In the Character Module of DIY MFA 101,Gabriela postulates that, even if there are many characters of great importance, there is actually only one protagonist in a story. Of course there are exceptions, but this tends to be the rule. My first inclination was to reject this statement. After all, almost every one of my stories has a pair of central main characters: Ryn and Scion for Ravens and Roses; Samuel and Amaris for Seahawks and Storms; Nathaniel and Shakti for Courting the Moon; Asa and Tal for Faylinn; and Melyin and Ciar (see-are) for Rinamathair. Continue reading “The Heart of the Story”→
“Terry [Pratchett] was many things, but he was not a jolly old elf. I think each of us tends to take something and use that as the place where you begin making your art. If you’re going to make good art, it’s likely that you’re going to go to the place where things are dark, and use that to shine light into your life and, if you’re doing it right, into other people’s lives as well. For Terry, it was always anger. There was a deep rage in him that allowed him to create. For me, it tends to be sorrow or loneliness or confusion.”
The pat answer that I’ve often seen given by writers, either in person or via books of advice, is that their art comes from joy or curiosity or wonder or passion. The emotions referenced are often positive or at least neutral. This seems to be the more socially acceptable answer. It’s a little more unusual, even slightly morbid, to hear someone say that their art, regardless of the tone of the end product, stems from a darker source. Usually we think that your emotional state should match the emotions evoked by your creation. I mean, really, would you have guessed that the hilarious absurdity of Discworld stemmed from a man’s rage? It certainly surprised me.
That surprise made me stop and reflect on what emotional core drives my own creativity. While all emotions are necessary to craft a convincing piece of fiction, I was curious to know what the wellspring consisted of. Did my writing come from joy, sorrow, anger, loneliness, despair, amusement, fear, cynicism, or some other emotional core? Was this consistent or did it vary from project to project?
I’ve turned the question over in my mind, and as I trace down the central emotional motivation for characters in my various works-in-progress, I think that the answer might be fear. The main characters in Ravens and Roses, All’s Fair, Astral Rain, Rinamathair, Jewel and the Skyrunners, Moon’s Fire/Moon’s Water… almost all of them are all driven by fear of something. For many of them this fear is about losing something or someone, and almost all of them are in denial about it. Some of them manifest this by being shy and adverse to risk while others become bold and abrasive in an attempt to hide what they see as a weakness. A good portion of their narrative journey is spent recognizing that fear, admitting it to themselves or to others, and then working to overcome it. Some succeed; others don’t, at least not completely.
I don’t generally share the same specific fears as my characters, but the sensation is the same. Even though I prefer to write while feeling happy or content rather than angry or depressed, the underlying motivation is fear. It’s a little weird, since I’ve never run into anything truly dangerous in my life so far. But the sensation, be it a small, niggling sense of unease or full-blown panic, is always there. And as I think about what Neil Gaiman said in these two articles, I think that might be my fuel, the part that gives the stories and characters I create that little extra push into realism. The soul-spark that makes them come alive. Because fear, like anger or loneliness, is a universal human emotion.
Oh my gosh, I am so excited that I don’t know where to begin. I guess the title of this entry says it all: I’ve actually completed a draft of a novel! Yep, All’s Fair (AFiLaW) is the first one. While I’ve spent a lot of time working on Ravens and Roses and have called each stage its own “Draft,” that story is still missing pieces of it and therefore should probably not be titled as such. But that’s just splitting semantic hairs, so moving on!
I hammered out the plot and characters for All’s Fair in October 2015 and started writing on November 1, 2015. As of January 31, 2016, I have a complete story ready for beta reading. Wow. That’s 170 pages written in 92 days. There aren’t any gaping holes that need to be filled in or scenes that haven’t been written. Obviously things may be adjusted, dropped, or added during the editing process, but you can actually read it from beginning to end. I’m still a little stunned at this; the only other complete novel-length stories that I have finished are fan fiction. (Yes, I know, I need to get back to “Nakishojo.”) And those took me years to complete! The fastest I’ve ever written was for the Dark Crystal Author Quest back in 2013, which took three months, but was still not really complete. Not like All’s Fair.
Okay, seriously, who keeps making off with all this time? Feels like the year just got started and we’re already on the cusp of 2016! (And from what I’ve heard, this sense of time distortion only gets worse… ugh.)
I am definitely in a better place at the end of 2015 than I was last year. Many of my 2014 goals have been reached, and it feels like I’ve got a better handle on life in general, which is a massive relief! I want to give a huge thank-you to all of my friends, readers, subscribers, and followers. You make this all worth-while.