Human nature’s a funny thing. One minute, Blondie and the boys can be sharing Legos, talking up a whole world of transforming mystery cars and ships racing across the arctic to find the polar express and rescue Santa buried under a mountain of presents. The next:
“Bash, I want that piece!”
“You can’t have it, Biff, it’s mine!”
“Mooooom, Blondie’s got a piece I neeeeeeeeeeeeed!”
Suddenly, they don’t want to give. Suddenly, there is something so wanted by one child’s nature that they would rather sacrifice the peace, the fun, and the television privileges in order to punch one another into submission.
That’s usually not the kind of sacrifice we as readers or writers like to celebrate. Such a turn against the greater good for one’s own gain is often seen as the Betrayal, the mark of a hero turned villain. There’s a fair few of those in literature and film alike: Winston in 1984, Casca in Julius Caesar, Peter Pettigrew in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Some, like Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, do come round and redeem themselves. Others, like Mr. Wickhamin Pride and Prejudice, do not, even under duress. Yes, these sacrifices are crucial to the narrative arc: they are, after all, a chance for characters to show their true colors, incite incidents, climax, etc.
But as today is Thanksgiving, I’d like to focus on the kinds of sacrifices people both real and imagined will make for the sake of…well, for the sake of a Good.
Lots of little sacrifices are made every day. Or night, if you prefer.
Take Biff here.
After I kiss him and Bash goodnight and turn off their room light, this boy flicks on his mining hat from the museum to read. Every night he stays up to dig deep into pages of Calvin and Hobbes, monster trucks, outer space, Snoopy, fairies, biology, droids, and everything between. I take care to check in on when I go to bed, for Biff often falls asleep on top of the book with the light dimly flickering across the tip of his nose.
For this son of mine, the sacrifice of sleep is worth the chance for one more journey into a good book. I doubt few of us would disagree with that. 🙂
Time is often sacrificed in this life, sometimes by choice, and sometimes not. I’ve written about the difficulty in giving up writing time. This month I was determined to dedicate at least one evening to my daughter, and take her away from all school, writing, and brotherly obligations to revel in one of her passions.
The Zoozort event at school gave kids a chance to learn and touch some amazing animals, from an endangered fennec fox to an albino Burmese python. (Yes, Blondie actually pet a python. Not pictured: the tortoise that peed everywhere. Also not pictured: the hilarity that ensued.)
Doesn’t sound like much of a sacrifice, a mere two hours. But for a daughter who’s so often had to occupy herself when the boys act up, who has to catch us running up and down the hall in the midst of cooking/dinner/cleaning/dishes/ laundry/teaching/writing/ choir/on and on and on just to show us her picture, her story, her A+…Two hours of a parent sitting still next to her, focusing on her, and reveling in her excitement is no “mere” anything.
Now don’t let this moment get you thinking I’m such a kind, sweet mother. When Bash woke up sick, my first thought wasn’t, “Poor thing, how can I make him better?”
No. It was, “Dammit, there goes my writing time.”
Oh, I wasn’t going to give it up easily. I threw on his favorite Transformers up on the tv, found his favorite music, whatever. Gave him books, encouraged him to sleep.
But in the end, all he wanted was Mommy. He and Hoppy even came to the table, set up a toy computer.
“Look, Mommy, I can work with you!”
Fine, just let Mommy work.
Five minutes later: “Can I sit on your lap?”
Three minutes later: “Can I pleeeease sit by you?” Hoppy squeaks and nods towards the big chair by the fireplace.
My NaNoWriMo word count shames me. I owe another writer interview answers. I’m supposed to reach out to a few other writers about co-promotion. I need to market. I need to plan. I need to write.
Yet there’s a tiny, sick little boy at my side, asking for Mommy’s comfort. How long will those tiny hands and tinier voice reach out to me, a source of love in his world?
Oh Bash. You are the source of love today.
