Characters Under Pressure

It’s not just my characters. I’m beginning to feel under pressure now that October has arrived. And along with October, the fresh new forums and a plethora of goodies on nanowrimo.org. It’s really about to happen and it’s time to dig into my characters and see what makes them run.

Since I’m still hacking away at revising the last part of Boundaries, I’m approaching characters from two different perspectives. For Boundaries, the questions are about how Cor and Alcot’s personalities and past experiences got them to this point in their lives and how they’re going to resolve the tensions and conflicts. For Escape from Freedom (or maybe The Warden), the questions are about who these people are, and how their own experiences and inner conflicts will shape the coming story.

The characters in Boundaries were under a different kind of pressure than those in Freedom will be. Boundaries is entirely from the point of view of one character, and what we know about the other significant character, and the minor ones, depends on what he sees and how he interprets it. Freedom has a much larger cast, and won’t be limited to the viewpoint of just one. That will make it much easier for readers, but harder for me. Boundaries is tightly focused, and Freedom has the potential to be too scattered and diffuse.

A side note — Bloggers sometimes question the value of blogging when they should be “writing.” Yes, it’s easy to let blogging drain away the impetus to work on something that’s quite a bit more difficult. But I often find that what I’m learning about my fiction writing comes to me as I’m posting about it. As just happened with this post.

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5 thoughts on “Characters Under Pressure

  1. I actually found having a large cast easier to write for than a smaller cast in my 2005/7 NaNos. Because I had characters in different places, and each of the characters was doing different things, I had go “cycle” through my “groups” of characters so that I could keep tabs on what everyone was doing. So for me, I found I was able to get more words easier than the other NaNos when I didn’t have such a big cast.

    One thing that really helps me is I often have key “moments” that I want to hit. And these moments are planned out. But I allow freedom of how the characters get to these moments. That helps keep the story fresh while at the same time having some organization to it.

    Good luck with your NaNo!

  2. Grady, I have something like your key moments. I also make notes for a lot of possible conversations and scenes. I may not use all of them, but it can be handy to have them waiting rather than get stuck, not having any idea what to do next.

    PK, I get so many insights from blogging. This post was one of those where I started with only a vague idea of what I wanted to write about. I didn’t even fully realize what I had until I read it back.

  3. I am fairly new to blogging but after developing a routine to my blogging, I am thoroughly convinced that blogging is fertilizer for all my other writing. I also think that because Blogging is on a public platform it “tightens” and “neatens” my writing. I also agree with you on gaining insights into my WIPs from my Blogging. That happens constantly with me.

    1. A blog post sometimes becomes “first thoughts” about a problem I’ve been trying to work my way through. Maybe there’s something about the shorter form that makes it a bit easier.

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