I generally plan out my novels to some degree, picking out what I call "key scenes" where certain transformative or informative events happen, and then I try to write my way from one key to the other in a logical fashion. Well, that isn't happening for me this time. A couple key scenes aren't fitting in with the rest of the narrative. As a result, I'm afraid that the main character will come off as whinyand not as relatableas I hoped, and that certain characters and events which were supposed to guide him(or otherwise affect--not all the scenes were positive) are pretty much not even present.
It's not like I'm opposed to changing my original plans: I've already axed two majorcharacters, and probably several more supporting ones I once thought I would need, in favor of a more streamlined story. I've reordered my chapters twice. I've also gone back and changed the name of one of the characters. What I don't like is having to drop those key scenes because I felt they conveyed something important, something I really feel the story needs.
I don't really know if I want advice, or just to vent my frustrations after being slapped in the face by a twelve-year old who has managed to do what I thus far have only been able to dream about--publish a novel. Perhaps all I really wanted to do was rant at my characters for not following orders. If I could at least provide you with a welcome distraction, then I'm glad my misfortune could help you. If not, then I'm sorry if I've wasted your time.
...<Ahem.> That said. I am also frustrated with my novel, which doesn't seem to want to be written. It has a few events, but I can't seem to convince myself that the main character is growing and evolving and feeling conflicted and... Yeah, she seems to just sort of be... there. With stuff happening to her. It's really annoying. Especially since my main way of "showing" how she's "conflicted" and "growing" is to have her spend the whole school year NOT sitting on The Swing That Determines Your Fate. Hmm. Yeah. Not working. The main thing she "does" is to NOT do something? Yeah. And I only have one day left before the house is invaded with guests, and I have been ordered to spend that day cleaning bathrooms. I'm... not really smelling success here.
First: congratulations for making it past 50K! (don't forget to validate!)
Second: if you were looking for input, this might be the perfect scenario for a story wall exercise, which, with some tweaking over what we tried last year in the Journey, we're planning to do starting in January 2014. In a story wall, the author spends about 10-15 minutes to take a small group of people through their novel, highlighting identified problem points. The people then ask questions and brainstorm solutions to those problem points.
With me, I think my story is just...well...close to being done. I don't want to drag something out that I was able to express in 29K+ words (I'm aiming for 30, might hit 31), because I've read books like that and constantly set them down. I want my story to be enjoyable, not tedious. Does that make sense?? Is that ok?? I feel like a loser...LOL...
Bedorkable Me wrote:With me, I think my story is just...well...close to being done. I don't want to drag something out that I was able to express in 29K+ words (I'm aiming for 30, might hit 31), because I've read books like that and constantly set them down. I want my story to be enjoyable, not tedious. Does that make sense?? Is that ok?? I feel like a loser...LOL...
BUT....I'm going to enjoy editing. :)
You should absolutely not feel like a loser! 50,000 words is an arbitrary limit; NaNoWriMo is, first and foremost, designed to motivate people to accomplish their writing goals. Their acceptance of its use as a motivational tool is why there is a "NaNo Rebels" forum. As long as you accomplish something of use to you, you are a winner in my book.
Chuck Wendig just wrote a blog article to that effect (caution for those not familiar with his writing--the language he uses is definitely NSFW and filled with expletives; but he writes some very insightful columns). People who don't finish their novels in November but who go on to complete them afterwards should be commended; writing novels is not a game but a larger pursuit.
You could throw something completely unexpected at your character... like, maybe the Swing That Determines Your Fate gets torn down... for... safety reasons? That way she can't go and sit on it, and is forced to actually DO something?
Maybe I should explain my problem a little more. Maybe it would help you guys to help me.
I'm not sure how familiar any of you are with the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, but the basic premise is thatcertain people have the ability to control one of the four elements--Earth, Fire, Air, and Water--using a combination of martial arts, geneticinheritance,and a vaguely defined spiritual connection. There is one person, called the Avatar, who can control all 4 elements at once, while everyone else is limited to just one.
What I have so far, is that my main character is born to a tribe of water benders (that's the term for people who can control elements,) but his father was not from the tribe, so as a result, my MC can't bend water but instead bends fire. He is ostracized for it and teased in his home village, so he leaves and goes to a new city, founded by the Avatar, that is accepting of people from all nations.
Now, the MCwas (initially)expecting this to solve his problems, but he finds that prejudices still exist even in this city, and most of his new friends also dislike fire benders for various reasons, so he just keeps his ability a secret. Through a series of unfortunate events, the MC gets evicted and loses his job, and, after getting into a fight on the streets wherein he uses his fire bending, he is invited to put his bending to good use andcome work for an old lady. Having no where else to go, he accepts her offer, but is afraid that his new fire bending friends will dislike him if they learn that he's not actually from a fire bending nation, so he keeps his past a secret. He doesn't actually lie, but tells half-truths and creative stories to avoid revealing himself as being from a water tribe, stories like "his father left during the war and never came home," (which is technically true, but not the actual truth.)