I left writing behind that day to nestle with Bash and Hoppy to read Care Bears, talk about school, Christmas, and any thing his little six-year-old mind could think. At one point he looked outside and saw the half-moon, pale and shy in the blue sky. “Look, Mommy, a Dream Moon!”
What kind of dreams does the Dream Moon give?
“Dreams of looooove,” he says with that sly grin of his, eyes all squinty. Then his forehead furrows. “Or nightmares. That’s why you have to go to the Apple Castle and talk to Prince Hoppy.” And so the story went, filled with candy races and carrot swords.
Most stories we read contain sacrifices a bit more grandiose than lost writing time.
The website Ranker came up with an interesting list of fictional characters who sacrifice themselves to save the day. I’m sure some of the choices wouldn’t surprise you: Snape’s on there, and Gandalf. Both Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. Spock. That guy at the end of Tale of Two Cities (Yes, I know he has a name. Yes, I had to look it up. It’s Sydney Carton, if you’re curious.) Heck, my own heroine Charlotte gives up her own life and all her dreams for a future in music in order to save her sister Anna from the curse of River Vine.
Would Star Trek: the Wrath of Kahn be so memorable of Spock just gave more time to the warp core and repaired it? Would we still be quoting Sydney Carton if he said, “It is a far, far better thing to give up one’s weekend in the law library in order to discover the legal precedent that negates the Habeus Memphis Randu and blah blah blah”?
Probably not. We just don’t associate “high stakes” with giving up an evening. We expect to see life on the line, be it one, a hundred, a million, more.
And a quote I came across on Goodreads strikes upon why:
“Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn
Stories of power are born out of sacrifice. They come from the conflict in us to relinquish that which we hold dear in order for another to fulfill her dream, for another life to go on. We cannot help but admire the selflessness, and cheer them on for saving the Good and vanquishing the Evil.
But as writers, it is our responsibility to remember that sacrifice doesn’t have mean having yet another Sydney Carton iteration in our story. Sacrifices can be just as harrowing without death to create engaging narrative that inspires characters and readers alike: giving up custody of a child to the one who can truly parent and support. Turning over power of attorney to one’s children. Leaving vices behind for the sake of the family. Handing over a night of hard-earned tips to the homeless family outside the mall. Giving children a chance to experience the toys and books we’ve kept locked in boxes for years in the name of nostalgia.
Giving up a night of work to sit with a little girl and watch a tortoise pee on other kids’ shoes.
Sacrifices do not have to require death. They have only to require love.
Eight years of love went into this novel. One of the most important themes I got to explore in those eight years was that of family. Families are not always connected by bloodlines. So, so often, families are made with stronger stuff: love, respect, kindness, compassion, and…well, sacrifice. On this day of family and gratitude, I’d like you to have Fallen Princeborn: Stolenfor free.
Yup. Totally free.
All I ask in return is that you leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Every review, and I mean EVERY review, helps a writer’s visibility in the virtual market.
A rare gift comes to the writer when the story and its mixed tape of music ka-chunk and transform. No longer is the music merely the writer’s atmosphere, her source of ambience while storytelling. Oh no. The music is the heroine. The music is the villain. The music is the tension. The music is the scene.
This happened to me during 2010’s National Novel Writing Monthwhen I first began drafting Fallen Princeborn: Stolen. At the time I was only using instrumental music for storytelling, while music like The Who’s Quadropheniahelped me survive the piles of grading in my dropbox. The month had barely started, so I was early in the story of Charlotte and her sister leaving their abusive family in the Dakotas for Wisconsin. Their coach bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Another peculiar bus appears with far-too-friendly good Samaritans, and despite Charlotte’s suspicions, she gets on, too.
I tried magical feathers. I tried mysterious goo in the axles. How could I get Charlotte and her sister to the Wall if I can’t make this frickin’ Samaritan trap–I mean, bus–have a plausible reason (for humans, anyway) to break down near the farmland by the Wall? I shoved the story aside and opened up a batch of essays. In the midst of telling the umpteenth student to please remember her thesis statement in the introduction, The Who’s “The Real Me” came on…
…and I saw it.
