“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of." - Joss Whedon
I think I need to get bolder with my writing. I feel I grow so much when I receive constructive feedback and make much needed changes - and so many of you have been so helpful in that. However, I feel that what I specifically need, is to better learn what makes an audience love a character.
I have been reading the "Game of Thrones" series lately. I have truly enjoyed these books - but not for the sake of the storyline itself, which let's be honest, is not all that strong. The same themes are repeated over and over and I have yet to see anything entirely original. But the characters! Oh you truly don't care what story they happen to be caught up in when you get to watch these characters live it. George R. R. Martin is a genius at character development. He can make you love, hate, be annoyed by, admire, despise, be jealous of, be revolted by, feel pity towards, feel anger at, want to comfort, warn, kill (or just seriously maim and torture), desire, believe; Anything. He. Wants when it is comes to his characters.
I don't have that ability yet, though I get excited when I read it because I think I could. I almost feel like I am reading these books as a research project. (think my husband will fall for that? "I'm sorry the house is a mess, the kids are running wild and dinner is not ready. I was researching!")
The thing is, I'm not sure exactly how he does it. It is not in the dialogue. Again, the dialogue is not really that strong. I have actually had to re-worded/re-write sentences in my head it to make them flow better as I read. He doesn't like saying who is saying what (and one character will have 2-3 names that are used interchangeably - so it is really hard to even know who is talking. That drives me crazy.) It is not the relationships which are generally pretty shallow, it is not the storyline. It is the characters themselves. He has learned how to write characters like a composer writes music. You know how you are supposed to feel when you hear it. But you can't really explain how you know that is what you are supposed to feel. And when you try to explain it ("Umm...I felt angry there because the music was fast and had loud parts?") You just sound stupid.
I want to write like that.
So - I am going to do some experiments. Some training exercises. And I need your help.
To date, I have 3 stories completed. 2 of those stories are ones I am sending to publishers. One of those stories was mostly just fun - and while I would love to publish it someday, it doesn't really fit into a good "children's book" category so I think it would be a challenge.
Along with those three completed books, I have three that have been started but not completed. And then three more again that are still just in the idea stage.
All this I have done working just two mornings a week for the past three and a half months. You work fast when you have limited time and a terrible gut need to get words on paper!
The problem is, as I mentioned above - I don't feel like I am growing fast enough. I joined a critique group, but found the process of critiquing others tedious, frustrating and EXTREMELY time consuming (A BIG thank you to everyone who has sent me detailed critiques. I know how hard it can be and you guys have helped me already grow leaps and bounds beyond where I started!). But with such limited time every week, I was spending hours reviewing others work - only to get a "that looks fine to me" type of response back on mine. Maybe I just got a bad group, who knows. But the whole process was discouraging as a new writer wanting very much to grow.
The other night, while discussing this briefly with my husband - he suggested that I do something of a mini-serious. Parts of a book written and released once a week, to see what kind of response I get - whether I can inspire anticipation for the next chapter release. I've been thinking of that ever since he said it and I think I like that idea.
So here is where you come in! I am going to release one of my stories here on my blog - the beginning of it anyway. That will force me to be consistent in writing it and (hopefully) help me learn how to better develop my characters. I want to get some "book club" type responses. Does that make sense? I want to see discussion of the story, I need to hear what characters tickle the fancy of my readers and why. I would LOVE people to read the story to their kids and get their responses as well - please share the story with your friends and have them read it to their kids too. I need a multitude! And if you can, please add your responses to this blog - not to a facebook post (though if the blog is being stubborn I take responses wherever I can get them!) But that way, I can keep them nice and organized with the original material for quick reference on my part; and so the widest possible audience can see it.
Along with my mini-series. I am also going to look seriously into self-publishing one of my stories. My completed, not publisher friendly story. As most of you know, I am NOT a fan of the self-publishing route. But I think if I view it as a teaching tool, (And not as an attempt at achieving author statues) I can stomach the thought. And it will get it out and available for review, which is what I need!
Oh I am getting excited about this. I hope you guys are too, that would make me so very happy. A happy reader is a happy writer, there is no question of that!
So are you ready?
Let the adventure begin!