Sunday, 30 June 2013


I've been thinking about characterisation a lot at the moment.

At first it was just for my antagonists - wanting to make them three-dimensional, characters with motivations and justifications rather than moustache-twirling cackling villains tying distressed damsels to train tracks.  I wanted them to believe they were protagonists of their own story - and I wanted the reader to see it too.

Then I started considering my protagonists too.  Were they complex, multi-layered characters or just vehicles for driving the plot along?  The last thing I want to have my main characters be is either dull or mary sues.

And I want them to be likeable.  I read an interesting blog post the other day on 'The Bookshelf Muse', where one of the points was about this.  As they said, who wants to read a story about someone they dislike?  I know I never do, and have often abandoned reading a book part-way through for precisely this reason, no matter how interesting the plot could be.

But frustratingly, I'm not sure I'm the best person to judge this - or at least, not on my own.  I know the characters I want to write - they are clear in my head, often to the smallest point of their personality.  But does that translate to the page?  Because when I re-read it, I could just be seeing what I meant to write and using my own knowledge of the character to fill in the gaps.

And what about personal taste?  Not everyone has the same favourite characters in a book or film or tv show.  Who's to say that a character I love (either one of my own or from someone else's work) isn't loathed by others?  I know you can't please everyone but is there a way to please the majority?

One way I've come to think of it is by way of a famous example: the Harry Potter series.  I have never heard anyone say they detest the character of Harry - but neither have I heard anyone say he's their favourite.  Naturally there will be people who hold these opinions but it doesn't seem to be a common view.  Does this therefore mean that main characters are better when they're less extreme, to lessen the risk of turning off potential readers?  Or are people simply drawn to those more on the periphery, because an element of mystery remains?  Or is it another reason entirely?

Or maybe I'm just thinking about this too much and giving myself a brain-ache.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

What if...?

Plans for book 3 are storming ahead with new ideas and theories springing into my mind throughout the day, although more often than not at completely inconvenient times - say, at work or when I'm just going to bed.

But ideas are good and I'm not going to gripe too much about when they appear - I'm just glad that they do.  In fact, they've been appearing so much that I'm starting to wonder... is one more book on this story going to be enough?

There are so many things I could do, mythologies I can create and develop, that I've started almost thinking - a soft, barely-there whisper in my head - that taking it to 4 or 5 books might not be as ridiculous as it sounds.

After all, the last thing I want to do is try to cram too much into the third book and just end up making a mess of it.  I know I have the tendency of trying to squeeze in more than the words will allow and I don't want to leave this story with a half-arsed conclusion because I couldn't fit everything in.

However, I don't want to become that writer - the one who drags a story out when it should have finished already.  The one where you read the books and think 'this isn't necessary; this should've ended two books ago.'  And how can we tell when we reach that point?

But this is all just pondering - nothing's set in stone.  That's what the planning process is all about, right?  Having a good old think about the possibilities.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Book Two

A couple of weeks ago I hand-wrote a blog post during a break at work to type up when I got home in the evening.  In it I went whinging on about how I had almost finished this chapter, but those chapters were still not finished and that chapter was being a bitch, yadee yada ya.

But when it came to typing it up, I realised that rather than talking about writing, it would be a much better use of my time if I just did it.

So I did.

The first draft of book 2 is finished!  Hurrah!

And now I'm feeling a little... lost.  I've been working on the damn thing for so long that I can't really remember what I used to do before it.

I really want to dive right in to editing it but I know that the whole process works better after letting the novel 'stew' for a while.  Looking at it semi-fresh eyes will show me what I have written rather than what I had wanted to write.

So instead, I've started planning book 3.  There are a lot of strands I've collected during the first two books which I need to untangle and tie up in the last novel.  I also don't want to delve into actually writing book 3 until I know that book 2 is doing at least approximately what I need it to do.  So planning for the third book can only go so far.

This means that once I've done the bulk of the primary planning, and while I'm waiting for book 2 to cook, I'll probably have to start on something completely new.

Now isn't that an exciting thought?  Terrifying, but exciting.