Current Project: NaNoWriMo 2009
Status: 7816 / 50,000 words
I've been blogging daily about my NaNoWriMo experience in my personal blog. Yesterday's post (NaNo Day 8, On Which I Hatch A Cunning Plan) was about trying to figure out why, at 7427 words, I suddenly experienced the dreaded "now what?" syndrome. While the post was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, the topic was serious. (And I wasn't lying about the directed dreaming--I really did that.)
You see, I'd been chugging along writing scenes, getting to know my characters beyond descriptions on a worksheet, thinking we were all having fun, when wham! I came to a wall. A blank wall, at that. What the heck was wrong? I'd worked on plot (boy, had I worked on plot!). So why couldn't I figure out what came next?
Over the course of the day--spent mostly away from the computer--I came to realize that while my characters had strong personalities, their goals were weak and their motivations, tepid. I'd made the fatal mistake of confusing the huge world building of the story (i.e. the setting/framework for the story) with the, actual, you know, story of the story. Confused? Yeah, me too.
Part of the problem is my inexperience. I know that I'm still learning and until I actually complete a book, I'll continue to grope my way along. I understand that, tough as it is for me to admit ("I've been voraciously reading books all my life. You'd think I'd just know how to put one together!"). But another part of the problem is my personality. I dislike conflict in real life and I go out of my way to avoid it when possible. I like the characters I've created and I've discovered a blind spot I didn't know I had. I have a tough time making their lives difficult. Who knew?
My advice to myself? Get over it!
What I did on NaNo Day 9 was go back to the character drawing board and really examine character goals and motivation. I'm not quite done with that. I'd say I've raised the motivation temperature from tepid to warm and put a little pudding into the jello of their goals (ew! I really need to come up with a better visual for that!). Still, it was a realization worth having and changes worth making.
What about you? Do you (or did you) ever find yourself making things too easy on your characters? How did you get over it/solve that problem? A newbie (really!) wants to know.