Monday, April 3, 2017

Writing That Fantasy Novel, part 2

Well, week one did not go off very well. It started perfect with three days and over three thousand words, just like planned. But then two straight days of headaches stopped me cold and I spent the sixth day reviewing what I had written. I ended up adding a few hundred more words on Sunday and then played catch-up on Monday to get as close to seven thousand words as I could manage. I'm still way off but not so far that it is unmanagable.

As usual, my carefully laid out plot was trampled on by my characters as I wrote. That may sound like a bad thing but I believe it is the best thing that could happen. It means your characters are realized enough to dictate what they need to say to move the story along and how they want to say it. I've had to make some adjustments to accommodate this. I took out two scenes that became either unecessary or bloat that I was able to condense into a previous scene. 

The first scene I had trouble with was my first scene featuring the antagonist. Everything he does is based on magic, even just walking around since he has to keep up a glamour to hide his appearance. Until this scene, which is the fourth in the story, I did not touch on magic at all except to allude to the fact that my protagonist was opposed to it in every way. The eternal struggle for every writer of show versus tell had reared its ugly head. I had to alter my original idea for the scene to work in a way to describe how magic works and in particular how he used magic which differs from how it is normally used. I decided to have him too weak to continue what he was doing and need to restore his magic's potency. It made sense since he had drained himself the day before. I'll still leave how he became different for another chapter but this will give a decent introduction to my magic system which will become essential in the next chapter.

This past week has reinforced my opinion that plotting is much more useful than pantsing, or in other words, creating as you go. If I did not have my story already mapped out I probably would have abandoned what I had already done and wasted time starting all over. But because I already know where I'm going, I can easily pick up where I left off. All of this brings up a point I don't think I've seen touched upon before. Although I consider myself a plotter, I am still at the mercy of my characters, all of whom have distinctly pantsy personalities. They never want to do what I have laid out for them, like petulant children who refuse to wear what you picked for them. Because of this, I get the same experience of discovery that a pantser gets, but I still know where I'm going and how to get there due to my outline. So don't be afraid of killing your ideas with an outline. With the right characters, you'll never be bored and like frisky puppies, they'll always find something of yours to tear up. But you can never stay mad at them. You just shake your finger at them, give them a hug, and move on.

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