The denouement (or whatever that thingis called,)is supposed to happen when he is forced to use his fire bending to defend his non-fire bending friends, thus revealing his secret to them. Then, theyare supposed to, either accidentally or intentionally, reveal that he is not from a fire nation to his girlfriend, who doesn't know that he's from a water tribe. She leaves him, he's supposed to do what he always does, which is to blame his misfortune on his fire bending, and go into an emotional tailspin, crashing and burning in a gutter somewhere. His friends, both fire nation and non, are then supposed to rally around him and help him to realize that there's nothing wrong with being a fire-bending water tribesman, that he's the one responsible for his misfortunes because of his lying, and that his bending is a gift and not a curse.
What I don't have happening, but that Iwant to have, are "flashback" scenes of him being teased and tormented. I have them shoved in at the very beginning, but they're really just backstory theater.I don't have a "first low" in his emotional health where I wanted him to write a letter to the Avatar pleading for help. I also don't have a good reason for why his non-fire bending friends reveal his true origins to his fire bending friends, since, as of right now in the story, neither side knows each other.
This is not entirely relevant, but seeing your posts about your novel always remind me of the fanfic idea I had for a waterbender who was raised in the fire nation (since so many waterbenders were taken captive, it seemed plausible to me that one would be pregnant, and would convince one of the kinder guards to raise the baby), and her frustration at having the "wrong" kind of bending after looking up to her firebender brothers all her life.
But, to get to the point, I wouldn't worry that you aren't really hitting all the right beats and at the right pace. Don't worry if your MC comes off as whiny or if motivations don't shine through. Write the scenes you want, in whatever order they show up. The point is to get it all out, even if it's a disgustingmess, so you can /see/ everything that works and doesn't.
I usually have a hard time with that. I realize that one of my MCs needs to go, and it knocks out my motivation for the rest of the month because I feel like I need to start over. But if you can embrace the chaos of disappearing characters and nearly-nonexistant structure and the like, it really does wonders to just power through and get to the end so you can do it /right/ later.
Okay, I'll take a stab at this. Just some random thoughts/reactions:
your MC sounds like a good guy who is persecuted for his background (which is also a little odd since wouldn't people respect or fear the fire bending power?). As a good guy, he hasn't given his friends cause to betray him. Perhaps he should be tempted to do something that isn't good or that is selfish/fearful that then rebounds to cause the recriminations.
I'm not sure I understand why *other* people would ostracize someone they thought was from the fire nation but turned out to be from the water bending nation; I can understand why they might fear or hate someone from the fire nation if there are past wars or atrocities caused by the fire nation, but it doesn't seem like there would be a caste or class problem in the other case UNLESS those friends were water benders from his own region (i.e., the ones who might have bullied him).
For his friends to betray and abandon him like that, it seems like there should be some action (mis-)attributable directly to him; e.g., if another firebender in the Avatar city (or a group of them) caused some fires and he, discovering this alone and trying to control them, is blamed for them.
For this guy to be troubled by flashbacks even years after he has left his home, he must be troubled by guilt. Is there something that the guy did (or failed to do) with his powers when he was in his home that then haunts him? Perhaps in the aftermath of that, he has sworn never to use his firebending powers again...
I didn't mean they were actual medical flashbacks, just flashback scenes, most likely prefaced by, "I remember when ...." or "It was just like that one time..."
And yes, the characters are living in an era just after a war wherein the fire nation attacked the other nations, almost completely destroying air benders and one of the water bending tribes. Thus, there arejustifiably unfriendly sentiments towards fire benders, and fire benders as a culture are typically confrontational and "hot headed," thus perpetuating the stereotypes.People don't really fearfire bending since each tribe has their own element, so rather than run from my MC they make fun of him for being different, (kids can be so cruel.)
His friends don't abandon him, just his girlfriend, and she leaves because she feels betrayed by his lies. I guess I didn't explain it well; I'm sorry.To me, anyway, it's justifiable anger.I haven't decided if they work things out and get back together or if they stay apart, but, at the moment, that is outside the realm of the fanfic, anyway, and thus not something I feel the need to answer at the moment.
silverwolf42 wrote:This is not entirely relevant, but seeing your posts about your novel always remind me of the fanfic idea I had for a waterbender who was raised in the fire nation (since so many waterbenders were taken captive, it seemed plausible to me that one would be pregnant, and would convince one of the kinder guards to raise the baby), and her frustration at having the "wrong" kind of bending after looking up to her firebender brothers all her life.
You should write this, then we can both publish them on the Avatar wiki and be Avatar buddies together.
I know I should just write, and worry later, but I'm leery of writing only to have to scrap it later because I assumed something happened that ended up never happening.
At around 10k from the end I ran out of scene outline notecards (which I hadn't had a chance to finish before November), which meant around the last third of my book is unplanned. I know what's supposed to happen but not necessarily the path needed to get there. Now at less than 6K from the end I'm finding it really, really hard, but I'm so close. I can't quit!
Part of the problem is that with December coming up, so is a Shadowun RPG game I plan on running. I write all my own adventures instead of using pre-published material, and I've got a lot of ideas up there waiting to be written. It's hard to not just stop writing Reap It, Sister! and move on to writing game scenarios/adventures.