Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Consistency

I must have either been really happy when I wrote yesterday's post or really tired because I sure did use a lot of exclamation points. Apologies for that. Heh.

Ok. Ahem. Now to the topic at hand. Consistency.

In the past few days, I've done a fair amount of work on my novel. But I'm noticing that my main character is sort of morphing out of the GMC's that I originally gave her. And I think this is a good thing because my critique partner has pointed out some things in the first few chapters that I hadn't noticed before. Mainly - my character isn't very sympathetic and well, my critique partner didn't like her. That's not a good thing.

Now don't get me wrong. I believe you can have a main character that isn't universally liked and show how he or she changes and becomes a better person (if that is your goal). But while my character is, in the beginning, spoiled and a bit selfish, there are very good reasons for her to be that way - my job is to make sure that she is still likeable or at least sympathetic. Because let's face it - if she's not, then the reader really won't care what happens to her.

Here is where consistency comes in - and also where I thank God that this is the rough draft and I can go back and change things to my heart's content. (I am resisting putting an exclamation mark after 'content' ...) I need to make sure that she is staying true to who she is. I, as the author and the One In Charge, cannot deviate from this or the story will ring false.

And so, it turns out, after writing chapter five last night, that my character isn't who I thought she was in chapter one. And really, that's ok. I just have to make sure that her character growth remains consistent throughout the story. And this means going back and looking for places that my character is acting, well, out of character.

Sometimes this novel-writing business blows me away and I wonder if I can do it. There are just so many things to keep track of when you're writing a novel - characterization, plot, subplot, theme. All I can say is, thank goodness for second, third, and fourth drafts. :-)

7 comments:

  1. I find that the GMC of either my heroine or hero often changes around chapter four...I think I've gotten to know them better around that point.

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  2. Kacey, I agree. It's very easy to write down the GMC's on paper and then try to get them to stick to it, but when you put them in different situations, they tend to act differently then you expected.

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  3. I'm with you on that - always amazed by the things my characters reveal as the story develops.

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  4. Judy Merrill Larson at Not Afraid of the "F" Word had a great post on this yesterday. I'm not smart enough to put the link in here, but she's on my sidebar if you don't already link to her. I also had a big epiphany when I went to Carleen Brice's book party for Orange Mint and Honey. She not only worked on the book for six years, but she re-wrote it several times before it was right. I'm sure she could have moved more quickly on it, but it was a great reminder to me that the published authors do a LOT of work on their books before they see the light of day. It makes me feel better to remember that nobody writes a great first draft. Or second. Or third. It's a lot of RE-visioning and revising and editing. Chin up! Of course it's worth it :)

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  5. Tess - it's definitely an amazing process! It's one of the great things about being a writer. :-)

    Lisa - I am going to check out the post you mentioned. I've found a tremendous sense of relief lately that I don't have to get it right the first time. I think that has been one of my hang-ups for a long time, one that has stifled the writing process.

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  6. It's reassuring to hear others going through the same thing! I'm wrestling with my new main character, acting as though I know her when in fact I've not one clue, despite the pages of notes I've so confidently scribbled down. All for naught, or most of it, anyway.

    Where's the nearest hard object? I need to bang my head.

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  7. Eating chocolate works for me, Christine. ;-) Less of a headache that way!

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