Saturday, September 10, 2005

Conf 94: Character, Character, Character

No. of words: same

I dreamt (dreamed? never know that one) I'd finished. It was a children's book. 50,000 words, plus all these screen print illustrations I was making with thick, turquoise paint.

After literally grinding to a halt, I set to on Friday, printing out. I hate committing such badly-written words to print, but there's too much for note-taking now. The single spacing is an indicator that this is not nearly finished text. I only go into double spacing when I think might be good - until the next re-read.

As well as examining the narrative, voice and emotion, it's fixing character time. I settled on the sunbed in the garden with my waist-high pile of research notes, my printed text and what character profiles I already had. It was a pleasant day, rediscovering stuff, throwing away old notes.

The initial job I went in with was to write new character profiles for each and every one as they appear. How they speak, how they move, I need to know this now. The second layer in this was to examine how each one appeared.

Notes: Jane Austen introduced new characters as a catalyst. Rescuer, admirer, jealous rival... giving new character task or role via which they come bursting on the scene = immediate life. Appearance of a new character anticipates change.

Notes: love, fear, triumph, terror, relief, victory - swing the pendulum to the limits - life lived in most intense states...

What was particularly satisfying was taking each piece of research page and writing it into the relevant chapter. This means when it comes to the rewrite I'll already have bits of colour to merge in. I won't allow myself to do any more research until the first draft is completed. Then it's pure enjoyment. Right now, firming up the characters is good, there's enough of them on the page for me to know more about them, and to know what traits to give them to get into scrapes with each other.

This is still all main story, though. Then, as Agent 1 said, must deal more with the sub-plots, diversions to keep the main story interesting. Another job at this stage is to separate each scene with a red biro line and ask why it's there. Some major re-shifting will probably happen after that. All I have at the moment is the film equivalent of a first assembly, everything is still unformed enough to be moved around, deleted, added to... all in all, it's starting to be fun again.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

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