Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where Now?

Thank you for all the encouragement about saying yes to the surprise of a new project. It's especially helpful to remember that committing to a novel is not all or nothing. This new novel might make it all the way to a full draft and then a second draft and then multiple drafts. Or it could slide away as another, better idea rises to the surface. It's all part of the process, it all helps our writing, and it's all good.

This past week I've been marveling that the narrator in this new project and his voice are so different from what I usually write. This is new territory, new language. Oddly, it's easy. This novel and this voice are just pouring forth. For now.

My question - what do you do when writing about someone or something far outside your experience? Do you research? Watch movies? Hang out in parts of town where the characters would but you wouldn't? Journal as the characters? Trust that whatever compelled you to enter this different place will carry you through? All of the above?

At the moment, I trust that I'm where I'm supposed to be. But writing a novel is a long journey. I'm wondering what I can do now to prepare.

Oh, and here's a shout out for tomorrow's game on W.I.B.I.J. Prizes! Thank you to Tina, Heather & Jon for keeping us nimble through the blogosphere!


  1. I haven't successfully written about a character that is far from...well, me. In my current WiP, I was recently discussing with Heather the fact that my two MC's are opposites within me. It's hard to write because it is so personal. With other characters and secondaries, it's hard because I don't know them. I need to start basing my characters off someone I know.

    For your research, try something like having a conversation with this new character and see what happens. Write a dialogue between you and him.

    When you find something that works, do share!

  2. J, maybe that is my problem too. Nothing in my current wip is coming easy! And if you have it coming easy I say don't stop to do anything. Just keep going! How cool. Can I say magic again? I'd like to. And thanks for the shout.

  3. Feeling a little displaced. I've been somehow skipping my most important people's most important blog posts. I don't know about you, but I'm blaming BLOGGER.

    Let the words pour forth. They are good words. Your character has a great voice. This character is calling you to write. I'm wrapped up in him.

    I think that characters have to call you, and even if they are pieces of you, they grow beyond. And that is what makes them live. Go with the flow, R!

  4. I do everything I can. I research. I read. I watch movies. And then I sit down to plot. Good luck!

  5. I wrote first person through the eyes of a female fallen angel. It was a challenge given by a fellow teacher. A woman, of course. They do that to us guys.

    I gave her amnesia and put her in a British insane asylum, scrambling to discover how she had ended up there.

    I asked questions which helped put me in her mindset : how would an immortal view fleeting mortals? how would advance intelligence be able to express itself within the limitations of human language ( words are only echoes of experiences felt & humans have felt so little, seen so meager a list of things compared to the infinity of items angels and demons -- I opted for a lyrical flow of words and concepts as if she were searching for the closest word in the sparse, crude vocabulary afforded humans.)

    Whew! Got carried away. Anyway, to write a character not like yourself. You ask the newsman's questions of your viewpoint character : Who, what, where, and why.

    For example : Who would be drawn to a career as a cat burglar? What skills would he/she need? Where would she get them? Why should anyone teach her those skills? Answering those questions give you a backstory for your cat burglar.

    Hope this helps in some small way, Roland

  6. Jon, Tina, Heather, Laura and Roland - Thank you for your comments. Very helpful as I work with a 15-yr-troublemaker. Eminem has been helping, too.