This Novel Writing Thing is Tough…

Well, here I am. About 1/4 into my first novel in almost five years. My previous attempts went unsold but ever the glutton for punishment I’m trying again.

I’d forgotten how hard it is. Especially since I’ve never been one to plot in advance and instead I just jump right in. I think that was a mistake this time.

My first novel was a pretty straight forward story with two easily defined point of view characters. The protagonist and antagonist. About 75% of that was from the perspective of the protagonist.

My second was even easier in that sense. It was told entirely from the POV of one person. In this case an anti-hero who was only out to save his own skin.

I started my new novel with a single POV character, and though he’s not running out of things to do I’m finding that there’s a lot going on outside his experiences. He keeps meeting up with other characters that have (out of necessity to the story) had a lot happen to them while he’s gone. Very interesting and exciting things. Like gun battles and mutiny on board a space ship.

So much has happened while my protagonist is elsewhere I ended up having an entire scene that had a secondary character tell my protagonist all the details of what he missed. Needless to say it was a pretty boring scene.

What’s a writer to do? Well, this one has decided to set aside the 20,000+ words I already have (There is some good stuff in there.) and start plotting a little more.

The scenes I’ve written have been pretty invaluable and some will find their way into the later drafts, I’m sure, but what those scenes have done is give me a firm grasp on where the story is going. What started out as a very simple three-act plot that went directly from A to B to C is still a simple three-act plot but now, instead of traveling in a straight line between points we’re taking a much more interesting and scenic route between the beginning, middle and end.

What I’ve also seen is other characters emerge as potential POV options. Though they won’t replace the current hero of the story they will be critical to moving the story forward and using them to tell the story more deeply and with a presence my protagonist can’t always provide will add even more excitement; and hopefully more emotional impact as bad things happen to characters that have become better known to the reader.

So, I’m back to the proverbial drawing board. I’m fleshing out characters more. Giving them more personality and history and more of a stake in what’s going on. I’m planning out future scenes and inserting additional scenes from other points of view earlier into novel.

And the good thing, rather than felling anxious about where it was all going I’m feeling excited. More excited about the story and the characters than I have in weeks.

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November 2010
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