HA! Day two of NaNoWriMo and hopefully you’re accomplishing the goal of up to 2,800 words or more now. I started very early this morning and accomplished chapter three, setting my word count at 5,690.
As I was writing this morning it occurred to me how important particular scenes to our characters are in our novels and I thought I’d discuss them today. Especially some of their contrasts.
First, of course, remember the types of characters we have.
- Protagonist – The character whose goal and transformation drives the story.
- Antagonist – The character whose goal drives the conflict and push the protag toward transformation.
- Foil – A human or non-human mirror used to reflect and illuminate specific aspects of another character’s traits.
- Threshold Guardian – Someone who likes things the way they are and opposes the protag when she wants to change that.
- Mentor – Someone in the story who give the protag answers, gifts, training, or assistance she needs to achieve her transformation or reach her goal.
- Minion – An agent of the antag or someone who wants the same thing as the antag does.
- Ficelle – A character who helps you avoid infodump but may create worse problems.
All of these characters enact specific emotions within us. We know how we want them to act and react to the situations we place them in or with each other. And each character in our story has a back-history. The reasons why they now behave as they do. Fleshing out your characters will play an important role in your scene building.
The different kinds of scenes your characters may/will encounter are:
- Daily Life – don’t be afraid of a daily routine/life scene. Sometimes these can break up a tense moment, a scene with too much action or dialog. Let your character enjoy the dull or just relaxing moments of life.
- Dialog with others – remember the cardinal rule…if only two people, you needn’t keep saying “he said, she said”. The reader will easily pick up on who’s speaking. If there’s more than one person involved, read it aloud. If you can easily figure it out, leave out the names, if not …put them in. Also, try and put in some expressions of the speakers. Are they witty, exhausted, angry? We, as readers can’t see their emotions unless you write it.
- Action vs. Fight – The two scenes are different. Action does not need to be a fight scene. Action can be as simple as, “He ran over the hill” to as exciting a ballgame tied at bottom of the ninth inning and up to bat is the famous Babe Ruth. Some of the crowd is on edge, the other on its feet; waiting for Babe to hit a home run. Where a fight scene can be as simple as Joe punched John on the chin and run the gambit to a boxing match to a full out war. Both types of scenes require action but it’s the type of action and how you write it that makes the difference.
- Romance vs. Love – There are times in life where a character will experience one vs the other. Romance can be the beginning of love, a subtle nuance, a hint of what is to come. Or it can be a way of whiling away the time until something better comes along. Romance does not have to be preludes of love. It can be something sinister, if you want it. For that matter, so can love; if the character has twisted to their purpose. Remember, it’s your story.
- Creatures – depending upon the type of world (and story) you’re writing, creatures can be an important factor. They can mirror your characters, be a part of their lives, be antagonists, mentors and minions. Never underestimate their value.
Now with all your characters in mind and different scenes available, I know you’ve been writing like mad. Remember that each scene for your characters are important. And if you haven’t done so already, build a rough draft of what you want your world to look like. Try and figure out how long it might take for your character to travel from one point to the other. If you need help, look at some geographical maps of related areas.
World building is an important aspect for a novel. It helps you realize aspects of geography, travel, monetary needs, food, even politics & religion. Unless your story takes place in one small town and nowhere else, you’ll find it’s a study of a complete world and sometimes a universe.
Last thing for the night, don’t be afraid to describe things. Yes, sometimes you can go overboard. But you can always pare it down. Describe what’s in your mind, what does it look, feel, taste, smell, sound like? As an exercise, take one item (person, place, thing…whatever you want – living, real or not) and describe it using your five senses.
Keep writing everyone. Happy NaNoing. 🙂