Monday, July 6, 2015

On Hating the Process and 2D Characters

Earlier this week, I left the planning and outlining phase of my most recent work-in-progress, aptly named: WIP #Bazillion. And no, that’s not a hashtag you young hooligans with your fancy words and Twitter machines.

I was thrilled to start, even if kiddo #2 was home sick from daycare and camped out on the couch next to me. (Side note, I’m now completely caught up on the first season of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon.)

But the thing is, that excitement didn’t last long. It lasted approximately half of the first paragraph, and then it died as suddenly and devastatingly as climate change’s impact on Texas’ weird rain thing. (Too soon?) I’ve never had the love and joy and excitement of starting a new novel die as quickly as it did then, and I thought, “OK, this is just a fluke. Keep going.”

And I did keep going. For three, miserable pages.

Guys, it was awful. I didn’t just not like writing it, I hated it like I’d been working on it for four god damn years and was on my seventh round of edits. First drafts aren’t for hating, they’re for loving.

I decided to close my laptop and give the experience some thought. I’d spent so long thinking of this story and playing it through in my head before I ever sat down to outline or plan out any scenes. Character sheets with my characters’ information, back story, and other little tiny details were stored on my computer, I’d organized my sequence of events, parceled out some chapters, and yet there I sat, hating the process.

It took my three days before I realized why. My main character? She’s as flat as a freakin’ pancake. There’s no substance to her, no reason for the readers to like her. Honestly, I don’t even like her.

Instead of embarking on the adventure of starting a new manuscript, I’ve been spending a little more time with my main character, getting to know her better, understanding her past in an intimate fashion, discovering the motives behind her actions.

And if you need any further evidence that 2D characters suck, turn your attention to Paper Mario, and never forget that Nintendo thought that would somehow be an awesome game.

4 comments:

  1. flat as a freakin' pancake

    Love it! If you don't love your character, no one will. When characters are flat the book, no matter how stellar the plot, just doesn't work.

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    1. Haha, thanks!

      In the past I've read books where I felt so disenchanted by the main character. It was often because they had little to no real substance to them. The plot and everything was there, but it just didn't work.

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  2. At least you've realised what is happening and taking steps to correct it. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! I'm almost scared to start again, haha.

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