without character bios or really strong plot points set up. So I sat down with my character sheets from Holly Lisle, starting with my FMC (Female Main Character). Didn’t learn too much I didn’t already know, so I moved on to her best friend, MSC (Male Secondary Character). I got a few tidbits, and solidified his voice and motives, which is great. Then I moved on to my MMC/Antagonist.
Wow. I had no idea.
So I initially intended this guy to be evil, summoned up by a pathetic, lovelorn tertiary character. Through revealing more about his past, and his inner workings, I discovered that my approach with him was way off. He’s not evil; he’s lonely and desperately misguided. And my tertiary idiot character? Gone. Not necessary. Which brings me to my second breakthrough- my true antagonist. Someone I had shunted to the back like so many rotten potatoes, making the house stink but ultimately unimportant.
My characters grew and stretched and surprised me, and my plot did the same. It was great!
When I start in on a story I plunge in with a few basic ideas on characters and concepts, and I feel around for a while. I think this helps me get to know my characters and world a bit, to get a sense for this place I’m building. But it doesn’t last. Pretty soon I have to be more analytical about things, and explore them in a more logical manner. That’s when I start to find the really good stuff. My subconscious has been working on it the entire time, just waiting for me to come along and unlock the doors.
This pausing and analyzing process is something I will do multiple times throughout the writing of the story, and I always come away feeling fresh, focused, and more organized, clearing away potential roadblocks for the next few days or weeks.
Which is not to say that I don’t get curveballs from my subconscious while I’m busy taking a shower. But it is immensely gratifying knowing that I can kick start that discovery process, pretty much at will.
Basically, it’s my inoculation against writer’s block.