Yesterday actually turned into a better day than I expected. After my initial dismal attempt at words, I finally finished the first draft of my short story that I have been working on for…forever. or like a few months. Same thing.
So now it’s back to work on my novel while I wait for some uh…constructive criticism from my trusted beta readers. Who are smart, talented people, not afraid to point out where I’m going wrong. While I have notes to follow for the novel, I’m feeling kinda stuck right now, my head is all….gah…wtf…i hate this book…*cries*
Time for some intervention. Usually when I’m stuck like this, it’s a sign I need to work stuff out before I continue writing. Now, for me (and here I open myself up to a flood of voices going NO YOU ARE WRONG WRONG WRONG, note I said, for *me*) the most important thing to make story work is character.
(NO, you cry, IT IS PLOT, YOU IGNORAMUS)
Well yes, but for me, character *is* plot. Plot is what happens in the story, right? It is the progression from A to B to X, and that happens because of character. Character drives plot. (welp, in my stories, anyway)
So here I am, stuck as a stuck thing that is stuck in sticky stuff, and it’s because I need to know my character better. Once I do, the steps she will take will dictate plot. Time for my notebook, my pens, and my brain to sit alone for a bit. I start with the stuff I know.
And I take it from there, a word at a time.
The biggest question I can ask myself is “What does she want most?” I get a couple of answers for that because sometimes the first, most obvious one is just a cover for desires that lie deeper. I also look at how the other desires link together (and in this case, they all do, sometimes a few are outliers.)
Once I know what my character wants, I can throw obstacles in her way – how does she go about trying to get what she wants? What happens to throw her off? When she gets what she wants, what has it cost her, and was it worth it?
Working one step at a time, I can take all these minor desires, and build them up to a reveal of the ultimate desire, and the price she will pay for it.
But, that’s a long process. Right now, with my rough map in hand, I can concentrate on the first of these desires: give her things, and take them away; building her up as a character who moves through the world, and the world is story.
If you’re also stuck, I hope that helps a little.