I saw the scene. I saw it all, frame by frame like a movie trailer. I knew what had to happen: utilize the shapeshifters’ gifts, the song to feel Charlotte’s fear race like a heartbeat.
For this song, I realized, embodies Charlotte.
The percussion, guitar, and style of singing are defiant to the point of raging. The song demands anyone, everyone, to look past the surface and see the pain, confusion, and ambition to be.
In this snippet of the story, though, it is Charlotte who does the seeing. Only she sees the bus driver’s inhumane ability, and realizes they’re all trapped. I could feel all this when I first drafted the scene with the song on repeat in 2010.
Eight years later, little’s changed.
~*~ From Fallen Princeborn: Stolen ~*~
Charlotte bites back the snark and hides in her headphones again. She starts “The Real
Me,” thinking, The bus SMELLS old and gross, but nothing FEELS old and gross. Give me two seconds and I’d be out cold, it’s so damn comfortable.…
… At least food has settled Anna down. Now she’s content to walk that quarter from Uncle Mattie up and down the fingers of her right hand. Then flips to her left. The quarter continues its deliberate tumble from pinky to ring to middle to forefinger to thumb and back again. Up and down. Then down and up. Like practicing scales on a piano, observes Charlotte.
“Nice moves.” Studchin’s face betrays a lack of skills with a napkin.
“Thanks. My uncle taught me.”
Charlotte does a quick passenger check: Potential Homicidal Maniac sits as far from Anna as possible. Twitchy is de-threading his own coat. Mumbles starts singing “Lizzy likes locked things.” The Sweenils argue over who won that Waters Meet Bingo tournament. Mr. Smith sings too softly for her to hear.
Black feathers fly across their window. Violet flashes, a cackle rumbles.
Charlotte spins ’round and stares at the back of the bus.
Jamie is gone.
“Where is he?”
Anna bats those damn glitter-lashes at Studchin one more time before asking, “Who?” Slurp.
“The crazy acne boy with the bags. Where is he?”
Anna opens another cake. “Probably bathroom. Why, wanna ask for his number?”
“What’s this about numbers?” Studchin’s breath reeks of mouse turds and sugar. “Cuz I’ve got one, if you want it.” |Charlotte’s chest burns beneath the pendant. It’s burning like hell, she’s going to pass out— “Can you see the real me, can ya? Can ya?” What the—? Who the—? Who has the audacity to sing a Who song OVER The Who? Charlotte swivels around in her seat, trying to locate the source. Not Studchin, he wouldn’t know good music if a chorus of show girls sang it from a Jacuzzi of custard. Not his bandmates and, thank god, not Mumbles. Potential Homicidal Maniac? Nope. Dead silent, head still.
It’s Mr. Smith, singing right along with Roger. But how can he hear what she’s listening to on her headphones, from that far up front? Charlotte shakes her head and stares at the back of Burly Man’s head. He stares right back at her from the rearview mirror. Not even the Sweenils notice him singing. No one but Charlotte, always Charlotte.
“Charlie?” Slu-urp. “What’s going on?”
“Char—” “Can you see, can you see the real me?”
“SHUT IT.” To Anna or to Mr. Smith—Charlotte doesn’t care. Get away from my music, my head, my sister. Get away.
Ash-wind pulls on Charlotte’s nose. Black, green, black, green, black: the raven’s circling again. Get AWAY! “Can you see the real me, Preacher?”
“I mean it, where is that Jamie guy?”
“I don’t know, Charlie. Why do you care?”
“Dude, what is up with your sister?” Studchin to Anna. “Can you see the real me, Doctor?”
Ash chokes, feathers fly, song deafens, eyes glitter— “Can you see the real me, Mother?”
Charlotte sees Mr. Smith’s fingers drum along in perfect sync with the song.
And he stares right back. His teeth are painted, ablaze in his smile. “Can you see the real me me me me me me?”
The raven strikes.
Of course, using a song in a story is one thing. Getting permission to use that song is another matter entirely, as I explain in “Days of Walkmans Past.”
