This had been a productive week in fiction-land. I am not sure what clicked, exactly, but last Sunday when I sat down to do my obligatory “ten minutes” on the story, I got an idea about one of my characters’ motivations, what drives her, and it opened a lot of, well, not new writing, necessarily, but a lot of digging around in old writing to start filling in her back story.
Lately, I have been stalled on this character. I knew more or less what role she would have in the story, but I was less than enthused about writing it. I didn’t find her particularly compelling. But she is one of my POV characters, and she was currently “on stage” for my morning writing blurb. I started out just working on the scene I had “outlined” for her and it got me thinking about who she was and why she would do the things I’ve planned for her. And then, I knew.
This is the kind of thing you can’t “decide” ahead of time when you’re “outlining” a story. You only understand a character when you’re in their shoes–when you’re writing them.
This particular character is a character I recycled from my ’99 story, and though a lot of elements in my new story are pulled from that abandoned story, I had already decided to not include her in it. But then, after I began writing, she sort of re-insinuated herself. Not because she is so compelling on her own, but because I needed a human POV character to give the reader an up-close and personal view of one of my spirit being characters, who cannot be a POV character for reasons I’ve already discussed. So she came back. And then I found her difficult to care about. So being able to nail her down and give her a history is a good thing.
I took a lot of her history from her history in the old story, tweaking it a bit to fit my new ideas for her and the circumstances of this story. Then I found places for some of that backstory to go in sections I’ve already written. I did all this on Sunday, but it set a tone for the week, because as I moved on to other characters, my task for the week seemed to be to dig up the background ideas I’d had on them and find places in what I’ve already written to have them muse a bit on this, and in that way, flesh each of them out.
There was also some writing in the current scenes I’ve got going as well, so all in all, a productive week.