Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Darkest Words

This is difficult advice to take. Particularly after having characters in your head for years. When I finally get to that moment...I often look for ways to avert their death. But it is to no avail.  If they must die. They must die.

On my current WIP I am dealing with a kind of slow death and it is far worse than the "rip the bandaid" off method I've used in the past.

They know its coming.  They dread and embrace it. They run towards it at times to my horror. When I finally conjure those dark words on my paper it is both a terrible and wonderful moment.

I have to say it is unexpectedly freeing in some ways as well. Decision are far different and often much clearer when fear of death is off the table.

This is a weird time in my personal life and it is for some reason echoed in a plot I constructed long ago. 

I hope to find some clarity in the creative process. It has always been a balm to my soul and I reach for it now.

Until next time...Go write! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Grim and the Girl

So I'm rereading James Scott Bell's Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story because I read that and Writing the Breakout Novel by Maass EVERY TIME I begin a new project. I even have a Maass List where I check off elements of my story and the 14 Sign Posts list to make sure I'm hitting every beat of my novel.

I know...I'm a total Planner. My slightly OCD tendencies have been well noted and commented on by my crit partner, the illustrious Erin Kane Spock over at Spock Writes Romance. She is a Pantser through-and-through so you can imagine our conversations.

Something that really hit me this time though, while going over my notes, is the whole FACING DEATH thing that each character has to endure.  Whether it is actual physical death, career death, or even psychological death...the lead in your book faces some permutation of it.

I mean, my main character stares down actual, grueling, torturous death in my series, but the death of her dream...her hope...that hits me harder. It changes her more than toughening to survive does. It steers her choices in a far greater way than just trying to stay alive.

Her character arc just got a new dimension and I hope to really explore that. This got me thinking about an idea for book journaling that I came across a while ago. I think its from Bell, but I can't be sure. Its a way to keep your character from sounding like a mini-you -- you write in their voice, the reasons why they do not want to take part in your story.
I was using it as an exercise to isolate the "argument against transformation" without knowing I'd have an epiphany about my main character.  I had no idea that Charlotte was so broken over what she gives up that it was far worse for her than the prospect of death itself.

I encourage all of you authors out there to try a Character Journal and see what insights, if any, come out of it. I'd love to hear.

Until next time...Go Write!

+Raquel Byrnes 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Writing 2's and 3's

Current Desk Top
I am currently neck deep in the plotting throes for books two and three of my YA Steampunk series, The Blackburn Chronicles.  Having received a green light on the series and a synopsis request for the second and third book, I began to really wrestle with not what to include...but what to take off the table.

Book one, The Tremblers, was such an amazing ride to write. The genre is certainly one in which you can just reach high into the aether for inspiration. From floating cities to underground was so much fun!  And the characters were certainly a pleasure to meet and mold.


Book two is both an exhilarating opportunity and a daunting task. Over-arching themes and exploration of deeper personality and psychological issues are easier here because the character is more fleshed-out after an entire arc in the first book.  She is not the debutante she was in chapter one...yet not exactly who she needs to be and therein lies the challenge.

It needs to be larger in scope, more sweeping in consequences, and yet more personal in stakes.

As I go back in my memory over the trilogies I've enjoyed as a reader, I hope to learn as an author how to maintain the fervor and fascination of a first book and yet deliver the meat so essential in a second and third volume.


My question to you readers and authors out there...what do you look for or hope to see in a second and third book?  Continuation of story?  Deeper change in the character? Something else entirely...?

Until next time -- Go Write!

+Raquel Byrnes