My deepest thanks to all fellow writers and readers who have been sharing my stories and thoughts on craft. No matter how much I beat myself up for not writing enough, reading enough, living enough, you step up and share my words and make every struggle matter. Folks, these are writers well worth sharing, reading, and befriending, I promise you.
In the meantime, I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time in years. It’s time to rewrite the third novel of the Fallen Princeborn Omnibus. I promise you even more mystery and mayhem, perhaps even a murder or two in the dank Pits dark and deep…
Are you joining thirty days and nights of literary abandon? Let me know so we can be writing buddies!
We’ve got a lot to cover, folks–studying Ray Bradbury, chatting with amazing indie writer Shehanne Moore, exploring a special facet of character development, and sharing The Who’sinfluence on my writing.
But before we go into ANY of that, let’s kick off this month of “ohmygoshiamactuallypublishinganovelthsimonth” panic–I mean, excitement–with some music I’ve known since college, music of vital importance to my telling of Fallen Princeborn: Stolen. Music of origins mythical and mysterious…until SoundCloud yelled at me for uploading it and pointed out the proper composer.
We begin with a simple CD created to accompany my college’s production of Medea. I didn’t make the cast that term (not that I’m still bitter about that. I’m not. Seriously. WHY DIDN’T I MAKE THAT SHOW?!), but my roommate, herself a theater major, was the stage manager and therefore in charge of all things technical, which must have been a challenge when the director decided to get all “experimental” with stage direction, set, and soundtrack.
Because this play was to be experienced like a film, apparently.
Thankfully, my roommate knew when to pull back the soundtrack so the audience could hear the cast. Yes, I put aside my inner grumblings and attended the show. I had a lot of friends up there and behind the scenes, and I wanted to cheer them on in what had to be the toughest show performed that year.
When I think back to that performance now…I don’t really remember seeing the show. I remember hearing it–my friends’ cries when the children are killed, the Greek chorus chanting, the raging howl of anger and revenge…and this music. This, this choir of Latin caution, eternally building with strings and low rumblings of percussion. The sudden sweep into thunderous drums and the harmonies of battle until the last scream pierces the air–
And all is silenced.
Fast forward to New Mom Me writing whenever baby Blondie sleeps. It’s National Novel Writing Month of 2010, and I’m writing what will be the first draft of Fallen Princeborn: Stolen. It’s the moment when Charlotte first meets the book’s villain and realizes the lethal situation she and her captured sister are in. They are surrounded. They are underground.
There is no way out.
There is no hope.
I used the music of Medea to imagine the scope of impossible escape, the cold darkness that buried Charlotte and her sister underground. You can hear it, too, in the first four minutes of this track.
But as the baddies learn, you can bloody Charlotte, but you can never break her.
I’d repeat the change in music at the 4:17 marker to watch Charlotte rise up & fight back. The music careens up out of despair and dives, talons at the ready, to draw blood and breath from every evil. Over and over I listened to this music to catch the fire, the blood, the defiance, the sacrifice.
Eight years later, despite all the changes Stolen has experienced, that scene–and its music–remain the same.
Now that I know Scottish composer Craig Armstrong wrote this score, I’m excited to wander his music and pocket a few seeds to plant for stories years in the making. What music of your youth still nurtures the storyteller within? Perhaps it’s time to put on your headphones, close your eyes, and fly into the harmony of story.
