in which I ramble about stuff.

| Monday, December 21, 2009
Happy Holidays! Already had or to be had, I hope you enjoy(ed) them completely :)

I've been writing a whole mess of posts about my thoughts on writing, reading and literature, but I realize I haven't posted much about what I'm actually writing. Mainly because I haven't been writing much of anything - my current project is still 2/3 of the way through the first draft. I haven't had much time or (more importantly) motivation to write this month, which bums me out. I'm hoping that I can get out of my funk soon. I may have to force myself forward, but it'll happen eventually.

I honestly didn't expect to get into this project as much as I have, and I definitely didn't expect it to come together at all. I really thought it would be a bunch of mish-mashed gibberish, since I started it as a NaNo project. The seed of this story was planted sometime in August of this year, and I jotted a few notes and thought I'd make a short story out of it. In October when I decided I wanted to take a crack at NaNo again, I started taking more notes and brainstorming the general plot, and it turned into something more. Still, when I started typing on November 1st, I had no idea whether or not the entire idea would fall flat and end up in the practice heap.

I started out with a lot of over-description and blathering, being as sure as I was that I'd need the padding to make it to 50,000. However, as the story started taking off, I realized that I DIDN'T need the padding. The story was doing just fine on its own, which surprised me in a good way. My main character had an attitude I hadn't planned for her, the secondary characters came totally naturally, and the plot chugged along.

This was a real wake-up call, because I've had other ideas that I've been playing with, plotting and replotting out for years now, but this was the idea that actually flowed out with barely a hitch. This idea that dropped into my head one afternoon on my lunch break was the one I actually wrote, and it didn't suck. Not only that, but it made me turn a critical eye on a years-of-dedication story idea I have and realize... it's not that good. At the very least, it needs a MAJOR overhaul.

That hurt, because I love those characters. I CARE about those characters. But I couldn't write them. I've tried, but they wouldn't be coaxed out in the story I was going for. They didn't fit. I think I've just recently experienced "kill your darlings" firsthand. It sucks, but it's eye-opening as well.

My current project works because the characters fit effortlessly into the world I've made for them. I'm not trying to jam square pegs into round holes. It took me putting aside an old idea and starting something new and different to see it. Something I thought I wouldn't be invested in. I'm sure it's been said hundreds of times, but maybe being too invested in our characters hinders more than it helps. Maybe we need to let them go for a while until they wander back on their own, and in the meantime, let new characters in to do what they want to do.

And just in case anyone was curious: the current project is called The Tick-Tock Hearts, and it's Clara's story. Clara is a 16-year old girl in Victorian-era Chicago who is trying to make sense of her father's murder, support her grieving family, and delve deep into the mystery surrounding an underground group looking to achieve immortality. Lots of snooty aristocrats, the beginnings of jazz, pyrotechnics, and cybernetics. Like, duh.

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