Monday, 7 October 2013

Going nowhere

“A book in which a character lacks solid story goals is a book that’s not going to work.”
I have struggled quite a lot with my current book, the third in the Two-Natured London series. The motives of my characters have caused me great trouble. The reason for it stems from my writing style. Im a ‘pantser’, I make things up as I write. However, this time round I had outlined the characters and thought out their motives, but as the story evolved the characters evolved too. Their motives changed, which forced me to rewrite the first half of the book.

But the book still lacks the special quality that will bring it alive. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but a timely blog post by K. M. Weiland rescued me. Incidentally, if you haven’t read her posts, do. She gives excellent writing advice to beginners and more experienced writers alike. The opening quote is from the post too.

Her post is about one of the most common writing mistakes: Characters who lack solid story goals. She differentiates three types of story goals:
  1. Scene goals
  2. Life goals
  3. Plot goals
She also brings up reasons why your story might lack strong goals:
  1. You entered the story without an ending in mind 
  2. You want to make sure you have enough material left over for a sequel
  3. You’re fascinated by your character’s daily life
You can find more detailed account on her blog.

Reading her post, I instantly realised that lack of goals was my problem too, more specifically lack of life goals. There are plot and scene goals aplenty. Partly this is because I had changed the motives of my characters. I had lost the sight of where they were going or wanted to go. My hero used to have a clear goal. He even stated it aloud, saying something like “my goal in life is…”, but that got deleted when his motivations changed.

My heroine, however, kind of lacked a life goal from the beginning. She has a negative goal though. She wants to avoid her mother’s fate. But she is not striving for anything, she has no plans. I think it has to do with her being a vampire. In my Two-Natured London universe, vampires are very long-lived and she is only a century old. It’s difficult to imagine what sort of goals a person might have when they practically have an eternity to live. So – rather logically, I think – a vampire doesn’t have any goals, she doesn’t need them. She is in no hurry to make plans.

My book doesn’t cover an eternity, however. It barely covers a couple of days. It needs clear goals that will make sense within its span. That will be easy to fix though, and hopefully it will bring that spark to my book too. So all is not lost.

I’ll leave you with another quote from Weiland’s post: 
“Without solid plot goals, there just simply isn’t going to be much of a plot.” 
Let that be your lesson for today.

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