I’m a loose plotter.
I tend to have an idea where the story is going, and I plot out the first third and write that, then the second third and write that and so on. Sometimes I vary it by plotting it out in quarters. While I’m tempted that the next novel on my list I’ll write in five acts.
When it comes to plotting though, I feel quietly confident. It’s character motivations that give me more stress.
I’m getting better at making sure that the characters aren’t just subordinate to the plot. That they don’t do the things they do just because the plot needs them to do that. These days I’m questioning the character’s motivations constantly to make sure it fits in with their own wants and desires and needs, as well as working towards the plot.
Currently I have two pieces of work with two different editors. One of whom has come back with a series of questions about what I want from this book.
In that particular book, the title character is seen through the love-struck eyes of the narrator, and what I want to make sure is that her motivations are clear and understandable even when it’s clear the narrator doesn’t really know her at all. Obviously, I can’t have her say things like “I’m doing this now, because…” but still I want her motivations to be clear to the reader. Filling in that questionnaire had made me think more of her portrayal, but the same is true of all my characters.
I’m going to have to ask myself more questions of my characters.
- What are they aiming for here?
- What do they want to happen?
- What are they telling themselves they want to happen?
I’ll start with those three, but if I truly want three dimensional characters I’m going to need more.
As a writer, what questions do you ask your characters?
While as a reader, where’s the fine line between a character being enigmatic and their actions just not making sense?
Fancy a free FRJ short story? There’s one available here.