12 November 2008

Dear fictional characters

Okay, I’m at 36,500 words in the first draft of my new novel, and at the current pace and with my outline for the next week of writing, I should hit the 50,000-word goal for National Novel Writing Month on Tuesday, twelve days ahead of schedule.

Which won’t remotely mark the end, however, since this book hasn’t caught sight of the end yet. I still expect 80,000 words.

Today, I’m going to let everybody into my writing head for a moment, as I present to you letters that I’ve written to my characters. At this point in my narrative, strange things happen, frustrations start, pleasant surprises emerge. So, imagining that I can twist my characters to do whatever I want, I’ve sent off these missives to each other them:
Dear Kalla,

Actually, I’m reasonably happy with you, even though you murdered someone in cold blood in the first ten thousands words when I had no idea that would happen. That’s okay, it has developed (intermittently) into an interesting internal conflict. On the other hand, I’m not sure why you keep getting smarter and smarter, thus forcing me to think about how I’m going to justify all this knowledge in the re-write even though you’ve lived for all seventeen of your years stuck in an underground slave camp on a far-flung planet. And thanks for not developing a romantic interest in the story. You aren’t supposed to and you haven’t. Really, thanks.

Dear Juquon,

I’m not sure what to say to you. The sounding-board job gets a bit dry, and I’m sorry. I know you want to beat up people, but I’m about to do something really nasty to you. And, by the way, I don’t think you’ll live to see the words The End. Sorry. By the way, my spell check really hates your name, and my fingers aren’t fond of it either.

Dear Alyse and Espe,

You two completely exasperate me. You have an important task in this story, but your dialogue is the hardest single thing to write in it. You are so going to get the major overhaul in the re-write. I might even make you one person. I’m glad you aren’t POV characters—I would have given up around 5,000 words.

Dear Corvus,

Uhm, are you on some serious hallucinogens? Every time I switch to your POV, I get this weird feeling that I’ve lost contact with reality and that nothing makes a lick of sense. You could seriously pump up the word count if I let you, but I’m not letting you get that out of control.

Dear Celeste,

Hey, you are getting to be a blast to write. Honestly, I mean that. But you’re also forcing me to invent other characters willy-nilly. Like that Leland fellow. Uhm, what am I supposed to do with him?

Dear Fenris,

Yeah, I know, you’ve got your name in the title. You aren’t alive. You don’t have a body. I think you’re plotting worse things than I originally planned. Please don’t make this get more complicated than it needs to be. But on the other hand, maintain that drama.

Dear Adler and Roche,

I haven’t forgot you two. But you have a nasty habit of having your chapters appear in places where they kill the pacing. Yeah, I know, quick fix. I guess you can get me out of trouble if anybody else starts to bore me.

Dear Haxan and Devoss and Nomura and Leland and the people Celeste keeps inventing and all the rest of you aboard the Jormungand,

Damn, but I can’t figure out how you people are supposed to talk. Can you please show some consistency?

Big scary monsters,

Yeah, I’ll let you loose soon. Promise. Big damage in the last quarter of the novel. Don’t let me down.

Thanks to all for listening, now get back to work,

Your author,

Ryan