Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 13: What do you want, characters?

This is Gypsy the kitten. Isn't she cute?

First things first: yesterday I talked about Gypsy the kitten. Now I have a (somewhat blurry) photo of her to share. Taking pictures of scared kittens in dark sheds isn't easy and my phone's attempts at compensating for it haven't really helped matters. Anyway, that's Gypsy.

Now, onto the part where I'm supposed to talk about Camp NaNoWriMo and my writing. That's going to mean trying to think of something to say, isn't it? I think I prefer the part where I just get to talk about the kitten. The writing hasn't been going too well for the last few days. I'm starting to wonder about things like character motivation and what the political situation might be outside the little bit of the world that Toby gets to experience.

Character motivations are interesting, because my characters all seem to want things. They're all working towards something. Toby is obvious - his whole universe revolves around the idea of avenging the deaths of his parents. Everyone else seems to have something more complicated in mind, though. I know they want something, but I don't know what.

Still, at least they want something. Passive characters who wander through the story and have things happen to them always make things difficult. I've taken up strapping characters like that into a chair, attaching electrodes to their heads and asking questions with my finger hovering over a little button. They don't know what the little button does, so they're usually scared enough to start talking.

Okay, I made that up. I'd never treat my characters like that unless it was part of the story. Inside the bounds of the story I make no promises, but on the outside I try to be gentle. My favourite interview spot is the swing-seat on the verandah of an imaginary stone farmhouse. It's always interesting to see which characters are bold enough to share a swing-seat with their author and which ones would rather choose the wicker chair nearby. A few of them even refuse to sit down at all. Interviewing someone who's leaning against a verandah post can be difficult on occasion.

I knew Toby was going to be special the day I tried to interview him and he refused to leave the puddle one of the other characters had dumped him in. He explained to me that unless I continued the story and removed him from the puddle, I couldn't expect anything from him other than drips of water. I've never managed to pin him down, either. This month's Camp NaNoWriMo novel is the closest I've come - it's an examination of Toby's past.

What I've written completely destroys the first 1/2 to 3/4 of Darkness, the first book of the series. I knew that was going to happen, but still...

Yeah, I know. Figuring out what really happened is what rewriting is all about.

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