~And now, a brief excerpt from Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, coming this Halloween~
Rot, age, old bones, twice-burned ashes—they choke the air like gasoline. What Charlotte feels is cold. Lots of cold. All she can trust is what she sees, and what she sees right now is white, brittle wood beneath her, the lavender light pulsing more intensely now from her feet and spreading out and down the tunnel. Occasional claw marks. One bloody handprint that begins on one root and is dragged across seven more before vanishing. It’s not a big handprint. There are little traces of purple in it too, almost like purple glitter. Glitter. Didn’t Anna have purple glitter? NO. Get your freakin’ act together, Charlie, and focus. Dad, I wish you were here. “Charlie?” The voice is rich, deep, and kind. And dead. Charlotte’s free hand wavers when a new breeze of gunpowder and chili wisps by. “D-dad?” The power of this place can’t summon the dead. Dad’s buried in holy ground far from here. “He can also take you to your sister, if that is what you wish.” The pulse light beats faster from Charlotte, racing to catch up with her heartbeat, so damned fast, she prays Campion cannot hear it from his perch among the last of the tunnel roots. His eyes are swirling, almost glowing, as the rest of him turns still, like the living tree-bones behind him. “After all, this place is where dreams come true.”
~HEY! I’M SHOUTING FOR SHOUT OUTS!~
Shy about promotion? Me, too. So let’s try and share our stuff together, hmm? I just started up the monthly newsletter From the Wilds of Jean Lee’s World.It’s a separate set of updates from that of WordPress. In the newsletter, I share not only updates on my own fiction, but I’ll share updates on your wild creative endeavors, too! Just email me at email@example.com to snag a slot in a future edition.
When Aionios Books offered me a contract, I lost all feeling in feet and fingers. I just waved my arms like Wallace scheming to land on a moon full of cheese.
Bo looked at me with a Gromit-ish eye roll, but was proud, nonetheless.
Part of the plan put to me by Gerri Santiago involved splitting my manuscript for Fallen Princeborn: Stolen into two books. She explained that the word count was a bit much for Young Adult.
150,000 words is too much? That’s only 600some pages of…you know, a debut novel from an author hardly a soul knows.
Okay, let’s split it.
The most apt place for the severance comes at the end of Fallen Princeborn‘s second act: the heroes have just battled one crew of baddies and are regrouping before the baddie crew arrives. With Stolen’s new arc set, Gerri has been helping me see areas where world-building can use more color, where pov voices require more definition–you know, the stuff I bother other writers about in my interviews.As Book 1 blooms all bright and pretty, Act III-turned-Book 2 looks more and more…wee.
I open the “book” and scope out its word count.
Where’s the book?
A single act does not a book make. It introduces fresh villains, sure, but Book 2’s narrative can’t pick up immediately where Stolen leaves off without some fresh establishment of the core cast, touching up on the setting, redefining the voices of the protagonists and narrator, and bringing in EVERYTHING THAT MAKES A STORY.
No, Writer Me, don’t panic. That’s still 50,000 words of material to utilize. Those characters who only got a cameo so they could be saved for later? Let’s flesh’em out now. That whole new breed we introduce but don’t really dwell on? Visit their realm and see what makes them tick. The new villains we get to meet in these 50,000 words? Give’em more words. Let them breed a bit more treachery, let them show their gilded goodness before their truly nasty mettle. And just what are these people, anyway? Let’s wade into the murky swamp of Magic’s history.
Thanks to the severance, these trying times for the heroes have a chance to be truly trying. Why cram all these dramatic moments together? This is a book, not a movie trailer.
But while Fallen Princeborn originally had eight years to mature, Book 2 needs to be rewritten in half a year while maintaining some semblance of motherhood over the little Bs, teaching, writing book reviews, website stuff, and more. These obligations are not going away. By hook or by crook, Book 2’s manuscript must be completed by June’s end.
That’s only, oh, another 50,000 words…the same word count challenge for National Novel Writing Month. This means writing at 1700 words a day, or fall short of the finish line.
Ever try to write with a five-year-old sitting on your head?
Yeah, there’s a deadline, and yeah, it’s frickin’ scary. Some days I might only get 1,000 words done, or even less, and then other days crank out an insane 5,000. The point is we can’t afford to think about the time we don’t have. We must embrace the race to write. Steal every minute we can. There will be stumbling blocks, there will be plot holes, but we’ll get to those in the editing. For now, it’s time to hurl ourselves into the story and run.
I love National Novel Writing Monthwith its “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.” Hell, I’ve got a sweatshirt with that very phrase on the back. (This image, in fact. The fingerprints are sparkly!)
