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Making progress on the trilogy...

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Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:31 pm
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Payne says...



Well, it's been seven years. I came up with it in the late winter of 2005, sitting on my parents' dresser (why I was up there, I do not know). Back then, it was going to be a nine-book series for young adults. Epic medieval-fantasy-adventure type of thing.

So, it's gone through some pretty radical changes over the years (been condensed to a trilogy, and I took out the travel via airplane...) After a while, though, I pretty much came to a standstill. Had the first two books somewhat finished, and was 90+ pages into the third.

Then I came back and started rewriting the first book. Changed the POV. Edited a little.
Came back a few months later. Changed the POV again.
Later changed it back to the original POV. It still wasn't working, and I was driving myself crazy from converting 30+ pages of POV every few months.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I made up my mind. I did a pros/cons list and everything. Settled on first person, past tense. Changed it and continued my new draft, always waiting for some roadblock to come up and force me to change it again.

I'm 17,271 words into it, and it's never gone better. Since I've got the basic plot lined out ahead of me already, I have a hope of actually finishing it this time...It's just nice to feel like I'm not writing in circles anymore.

So...yeah.
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Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:02 pm
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Rosey Unicorn says...



The PoV/character problem. I've run into it a few times, although I've only been writing for 5 years.

I actually advise against using first person PoV. First person PoV is best done when the character has an unmistakable voice that can only be shown through first person, and the character is outright demanding to be written in that point of view. That way, the first person is interesting, dynamic, and captures the character. If you don't meet the above criteria, every first person PoV novel sounds like the other and there's nothing making your character stand out in the lot.

What makes this character so special to demand first person PoV? Figuring that out might help make the PoV flow.

First person is not just about switching pronouns. It means changing the narrative voice completely to suit the character. Each person has their own slant on narration and chances are it won't be your slant. Characters should also have their own speaking patterns that bleeds into the narration the whole way through.

It might also not be the PoV. It could be a plot thing, a character that's not well developed, or something else. I'd not just blame everything on PoV and start looking at the story really in depth. No matter how painful it might be to rip the story apart by the seams.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo

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Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:02 pm
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Payne says...



Those are very good points...and that's exactly why the third person PoV wasn't working for this story. My protagonist has a distinct voice, and very sarcastic inner monologue, so third person tended to bog down the character's personality. First person makes it harder (for me, at least) to write action, so I think that was my main reason for hopping back and forth. Now that I'm a little more experienced, I've learned how to work with it.

You're absolutely right. It wasn't just the PoV. Like I said, I first wrote the story when I was nine; the plot was about as structurally-sound as Swiss cheese and the characters were just there. I was revising those problems along the way, which is what I usually do with stories. I've just never had this problem with PoV.
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Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:22 am
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Rosey Unicorn says...



That's my weakness in first person, too. Action scenes. Mind, my third person also suffers from that so it could be they're just hard to write for some people.

In that case, I would most certainly use first person and stick with it. I've been writing in first person for about two or three years with the same character, and it's only now that the story actually has a certain amount of flow to it in the first person. The first few drafts with first person were off in one respect or another. Either the voice didn't stay consistent, the narration lost its spark%u2014 something. It still doesn't feel right 100% of the time but I'm getting close. It takes very intimate knowledge of your character's speaking patterns, which is only achieved through practice.
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Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:47 am
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Payne says...



I agree with you there. In general, action scenes are sometimes hard to write. Having to find that balance of description, sentence-length, and energy. Do you write a lot of action?

Ah, I understand. Sometimes I wonder if writing in first person requires you to 'get to know' your character before the story really flows...I mean, even if you've got your character all mapped out, complete life story and everything, I think only time can add that extra touch. It's like getting to know an actual person. After a while, you start to understand how they would react in certain situations, and how they would reply to certain comments...like you said, you've been writing from your character's PoV for two or three years, so maybe that's the key?

I really don't know much about the science and inner workings of writing, so I could just be spouting utter nonsense right now... :|
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Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:26 pm
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Rosey Unicorn says...



I write a decent amount but I need to look at my sentence structures more in-depth. xD Not sure I've gotten any better.

You're almost right with this sentence:

Sometimes I wonder if writing in first person requires you to 'get to know' your character before the story really flows


Just cross out "sometimes I wonder if."

First person does require you to know your character very intimately, and that is not achieved through simple life stories and filled in character profiles. To truly know your character, you have to know how every single one of those life events effects your character— how does the character's life transfer into motives, attitudes, opinions, interests, relationships to other characters, their daily emotion states? What about their culture, and upbringing? How does that influence them?

What I do is come up with exactly the character I want, then start figuring out what would get them there. What life event could plausibly create this kind of character? That's where I start filling in the timeline, also using any backstory elements I want/need and looking more into the psychology of what those events are likely to cause, taking into account what other events would have happened around the major events I want to have.

Next, I look at the character's culture. What events would they go through, just in their upbringing? Does their culture allow them to be the way they are? If yes, are other characters like that/why aren't any other characters like that? If no, how did they get to be who they are?

You usually have to tweak both the character you want and the culture to get the ideal character, but at the end of it you tend to have a very close-knit knowledge of how a character fits in their environment. It's just just a laundry list of "character, setting, plot." It's "the characters are a product of their setting and the setting is leading to this plot which the characters react to this way and..."

As you can see, the latter is much longer, but it's also much more complete. If you start putting that much work into how the character interacts with everything (always remembering that we are a product of our environment, therefore all of your behaviours and mine can stem back to something in the past) then it's a much stronger story.

I only started getting really comfortable with my character in first person after I went through the above "weaving" of setting, plot, and characters. I even did it for my antagonist... and pretty much every other character to some degree. It gives you a sense of history that bleeds into your writing, so it really feels like you know your character instead of just knowing about your character.
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Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:16 pm
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Payne says...



Sentence-structure can be tricky...ah, heck, all of it is tricky.

Well said. In another novel I'm working on, the heroine was raised in a very tough town, where she had to learn very early how to fight. When she moves to a more peaceful town, her behavior is met with fear, hate, and criticism, causing her to question herself--which only makes things worse.

I've found that it can be hard to keep a character's issues from being too far-fetched, though...for example, the girl's violent upbringing could very well have cultivated psychotic tendencies, but in an earlier draft she was really pushing the limits of realistic insanity. It's tempting to create a tragic character of epic proportions.
My site: http://www.mypetsonparade.com - a free online community for pet-owners. Share your pet with the world!

I aim to misbehave.

Is it weird in here, or is it just me? --Steven Wright