NaNoWriMo 2011 Update 2

The second 10-day period wasn’t as good as the first.  It just shows that anything can happen in the world of writing.  One day can be filled with victory, while the next only bears defeat.

So, from a creative standpoint, I wonder how did I fall behind?

Reason 1: Outside the Comfort Zone

I try to write the real world as much as possible.  I try to make our mundane into my amazing.  My approach is often to start with standard reality and make it go crazy.  In Mind & Machine, I start with a corporate board meeting and turn it into a guy crashing through the window, then make that guy control the minds of the corporate guys.

Tesseract drifts into a more traditional science fiction realm, something I haven’t written before.  I have a core form of technology that doesn’t exist and has never existed before.  The core philosophical question of the book is this: Is it better to have no concept of god or an evil god?  As someone who has more than average faith, this is tricky for me to write.

And I’ve made a decision, for now, to have every scene take place in a new location.  That means every new chapter takes place somewhere new, at least moving from one room to the next.

Reason 2: Reliance on Discovery Writing

I know the framework and the characters in my story, but unlike other things I’ve written, I don’t know everything about Tesseract yet.  I’m figuring out bits and pieces of how my characters work, but I’m also having to populate a universe, developing not only characters, but species as well.  Not to mention, I have to find ways to describe how they speak, since speech and linguistics are core ideals in this book.

Sometimes, I have to make things up as I go and that, my friends, is not the easiest thing to do.  I have directions to go in, but the opening has a lot of demands on my concentration and the ending is just going to be so crazy (more on that in a bit), I’m putting it off.

Reason 3: Things I am Not

It’s been said, “Write what you know.”  In Tesseract, I’ve firmly gone against that.

I’m not female, yet I am only using four viewpoint characters, all of whom are female.

I have aliens, just as I mentioned a moment ago.  I’ve never written aliens before, much less dwarves or elves or anything else like that, though I have written vampires and monsters.

One of my characters, toward the end of Tesseract, becomes convinced she should be god.  I’ve never written crazy before, at least not so crazy that the character is firmly unhinged.  When that character shifts after that point and becomes convinced that she is god and always has been, well, I’m not god, so I don’t know exactly how that viewpoint works.

With those things in mind, I have to make some changes and do a better job of pursuing what I’m after.  This is a good chance for me to improve my characterization and my plotting, as well as become better about settings.  Here are a few solutions I can use as I go forward.

Solution 1: The New Mundane

If I find myself outside my comfort zone, I should focus on what is still normal.  People still fall in love, still get stressed and hurt, still feel triumph when they win.  Despite any crazy terms, I should be able to show the inherent humanity of each character, those core elements of being a sentient, compassionate person.  I need to make the characters, the setting, and the plot easy to relate to.

Solution 2: Embracing the Exciting

Twice now, I’ve found things that were new and amazing.  I have to embrace those things.  If I build a city made of trees that intertwine and weave into each other, not like an Ewok village, but more like bonsai gone mad, I should stay in that vicinity and enjoy that overall location.  If I find that the replacement weapons for lightsabers in this story can distort gravity if used against each other, then I need to do that again.

Solution 3: Relate to the Differences

I’ve written women before, so all I have to do is remind myself about what these characters want.  This story is built on the friendship of three women, so I need to focus on why they care about each other, not their gender.  While female friendship isn’t exactly the same as male friendship or male-female friendship, there are still enough core things in common.

I may not be insane, but I should think about what’s motivating my characters.  I should ask myself where the character is going and what I need to do in order to get there.  Then sanity won’t matter, since the plot can create any momentum emotion can’t.  Making a character be/think she is god goes the same way.

Aliens are best defined by interesting differences.  Within those elements, something has to still be the same.  That’s what I have to bring to the page as I work.  When I do that, I’ll have a lot more success.


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