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Dipping Into the Character Well

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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Talon Sinnah » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:44 pm

Agreed too many times I have looked back at a scene in my story and said "wow that could of been so much stronger."
I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the Soul. The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me. The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.

-Walt Whitman-
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Grand Evander » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:38 pm

In all honesty, I consider my finished work a series of failures I didn't know how to correct. Our tastes change over time too, alienating us from our older work. What we considered innovative and evocative becomes stilted and pedestrian as we develop our story and our voice.

I often find myself revising scenes I had revised a week earlier, just because I still wasn't satisfied. It takes forever to get most anything done... sigh.
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby spknoevl » Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:10 am

A strong story can overcome weak or one-dimensional characters as long as it can keep the reader's attention. The Da Vinci Code was a riveting book but in all honesty, other than Professor Langdon, none of the characters were really well fleshed out. It was the plot itself and its fast pace that kept you reading page after page.
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Grand Evander » Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:08 pm

I think a strong story includes strong characters. A strong plot or concept can outweigh weakness in character development but this also delves into genre conventions and author tastes. Certain genres, such as sci-fi and mystery, are often plot driven by construction. Sci-fi and fantasy can also be world driven, wherein the allure is exploring the conventions and idiosyncrasies of the world the writer has created. I find literary fiction, in contrast, is very character driven, often using the characters' thoughts and dynamics to create tension, whereas other genres like fantasy have action to keep the reader turning the pages.
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby The Master » Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:55 pm

Grand Evander wrote:I often find myself revising scenes I had revised a week earlier, just because I still wasn't satisfied. It takes forever to get most anything done... sigh.

Yeah, I tend to rewrite too much then it gets so overworked I've lost sight of what I was doing with it in the first place. Sometimes I think we need to have more faith in our first draft!
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Grand Evander » Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:00 pm

I think Stephen King said that a final draft is a first draft -10%, for what it's worth. I try to prioritize my rewrites nowadays. It's difficult to be satisfied with what's written since we want to write the best versions of our work that we can, polishing and polishing until we erode the veneer.
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Talon Sinnah » Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:24 pm

i have just started rewriting a story that I thought was perfect when I finished it. Its garbage, I have almost completly changed the scifi alien theme into deminsions and I am making a already dark, calculating, revenge driven killer into a Kenshin style batosai (manslayer) revenge driven blind killer. Everything the character does is going to work towards his goal and is really not going to show to much thawing of his icy heart until close to the middle. Would you believe I would use him as my main character. I have also found that more detail helps no end especially when writing about a dark hero. It is also bad when you look over your first draft and you can tell how you have grown as a writer by the time you are towards the middle of the damned story.
I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the Soul. The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me. The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.

-Walt Whitman-
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Grand Evander » Fri May 01, 2009 7:23 pm

I think that happens to all of us. A manuscript takes a long time to write, and no doubt we grow as we write. I'm in the process of revising my own WIP and I've had to "update" my earlier chapters to maintain a consistent and more mature voice. Our ability to question our past decisions is evidence of our growth as people in general. I must admit that I scrapped my first ms completely when I realized its many shortcomings. The lessons I learned informed the writing of my current WIP. I've even heard stories of famous authors taking copies of their published books and marking corrections. Michel Montaigne constantly revised his Essays even after their publication. Take heart. Your experience is something many writers go through.
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Ariel » Sat May 02, 2009 9:50 pm

Just remember not to be too critical of yourselves. :wink:
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Re: Dipping Into the Character Well

Postby Grand Evander » Sun May 03, 2009 4:43 pm

Some suggestions for revising I've picked up over the years:

1. Try to understand your characters' motivations and the attitudes that differentiate them. This includes minor characters. Add tension to your scenes based on these motivations and use dialogue to flesh out characters more than just advance the plot.

2. Think about subplots to add depth and additional dimensions to a story and help avoid creating a plot too thin or linear.

3. Avoid being too "on the nose" with your writing. This is close to the pithy "Show, Don't Tell" tenet that I don't wish to belabor.

4. There's an old saying: The first page sells the first book and the last page sells the next one. Work a lot on the hook at the beginning. Even if you have an unsympathetic main character, which is a bit of a handicap, the intrigue created by the first pages can help sustain a reader's interest to get to the point where the character's icy heart starts to thaw.

5. Use editing as an opportunity to bring to the fore the parts of your first draft you really liked. It's a chance to revisit and strengthen your favorite parts of your writing. My own revisions have led to drastic changes in my own ms that, to this day, I feel are for the better.

Take heart!
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