Sunday, 7 July 2013

Plots, portraits and getting a handle on your characters

Last November I was a mad-eyed participant in Nanowrimo - again.  I used it as a motivator to progress  Banshee, my novel about - guess what? A Banshee.

I LOVE Banshee. It's got something. Unfortunately it also lacked something.  Namely, a well thought out plot.

Doh! Who needs a plot when you have NANOWRIMO to  win? Well, as it turns out, I do.

So, like so many other works, Banshee trailed away at the two thirds point, in a mess and a muddle of too many characters and no direction.

This is odd, as in my working life I'm all about the road-map.  I irritate my colleagues by using the phrase "direction of travel" more often than a politician can use the phrase "shovel-ready".  My mantra is always, if you don't know where you're going, how do you know you're walking in the right direction?

So. Plotting.  And Banshee

Having had a post-NaNoWriMo writing hiatus which turned into a writing drought, I'm trying to feel my way back into Banshee.  Weirdly, the thing that has got me back into it hasn't been writing - or reading-  but my clumsy first efforts at digital art.  I'm finding the characters from Banshee want to be drawn.  First Tara (the eponymous banshee) and then the Unseelie King.  I am starting to SEE them.

As I draw, I have to think about all sorts of tiny details.  What are their knuckles like? Their musculature? Do they stand up tall or slouch? Are they powerful or delicate?

Because I'm creating them they're jumping vivid and loud from the page - one hundred times more effective than a collection of actors on pinterest.

The pictures don't match up to my minds eye even a little.  They're like a six years old's picture of her daddy.  But they're placeholders, markers for the characters that are starting to form - or reform.  I know when I've taken a misstep.  See my man above - the Unseelie King. I drew him with long Celtic-style hair, but that's not right. He doesn't look like the rest of the Fae.  His hair is cropped. It marks him out as a rebel.

Little things, but focusing on the external helps me to understand what's going on inside them.

This is character-driven plotting for the visually minded. Try it - you never know who you might create.

1 comment:

Sophie Moss said...

You know I love your writing so much, Meg. Whatever it takes to get you back into the story and getting the words on the page makes me happy. :) Doodle away!