50,000 words in thirty days is no meager feat, especially when one’s arms are literally being pulled from the keyboard. When trains are being launched at the keyboard. When the goldfish crackers aren’t in the right bowl. When a red car goes missing and the screaming won’t stop until you find it. No not that red car, the RED car. THE REEEEED CAAAAAAAR!!! (For the louder one shrieks, the better I will apparently know which hue of red out of the two dozen red cars is the “right” red car.) Despite all that, I managed to crank out 800-1000 words in an hour twice a day, teach some students, and occasionally sleep.
Out of the hundred-some pages I produced every November, approximately a dozen, maybe two, were any good. What a waste, right?
Never. In the writing groove I discovered images of a power and vibrance I never knew were in me. Little touches of world-building just appear with the same magic of Bash walking in with a toy no one could find for weeks, and be damned if those touches ain’t just perfect for the story at large. Above all, @NaNoWriMo will always hold a special place in my heart because it helped me win the first battle with postpartum.
Some years, though, there is no denying that one more goal, however low-stake, just can’t be added. I didn’t participate the year my sons were born, for instance–already teaching, babies with stereo colic. Blondie asking when we could take the babies back to the hospital.
No. Nursing both boys football-style while talking on a headset about thesis statements was hard enough.
This year looks to be another one of those “don’t be stupid and make it worse–you’ve got enough” kinds of November: teaching, mothering, potty training (dear GOD give me strength), blogging, writing…
Over the past few months, my protagonist Meredydd has marched with me through some very mucked-up territory. She’s also introduced me to her fellow Shield Maiden recruits, each with her own story to share.
Good Lord, I have a series.
The challenge, though, is how to put them in readers’ hands. I suppose I could go the traditional route, or even the self-pub route, but honestly, I just want to share the stories. I can’t work out their marketability without readers, anyway, and writing Young Adult fantasy is a pretty specific niche. I can’t bug kids at my daughter’s school, because that involves using my real name. I prefer keeping my writing life separate and safe, where I can lay out past pain and uncover unknown strength.
Having readers of age who will tell me what they think, and therefore help me grow as a writer, will be akin to the sweetest of Grandma’s sweet potatoes. Sure, I’d love a massive heap of NaNoWriMo stuffing, too, but there’s only so much one body can take. Wattpad will require a discipline of writing under pressure and sharing rough work with strangers. That plus all the other obligations of life Out Here fills my plate quite enough, thank you.
With book cover and Wattpad banner (it greeted you above the post) completed, I could work on a book blurb.
I plucked up Volume One of The Dalemark Quartet. Her blurbs for both Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet are quite succinct. For Cart and Cwidder: “Traveling musician Moril has inherited a cwidder said to have belonged to one of the Undying. Can he learn to harness its strange powers in time to prevent an invasion?” For Drowned Ammet: “To avenge his father’s death, Mitt has joined a plot to assassinate the tyrannical Earl Hadd. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself on a storm-tossed sea in a bot with his enemies.”
Both fixate on the character and the problem at hand. Both are right around thirty words.
Three drafts later…
After a humiliating dinner with a suitor, Meredydd sees only a dull life ahead, destined to crush her heroic spirit—that is, until she’s accepted into the Shield Maidens. Surely nothing but glory and adventure await, right? And they do…if Mer can first overcome the most dangerous enemy of all: herself.
51 words, but still: protagonist and problem, fitted together.
Next comes the Author’s Note. I needed to state I would be sharing both character sketches and scenes, as well as when they’ll be published. I also wanted to give readers a sense of where this story came from.
Middler’s Pride sprouts from two places: Michael Dellert’s Matter of Manred saga, and Diana Wynne Jones’ Dalemark Quartet. Dellert’s land of Droma is rich with conflict and beauty, but his Matter of Manred saga only focuses on select portions of this landscape. What begins as a bit of fanfic in his world has grown into its own world and its own characters. Herein lies the origin of Meredydd of the Shield Maidens.
