I got talking with Himself this weekend over characterization in my books. He was startled at the fact that I don't detail out how my character is going to act, who they are, and where they're going before I write. I have a vague idea of who they are and where they're going, but I feel like it's up to them to tell me how they get there. I may have a few key points of the story that I want them to deal with but I don't know how they'll react to them. I may actually have to remove those points because the characters don't like them and refuse to do it. But then they give me different ideas and I can progress from there.
I also don't flesh out my minor characters, my placeholder characters (a shopkeeper, a blacksmith, a healer, characters that don't play an important role), and my secondary characters that interact intensely with the main character. I know their names, I have a vague idea of their personalities, but I don't develop them like you'd develop a D&D character (that's what Himself was comparing things to). I just don't work that way.
Himself brought up a good point that by the end of the story I have to go back and do some major revisions as I probably need to rework some points as I get to know the characters better. It does get frustrating at times to have to do this. But I find I like the kernel of the story more if that's how I do things.
I know there are a lot of writers out there who dig deep into their characters before they even write a word. They create character backgrounds, personalities, and motivations in detail before introducing their characters to the world they've built specifically for them. I completely admire them for this. I think it's fascinating that they can do this. This just isn't a skill I have.
I've tried it several times, along with outlining. But the characters were wooden, they didn't speak to me, and I couldn't get into their heads by doing that. Same with outlining. No matter how general the outline, I couldn't get into the story with it. I need to let it grow organically from my mind. The first draft is just that – a first draft. It's me vomiting the story onto the page.
Now, I do have a problem with going back and editing as I go. Himself was right about that. I need to let it go and write the damn thing without going back every five minutes to fix things. I need to make myself notes and just move on, which is what I'm attempting to do with Marked. He also brought up another good point. When I'm not futzing around, I can finish a first draft in two months.
So I've set myself a goal. Last month doesn't count (since I had a hell of a time writing last month due to various issues), but as of this month, I'm going to get the first draft of Marked finished by October 1st. Based on my current word count and how long I think this is going to be, that's a word count goal of 10-15k a week. Then, when it's done, I'll give it a week and start editing it as well as plan what story to do for NaNoWriMo because I will be participating again this year. Maybe I'll try Cracked World again. Or Burning Dreams. Or maybe I'll switch gears and work on one of my sci fi stories in November. It might not hurt to take a break from the fantasy for a month or two.
Whatever it is, I'll set my goal and see what it takes to accomplish it. Then I'll do it. So, keep me on my toes. Chase me down on Facebook or Twitter (if we're friends...you can find me as Alison Guynes-Annikka Woods on FB (not to be confused with Alison Guynes which is also me but is the one where I post for my family and isn't that interesting for anyone not family) and @annikkawoods on Twitter). Harass me. Leave me comments on blog posts asking me how I'm doing and demand updates. I will be setting more goals as I go for other things, and I think I'll use Monday as a “goal update” post. So be looking out for that, as well as my usual maundering.