Thursday, July 27, 2006

A word about my characters

Okay, so I'm just starting out with this book, but I thought I'd go ahead and talk about this now so that there is/are no confusion/hurt feelings/delusions of grandeur later on when I start posting snippets. *g*

The characters in my novel will be entirely fictitious. None of them (even the MC) will be me, but they will all come from myself. After all, how can I think and respond for these characters outside of myself? Some part of me has to go into them in order for them to take life. I can't give them something I don't have.

For example, the main character has a lot of my characteristics. She's a medical physicist (at least for now--that may change), intelligent, witty, speaks her mind (and lots of other things), independent, brown haired and brown eyed, 5' 6", not thrilled with her body, loves to read, etc. In that way, she is like me, but not based on me. She is also a black belt, recently single, and at least bilingual (prolly Spanish, but I may have her learn Gaelic for fun), none of which apply to me.

In order to supply the parts of the characters that don't come from me, I will do a combination of two things: make it up entirely or "borrow" from my real life. What that means for you as a friend/reader is this:

You may see (or think you see) yourself or other people you know in my novel.

It may be a name, physical characteristic, personality trait, relationship to the main character, something else, or a combination of these. If you think it came from you, and you're close enough to me to suspect so, then it probably did. I may or may not ask you to use these things. But here's the important part:

Just because a character seems to be inspired by you does not mean that all aspects/actions of that character come from you or indicate how I think about you.

Just as the MC is similar to me but not me, so the other characters may be similar to people but not them. Shaylin and I discussed this the other day with regards to the MC, the male lead, and their relationship. Just as the MC is not me, the male lead (still unnamed) will not be him, though he may share some of Shaylin's characteristics. This is because to write a fiction story about these two people and their relationship, I have to be able to have them do/think/say things that neither Shaylin nor I would do/think/say. And when they are intimate (as they will be--they do get married after all) I don't want Shaylin to think that the MC is supposed to be me, but the male lead obviously isn't him, so I'm imagining being with another man.

I'm saying this now because I wrote the first part of chapter one the other night, and right off the bat people who know me are going to go "Aha! I recognize those names! Then the MC must be Jenny herself..." The truth is, yes--I did borrow the situation from my real life, because I thought it would resonate with readers and generate sympathy for the MC (wow, I sound like a real writer already!). And I just happened to like the real names of the people involved; I thought they fit well with the story. But those characters are not intended to be the real people they are named for. (And if you've known me for very long and can't figure out who I'm talking about, then maybe you don't know me as well as you think you do...) *g*

Speaking of the first chapter, the Evil Editor is doing the first 150 words of people's books right now, and I submitted mine. I'm torn. If he does it, I'll be glad for the experience and insight. But if he doesn't, that implies that it's pretty good in its own right. I guess we'll see.

Anyway, if you do want to be written into the book in a certain way, let me know, and I'll see what I can do. *g* But I may still borrow from you in other ways too.

And now back to my day job...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Progress in the face of adversity

After the past two days I've had (I spent 12 hours at work today), I thought getting any work done at all on the book would be out of the question. Instead, a very rough draft of the "cover blurb" and the first bit of the story appeared in my head as I was putting Gabe down to sleep tonight. So I dutifully typed them down, lest I forget them later on. Better to have something and edit it later than have nothing and try desperatly to recapture whatever it was you thought of once upon a time. It only amounted to about 400 words total, but since I had been at a total loss for how to actually begin the story, I consider it progress.

Now, for those of you wondering just exactly what this book is supposed to be about, I offer you the cover blurb (very rough draft). Ignore any [brackets]--I have to fill those in later. Let me know what you think. Interesting? Too cheesy? I really want to know.

Would you risk everything for the one you love?

Hurt and betrayed by her fiancĂ© and best friend, Elspeth Clarke seeks to forget her troubles on a summer trip to Scotland, Elspeth’s gift to herself for completing graduate school and finding a job. While exploring an ancient castle, Elspeth finds herself suddenly transported 300 years into the past and thrust into the world of clans and conflict[?]. Warily accepted by [the people of the time], Elspeth falls for a clansman named [], but his duties to the clan prevent him from returning Elspeth’s feelings—at least openly—until he is captured and sentenced to death. After one night together on the eve of his execution, Elspeth secretly bargains for his release with the only thing she has, her life, gambling that she will find a way to return to her own time before it’s too late. When [] returns home from captivity and learns of Elspeth’s sacrifice, he, too risks everything by seeking to travel to her time and search her out, not knowing if she is alive, but not willing to admit that the woman he loves is dead.

Monday, July 24, 2006

And so it begins...

For many years, I've wanted to write a novel. The genre has changed, as have my story ideas, but the desire was always there. Having recently firmed up my ideas on genre (or whatever you call the category I've chosen - it's certainly not doable with a one-word descriptor) and story, I decided there was no time like the present. If I never get started, I'll never get done. Or published.

Everything was still very nebulous in my head until Friday afternoon, when all of a sudden part of a scene kind of crystallized. So I started e-mailing myself notes on it and it just turned into about 2500 words. (Novel manuscripts, I have learned, are measured in words instead of pages, as the latter tend to be fairly relative to the program one is writing in.) My current goal is about 100,000 words. We'll see how that goes as the story develops.

For the moment, what I have kind of picks up in medias res with the (erstwhile) wedding/handfasting of the two main characters. I haven't actually found a name for the male lead yet, so he is [] for now. I'm following the writing style of my favorite author and inspiration, Diana Gabaldon, in that I just write, and whatever I don't know goes in brackets until such time as I can research and know what to put there. So sprinkled through my scene I have such gems as [Bad Guy], [prison], [home], etc. That way the image and flow of the scene I have in my head is not disrupted by stopping to look up, for example, the style of shirt worn in Scotland in the early 1700's. It seems to work so far.

My current plan is to start with what I have and the rest of the story idea that has come to me, and write until I get it all covered in basic form. Then do any research necessary to fill in the brackets, and add to/edit as I go along. At that point I hope to have some idea of the beginning and end framework, and I'll sketch those out. Then fill in those brackets, etc. Then I'll check my word count and see if I need to go back and flesh it out some more. Then I'll begin the process of read-though and edits. And we'll see what happens from that point on.