Do you have the gall?

While I am editing my work, I am also reading books.  When I write for NaNoWriMo I don’t touch anything except magazines and non-fiction books, and even those I limit.  I have enough which influences my writing; I don’t need it when I am concentrating so hard.  Currently I am reading “A Dance with Dragons” by George RR Martin.  I love his writing, the fantasy world he’s created without using D&D style elements.  But it burns me that he has no regard for heroes’ lives’ and will kill a character off, almost willy nilly.

I can see why he does this, to move his story ahead, but it’s aggravating all the same and makes me dislike the man.  I want to finish the series (whenever he decides it all ends) but during the reading I will lament.

Of course many writers don’t kill of main characters.  Probably because they don’t want to lose their fans who can become enraged over their favorite being gone and thus feeling there is no need to continue reading this person’s work.  Martin, obviously, has no fear of that.  In fact I know many people who joke that you shouldn’t fall in love with ANY character because there is a chance they will not survive long.

It does make me think though, should people have more gall to kill off a character which people love or identify with?  I have to admit I want to do this myself.  I want to have a character which people love (or love to hate I’m not totally sure which) that I take out.

I did not steal this idea from Martin.  I have been thinking about it since I wrote my first draft of my first novel.  Not the one I am editing, but the one which I decided after 32,000 words wasn’t working anymore and was never going to be finished.  I just hadn’t figured out who and why.  I loved the characters too much, even the ones I hate (yes I have my own).  So, this idea is floating around my head and I will figure out who and when at some point.  Until then I will just keep working and see how the story would benefit from this.

Would you have the gall to kill a main and beloved character?

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Boring yourself

Last week I spoke about striving for perfection in my novel.  While I am in a way, I also came to realize that I am starting to get bored reading these same few pages over and over to make them better.  Now does that mean I think a potential reader will be bored with the story, no.  But I do see that I need to move on in the story before I decide I don’t like it anymore and want to stop working on it altogether.

I have to admit I never thought I would get to this point.  I mean I love my own characters, even the ones I hate, because I created them; or at least made them my own in the case of some.  So how could I get bored with them?  Well I think it’s because I want to get on with the story and see what comes next.  It is the same way when I read a book.  I want to keep going so I can see what happens to the characters I like, or despise.  The really, really good books make me want to keep reading until I am done in one sitting.  For some books that is not possible and I rue having to stop.

Now some might ask how I can want to get on with the story when I know it.  All I can say is it has been long enough there are some things I forgot and there are some things that need to be changed so the story becomes better.  Also, I have some ideas for my world that I didn’t when I began writing this story and need/want to incorporate them into the novel.

It could be that boring myself is not the correct term but I cannot think of anything else which fits.

Have you ever been working on something and got bored trying to make it better?

Strive for Perfection

As I have been editing the first three pages of my novel I like some of the new things that have come about.  However, it has me thinking, am I striving for perfection in those few pages?

In a way, I think I am.  I want them to be as perfect as they can be.  I also need them to be good so that the reader is engaged enough to continue the story.  So those first few pages are highly vital.

On the other hand, I don’t think I am.  For pretty much the same reason: I need the reader to become engaged in the story and continue reading.

The rest of the story needs to be good as well but the beginning is where you get people so I think those pages require more critical thought and scrutiny.

What about you?  Do you strive for perfection in your entire story?

What to Change?

When you are in a writing group which critiques your work, you get all kinds of advice.  Everyone is attempting to be helpful to make your work better and, while sometimes they agree what needs to be changed, they don’t always.  So what are you to do?

The first thing to keep in mind is you will never please everyone all the time.  No matter how many times you change your manuscript there will be something someone does not like and thinks you could make the story better.  That’s alright; people are entitled to their opinion.  It’s why we have so many different genres, authors, and authors within genres.

The second thing to keep in mind is that essentially it is YOUR story and you can tell it however you like.  This means you can ignore all the advice you get if you want, although I wouldn’t recommend that.

So with that in mind how do you decide what to change?  Listen to what people say.  Take notes on a copy of the same work they are commenting on so you refer to them later.  If you hear something more than once, it probably should be changed.

Occasionally though you will get one person who just nitpicks things, major or minor, and makes you want to completely ignore them.  Remember you can do this, but if they see the work again they may tell you they still don’t like this, this, this, and this.  It also could be that the genre you write is not something they normally read.  So while you may have a good story, they just don’t really understand the concept of why you wrote it the way you did.

When in doubt though, ask questions.  You know what you are trying to say and, of course, the way it’s written makes total sense to you, but if your audience doesn’t see it then you need to figure out how to fix it.  Without some kind of guidance you might not be able to make the leap from in your head to on the page (and thus into your readers heads).