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Character view

I thought I’d be so eager to sit down every day and work on this novel… and I suppose I am, but it’s crazy how a few days off from writing leads to weeks of struggling during writing sessions, and after over a month of writing I only have 9,000 words and no idea where the story is going. Then again, much like this post, my books aren’t planned-out plots. They’re “what ifs” that grow and grow, and, yes, they ramble (also like this post) but after careful editing I get a finished product that surprises even me.

The main challenge with this sequel, besides having various different outcomes in mind, is the new character perspective. It’s difficult to explain without revealing too much, but, as I’ve said before, “Achieving Apollo” was my baby, my hidden project I worked on for nearly a decade here and there. I knew the main character and saw the other characters from his point of view. Now those “others” are the central characters, and I need their views. Sounds easy enough, right? Not exactly. Perception of a character changes so much when you get in his/her head. You have to show his thoughts on things while remaining true to the speech, reactions, etc. in the original story. And then you have to write about the others from that person’s point of view… Whew…

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Getting the ball rolling

About a week ago, I forced myself to stop thinking of outlines and plots and just stream-of-conscience the beginning of my next novel. And it worked! Now I don’t want to stop. I may not know what will happen next or what the entire outcome of the story is, but this is the rough draft, and I enjoy the surprise more than planning out things. Which is odd because I’m a total control freak and hate not having life planned out. So here I am 20 pages into the story, finally getting into the good narrative, knowing what will happen over the next two or three chapters, and what happens? My son gets the flu. And now I have the flu. And next week I start packing to move (a process that will take me into July), and I have to plan my son’s birthday party for the end of the month and clean the half-packed house for the party and to get my security deposit back, all while working full-time…. Like most of us, I just fantasize that I could get a contract and devote my non-family time to writing and I wouldn’t be trying to get a page or two out in those few minutes of spare time.

Filling godly shoes

I’ve finally started on my new novel, and in the past few weeks I’ve written… eight pages. The most difficult part is putting in the research. When I began “Apollo,” I read and read about Greek mythology and the gods. Then, as the story evolved, the characters became my own. The mythology morphed. Now, for the sequel, I’m rereading the mythology, but it’s a challenge. Although the ancient stories and gods come into play for me, they aren’t the same…. So I’m reading and thinking, “But that’s not how Zeus would respond….” You’d think that would open up ideas of how MY gods would react in these myths, but instead it scares me. Such big shoes to fill, so many ways to screw it up…. And I have to tell myself to just go with it.

Writing When It’s Right

I’ve not written for weeks. It’s time to start a new project, and I’m stuck between what I should write and what I want to write. I should start the sequel to “Apollo” but have no idea where to take it. I’ve scrapped all the outlines. I have a smidgen of idea for a time travel book but am scared to think past the basic concept because I might get too excited about something I can’t let myself do right now. And then when I can do it, the excitement and newness will be gone. Sigh. I think I’ll have to do something I’ve always been advised not to do–write two stories at once. It’s better than writing nothing, right?

Teaching for passion, for life

For a few years, I’ve written stories that blend mythology and history, and the projects excite me. This led me to wonder why I’m so passionate these certain topics. Then it dawned on me–

I wasn’t the best student in school. I had vision and learning problems and especially struggled in  math and science. In second grade, though, I tested into what Alabama called its PACE program. One day a week, about 15 “advanced” seven- to ten-year-olds gathered in a classroom and learned what our teacher wanted to teach us that month. And we were excited to find out what that was. I remember learning about the Soviet Union, and our questions  led to a month’s work on World War II. I learned things about human history I never imagined. Then he taught Norse, Greek, and Roman mythology. We read stories, acted them out, learned the characters, and wrote our own myths to act. I don’t remember anything I learned in my actual classroom that year (I remember failing to learn multiplication and not getting it till around fifth grade), but I can still quote from those lessons in PACE. As a teenager, I never understood why my interests always revolved around history and literature, but looking back on 2nd grade I can see it.

I’ve heard a lot of rumors about the public school system. My son is almost three, so we have a few years before I have to worry about his teachers, but I hope he has some who realize that it’s the fun–not the sitting around reading and quoting–that helps children learn things for life and become passionate about it.

Gimme a break

Chapter breaks–they confuse me. I’ve noticed many books now have shorter chapters, but I can see the benefits of both long and short. With the novel I’m writing now, I’ve tried to keep chapters around 20 pages (in Word). But then I notice that major events begin in the middle of a chapter, and I have this urge to break into a new one. But then I’ll have long chapters and short chapters. And does that really matter?

How do you decide chapters in your writing?

Parents–encourage your young writers!

After about the age of 13, I never finished stories unless required at school. For my stories, I’d write a few chapters of a novel or the main section of a short story. Then I’d throw it away or turn the page of my notebook (which eventually got tossed out, too). Oh, how I wish I still had them. About a year ago, I found some short stories and poems I wrote in middle school, and I enjoyed reading the progress in my writing. I can remember stories I wrote in elementary school and even some from high school but have no idea know what my childlike creativity spurned. I wish I had them all.

You young writers out there, and you parents who can get your hands on those stories and poems, please save them. Put them in a binder in chronological order. Let your children see how their talents have grown over the years. I think it will be wonderful inspiration for them when they need to see that they have progressed as a writer and can keep learning. And those preteen stories from when their imaginations were booming can become the bases for something truly special.