Sunday, October 14, 2012

Writing Update

So I've been writing today. It's really hard. Mostly it's hard to get back into the swing of things. I haven't worked on my novel in over a week, mostly due to the new job and the fact that Greg and I started playing WoW again (new panda expansion, how could we not). Which is fine, I guess. It takes a while to get used to a new job, and playing WoW is one of the ways Greg and I spend time together, so it's not like I can totally write it off as a waste of time. But. I do feel unproductive and kind of gross when I haven't written in so long, so I sucked it up and got to it today.

At which point I realized that somehow, somewhere along the way, I'd managed to lose the latest version of my second draft. I have no idea how this happened, as I've been obsessively emailing myself backup copies ever since my computer started acting like a prick.  Regardless, it left me with a scene that I'd worked on last week, edited and improved, only all that work was lost and I had no idea what I'd done before. It's one of the trickiest scenes in my novel, at least from a personal standpoint -- it needs to be there, and it's important in furthering some of the conflict (romantic and otherwise), but I can't seem to figure out how to write it. So, yay, I got to start from scratch again and rewrite the stupid thing today!

Part of the problem is that one of the characters, Nyle, is confounding me. I made him up, so you'd expect me to understand his stupid motivations, but no. I often don't. Part of him has an actual emotional, personal motivation; but part of him is just a spiteful prat, and part of him just wants to be the best at everything no matter what, and part of him just likes to make everyone around him feel uncomfortable. Most of this is working in the protagonist Cecily's disadvantage, poor girl. But what's difficult is to keep his actions consistent and coherent, as he has a tendency to be all over the bloody place when I write him. This is partially on purpose, as he's meant to be utterly confounding to Cecily as well, but there has to be a rhyme and a reason to his chaos otherwise the reader is left wondering what the fuck is going on.

To a point it's fun to confuse a reader, because I like questioning the motives of a character, and I like reading a book and yelling, "What the hell is going on, arrrghh!" at random moments, but that should be due to the writer's skill and not lack thereof.

So how to create a scenario that's a mystery to the protagonist, but which makes sense in a narrative way, and is also consistent with the characters' motivations and personalities? HOW?

And also, how to create a meaningful, believable, engaging, and adorable love story? The problem I had after my first draft was that everything seemed a bit -- as my tutor Matt put it -- insignificant. Here were two characters who took the entire novel to finally get together, but there was no real sense of drama; no sense that -- oh nooo, they might not get together! The reader should want the protagonist to end up with her love interest, and there should be something keeping her apart from him. And, at the same time, there should be something holding them together. Why does she find herself so attracted to him despite his crippling social ineptitude? And what is keeping her from acting on that attraction? What keeps him at a distance? Perhaps their love is forbidden -- society would frown upon such a match, and it's generally not "allowed" in their world. Or maybe he is so wrapped up in his own bullshit that he simply doesn't notice her, and pushes her away because he knows he'd only hurt her in the end. Or maybe something else is at stake that I haven't even thought of yet! So how to bring this all together, make it a narrative, make it dramatic, make it appealing and engaging and fun? How to weave it into a story that's already there? 

The trouble is, I don't really know! I'm figuring it all out as I go. I wish there was a step-by-step guide on how to edit one's first novel and make it a guaranteed bestseller, but if there is one out there, it isn't going to help. Only I know what changes I can and want to make in order to make this novel the way I want it to be. Only I can do it. I can take feedback, criticism, ideas, advice, and everything else, but nobody is going to write it for me. It's up to me, and that's overwhelming at times. I can't email my tutor anymore and plead for his input. The program is over and I'm on my own.

Writing about my noveling woes in my blog can't really solve any problems, as I just have to keep writing writing writing. But it helps to sort out my thoughts and make my goals clearer. It also makes me love/hate Nyle even more. Confusing bastard. Why did I have to make him so hard to write?

So, yeah. Writing. It's hard. Are any of you novelists? What are your experiences in writing novels, finishing novels, editing novels, thinking about writing novels, starting novels and giving up, whatever! I'd love to talk to other people who've had some of the same difficulties.

I complain, but really this is all I ever want to do with my life, and it makes me feel complete. So back to it. x

Edit: If you want to see my amateur drawings of my characters, check out my DeviantArt gallery. They're all there. Nyle, Tristan, the Duke, Cecily. NONE OF YOU KNOW THEM YET but whatever you can make up stories in your head about them. They'll probs be more interesting than the actual novel.

No comments: