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?”
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