Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Article | NaNoWriMo Day 18 - After Acceptance come Malleability

NaNoWriMo Day 18

After Acceptance comes Malleability

I have to mentally prepare myself to like people. It’s not as bad as it sounds, really.

Here’s the deal:
I am not a highly impulsive person. Well maybe impulsive, but definitely shy on the spontaneous. I like things nice and planned out. I have cleaning nights, and writing nights, and favorite TV show nights, and Zumba nights, and cooking nights. I schedule my social time. See I find I have a certain frame of mind for each different activity, and in order to be properly prepared and excited about it, I like to plan in advance. Social time is much different state of mind, than hermit writing time is.

If you stop by and are like okay lets hang out and go do this, this and this, but that’s not on my schedule, there is going to be a very awkward moment between us were I am thinking of excuses (first reaction), then trying to reschedule my life (second reaction) so that I still am able to get done everything I wanted too, but at other moments. So I do spontaneous, but reluctantly, and I am rarely the one who instigates it.

Furthermore, I really dislike conflict in my life. I hate fighting. I hate having to figure out messy situations. I hate talking about tricky matters. A lot of that has to do with the family situation which I was raised in (one of these days there is going to be a therapist who will make tons of money off of me and that statement, or I will just write my way to safety, one or the other). I like to avoid conflict in my real life like the plague. It makes me feel all nauseous and I want to cry and hide. When I do have to deal with it, I try very hard to stay composed, but if it gets heated then my first line of defense is to go void. I withdraw into myself and tune out the world, go to my safe zone. I just don’t have good defenses for it; I break under pressure.

What this means as a writer is that I like to have my novel planned out. I like knowing what should happen. But when a character throws me a curve ball and I find out that they are going to betray their mentor, I then start back peddling. But once that thought occurs, it doesn’t un-occur. It’s too late. Even though I haven’t written the words yet, I know what their actions could be. If I change it and say no, you don’t do this, I will always know what they are capable of. So I have to let it happen.

But I still need that time to think and wrap my mind around it. Because that wasn’t at all what I thought was going to happen. Furthermore, there is my dislike of conflict. (I read about it, and hang on the edge of my seat, but things will work out fine in a book, they are just imaginary characters… right?) Combine the two, not very spontaneous and doesn’t like conflict, and you may wonder how I am ever going to write a book. Or even why I want to do it.

Because it’s therapy for me. It’s a (semi) controlled environment. Once I wrap my mind around the possibilities, then I can start to fly, I just need that period of time to let is simmer and brew, so I can figure out how to manage the flavor.

The apprentice betrayal now provides the motivation why Droth almost beats his apprentice Dover to death. I was mortified when Droth was going to do this, the moment I knew I shied away from the thought. Knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t know why. How could he be a monster like that? Now I can deal with that set of actions because he has motivation. He is frustrated by his sister’s precarious mental and health state, and angered that Dover would betray him. Now all I have to figure out is why Dover would betray him. What’s her secret, why would she do that?

Yesterday, I had set out to follow my own Tweated advice, to write only the fun parts, save the transitions. But sometimes the fun parts lead to messy situations that you need to pause and wrap your mind around.

Yesterday was about accepting your writing, today is about accepting your characters. About not forcing them into a mold, but being malleable. I had always heard authors and writers talk about what their characters are doing, what they insisted upon, even though that’s not what they had originally planned out. The new direction their characters were taking the story to. I was always slightly envious about this, but a little skeptical too. Now I understand. I also know it takes a good healthy amount of flexibility.

Today’s lesson is about malleability and flexibility, two things an author should never be in short supply of.


Shawn Gray said...

Sounds like you've come across one of the better lessons of novelling. Not everything goes according to outline, the characters do have lives of their own. In the first draft, it's ok to let them play about a little. When you get to editing, that's when you shackle them into a sensible line of thought while maintaining their independent choices. Congrats!

Book Minstrel said...

It has definitely been a learning experience. I really think some of my characters are coming into their own. Right now Droth is my favorite.