Wednesday Chatter (and whatnot)

Good morning to you, Flamefolk.

Do your characters get along?

I have a novel I started back in 2008 that is a far-future, full sci-fi, epic adventure through the stars. It is very precious to me as it was the first work of long fiction that I was ever able to commit myself to intensely and it was my NaNoWriMo project for that year. I reached a word count of about 165k after NaNo (without an ending). Exhausted, I put it away for a bit. When I took it back out I saw that it was not an unfinished novel but a great word beast that needed cropped, tamed, trained, deloused, and quite possibly exorcised.

My solution to this was to start rewriting the tale in snippets that condensed scenes to the best parts I’d written the first time around. I shared one such snippet with Boyfriend, my official beta reader, who (upon reading it) grabbed me by the shoulders and demanded to know why he had never heard about any of this before. Or he may have texted the question, the whole shoulder thing sounds a bit dramatic for him. I explained about the beast and the Catholic church’s unwillingness to send a priest. Boyfriend dashed his stein to the floor and demanded I send him the entire work so that he might judge its worthiness. In the end, he didn’t like it. The really boring stuff I was writing around with the new snippets intrigued him, but the parts and characters I loved he didn’t.

One of his major complaints was that everyone got along.

To explain, I have two complete story tracks following one main character each. Main 1 is alone on her track and provides much of the history of the story in her reminiscences. The other is the hero who picks up stray humans he finds in destroyed or unsuitable ships as he travels across the Milky Way. The population on his ship goes from one to about eighty over the course of his journey and there are about twelve key players who provide the meat of the story in dialog and interaction with Main 2. These are the people who get along in a way that bugs my reader. I contend that they are being polite and respectful after having been rescued and that they are working together as a team against a common enemy. He says there’s no way those twelve people would all play nice with no interpersonal conflict.

I figure there’s a way that we are both right in this, but I haven’t found that mix yet so I haven’t rewritten the scenes. Since he brought it up, it’s something I’ve started paying more attention to when reading or viewing TV shows and movies. The Walking Dead is a great example of a group of people who are bonded in adversity, need each other, and are always surfing through interpersonal conflicts while dispatching their enemy as a team. I need those guys on my spaceship. We are also watching our way through one of the Stargate franchises where all of the characters are trapped aboard an ancient Ancient alien vessel that is something like seven billion light years from Earth. They are in constant interpersonal conflicts and the four key characters are always scheming in ways that make me dislike them. I don’t really want any of them on my crew, but if I maybe had one of them things might be more interesting.

This novel has a long way to go to get from beast to writer’s best friend.

What are your thoughts on interpersonal conflict between characters in your writing and in your chosen form of entertainment intake?
Does that conflict happen naturally as you write or do you have to work at it? Do you have an ideal ratio?

Enlighten me 🙂


Just a few reminders and announcements and such –

February series of mini-contests 1 of 4 was won by RicoChey for the topic “Curioser & curiouser”.

February series of mini-contests 2 of 4 was won by RicoChey for the topic “PBJ“.

February series of mini-contests 3 of 4 is in the voting phase right now. Please put an end to RicoChey’s reign of terror when casting your vote for the topic “Heart-shaped Paper”.

Do you want to do more in the fight against RicoChey? Then join us for the final week of writing drabble in mini-contest 4 of 4. Submissions are due Sunday by 11:45 pm. The topic is “Ha! —  would a madman have been so wise as this?”

There are also a few workshops for dialogue if you want to work, work on the talking in your writing.  You really need to stop procrastinating and do that. (Note to self.)

 
#gowrite #fiction #writing #nonfiction #poetry #drabble #brigitsflame

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About t.s.wright

Writer, reader, casual photographer, nature-lover, dog mom. I grew up in a tree, inside a book, whispering possible futures into discarded seed pods that curled up and exploded each summer. One day, they cut down my tree and I was forced to go to school while waiting for the replacement trees to grow strong enough to hold me. But while we waited, I grew too heavy and awkward to climb, so I had to get a job. I spent my days surrounded by flimsy walls covered in carpet that made boxes and people who forgot to look out windows. I worked really hard. Possibilities were replaced with formulas and exactitude. Eventually I forgot how to climb a tree...and how to smile. Then one day, a dog licked my foot excessively and I remembered smiling. That reminded me of more things that didn't cost money and couldn't be tallied in a spreadsheet - like hugs and love and being happy. So I found myself a Steve who reminded me what home was. Then we filled it and our hearts with dogs. Eventually we planted our own tree, together. Even though I'm happy right here, right now, I remembered that we all need possibilities to dream of, so I've started writing them down.
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4 Responses to Wednesday Chatter (and whatnot)

  1. I don’t know about ideal ratio, but humans are humans. Conflict will arise from within.

    A few dozen (or thousand) fans of TWD will probably disagree with me on this, but the problem I see with the show is that it seems as if Rick’s writers have no idea who the guy really is. The inner conflict this character suffers is so freaking frequent and disparate, and his ideology changes so dangerously quick, it’s a good thing he’s never going to be leader of my apocalyptic band of survivors. In my opinion, Rick suffers way too much inner conflict. His choices too often feel ill-contrived. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe that’s the way the writers intend for him to be. *shrugs*

    I like to sit down and get to know my characters. There is not a structured method I use, just an imaginary trek through alternate scenarios and conversations. I like to imagine that Joss Whedon did this with Mal. He looked at Mal’s ordeal in the war, at the way he developed loyalties to the underdogs of the galaxy, and discovered that all Mal ever really wanted was a home. He thinks everyone deserves the same. Anything that threatens that sense of home, and thus, his sense of right and wrong, earns a fight.

    If I were to implant that same, singular, want in Rick’s shriveled little heart, this would be an entirely different show. They’d still be at the prison with twenty-foot stone fences and the show would have ended with them standing ground and completely annihilating the guvna. It would have been awesome.

    The origin of the inner conflict does not have to be exhaustively plundered, examined, and reexamined—that could get boring—but it is necessary to at least hint at a character’s motivation for being just where they are, when they are. How do they plan to leave, or to improve their immediate environment? WHAT DO THEY WANT?

    It’s our wants that often lead us to inner conflict, and often lead us to rub other people the wrong way. Go ask your characters what they’re after.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on generationkathy and commented:

    Let’s discuss story conflict! What do your characters want?

    Like

  3. Pingback: weekend wrap-up | Brigit's Flame

  4. Pingback: Weekend Wrap Up | Brigit's Flame

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