Free Fall Fridays #2

First of all, yes, I did forget to do this last Friday, but honestly, there wasn’t much of an advance in plot anyway.

Last time, I mentioned how this story has hijacked my thoughts. This has only gotten worse over the course of the past couple of weeks, to the point that, not only am I dreaming about people falling from great heights, but my subconscious appears to be leading me to watch television shows where a similar thing happens. This most likely isn’t great for what little sanity I still have … I am looking forward to NaNoWriMo quite a lot, but it’s almost as though my mind sees fit to remind me that, ‘hey, you’re writing about people jumping off buildings this year’ every chance it gets. This would be fine … if I wasn’t almost done plotting. By almost done plotting, I do mean that the basics are all done; I have my short stories, and I have the story that ties them all together written down.

What comes next? Characters! I feel that it is more integral that I know my characters well this year than it has been any other year, or with any other project at all. This is not to say that I’m normally lazy when it comes to character construction – it’s a process I genuinely enjoy, half the time I create characters without needing to, so it’s not as though I find this an arduous task. There’s a whole other level of engagement I’m going to need with them, this time around, though.

My usual style of narration is third-person, past tense; this doesn’t discount the need to get to know characters so well, but it does mean that the narration is, distinctly, in my own style. I use language as I usually would, without too much deviation from what would be considered the ‘standard rules’ of grammar and spelling. While not being necessary for spoken exchanges between characters, it fits in well enough with the style of writing.

For a series of short stories, each centered around a rather different character each time, however, I feel that this has to change. I plan on playing around with the narration in each story; most being first person, some being second person, and the storyline that runs throughout being third person limited. This means that I am tasked with making each character ‘seem’ different, or taking into account the fact that not every character will narrate their own story in the same way. What does the way in which their story is written say about their personal background? Their level of education? Their career choice? Does it suggest an accent other than where the story is set? Why or why not? For the most part, these are things that I’m taking into account as I embark on the next step of my novel journey; characterization. It’s normally something I do right away, but in this case, is that much better left until last.

For me, creating a character starts, primarily, with a character sheet. How detailed the sheet is is mostly dependent on the character and their role; a primary character will usually have a more detailed sheet than a character who only has, maybe, two lines of dialogue and a paragraph description in the entire novel. That said, I usually try to avoid characters that are this minor, unless I’m placing my main cast in a densely populated area; a packed out bar or club, a roadside, a protest march … other than that, I don’t see the point in needlessly inserting ‘that twenty-something with the blonde hair who Bryson glimpsed once and never saw again.’ The things I like to get down first are their personalities, and how I think they might react to a certain social situation. The Myers-Briggs personality test is a handy resource for this, as are the multitude of personality tests floating around on the Internet. Of course, the results don’t always have to be followed to the letter, and the tests always work best if you have some idea of the character beforehand, but they can give some useful insight; for example, my primary character this year, Courtney, is an ESTJ, the polar opposite to my own result of INFP. This does not mean that all I need to do is make him react in a directly opposite way than I would to certain things. It just means that he might be considerably more impulsive, and self-confident than I am, and these are things I will need to bear in mind while writing.

Something else I’m dealing more heavily with this year than in the past is the idea of family. In every NaNo novel I can remember writing (which is all of them), I have neglected to have characters really interact with their parents and families, the exception being in Contempt for The Blind, however, it wasn’t so much an interaction as Justin fighting his ‘mindless drones of the government’ parents and sister. In some cases, this is because of the lives my characters lead, but more often than not, it’s just because I forget that they need parents and all, my characters being well into middle age themselves. The idea of family is something I started to deal with more extensively in Strictly Business, my as yet unfinished novel chronicling Jannah Reid’s dark past, and even more so in Free Fall. Of course, my biggest fear is that, should my family eventually read it, the less positive elements (most of them) could be seen as a well-aimed kick at them. They’re no such things, of course … but it occurred to me a little late in the day that someone in Courtney’s situation would still strive to have regular contact with his father. Being that he moved across an entire country to escape his past, this will most likely be consigned purely to phone conversations … all the same, however, it counts as contact.

Finally, here I feel that I have a set of characters who are significantly more authentic than I’ve had in previous years.  Butterfly Black’s cast was intentionally zany (mocking Hell, or the idea of Hell, kind of calls for it), Contempt for The Blind’s a stab at reality mixed with a kind of hyper-reality, and Where Jackals Lie mostly consisted of a contrived cast of Noir stereotypes. I’m not denying that this year, I have a set of characters who have been … extremely unfortunate, or made terrible decisions and done terrible things. But don’t we all make mistakes? Here, the challenge lies in trying not to make them, or indeed, anyone in the stories who inflicts suffering, an exaggerated form of villain. Even the worst cast members have some kind of redeeming quality, insignificant or significant, and this is where I think I may start hitting roadblocks. The idea that not everything is black and white.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. On a slightly unrelated note, I’m looking forward to this year’s effort rather a lot, in part because I feel I am trying something newer, more different, than I have ever tried before.

On another slightly unrelated note, I’ve been NaNoing for exactly three years today! Hooray!

Roll on November!

