Original fiction project – week of 03/21/2010

Yet another week working on one scene. A different scene than last week, of course. In the course of writing it, I found myself doing something that is a perfect example of how first drafts are allowed to suck. Because not all sucking is created equal.

In the scene, the POV character comes upon a second character who is hiding out and asks him what happened. At which point, the character in hiding relays the story of what motivated him to go into hiding in the first place, which was frightening and unnerving, but not nearly as frightening and unnerving as it would have been if the reader had had the opportunity to be in that moment with the character, instead of hearing about it second-hand.

So if that moment remains part of the story into the second draft, I can add it in as its own scene then. One thing I really do need to reconsider is the number of POV characters I have. In my first novel, I used as many POV characters as I needed to tell the story. This time around, I got scared into keeping it down to four, and I find that rather constraining to my story-telling style/voice.

It’s possible I have just chosen the wrong four, but I picked them on purpose because some POVs are too knowledgeable and therefore too revealing of the bits of the story I want to reveal slowly. This need to unravel the mystery slowly is proving to be a challenge for me, because I don’t want to be a “cheat” as a writer and have characters keep things from the reader for no good reason other than “the reader can’t know that yet OMG.” For a reader, that’s very annoying, and very transparent, and very condescending. In some places, I have actually rethought the characters from my original conception of them to make them less knowledgeable than they were before so the awkwardness of keeping things from other characters doesn’t arise.

10 thoughts on “Original fiction project – week of 03/21/2010

  1. I’m very good at getting too many characters. I’ve seen stories with many characters that work very well. On the other hand, I’ve seen it become a confusing mess. Though I think you probably made a good choice in not chosing the more knowledgable characters. The readers would feel cheated if stuff was simply handed to them on a silver platter or worse annoyed that the character knew the stuff and didn’t share it with the others

  2. Someone was complaining about that in a book review on my flist recently. I think it’s a sign of bad writing.

  3. I know I’d feel it was a cheap trick. Heck I used to get ticked on Buffy and/or Angel when the whole drama of that episode came from them just not talking to each other like normal people. How many times did one of them know something important and chose not to share it with bad results? That got so tiring (like for example the whole cordy/Connor thing hinging on the fact Connor thought they wanted to kill Cordy when all Angel had to do was include Connor without telling him the plan and letting him see Cordy trying to kill Lorne)

  4. I suspect tight writing schedules lead to the over-use of that plot device on TV. But in a novel? No excuse, really.

  5. eh, those same tight writing schedules plague novelists too. The mystery writers especially when they’re expected to crank out a book a year which really equates to only a few months writing time

  6. Yeah, I suppose so. I have a few professional novelists’ blogs on my flist. I could see it coming to that for them sometimes.
    As for me, I still have no excuse. I need to find a way to make this work.

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