Tag Archives: editor

Prequel Problems: Likable Characters

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So I’m writing a prequel to my INITIUM series, the first book tentatively due out in Fall of next year. I wasn’t sure I wanted to write a prequel, as the events in it are fun mystery details throughout the first book, and you learn about them and why my main character is the way she is as the novel progresses.

But, it’s a lot of information, and my editor thinks I need a prequel so readers aren’t lost and/or inundated with too much information right off the bat. So I’m writing a prequel. The first draft is almost done — I wrote the final chapter, but I also left a bunch of ‘holes’ in the manuscript, scenes I felt I was forcing too much at the time, to come back and complete later. I’m writing those scenes now.

My biggest frustration so far is that a lot of the events in the prequel are what make my main character interesting in the first place, so before the events happens, my characters are…

Not that likeable. Actually, they’re coming across like spoiled little brats. Which goes with the territory, are they’re the daughters of a rich upperclass businessman — but I’m really worried it makes for some difficult reading. Or apathy about reading them, anyway.

And if people don’t want to read the book for your characters, they’re not going to read the book.

Fortunately, characters being likeable isn’t so important as characters being interesting.

Unfortunately, I don’t think my main character is either at the beginning. Perhaps I’m being too critical, because I’m so used to her, 5 years later, being a snarky badass. Or maybe I just haven’t written from an insecure 14 year old’s perspective for so long it’s hard to believe that readers will really connect with her voice and struggles…

I believe my main character is interesting (and even likable) by the end, but if the beginning doesn’t hook someone, then it’s kind of a moot point.

I’ve also never really written ‘on contract,’ or written a character arc from the very beginning like this, so I might just be out of my depth and scaring myself (I’ll be writing about this whole process here soon).

I’ve also never really written a prequel (at least something this big), which I’m beginning to understand has it’s own difficulties. Not the least of which is writing a character that you know… but isn’t the fully formed character of the later book who is probably more interesting in first place.

Either way, I’m becoming more thankful that I have an amazing editor who’s excellent at developmental editing, because I’m going to need some perspective on making this work. I think I’m too close to this character, or the character arc in general, or too concerned about the ‘writing of a relatable 14 year old’ to just write the 14 year old. I was a 14 year old. I remember. Why I be making this so hard.

Anyway, it will be educational to see what my editor suggests going forward. And I feel a little lazy, looking to my editor for direction instead of figuring it out myself. But the truth is, I’m still pretty shaky on what revisions really need to look like, which is my real fear. I don’t know if I’ve fully ever revised a manuscript in it’s truest meaning, so my skill level there is… dismal.

So there’s some anxiety about my meh-characters not becoming interesting enough with this lack of skill.

Anyway, this is all a moot point if I don’t have the draft done in the first place! I’m off to finish those few more thousand words. I want this draft done by the end of this month (which gives me like two days). It’s going to be far from perfect — but all that’s left are a few holes to make this thing complete.

 

Stay tuned for the regurgitation of my thoughts about writing my first ‘on contract’ piece… in a week or two.

 

Questions? Comments? Similar anxiety-rants?


NaNoWriMo Update: Learning to Edit Later

You know, there was some arrogant part of me that believed this National Novel Writing Month was going to a breeze. It’s probably the same part of me that believes I’m going to be the best bestselling author that ever was, no matter what reality tells me. After last year, where it was more fun than a challenge to complete 50k words in 30 days, I thought this year would be similar.

Another part of me definitely knew better.

The saving grace of last year was the newness of the story: all the scenes were fresh and energetic, popping around my head with reckless abandon. This year, I focused on a story that was halfway done.

The dreaded halfway point, where novels come to die.

No, not really. But just writing haphazardly seems so much more difficult with almost a year invested in the previous 60k words. I’m twitching at the amount of editing I need to do (usually I write and edit at the same time – a slower pace, but it creates less of an editing task later) but I’m forcing myself to continue on – because that’s the point of NaNoWriMo. Turn off your inner editor. Edit later.

Last year, that wasn’t a problem. This year, with a more intricate story, my brain is spazzing out:

That doesn’t sound like that character at all. 

This pacing is completely off. 

This feels totally forced. It’s supposed to come together naturally. 

Ohmygod maybe this scene shouldn’t be written at all. 

However, I’m forcing myself to be content with the amount of work I’ll need to do later. It is nice to just be getting the words out, even if it feels sloppy and not very thought out. It’ll be good editing practice later.

(For now I’m following the “rules” of NaNoWriMo to learn what I can about myself, before I start breaking them.)

I’m gaining a high appreciation for those who are plotters. This marathon of writing becomes more streamlined and useful when you have everything plotted out; the write-and-edit-as-you-go method seems more suited to pantsers. I have a vague outline, but I’m really wishing I’d brainstormed more about my ending is going to work. I’m going to need it here in about a week.

As I said last week, I’ve been writing in daily, shorter bursts, vs. my thousand word sprints I usually do (and did last year). It’s causing me to need to write every day, instead of taking a day or two off at a time. Which, actually, is really satisfying. I’m taking my writing seriously and carving out time for it. I’m learning good habits, making myself write even if I don’t “feel like it,” but still playing a balance with my creativity as to not burn out.

I seem to have a pattern. Hit a little over over my word count, be under my word count the next day:

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It’s quite the different pattern from last year, where I never hit below the line:

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You can almost see the struggle.

Anyway, back to work! Good luck everyone – I hope you’re learning a lot about yourself as a writer, and are accomplishing what you hoped.

Come be my friend on NaNoWriMo: I’m writing under the name BlueScale!