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The Character’s the Thing

December 18, 2009

I’m still working on the character studies to help me in rewriting this tale.  How I’ve approached this is to take each character and write a short paragraph (about 250 to 300 words each) written from the point of view of the character’s subconscious mind (so that the paragraph is written in a way that it’s voice is aware of motivations that the character himself may not be) that reveals the salient events that came before the start of the story that will influence what the character does during the story.  Were this a novella, or a full-fledged novel, I would likely need a more robust character study – and one that was evolving as the story progressed, so that I could keep track of how the character changes over the course of the story.

Because this story is a contemporary tale, I’ve also been doing a bit of research to try to give the setting a little more verisimilitude.  For instance, if I’m writing that the main character got an education in a certain field, the next question I had to ask myself is “where did he go to school?”  Was it one of the top schools in his field?  What are the top schools in his field?  Little bits like that, I believe, if layered in with a certain tact and craft can make the story come alive all the more for the reader.   At this point, then, I have two options: make up a school, or research real-world institutions that may have a reputation in this field.  The latter will more likely produce results that ring true to the reader.  The former, to my way of thinking, will be more valuable at points where the story intentionally diverges from our contemporary reality.

Beyond that, I’ve already figured out a new opening line that more clearly lays out the tone of the story and sets the hook.  I’m also playing the opening scene in my mind, with new characters and a better explanation of the opening impetus that’s driving the plot.  But I haven’t written any of this down, yet, because I want to make sure the scene I have in mind is in line with the characters I intend to populate it with.

So, the work progresses, albeit slowly.  I expect the holidays may put a minor damper in progress, simply because I’ll be spending more of my free time enjoying the company of my wife and family and less of it on writing.

For you and yours: happy writing, and happy holidays.

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