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... and I feel that I can finally relax and start working on all the projects that I have been putting off so that I didn't fail my classes. (I didn't, by the way.) One of those projects is a novel-length work that I've had trouble writing due to consistency problems. To fix those I have decided to write my own version of a story Bible, which I will be able to reference whenever I am confused about a character's history or motivation, or when I need some more information on the world in which the story takes place. I'm actually having a blast writing it. I've tried writing character summaries before, but have always found the process tedious and distracting. There are several differences between this story and the ones I've written/attempted in the past:

1. I know what I want the story to be about. This is different from saying something like, "I thought up a cool spaceship and want to write a story around it." That's a perfectly legitimate reason to write a story, but it doesn't seem to work for me. In this case, I decided I want to write a story about growing up. All of the rest of it - the fantasy setting, the magic, the strange phenomena - it's all important. But at heart, it's about someone growing from a child into a man. Having that as a clear goal has cut down on a lot of confusion for me.

2. My characters have motivations rather than strengths and weaknesses. Thanks to years of education and a smattering of research on the subject, I have learned that a solid, believable character needs to have strengths that he uses to overcome his character flaws. Unfortunately, that also gets a bit distracting, because I'm constantly trying to force everything they do to fit a strength or weakness. It's actually more believable to give them a motivation. A motivation can be both a strength and weakness because it can lead to good and bad situations. Nothing as prosaic as "his motivation is he wants revenge." More like "he wants to please people and take responsibility."

3. This world has a reason for being the way it is. The story I'm writing now has animal-people in it. I have read several other stories with animal people in them, and for the most part the inclusion of the animal people is arbitrary. There is nothing wrong with that; it's the author's work, you're along for the ride. But if the author is trying to make a statement about some aspect of humanity, arbitrarily choosing to make the characters animal people "because that's what the author likes so there" undercuts the message. You don't know which parts are there because the author put them there to tell you something, and which parts are there because the author thinks foxes are sexy.

4. Religions are based on more than convenience. When I first started writing this, the religions existed because historically people have thought up many religions. What I didn't take into account was why they thought up the religions they did, why they were appropriate for the dates/geographies of their origins.

There's more, but why say it now? If I don't say it now, I'll have to say it on a different page, and that one may find its way into the story proper.

All right, enough Dreamwidth! Back to work, Me!


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December 2012

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