For me this year “On the writing road” has been a character exploring and development kind of journey. (How) our characters can be the readers eyes when it comes to exploring and—
- Visualizing my tales location/scenery, (where)
- Getting to know the story inhabitant’s personalities—particularly the protagonist and villain, (who)
- Sensually feeling the environment—(how) their five senses are encountering everything around them so the reader can feel the heat, see the colored sky, (what)
- And, most importantly, engaging a reader to like, and want to know more about our protagonist and main characters—i.e. want to read the darn book.
Part of my interest in these character rest stops is a past tendency to lean on narrative explanation to develop many aspects of my tale. Now working on my characters doing more of the work!
Today, I’m pondering further down the “What” path, as in what’s next in terms of actual plot development. Not writing the next scene or plot development because I think it’s a good idea—but “what” my protagonist thinks would be a good idea.
Here’s an example of what I’m trying to say. The current Rhodes novel I’m working on, of course, takes place in Shiné. And at several locations. And in the beginning, early one morning Leiv needs to visit four spots to get the basic setting, background events, and murder situation in the reader’s mind. I’ve spent several months changing my mind, back and forth, flitting around on who, and in what order the first scenes should go. Duh! I asked Leiv “What” did his senses tell him was the next scene, based on his mental processes.
This approach may be already quite obvious to other writers—let Leiv tell the story. But I like writing in third person, so there hasn’t been the “I” POV in my tales from the start of my writing journey. So my excuse is, that starting as an outside narrator blinded me as to my protagonist actually leading plot scene exposition.
So, continuing as the third person story teller in my latest, I moved from an outside scene, to an inside scene, to outside again. However Leiv’s mind plot evolution started outside, where he remembered an inside bookstore scene, then another inside office scene, then another inside junkyard scene…
I’m exaggerating the distinction I’m making to make the point—my recent writing-improvement path is still characters—and on all levels and perspectives. There are elements in my tales that my protagonist doesn’t know about, and for those, scenes, the reader is stuck with me, the narrator.
Indeed, my characters have captured me…but I’m not sending out an SOS yet. (smile)
Bottom line for the writing nugget in this post, I think–is no matter your POV(but especially in third person), it is for your characters to bring your reader in (because we like or are interested in them), where we can then see the world through their eyes, and then they can lead us forward through story happenings based on what they see, feel, and need to know. Seems pretty obvious now that I’ve laid it out in writing…