But what to do with Mer was another matter entirely. That’s where Jones’ Dalemark Quartet inspired me. Each amazing adventure in the series centers on one youth. Often the youth has some serious growing up to do in order to overcome whatever villainy is at work. I wanted Mer to have just such an adventure as well as that growing up. Herein lies the origin of her fellow Shield Maidens, the evil sorcerer known only as the Cat Man, and the most elusive, destructive enemy of all:
So you see, I can’t do NaNoWriMo this year. Next year, perhaps, I’ll happily lose myself in thirty days and nights of literary abandon. Until then, enjoy an adventure or four with Mer and her comrades.
It helps to have a very vivid view of the opening. The concept of writing 50,000 in thirty days isn’t quite so daunting at the outset when you can start without writer’s block.
There are characters, and then there are the cut outs you know will have to have things to do at some point with the plot but that ain’t happenin’ in this thirty days. Yay literary abandon!
Dialogue tags? Who needs dialogue tags?
Some scenes feel horrible as you write them. Write’em anyway. You may discover a fantastic bit of dialogue or visual that would have never appeared otherwise.
The world building may look like a three-year-old with blocks, but hey, it’s still standing.
If you remember the clues for the mystery, awesome. If not…well, that’s what footnotes are for.
Focus on the scenes you can really, REALLY see. Piddling around with filler may boost the word count, but face it: you’re avoiding the hard stuff in that plot arc. Stop screwing around and muck through it.
So your protagonist is starting to sound like an antagonist? Go for it. That kid sounds more like a teenager? Ta da! The miracle of puberty works wonders. Don’t be afraid to just switch up a character or an event.
It helps to have a very vivid view of the ending—all the more reason to crack on and GET THERE.
Remember, it’s not like anyone but you will have to read this draft. The folks of NaNoWriMo call it “thirty days and nights of literary abandon” for a reason. Don’t worry about form, strictures of genre and narrative. Just let the story go where it wants. Like a toddler’s antics with finger paint, you will see a massive mess at the outset, but some beauty, too. Imagination. Unexpected contrasts that just seem to work somehow. Trust me: the mess is worth it.
At some point, I hope, your characters seek something that will help fulfill a goal, or quest, or what have you. In my case, my characters are seeking a member of their group who’s been taken. Stakes are always high in such situations, and it gives a writer the challenge of laying clues that readers MUST be able to see without feeling obvious, for characters to drop verbal clues without sounding like they’re being dropped. It’s a delicate balance, not often achieved in a single draft. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t try, and if a little bit of mysterious air can help, all the better. Let Alexandre Desplat’s music from the final Harry Potter story help provide the necessary ambiance for the mystery woven in your plot.
In celebration of reaching the halfway point of my story, I think it’s time for a chase. Any story, especially one with murder, kidnapping, and other intrigues, has got to have a chase. Plus, this chase from BOURNE SUPREMACY has some excellent percussion/string sequences for fighting. Now, set a fire under those characters and set them a’runnin’.
PS: BOURNE SUPREMACY is one of THE great scores from the last few decades because the tracks create a complete and compelling narrative arc. I usually don’t press that you must own such’n’such CD, but seriously: buy this CD.
In celebration of passing the 15,000 word mark, some music.
There’s something blissfully cool about the first meeting of two companions, be they friends or moreso. John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon has one of the most beautiful themes ever created in the spirit of friendship, and that this friendship transcends the ordinary makes it all the more powerful. Treat your characters to a first meeting that is nothing short of memorable.
National Novel Writing Month is upon us. You’ll have to pardon me as I wish to dedicate my time write–feeble as it is–to the challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days.
So rather than blog, per say, I shall share music I find useful for various elements of story. For starters, a starter: music that marks the beginning of adventure. James Newton Howard’s score for PETER PAN has an excellent bit of fantastic to inspire you: a light giddiness that builds into the dramatic departure of the known for the unknown.
Are you ready to embark on Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon? Don’t be afraid. Let your story hold out its hand. Take it, and fly.