When you realize that copying another writer is actually smart

I haven’t written here for a while, sorry about that.  I haven’t done much with my novel other than think about it and read the first chapter trying to figure out how to make some changes which were suggested to me at the last meeting.  Yesterday I did come to a realization and decision about something which may seem like I am directly copying another writer but actually for my story, it just makes sense.  I have decided to use sigils in my story.

Now for those who have read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire you know that he uses them.  I didn’t want to do that even though it was an intriguing idea, especially for someone who is a herald in the SCA and works on devices (which is the same thing as a sigil).  However it was pointed out to me that it would make more sense for one of my characters to realize that the person she has run into is definitely on the other side with some symbol to state it without words needed.

Of course now comes the really hard part, creating those sigils and deciding who will have them.  I’m not sure I want to make it each family like Martin does, although from a historic standpoint that does make sense.  I might even just do it for the groups in war but again I’m not sure how that would work.  So the easy part is over and it’s time to work on the difficult one.

Got questions, Open your mouth

Well after many, many meetings where I took the first three pages of my novel and heard the same things repeatedly, I finally decided to open my mouth and ask a question.  You might be wondering why it took me this long to do it and the reason might be silly.  I thought that the changes I was making to the chapter would solve the problem

While some of it is better from the comments and my editing, obviously not all of it was.  The biggest comments were that the chapter needs to be from one perspective (working on that but apparently need to make it more obvious) and the other has to do with the background I give of the two characters introduced.  I kept being told to add that info later because, while it obviously is important, it’s too much in the beginning.

So my question was how I accomplish this because I actually can’t.  The two characters don’t interact until toward the end of the novel and at that point there is no time to go into this info.  The answer I received pretty much had to do with one of the characters thinking about some of that back-story later in the book but the other not knowing.

This will change the whole story since one character is telling the other much of this to get a shock reaction but somehow I will make it still work.  I’m glad I finally asked though.  It gave me lots to think about though.

You Have To Make Time

Many people will say they can’t write until inspiration hits them, and then those same people never actually finish anything.  The biggest reason is because they are waiting for lightning to hit instead of making it happen.  I can say from personal experience the best way for inspiration to strike is to just sit down and write.  Yup it is really that simple.  However, one of the biggest obstacles can be finding the time to actually do this.

One thing I really like about NaNoWriMo is that it forces me to work on something.  Granted I could just ignore the challenge the month presents but having a place to go, friends to “compete” against, and something which shows my daily progress really helps me to want to write.  That November mayhem has taught me that I work very well under pressure.  It’s the rest of the year which I have trouble.

So what’s the answer, well it’s kind of the same, I have to force myself to work.  This is much easier said than done though.  Just like with exercising, if you want to keep at it, you have to find out what works for you.

So if you write better in the morning, make the time.  You say you have to be at your boring, demanding job at 8 am, well get up a half hour earlier and write for those thirty minutes when you will be at your peak.  Are you better in the middle of the afternoon, work something in there.  Of course that might be hard if you have an 8-5 type job.  My advice then is to write during your lunch.  Or you could see if changing your hours is possible so you are off during your peak creative time.

Whatever you decide, you have to make the time and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean you can’t take a break now and then or that no matter what happens you have to write at that time.  However on the same note if you let other things distract you too much, well you have defeated the whole purpose.  And if you really don’t have a good time due to family, work, and other obligations, find five, ten, fifteen minutes you can write throughout the day.  Those small chunks can make all the difference.

When do you describe something?

Having moved on from my first chapter I began re-reading the next one.  I can see some changes that need to be made badly, especially since I have now corrected things from the first chapter, which changes the tone of my main character.  There will also be some other major changes due to that overhaul but I am only thinking about those at this time.  However, what I have been thinking about is when do I describe certain things?

Since this is a fantasy work, I have created some of my own terms for certain things, as well as “created” a race.  I realized that I never truly describe the new race.  In fact, it didn’t occur to me until the second book when I was comparing my new race to dwarves.  I realize I have to go back and enter some kind of description in the first novel.

I want to keep the urgency in my book, which I have (hopefully) set up when my main character meets this other race.  At the same time, I need to interject his description so the readers know that he is a certain race.  I think that taking the one I used in my second novel will work, with some slight modifications, but I also don’t want an information dump, which might turn the reader off.  So at this point, it’s a balancing act of how much and when do I describe the race.

I guess the best thing to do is rewrite the scene and then work from there with what is important right away and what is not.

Would do you think is the best time to describe something?

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?

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?