Please contact E. B. Davis at email@example.com for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for January include: (1/5) Jennifer J. Chow, (1/12) Amy Pershing, (1/19) Heather Weidner, (1/26) Marilyn Levinson.
Monday, March 21, 2011
When starting a novel, I have mentally sketched a basic storyline. My main characters have history and function within the story. After determining what POV fits and which character(s) will best tell the story to the reader, I start to write.
Sometimes, I may write the entire novel, but other times, I seek out critiques by my writing partners before I’m finished the first draft, and revise before finishing the manuscript. The later process, revising as I write, makes the process of finishing the first draft slow and tedious. But because I’m substantially improving the story as I go along, which may change how the story culminates, I am starting to like this method better than plowing through the first draft all at once.
What I’ve discovered through this process is the art of layering. If I add one line referring to the story’s environment, I can also create a connection between the characters and their physical reality. By adding this line, my character may react to the environment, adversely or not. It might also enhance the plot, but even if it doesn’t, it injects a realism into fiction that bolsters plausibility.
I’ve mastered revealing my main characters’ traits and nuances. But my secondary characters need work. Adding another layer of secondary characters’ identifiers, such as their speech, has forced me to get to know all of my characters well, which will enable the reader to recall them when they appear sporadically throughout the novel. When adding this layer, I can find specific actions for them in the story fitting those identifiers. Their newly created characteristics also may foster other functions within the story.
Adding details from real world research can detract if the story bogs down in detail, and yet those details add interest when presented in a slight of hand manner. Deciding which of those facts adds to the story without Michenerizing a novel can be tricky. Understanding how your novel fits into the real world can change scene location, titles used by characters, and procedures utilized by your novel’s fictitious authorities. This layering must be correct if used. Nothing blows credibility more than when the author includes real world references but doesn’t apply them correctly.
What are your most favorite secondary characters? What tricks have you found that add credence to your story?