Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Breaking in the new story

I've started writing a new story, recently. When you've spent a long time working on one story, the transition to a new one can be jarring. Even when it's set in the same universe as your previous work.

It's sort of like a stiff new pair of sneakers; a new story needs some breaking in.

Different characters
My character development process, for all my talking about it, tends to be on the slow side. And even though I've built characters from scratch many times, it always has its awkward stages when I'm waiting for the character to talk to me but he just isn't up to that level yet.

Working with "old," deeply developed characters -- like Kate, Kiefan and Anders in Disciple -- spoils you to a certain degree. I know I can just give them a topic and a direction, and they'll spool out a scene on their own.

By comparison, newer characters need more notes and more steering. It feels ham-handed, at times. I have to trust, though, that with repetition and listening for the character's voice he'll quicken on his own.

Character reference photo for
Hawks & Rams - Heath Ledger, from
A Knight's Tale
Different voice
Heathric's voice is different from Kate's. He's a different person with different priorities, different sensitivities. In some ways, he's more sensitive than she is. (I'm trying to break that T/F barrier, for those of you who read the MBTI series.)

A different character means a different narrative, since I let my characters narrate -- something I don't usually make explicit, but there it is -- and that means a different view on the story. And that is, itself, a part of the story. Hawks & Rams is a much "smaller" story than Disciple, it's very personal and Heathric's more intimate voice should be a good fit.

Even though, yes, Disciple is a very personal story also but the scope is larger and Kate's more objective voice fit that.

It's a useful exercise, as an aside, to write the same scene from different characters' POVs. One should be able to see the difference in the word choice, the focus, the whole mood or the scene.

Different expectations
Genre comes into play, also. Hawks & Rams is a M/M fantasy romance -- I don't think there will be enough sex to qualify as erotica -- and chances are that people who pick it up will not have read Disciple. I need to explain the world, from scratch, in the context of this place and time that the story is happening. Being an M/M romance, I can bet that the audience for Hawks & Rams will be mostly female. I could stand to slow the pace down and do more emotional and sensual description (which fits into Heathric's more intimate voice, too.)

Which are not my strong suit, admittedly. This will be good practice.

The "breaking-in" process is mutual, after all. I'm fitting the story to my style, and the story's fitting me to its style.

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