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10 Comments

Filed under NaNoWriMo, Writing & Literature

10 responses to “Free Fall Fridays #2

  1. I’m finally going to give NaNoWriMo a try this year.

  2. Felicity, I have a few questions, I hope that’s alright… By the sounds of it you’ve done the NaNoWriMo before, right? If so, how many times? I heard about it several weeks back, maybe through your site, I don’t recall. But as I had taken a break for 4 1/2 years, unintentionally, and only returned back to it in the middle of August. Actually, that was the reason for starting my Blog in the first place, as a way to get in the habit of Writing, as Writer’s Write, or so I’ve heard, lol. Also as a way to get feedback from people. In both ways, it’s been a success. I Write just about every day, if actually, perhaps everyday since I’ve started the Blog now that I think about it. And though I don’t get tons of Comments, the one’s I get I’ve enjoyed and have helped to give me a bit of perspective as far as how my Writing is coming across. In addition to my Blog Content, and as part of it actually, I’m currently working on Two kinda sorta Novels. Now keep in mind, I’ve never Written a Novel before. Prior to my break, I was Writing Screenplays, and have only actually completed one, but I was very proud that I had done it. At reading the NaNoWriMo “Rules”, it says you need to start a Novel from Scratch, and though I’ve only just begun these two projects, I have begun them, so I guess I’d need to come up with a Third one if I wanted to do the NaNoWriMo? <–that was my second question by the way, lol. I know they're not big on Rules, at least they say they aren't, but I'm a very Honorable and Honest guy, so I would be fine with starting something new. When I had heard about it a few weeks ago, I had figured maybe I'd do it next year, as I had only started Writing again some 6 weeks prior to hearing about it. Now some three weeks later, I thought I'd look at my Average Word Count on my Blog, at least in October, and it was about 1,100 words a day. And the goal for 50,000 words would be 1,666 a day, so, it's a bit more, but probably possible. That is if my Content doesn't run out, ha. As unlike you, I have prepared nothing. Last Question, it looks as though you have Published some of your own books, and are selling them on your Blog? Are any of these from NaNoWriMo, or other Projects that you've done? Part Two of that Question, do you Edit them yourself? Part three of that question, is this the only place you sell them? Anyway, I hope you don't mind the huge Reply, and all the Questions. Answer as much, or as little as you like. And thanks for taking the time to read it all, ha.

    DarkJade-

    • *I had taken a break from Writing for 4 1/2 years that is, lol

      • Of course it’s alright. ^^ … this will be my fourth year of doing NaNo … I know what you mean about starting a blog to get back in the habit (: mine was a similar thing, although more because I’m not in college anymore, and getting that feedback and perspective – I’m with you there. ^^ … annnd nope, you wouldn’t need to come up with a third novel if you want to do NaNoWriMo. ^^ you don’t need to start from scratch – if you have one in the works you’d like to finish, then it’s absolutely fine for you to pick it up, but it’s only what you write in November that would count towards the word goal. (: the upside is that it’s a good way to finish off work – I’m doing it this year if I finish Free Fall in time, picking up Strictly Business and working on more of it, that it. (: … and if you’re writing that amount on your blog, NaNo is definitely possible. ^^ my first year, I took 10 days off writing (I got stuck) and still made 50k. (: …and the prep part is okay, too! I joined NaNo, my first year, on October 21st without a clue as to what I was going to do – I took an idea I had years back and ran with it, without plotting, but it’s definitely possible to come up with a plot at this stage, definitely. ^^ and yup, Contempt for The Blind was my 2nd year NaNo novel. (: I started selling as some people from college saw my proof copy and wanted copies for themselves, and I decided to post it on my blog mostly to see how it was received – I edited myself, mostly just due to the fact that it was a learning curve, and I wanted to try my hand at it, see how I could improve. (: Lulu is the only place I sell it as of right now – I’m planning on selling Free Fall more widely, possibly sending it to some publishers as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, but never had the right piece to do it with. And like I said, I don’t mind at all. ^^ I’m ‘Beautiful Illusion’ on the NaNoWriMo forums, too, so feel free to message there or here about anything else. ^^ hope that helps! :D

  3. Wow, well, that answers everything, I really appreciate it… So continuing work is ok, wow, great. So when I submit the final product, I guess I’d just leve the first part I’ve written out? so the word count will be accurate. Does no one read any of what I write then? as they’d miss the beginning. Thank you so much for your time, and information. Sounds like you love Writing as much as I do.

    DarkJade-

    • No problems, honest. ^^ … and absolutely – and yeah, you’d just leave the part that that’s written pre-November, and nope ^^ nobody reads it unless you want them to, at which point you can send/show absolutely everything you’ve done towards a story, pre- and during November. (: And as I said, no problems ^^ … aww, I do enjoy – and it’s always great to chat to someone who loves writing, also. (: NaNo’s a great way to do so, too … for me, personally, it’s the ‘self discipline’ side of it. xD I’m not very good at finishing up projects, normally! xD

      Best of luck with NaNo. ^^

  4. Sounds like you have a good handle and starting point. I’m endlessly intrigued by the different ways people create stories, especially those of you who have some design ahead of time. Me, big bang all the way, a universe explodes into being out of some first scribbled words, where I get a feel for emotion in the moment. I look forward to your work.

    • Thanks! (: and I know what you mean – it’s always really interesting to see how others are getting along, where they’re going. With NaNoWriMo especially, I can’t bear to go in unprepared. xD not at first, anyway … I guess that’s almost a comfort blanket for me, though. (: … but that said, how you just described it sounds like an invigorating way to work! One of the downsides of planning so much out is definitely that I almost feel as though I’ve already written the story once over, you know? Thanks. (:

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