Wednesday, 5 October 2011
This is what my novel is going to look like, I think.
The first draft is going to be crammed full of stereotypical nonsense. My antagonist is going to be over-the-top evil; my protagonist is going to have a halo on her delicate, beautiful skull. The "nice guy" is going to be meek to the point of nausea and all characters are at risk of whiplash from the hair tossing and theatrical gestures.
It's alright, though. I accept it, for now. I welcome it, to be honest.
My first draft has yet to begin (26 days to go eeeek!), and I'm already looking forward to the second draft. That will be the point when I truly understand my characters.
A lot of writers I've come across like to know everything about their characters before they start, up to (and including) what their gran had for dinner last week. And if that works for them, I'm envious. I'm still trying to figure out what works for me, though I have a good idea what doesn't.
When I try to come up with proper names for my characters, or a book title, I feel utterly indifferent. It's like a baby, I suppose. I need to see what it looks like in the flesh before I can name it.
For the time being, I have Harry the Husband, Wendy the Wife; I even have Rebecca the Replacement (teacher) and Jason the Janitor. Highly original, I know.
What I'm more concerned with, right now, is how they treat themselves and others. Their demeanour and attitudes. How they deal with the situations I thrust upon them. I've always believed that it's what people do (and don't do) that determine who they are. For instance, someone might donate to charity every month and help old people cross the road, but they might also cheat on their partner or keep the contents of a lost purse.
Labels don't define human beings. We are complex creatures and I look forward to making my characters wonderfully intricate in my 2nd draft. I anticipate the agony with relish.
In the meantime, my first draft will be a caricature of their life views. Their opinions. Their morals and beliefs. Their place in society and how they measure themselves up against others. This, to me, will direct their actions in the story, more than figuring out their pet's name or bra size.
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not detracting from anyone who creates or uses character profile sheets; not at all. I will be using them myself, when I get on to the second draft. Alan Ayckbourn can sum it up better than me, in the Open University podcast for creative writing. He's talking about plays specifically, but it definitely strikes a chord with me:
"The first draft is very much an acquaintanceship with the characters, and ….often their dialogue, their speech patterns develop during that first draft, they don’t start that way."
I just adore his voice. It's so delightfully theatrical!
I'm going to spend the rest of the evening reading. I feel literally undernourished, and crave that blissful escapism that I so wish to create myself.
Any NaNo-ers care to share their tips with a newbie? How are your plans coming along? ◦