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May 2011
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Ys [userpic]
Some commentary about writing

From elsewhere, but I decided I wanted to put it here too. From a thread about NaNoWriMo (which I am not doing).

Though I will say that the protagonist of Rescued is beating her hands on the inside of my head, screaming at me to hurry up and write her story, dammit. She's quite frustrated with the fact that I pretty much have her stuck at the first major cliffhanger.

There's a key character that I need for the story to gel, to make sense, though...and I don't know her at all. That's frustrating me a lot.

And I need to write some backstory about two major characters meeting and figure out how to make that interesting. It's necessary for foundation, but it's not the interesting part of the story to me, and so I haven't figured out how to make it interesting to read.

I think that's the thing I struggle with in fiction the most -- there are things that are just required to have a solid story, but if they don't interest me, it's really hard to figure out what needs to be said to interest other folks enough to read it, so that they have the things that I just know about my characters.

I have the same struggle in nonfiction ("Do I need to spell that out, or will they know that already, or will they be able to make that deductive and/or intuitive jump?") but I've learned how to figure out what my audience knows and can be expected to understand. In fiction, I can't see how I can assume those sorts of intuitive jumps.

Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated

Random questions:

1) Is this a first draft of the story? If it is, I would suggest just writing and trying to get the words out first, rather than worrying about whether your readers will make this or that deduction all right. Something I've found that works for me in this regard is if I hit a point where I think, "Hrmm, this issue might be relevant here," I'll make a note of that issue in my running file of changes I want to make later, and then go back and address that issue when the story is actually written. The stuff you are talking about here sounds a lot more like stuff that needs to get done while the story is being edited and polished up.

2) Regarding backstory, the thing I'd wonder about here is whether the data actually has to be on-camera, or whether it can be referenced in current-time story. If it's not interesting to you to write, it's probably not going to be interesting to the reader to read, either. And if it doesn't feel to you like it needs to actually be part of the on-camera story, that may well be a solid decision.

I've written most of what I really want to write for the first book, anyway. What I have could be turned into a short story with polish work, frankly.

But there's enough there to make two novel-length books, at least, if I tell the rest of the story. But some of the rest of the story doesn't make sense if you don't understand more of the history between the three main characters, see. I know why they have the interaction patterns they do, but if I can't establish that for the reader so that they can see it, then other things I do want to tell won't make sense.

And I'm pretty sure that showing some past interactions will lay that groundwork, but I'm not sure how much needs to be there and I don't personally find most of that interesting in and of itself. To make a good story, I'd probably want to make it interesting somehow.

Part of the problem is that I'm sure that there are interesting anecdotes back there, but I don't know what they are, exactly, I just know what their effects are. So I'm almost having to work backwards from effect to cause, and then having done so manage to tell the cause without giving away the effect or making the link too clear.

It's less that I think that these things need to be on-camera, and more that I know that I need something so that the reader will understand why the characters are doing what they're doing. Characters that do things that don't seem to make sense are jarring at best, and so unless that's the effect I'm going for (look, here's this thing you didn't know about her!) it seems like a bad thing.

Does that make more sense?

That does make more sense indeed.

Hrmm. Working backwards to figure out stuff isn't necessarily a bad thing... I have been trying to do something akin to that in one of the other novels I've been planning. If that's what it takes to let you work it out in your head, well hey!

Here's a thought... perhaps you should have another person read the work, asking in particular for them to focus upon the parts you think won't make sense if the data you're talking about isn't there... and ask exactly how confused a reader might be. I know that if it was me, I would have the danger of THINKING that something won't make sense if I don't include a certain background detail, only to be surprised when someone tells me, 'Oh, this just gets in the way of telling the story, I didn't really NEED to know this.'

It sounds like an excellent question to toss out onto scuzzboppers, anyway.

I like that idea. Maybe I'll write one of the chunks that I don't think would make sense without background that I don't have, and have bug scuzzboppers with it. :)

Whoot! Hope it'll stir up some traffic there. :) And get you some useful feedback!

NaNoWriMo (which I am not doing)

You know you want to.....;)

No, I really don't.

I'd like to sit down with Amy and have a deadline of some sort for the two of us, but not NaNoWriMo.

Was just joking, as I'm sure you know...