The Soul Is Willing…

…but the flesh is weak. Addled by caffeine and too much alcohol, the odd burn from cooking and a dependency on sugar. I do go swimming though. Honest.

I haven’t done much writing at all since hitting the 50k mark for NaNoWriMo – on the 18th of November. I rested on my laurels, which was a silly thing to do, and now I’m paying the price. I had thought that the seat-of-the-pants nature of my project for NaNo was the reason I stuttered and stopped a couple of times. In an attempt to prevent this happening in subsequent efforts, I plotted out the novel.

Then I plotted out a few more. Not next-in-the-series, just other stories I haven’t written yet. What I learnt? I have yet to find the method for planning novels which actually suits me. I also have a hard time with the terminology.

‘Conflict’ is one that crops up rather frequently – in my head it still means a war or at least a fight of some magnitude. That novel-plotters mean something more like ‘at cross-purposes’ doesn’t escape me, but it feels rather contrived to insert opposition when in your head there wasn’t any.

I suspect I’m getting the wrong end of the stick, and that I’m also a little too romance-and-fluff-focused. I personally don’t mind, but I have a feeling the point is to get some tension into the story. It’s only a story if something happens which didn’t before, and it’s only interesting if things keep happening. I love a good action scene, though other people’s can bore me (I get that it’s hypocritical, but it’s also reading as a writer, so thbpbpbpbpbpt), but I genuinely don’t like too much in the way of opposition to something.

Perhaps that’s naive and perhaps I should stop thinking that way, but I reserve the right to keep reading things with a happy ending whenever I want.

Another facet of novel-planning which seems designed to scupper me is talking about characters’ motivations. Are they supposed to have deep, driving causes? Can’t someone genuinely be along for the ride, living in the moment? Do we really care about the childhood tragedy which orphaned the hero and sent him on an otherwise predestined path?

I hate that kind of thing. Plenty of people have had perfectly nice childhoods and gone on to do both wonderful and terrible things. Then again, the books I read tend not to be centred on normal families. Why not, I ask you? I would attempt to talk about ‘low fantasy’ (as opposed to high fantasy), but that’s already a thing and it isn’t about the average Joanne. There seems to be a real dearth of main characters forming meaningful relationships with people (especially parents) in my preferred genres. It’s sad.

Despite the little rant above, I actually do like reading fantasy – you get a really experimental take on systems of government, the limits of humanity, and the effects of powerful people throughout history. What I wish I saw more is how all that really cool high-level stuff affects the villager in their cottage, or the bartender at the inn.

I’ve seen it written more than once that if you really want to read a particular story, you should write it. That is what I will do. Starting with the situation closest to my own – young family.

If it turns autobiographical, poke me.

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