Friday, March 03, 2006

Off Stage

Man, my antagonist is elusive. He continues to show me stark opposite sides of himself. I am having quite the time getting a grip on him. It's been difficult to move forward in my scenes because so much has happened between my antagonist and protagonist in the past, and these feelings they have for one another are so very important at the opening of my story.

So now I am handwriting scenes from their pasts in my journal. I have taken the story off stage, so to speak, and am mining deep for the core of their troubles and why. It turns out they have much more history than I thought when I started. I understand the troubles on an intuitive level, but I'm finding I need to know more specifics. It is actually a very interesting exercise, though frustrating to the production taskmaster side of myself who wants to add word count to the meter on my blog. I am adding word count, just not to the structured manuscript. But that will have to wait as I dig deeper for character truths and memory. These two have a whole lot of shared memories, and neither one of them sees them the same.

Once I understand the true nature of their past relationship--not every detail mind you, just the heart of it and exactly why there is such antagonism--I will let the present and future of it unfold in the manuscript. As writers, we have to move forward into our stories without certain information because it will come with the writing. The writing allows the discovery. In this case, I am still writing to discover, only I'm doing it in my journal, almost like a worksheet, instead of in the manuscript. This gives me wider freedom to explore what I need to without feeling as though it's not following the forward motion of the story. It's off stage. Which makes sense, since (a) this is back story and scenes the reader may never see and (b) I am obviously not ready for my antagonist to take center stage. We are still in rehearsals.

What do you do when you run across elusive characters?

Hugs, C


Blogger Bethany said...

Cynthia... this is a FABULOUS idea! Most of the time, I just push through it in my manuscript (and then I end up cutting a lot of it). I am SO using this method in my next book if I get stuck!

11:41 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Bethany, I'm SO glad you found this useful! I definitely am. It takes the pressure off of everything having to make sense in the structure of the moment. It's open space!

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Stacie said...

I agree-great idea. I'm going to have to try that. I wonder if it works on school projects...

Got "Thunder and Lightning" and "Writing the Breakout Novel" [just as the library was closing] yesteday and started reading "Writing." I'm definitely hooked on that one and already learned something new in the foreword and prologue!

2:54 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Stacie, I think this idea would work for anything. :-)

So glad that "Writing" has already offered you something new! It has a lot in store for you. Enjoy and keep me posted on your reading and what you're finding useful. Have fun!

8:03 AM  

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