I promised that in this update I would talk about an epiphany I had about a character. I also had a minor crisis this week around the timeline for one day in the story.
One of the main characters, Everett, was giving me difficulty. I thought his voice was not coming through. I scanned through my craft books and read a dozen articles on writing voice. But none of the advice seemed appropriate to Everett.
But one bit of advice talked not about voice but about compelling characters. Everett’s voice wasn’t broken, but something was missing from his character that would connect him with readers. I still didn’t have the answer, but at least I knew what I was looking for.
The next day, I looked over at what I knew about his character and what I knew about the others. What I discovered was that Everett had no identifying object or habit. Sophia has signature hats and parasols. Thomas has a signature walking stick. These items are intrinsic to both who they are and appear in every scene with them, but they also tie in with the plot. Everett had nothing. But based on his interests, I knew what it had to be.
I wrote up how he came to the object and what it meant to him. There is a sentimental attachment. It also represents his abilities and interests uniquely. Everett fiddles with the object when he’s stressed. But best of all, it now plays a role in the story. Because of that, I can’t say much about what it is because it would spoil the book. The point is, to help a character become more alive to a reader is to better connect them with the story.
What Even Is Time?
I knew my first draft, what I call draft zero, had rough spots. There are a lot of [put something amazing here] notes. But I ran into a section in which several groups of characters were doing things simultaneously and I needed to switch back and forth between them. But one set of characters was racing ahead of the others and reached early evening while the rest were still in mid-day. She was reacting to things the others were doing, but at the wrong times.
I thought I could just fix her timeline, but because she was reacting to the others, that wasn’t possible. Everyone’s timeline needed adjusting. And sometimes, what they reacted to also needed to change because events either hadn’t happened or would no longer happen.
So I broke it all apart. I separated each minor scene into a separate document and moved them around until they flowed in the correct order. Then I had to go back and revise what happened in each of those scenes to make them fit logically. It’s all better now, but when you hear an author mention they are deep into revisions, this is one thing they’re talking about.
I’m hoping to finish this round of revisions by early next week, but I suspect I will have a similar issue with the climax scenes.
Until next time, take care. Read widely & deeply.