Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's aliiiive! First -> second draft transition

I know everyone has their own different processes in how they write, whether they be plotters or pantsers.

I definitely fall into the latter category. Discovering the story is what makes writing fun, and usually, most of what that's about is discovering the things going on under the surface, beyond the plot.

I'll write between one third and one half of the story almost without thinking, just following what *feels* right, then I stop, re-read it, solidify the characters in my head, and go back over what I've written and flesh it out/make it consistent. When that's *complete*, then I finish writing until the end.

I'm in that stage right now, the fleshing out. This is where single, shallow, insignificant lines that seemed almost random in the first draft open up and I can see their depth.

Right now I'm working on a scene where the MC is describing Triss and Triss' dad's relationship. There was a line in there about him and Triss listening to music, and another separate line in the story about Triss not being able to live without music.

...and both lines became important to their history/relationship.

Music is one of those things that wasn't planned for in advance, but it just seemed appropriate since Triss and the MC spend so much of the story in Triss' car. It tied nicely with how they met, the MC's quirky (but useful) first gift to Triss, it linked in with Jackson's parties, and (as it turns out), with Triss' relationship with her dad. Music just kept showing up and rounding out the story.

I like music. I listen to a wide variety of stuff, but I'm not like a music nerd or anything (and I mean that in the most complimentary sense). Sure, I played piano for many years, I'll even dance if the beat is good, but I do have some friends who have crazy-refined ears for music. Like, they can't listen to some bands because the drummer varies their beat by a fraction of a second...

Yeah. It kinda blows my mind.

I also knew someone who built his own speakers from scratch, which is pretty nuts, but pretty freaking awesome, too. He also build liquid cooling systems for his computer which he would then overclock. He was in the hardware engineering program in university.

Have you heard of the magazine 2600? He and my husband were both avid readers. It's also why one of my husband's hobbies is to buy almost any new technology that comes onto the market. After playing with it for a couple weeks, he usually sells it on eBay. I think right now he's got 4 or 5 different cell phones sitting on his computer desk...

I really admire it when people have passions/hobbies that they take that far, which is why when I meet new people, rather than the more traditional 'what do you do for a living' questions, I always want to know what makes them feel alive. What do they love? What places in the world do they want to see? People who are in school, I'm always curious about what classes they take outside their main focus, or what activities they do on the side.

For Triss and her dad, they can't live without music. It's one of the primary bonds that solidifies their relationship, but it also makes them more alive as characters. I wasn't able to fully imagine/flesh out the dad's condo until I knew this, and now small tidbits of their hobby kindof run in the background during the story. It's inspiring so many of the little details that shape Triss' world-view, and through her, the MC's (who sees the world through Triss-coloured-lenses).

...and, like anything important/all-present, suddenly removing it can add an entirely new dimension as well.

Silence can be ever more potent.

What are some of the things that make characters more alive for you, either in books you read, or those you write? How much thought do you put into hobbies, bonds in relationships, etc? Do you use your own as a basis?

In YA especially, the whole 'absent-parent' plot point is pretty rampant (for good reasons any YA writer should already be aware of so I won't reiterate...), but, for those YA writers out there, do you think about bonds between parents and child, even if the parents are traditionally *off-screen* for most of the story?

Non YA writers can comment as well :) How do hobbies and parent/child relationships fit in with your stories?


  1. wow you wrote on the long week end - good. My husband is a musician and yes he won't listen to certain bands either if the drummer sucks, he's a drummer. Drummer jokes are almost as bad as blonde jokes. We've been planting the garden, I've been getting the story ready to publish (this week) and we saw Dark Shadows --not a great film but lots of fun.

    1. Crazy... yeah, my ears totally aren't that good :)

      Oooh garden! I have been planting things too... which are all getting eaten by the deer :(

      Oh, except I planted a wee little veggie garden and covered it with netting... so far, that's safe... but I fear as soon as the beets and carrots come up, the deer may decide to get serious.

  2. The entire parenting angle is critical, I think. The age range of the YA is dealing with what they've accumulated in life thus far and how that molds them to make certain decisions. Great post.

    1. I agree too. So often the parents in YA are missing, which is fine, but it's like they don't exist, rather than them just being gone/working/etc. After all, the teenage characters will have been shaped by their childhood years, their parents, what they have grown up seeing as *normal*, etc, so when they are so deliberately avoided, it always feels like a gap/missing piece/lost opportunity...

  3. I often include something about the relationship, whatever the bond, in the story. Something we can't forget is that present parents - or their absence - can or may impact the way a child is in real life just as it would in a story. Helps to understand the motivations or answer the Whys?

    1. That's cool, I'm really glad to hear that :) Yes, and even if the parents are absent when the child is a teenager, that doesn't necessarily mean they have been absent during the child's entire life... the transition/changes would also be a huge impact.

      High-five to another pantser ;)

  4. I have one story that, when I get back to working on that, does have a fun take on the parental angle where the absent-parent angle leads the MCs to assume their parents are either useless and/or incompetent in the novel's situation (an alien invasion) whereas some of them are secretly working a rebellion behind the scenes and didn't want kids involved in that for obvious reasons.

    1. Hahahahahaha!

      When do I get to read it?!?!

    2. Well, I have two versions of the first novel of it. And 2 others plotted .... so ... uh. A while, I think :) It's my next big project to get back into; I will likely do some of it as nano this year.

    3.'s never an easy answer with you, is it, Alcar?


      ...Like I said, you always have too much plot, I never have enough ;)


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)