Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hit the brakes

I haven't done much writing in the last couple months. There's been a lot going on in my personal life, the latest of which -> the husband and I are trying to sell the witch's hut. If we move before mid-June, that will make it 9 moves in 9 years.

I'm awful at multi-tasking, so I'm not the kind of person who can put down a couple hundred words every day. When I write, it's in an obsessive streak that takes over every speck of my brain-power and prevents me from concentrating on anything else. When I stop, I stop. Often in the middle of a scene, sometimes mid-way through a paragraph. But there are often times I write 15-30,000 words within a 2 week writing-spree.

But when I'm not writing, my brain kindof stews and simmers and churns all the half-processed ideas floating around in there.

I stopped working on 'Brake Fluid, Blood & Body Bags' (Project # 4) back in December. One reason was 'cause I needed a mental break from death. Another reason was I couldn't justify writing a nameless genderless character without a better reason than, 'it's fun and interesting.' I knew there was a reason why this character was the way he/she was. It wasn't a gimmick, it wasn't just for a challenge. There's always a why behind what I write, it's just that (as a pantser) often it takes me a while to figure it out.

And I think I finally have.

It's not a statement of gender roles/etc. It's not about being asexual, gay or transgendered.

I don't have any interest in imparting moral lessons or inserting my personal views into a story. If you know me at all, I don't like talking politics or religion 'cause mostly all those subjects do is divide people and get them angry. Sure, I'll rant (in person) to friends and family about things that annoy me, but that sort of thing has no place in my writing.

In fact, even though I have figured out the why behind this character, I don't even think it's my place to define it in concrete terms. Yes, as I finish and edit the story I'm going to work hard to drop clues/etc, but in the end, I'd rather the reader chose for themselves why, just like I'd rather they decided on their own what gender the main character is.

Because at the heart of it, the gender doesn't matter. Either way, it wouldn't change his/her relationship with Triss.

I know a lot of YA writers enjoy the genre 'cause it's all about 'firsts'. First loves, first kisses, first adventures on the cusp of adulthood and responsibility.

But what interests me more than all the 'firsts' is the deep struggle of self-identity.

It's the transition from the removed third-person-narration of childhood, where you follow along on the adventure, usually without the whys ever being fully explained, to the almost suffocating tunnel-vision of self-absorption that is first-person perspective, before finally growing up enough to have the wider/big-picture third-person perspective of understanding more than just the main character's struggle.

There's a reason MG, YA and adult fiction have such distinct *voices*.

Out of any other story I've written, this has the most stubborn main character when it comes to the struggle of self-identity. This character tries to avoid almost all thoughts of past (before Triss) or future (without Triss).

If you asked me to, I could define every character I've ever written in a single word. For example, Simon (from project #2) would be 'loyalty' and Hector would be 'noble'. These are the qualities I wanted to explore, both the good and bad sides of each.

In this particular story, 'avoidance' is the word that most completely describes the main character.

Which perhaps is why I am avoiding setting down any concrete details/explanations.

...does that sound... pretentious?

I don't mean it to.

Honestly, none of this matters beyond my own writing process. As long as the reader enjoys the story, I don't care if they skim-read the entire thing and never realize that the main character is never named or has a clearly defined gender.

Writing an enjoyable/interesting story is what I most care about.

I'm just incredibly analytical. A perfectionist. And for me, that means understanding the characters to the point when I won't ever betray them. Where I can stay true to the *truth* of these characters. I have to figure out how they work so I can take them apart and put them back together again.

I'm interested in the why behind it all. And now that I know the why of this character, I'm ready to work on this story again. On Friday I'm going to post the edited first scene of this story. Where my first draft of this quite obviously shows my lack of focus/understanding of the main character, I hope I have honed the wording enough to clarify why the main character behaves/thinks the way he/she does.

I also hope that, morally-bankrupt as these characters are, you can at least empathize with them enough to care what happens.

I'm very curious to hear your thoughts. Any/all comments are appreciated, especially ones that are critical/constructive in nature.

Nail me on anything, big or small :)


  1. Okay - gonna do this here cause I have too much other stuff to do

    Whether actually writing or not my characters - all of them and it gets crowded - are in my head. And most days something in the paper, on TV or a word I hear spoken, gives me ideas for my story line. A few things are going on here in Ontario which I will be noting for one of my kids. So even if not “writing” my stories move along. For me the ideas are the main thing. Dialogue etc comes later.

    I’ve been asking you “why” since the story began. I’m glad you finally clued in :D

    Unlike you though, I do insert my personal views into my stories. It’s my method of venting.

    I agree with you, in this case, to not tell the reader why but to let it flow out of your words.

    With “self identity” you are giving your views. That is your “shtick”

    Yeah I can do that too I think - one word to describe all of my characters. When I have a minute I’ll try and do that. It’s a good exercise for everyone to do.

    Not pretentious

    1. I'm finally glad I clued-in, too! ...but even if you ask, I'm not going to confirm whether the MC is male or female :) I'm glad you have your own opinion on that ;)

      I don't know if self-identity is giving my views... it's more that it's a theme I find worth exploring :)

      Hahahahaha... maybe pretentious was the wrong word... I just didn't want to sound like, "oh, look at me who thinks I'm great 'cause I put so much thought into what I write..." 'cause that totally isn't how it is. If anything, I feel a bit like an idiot when I have no idea why I'm writing what I am... and have to sit back and think about it for a while.

  2. I'm with you when you say that even in YA it is really about identity more than the steamy kissing. Take the Hunger Games, for example. There's not much kissy kiss in that story, mainly because the stakes are much too high to be rolling around in the grass. Actually, that story is about life and death, more than identity... but you get my gist, right?

    1. I loved the first 2 Hunger Games books! And I think they had a LOT to do with Katniss figuring out her self-identity. ...and I liked that she was really slow about it, too ;)

  3. Eek! I'm excited to read your first chapter. Now I know why you submitted the query that you did (why it is in first person and not third - though I still liked the first person).

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading your first chapter. I'll try to give any helpful feedback I can!

    1. Woo-hoo! I look forward to your comments! ...and remember, I wasn't kind on yours, so this is the time for you to take revenge!!! Bwahahahahahaha...

      Just kidding, but seriously, harsh comments are like mother's milk to me :) They only help me write better :)

      Yeah, I felt really stupid about that query, like, I don't want to be seen as a person who's breaking the rules 'cause of arrogance or ignorance, but I seriously had no clue how to write it in 3rd person and still get across the voice that I wanted to.

  4. well now you may have an idea how to write it in 3rd person. And if yu think you over think - I spent 4 hours today editing, not writing, editing, a less than 2000 word story. I'm getting so picky....

    1. very true ;)

      But I'm not going to touch the query/blurb until the story is done :)

      Heh, picky is good :)

  5. I agree 100%. Being young is about finding out who you are! YA is all about identity to me - a character learning what they want, both from life and from themselves. Great post! I am also a perfectionist and as crippling as it can be sometimes, I think we've got an edge over the non-perfectionists :) Getting things just right is a pretty good goal, I'd say. Good luck with your writing and moving!

    1. Thanks, Julie :) Glad I'm not alone.

      I figure, if I don't love it enough to give 100%... then why should I waste my time? ...and why would anyone want to waste their time reading it?


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