Terrible news, great news, but it’s all one in the same news… I am still fang-deep in that vampire story that I mentioned in my last post. The great bit is that I’ve spent a lot of time butt-in-chair, words-on-page. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to re-vamp this story into something that doesn’t involve blood-suckers (obvious pun intended). So vampires it is. At least I’ve avoided capes, widows peaks, men dressed in velvet and lace, Elyria-esque females, and sparkly baseball players thus far. If any of these do make an appearance, it will likely be as punchline to a bad joke.
In spite of my complaints, I am actually enjoying the writing process with this particular story. The last two larger works that I produced were both done for NaNoWriMo and were excruciating to write. In looking back, I realize now that neither of the novels had good character development. Both had male protagonists who seemed to move through life simply because they were both too unmotivated to lay down and die. Both lacked any real passion about anything, with the possible exception of self-preservation. Even in that aspect, they were dull and unappealing as day-old dishwater. There were days that I wanted to take a match to those manuscripts (and probably should have!), because writing them bored me to tears.
Not all of my NaNos have felt as flat as the last two and, with twenty-twenty hindsight, it’s clear that the interesting ones were the stories whose main characters I wanted to know better. For me, the process of creating a character is like getting to know someone new. Even though I am technically the one who decides what a character likes and dislikes, what motivates and stresses them, and what ultimately they do and do not do, my favorite characters to write are the one that surprise me. Characters that I think I know who pull some ace or joker from their sleeve when I’m not expecting it.
The protagonist of this latest work is such a character. Looking back at the short piece where she originally appeared, she had a lot of potential to join the ranks of the dull main characters described above. Fortunately, characters sometimes have a way of telling a writer “No, you’re writing it wrong. This is not who I am.” In the case of this female protagonist, it was the other characters who informed me that I wasn’t writing her correctly. They pointed to little hints that she wasn’t exactly who I had originally created, that what lurked beneath the surface was quite another person entirely. She has become, in fact, far more interesting and complex than originally envisioned. Writing her is a joy. Daily word counts that were agonizing during last year’s NaNo are flying off my fingers easily now.
I don’t know how long this particular enchantment will last, but I hope that it continues through the duration of the novel. I’d like to continue to be surprised by this character and what she chooses to do.