Monday, December 23, 2013

Penultimate Mortem

The hardest part about writing this story is probably something not immediately apparent. I actually spent a fair amount of time deliberating how to structure Claire's voice. She's the second POV character in the novel I'm working on and I wanted to make her voice contrast with Cameron's.

There are a few things about Cam's voice which I tend to play up a bit: he's young and rather naive, but he tends to wander off into these Sam Spade-like world weary internal monologues. Each one has a launching point and a destination and usually serves as a vessel for either a bit of exploration of the setting or his background or gives justification for the next thing he's going to do...which usually winds up with him getting his stupid ass killed. Cam's very much a penny wise pound foolish kind of guy. He's based loosely on a friend of mine, in fact, who tends to jump into things without thinking things through all the way. No, my friend is not a wizard. He's pretty awesome, though.

Claire's intention is to be something of a foil for that nature. The danger of using a character as a contrast is that it's pretty easy to only flesh them out halfway. I don't think that should be the case--they should be deep enough to support themselves. She's a very external sort, doesn't spend much time thinking things through but shows more common sense. She notices people more, but doesn't fret over details quite so much. She's more of a doer than a watcher. She also hardly ever monologues and on the rare occasion when she does it's mostly brief but strange anecdotes about her family.

They both are very organized, but in very different ways. Cam tends to categorize and analyze. He's an observer, a bit of a detective (more on that later). He could look at the cars in a parking lot and tell you which of them belongs to people who work there, who's visiting and whether anybody there was just using the available parking spaces to carpool. He's clever that way. He usually has a solution for any given problem even if it's a stupid one.

Claire brings organization to chaos--she tends to be very, very bothered when things don't add up. She wants everything to make sense, to be predictable and is more than willing to make it so. She gets bothered when books on a shelf are in disarray. In a sense, she's a bit of a contradiction because she wears the trappings of being an anarchist, but she spends most of her free time on the cheerleading squad or prepping for college scholarships. When in stress she has a fight or flight reflex which usually falls towards the former rather than the latter. She is also based loosely on a friend of mine, who probably is a wizard but won't admit it to me.

Cam tends to think in a prolix fashion. Claire thinks in shorter and more blunt sentences.

Cam describes details; Claire tends to focus on people and patterns.

It was a lot to think about. A different voice is more than just different word choice or sentence structure--you're thinking about an entirely different brain and history, how the characters construct their universes. What they notice versus what they consider appropriate to admit while they're telling you their stories.

I expect redrafting and tweaking their respective scenes once I get done with the full rough draft is going to be a pain. Either that or she'll click and become natural to write.

As a side note, I really need to do more reading about what detectives actually do. Detective work is never like what you expect it to be as is the case with just about any fictionalized line of work versus reality. One of the things I want to do is lampshade some of the reality versus expectations. The crime-fighting kids genre tends to rely on some rather lazy cliches which would be fun to deconstruct a bit.

And also, holy shit. Week fifty-one. One more week to go! I'm really excited about getting cracking on the full novel. Stories are fun to write, but I'm itching to make some real progress. I think I've got a handle on what I need to do to not get bogged down again, the sort of balance I need to achieve between long term outlining and too much inflexibility. I plan on ratcheting up the conflict and the stakes while layering in vast amounts of random weirdness. It'll be fun.

I still plan on blogging regularly. Perhaps even more regularly, in fact: instead of posting stories (often), I'll probably have something up every other day or so.

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