Fleshing Out Characters, Preventing Endless Novel Vortexes, and Headstones #FightForward
This morning, I decided to take a few steps back and work on the characters in my novel, The Harvest. I was getting annoyed that the characters were lacking definition and had similar letters in their last names, in this case the letter L. Besides, for a longer piece, the characters have to be more fleshed out, so I am working backwards, which is not too late since I am only fifty pages into it.
The novel is a post-apocalyptic science fiction piece where a fascist matriarchal rule was been the response to years of patriarchal warfare and devastation of the planet and disease. The disease more than anything sparks this bizarre pseudo-Feminist regime because the flu took a toll on the female population, and there was not an adequate response to it.
In addition, the sun has gotten so dangerously hot that alternate means of protein need to be created. The main character, in fact believes, that people are being harvested and processed to be eaten, and that is her continued suspicions, but the truth is worse and perhaps not so practical.
This morning I was going to plan out the chapters, but I have too much grading to do, and really want a visual map with sticky notes that I can move around and look to as I write, for inspiration, not limitation.
Of course, what may very well happen is that I write like I always do and let the characters and plot run their own course, which is fine for a short story. The problem is that a longer work is more difficult to maintain, in-check, mentally. I suppose that is why a chapter breakdown makes sense. Plus, I don’t want to get caught in a loop where the piece never finishes.
Last time I wrote this novel, the main character literally hit a wall in the plot, the underground border of the city. I didn’t know where else to take it, so I stopped. It stopped. That was over 15 years ago. (Holy shit, I am old.)
The characters, both of them, also need an antagonist. Or do they? I suppose the system itself can be the antagonist. Oh well, we will see as this work emerges.
Now, I’m off to help my son, who is as great a procrastinator as I was in school. My son has a science project I want to help him with, and I have to grade, and prepare a report for a community meeting, and I want to do a great job.
In a strange way, it feels like I didn’t get anything done yesterday, but I went to yoga for an hour and a half (which was a personal goal of mine), then taught Sunday school, then had a late lunch with family, and then went to Reconciliation and Church. All of these experiences were enriching and life giving. Plus, the homily was amazing.
The priest asked what we would want on our headstones and then to live accordingly. He urged us to live each day as though it were our last. So, head stone: “She loved and served humanity with utter joy.” What would you put on yours?
And I would want to write every day besides be the best human being possible, and that is what I plan to do. (Writing is not meant to be easy or fun all the time, either. It was hard today.) I also have to say that yesterday I started talking to a total stranger because the line of penitents was so long, and there is something wonderful about reconnecting with people or connecting with good strangers during these hard times and difficult days ahead.
We need to be the best human beings possible with each other.
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