Character Possimpibilities


Wait for it.

S and I are still at Camp NaNo, and we’re moving right along.  I finished my book, Written in Sand, and I’m still working on revisions of it.  S is working on her fanfic, and last night I helped her do some of the typing.  (If you’ve forgotten, S always hand writes the first drafts of her stories, so there’s always lots of frantic typing to do in NaNo months.)

I’ve talked before about my revision process, but this seems like as good a time as any to mention what I’m doing this time around.  I started by just rereading the whole thing, straight through.  This helps me see any gaping plot holes and judge the general tone and pacing of the story.  For instance, I decided that there needed to be a bit more tension before the big third act showdown, so I added some lines, and changed some lines around, so that the heroes were more worried about the villainess than they had been before.  Previously, they had been a bit too calm about the fact that she had successfully evaded them.  Now I’ve tried to make them seem a bit more anxious about where she’s gone and what she might be doing.  And I have them spending a bit more time trying to come up with a plan to beat her.

Now I’m working through the second read-through.  This is the one I do by character.  And I do this by alternating between the beginning and the end, working toward the middle.  So, to use a simple example, let’s say Bob is a POV character in a 20-chapter novel, and his chapters are all the even-numbered ones.  I would start reading at chapter 20, then go read chapter 2, then chapter 18, then chapter 4, and so on, ending at chapter 10, right in the middle.  I find this is really helpful for seeing character development and character arcs.

One of the main things I look at as I do this is whether a character acts believably.  And by that I don’t mean whether a character does the smart thing, or makes the best possible choices.  I certainly don’t mean that the character does what I would do in his situation.  What I mean is that the character should do something that seems in keeping with what we know about him as a character.  What matters isn’t the vast range of possible and impossible (or possimpible) choices he could make.  What matters is what he might actually do, given the sort of person he is.

This is something S has been thinking about lately, thanks to the third and last season of one of our favorite shows.  Perhaps S might write more on the subject here later, but I’ll just give a brief overview.  There has been, apparently, some controversy among fans of the show concerning how one of the main characters ended up in the last few episodes.  Part of the problem seems to be that some people think this character had more options in her life than she really had.

Yes, it’s true that there are all sorts of things that a woman in that particular time period could have done.  But that’s not the important question—the important question is what that particular character would have done in the circumstances in which she finds herself.  To use a real-life example, if S ever lost her job as a Librarian, she could, theoretically, become a wedding planner.  I mean, there’s nothing stopping her from doing it.  Other than the fact that she would absolutely hate that job, of course.

So that’s the sort of thing I’m looking out for in my own writing now.  I want to make sure that my characters’ choices aren’t just possimpible, but actually probable.




Ahead and Behind

snow angel.png

Sometimes your plans don’t pan out as expected. My silly edit of Howard Charles as Porthos on The Musketeers.

So, here’s the weekly update from Camp NaNoWriMo. J is breezing along with over 130,000 words, and he finished the Showdown (Climax) of his novel last night, so now he’s just wrapping up with the denouement. I’m around 25,000 (I only estimate my handwritten pages until I get them typed), which I think is an entirely respectable amount. Heck, if this were November NaNo and I were aiming for 50,000, I’d be darn near on target, so I feel good.

Of course, this isn’t November NaNo, and I set my word count goal at 35,000, so I should reach that easy-peasy, right? Well, yes and no. I originally set myself the task of writing 10,000 words in my Oleg Omdahl novel and 10,000 each in two different fanfic stories I’ve been working on, with the other 5,000 coming from wherever. Barring a freak lightning strike on this sunny, spring day, I’ll hit the 10,000 my novel today. But I haven’t actually written any words in either of the fanfic stories I had intended to work on this month. Instead, I spent the first week plus working on a brand new fanfic story I thought of just before the month began.

Granted, I could just count this story as one of the two fanfics I wanted to write this month, but I really do want to put in some time on both of those I had planned to work on. So, even though 35,000 is within my grasp, I’d still like to get at least 10,000 words in both of the stories I always intended to write this month, which means I have two weeks to write 20,000 words. Better get to work!


Campy Good Fun

Batman Robin

We’re like this, only we’re both Batman.

No, we’re not talking about one of our favorite CW shows. It’s 34° F, and there’s snow on the ground, and clearly that means we’re at Camp NaNo. I’m working on a longer novel—probably close to 150,000 words—and S is doing her Oleg and fanfic projects.

S just finished one of her three fanfic projects, and she’s at 13,500 words, which is above par at this point for her goal of 35,000 words in the month. I’m at about 80,000 words right now. My goal for the month was 50,000 words (even though I knew I would exceed that), and I hit that on day six.

Today we’re at Panera, meeting with our writer’s group, and then, we’ll be having a write-in here with some of the people in our cabin. Most of them are from our local NaNo group, and it’s fun to see them in April, rather than just November.

Assuming I can keep writing at my current rate, I’ll be finishing up sometime early next week. Then normally I would start rewriting and editing, but first I’ll have to grade my students’ final projects. And yes, I totally did arrange the syllabus to give myself extra time to write during early April. Sometimes it’s good to be the teacher.

S’mores Anyone?


Singing at Camp NaNoWriMo with one of my silly The 100/BSG crossover edits.

So, Camp NaNoWriMo started this past Friday, and J and I have been busy writing. Frankly, I’m quite pleased with the 4,800 words I’ve already racked up, and J is, well, doing extremely well word count-wise. Perhaps we’ll have something more substantive next week, but for now, we need to keep writing, no distractions.

Happy writing, all!