Who’s My Main Character?

About a week ago, I started a new project. It’s a cute little thing. About ten pages long, barely talking in complete sentence fragments, yet. I’m also revising my last project, working through what I have, and trying to get it all to sit still in some kind of order.

The two projects are very different. The old one is third person, multiple points of view, and basically becoming a sprawling wasteland of revision. The new one… well, maybe I’m looking for something simpler, right now. It’s first person, one point of view, and–from an ethical standpoint–a lot more right and wrong.

First person really narrows my focus. The main character–the one who’s going to spend the most time on stage–is the I character. (Haven’t named her, yet. Of course.) Yes, you can find exceptions. But in general, that’s it. And that’s it in my new project.

I’m hoping that focusing on ONE character will reduce the revision time. And that first person will force me to do that. Can you tell?

In my last project?

There were five major characters in the last project, and that leaves me with two suspects for THE main character.

And three, if I’m allowed to count the world as a character in its own right.

It’s a big story.

But I’m still not sure whose story it is.

That makes me wonder if some of it’s more repetitive than I’m seeing. The two story lines are pretty closely intertwined. In the end, I’ll pick one, or reasons will appear and make one a clear winner.

Writing, Giant Pandas, and Staying Ahead

Between my shitty day job and my writing schedule, I’m an early riser, most of the time. It’s a little past three in the morning, right now, and my white noise machine hasn’t gone off, yet. Today, I’m writing the blog post I forgot about yesterday. Oops.

Even so, I don’t usually think of mornings as my most productive time. A little writing, here and there, but mostly, I’m up so I don’t have to rush getting dressed, and there’s time to eat a real, grown-up people breakfast and read some news.  I’m in a better mood all day for knowing the Giant Panda has been breeding like mad and is no longer on the endangered species list.

Or maybe, I’m in a better mood for that second cup of tea.

Right now, I’m thinking solid, lucid thoughts about quitting my day job. They’re not well-funded thoughts, but at least they’re a little more structured than just a series of gripes about what’s going on there. (Incompetent higher ups, who create the problems they’d like me to solve, and then complain about how I do it.) And let’s be honest–it’s not a career worthy job by any stretch.

I was never one of those kids who knew exactly what mainstream, 9-5 job I wanted from day one. Nope. I knew I wanted to be a writer (which is not exactly what the public schools have in mind) and I always cringed at the idea of… well, anything else. But I could still use a better class of day job. So, I’m trying to track down a few marketable skills. Thinking about where to volunteer to boost that resume.

Thinking about writing short stories, and actually marketing them.

Thinking of creating my own line of un-baby shower party games and supplies. Reveal cake? Pink for a girl, Blue for a boy… Green for dual incomes, no kids, and I just wanted to have a party. After that I could expand into “Didn’t marry the wrong man” showers and “Stopped having birthdays, so Happy Tuesday” Parties.

In the world of etsy, that might actually take off.

September Goals

I keep seeing goals posts coming in on my reader. It seemed like a good idea, so I stole it. Not like I’m not planning ahead, anyway. Might as well make it public.

Writing Goals

  1.  I need a new project to work on RIGHT NOW. Something to get me out of treading water with the projects I already have. I’m declaring them finished, except for scenes that are objectively missing.
  2. I am going to focus on writing at least one short story a week. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with the stories, yet.
  3. And I need to start thinking about what my NaNoWriMo project will be.

Revision Goals

  1. I need to get the Lepterian story into something resembling chronological order
  2. Begin revision on that with the intent of getting it finished by the end of the year. Because it’s just dragging out too long.

Blogging Goals:

  1. I need to get ahead of the calendar a little bit, so that I have wiggle room for busy days or days when the unexpected comes up. I already have a couple of posts scheduled for days I know will be hectic, but I think scheduled posts are the only way I’ll be able to weave blogging goals and writing goals together.
  2. Get into the habit of reaching out to other bloggers. Comment on at least three blogs daily. (Which, by the way, is also a stolen goal.)
  3. Figure out something to do about the novel I’m blogging. I want to pull it back into some kind of privacy, but I’m not exactly sure of steps on that, yet.

 

Writing as Real Life

Someone asked me if I was married, the other day… if I have kids… the usual small talk from someone I’d just met. She showed me pictures of her husband, her kid (he was pretending to be a Box Troll. I still haven’t looked up Box Trolls.) And I told her that I’m not much of anything. Not married. No kids.

Maybe someday? she prodded, optimistically.

I nodded. Maybe someday.

Truth be told, I was always more the loaner children type. Something about the idea that I can send them home appeals to me. Lots of fun, and very little commitment.

I could do marriage. In fact, there are times I’ve barely escaped with my life. **ahem** Thought about it.

And then, after you get through the small talk, there’s the real me. I’m writing a book. No, it’s not my first book. It’s…what? About two years old, now.

This was the kind of conversation that reminds me how close to the surface I really am. Not a lot of small talk, here. Other people–sometimes it seems like their whole lives are small talk. They’re perfectly willing to tell a complete stranger about their kids, or their remodeling job, or the husband who refuses to smile right in pictures.

Maybe it’s something off the introvert/extrovert scale.

Maybe it’s just that writing a book is so far off the beaten path that it almost takes another writer to hold up the other end of the chat.

There’s a lot of insecurity in that silence. I find myself comparing my art–my writing, my painting, my dance–to their lives. Their very real, real lives, with the spouse and kids, and the Box Trolls on TV, and feeling… inadequate.

I have a lot to show for my work. Honestly, I do. And objectively, I know that.

But I don’t want to show it to every coworker I can find. And the ideas of not having anything I’m willing to show them and not having anything at all get mixed up, sometimes. Goodbye confidence. Hello, what ifs.

What if I should have gotten married, had kids, raised radishes on the terrace? What if my projects never add up to anything, and I never have anything to show the coworkers or the family? What if… what if… what if…

Writing With a Sense of (Some Other) Place

In the first draft of my first trunk novel, the story was set in a small town that exists in real life.  My characters lived in a house that belongs to one of my family members, and got ice cream at the very same cafe that used to make the best root beer freezes in the entire world. My villain took several people hostage in a very weakly disguised version of a business where I worked for a couple of months, once upon a time.

Oh. And, of course, my villain was a serial killer running rampant through streets and businesses that really exist, and which would probably prefer not to be associated with mass homicide.

This is interesting. It’s a small town. Fading. I don’t remember it’s glory days, and frankly, it isn’t getting the best of the current economy. Or the one before. Or… well, any economy in recent memory. I keep hearing revitalization, but I’m just not seeing any.

A cadavers and carnage museum might be just the thing to pull people off the main road and into the local businesses. If my stories were very popular, it could be the Mitford of Mayhem. They could give tours, and maybe have a parade.

Ultimately, common sense kicked in. I fictionalized the crap out of that town, and moved it across the border into Iowa. Iowa appreciates a good bloodbath. Unlike some places.

Do you write about recognizable, real places? Or do you change them, so people won’t know? What made you make that choice?