Two days ago I decided to have a go at writing a lot yesterday. It didn’t quite go to plan, but I did manage to finish the short story centred on one of the characters from my novel, and I did sort a few things in the middle section of the novel.
Back in November, when I was working on the novel, one of the problems that led me to stop writing was that I didn’t have a good enough grasp on the character Laik, a major character with a complex role in the story, whose interactions with the protagonist Fiarra was an important driver of the plot and of core importance to the theme of justice in the novel. But I just didn’t have a feel for her. I struggled with her motivations and her personality.
This is why I wrote the short story. It is not really a story that can be published because the plot isn’t perhaps particularly strong or interesting, but it was important for me to write to get an idea of Laik’s character and motivations. Upon completion of the short, at around 1,700 words, I was pretty satisfied with what I had worked out in terms of her motivations and her voice, but if I’m honest it was a discussion with my fiance about the story and about its place in the wider world of the novel that really cemented things for me.
But sometimes that’s what’s needed. Not just writing the story, but talking about them with someone who is willing to listen. In talking to my fiance, I had to not merely outline the short story for him, but provide him with the context of it – what comes from it, how and why; how the traits revealed in the story have a bearing upon later events and relationships. In talking it out, I worked the sequence of events and the important points out for myself.
So while I might not have quite worked on writing as set out in Phil’s challenge – in several 20 minute sessions (I managed two sets of three instead of three sets of four, and had a two hour lunch break in between), I did do some writing, and more importantly I got a stronger grasp on the world and characters of the novel, so that when I get back to writing it there’s an obstacle that I’ve overcome already and don’t have to face head on.
It’s an approach I will take again with some of the other problem areas in the novel.