Sunday, February 08, 2009

2009's Writing Challenge

Every year I try to tackle another aspect of the craft that I know needs work. In years past I've confronted my point-of-view problem and now I don't head hop anymore. Back when I began I told a story rather than showed it through action or dialog. I don't do that now unless it's for effect. So what's my challenge for this year?

Characterization. I recently submitted a Young Adult Urban Fantasy series proposal to my agent. We discussed the sample chapters and she mentioned she felt my characterization wasn't up to the same level as the worldbuilding or the plotting. My agent is right on the money. Luckily, it's a fixable problem.

This isn't new for me. I don't usually layer in the deep characterization until the last pass through the novel.
In the case of my Time Rovers' books that was because my editor was pushing me to get inside the characters in each scene. Once she asked me "Why is Cynda doing this here? What is she feeling?" I could pour those emotions out on the page. For those of you who are authors you're probably thinking, "Ah, babe, you really outta have that stuff in there earlier." And I should.

So I decided that this year it was time for me to attack the issue of characterization. I need to learn how to layer in those cool character tags, emotions, etc. way before the editor has to slap me on the head with a rolled up newspaper. I conquered POV, I can do this.

So I've found an image of a young girl who looks like my 17 y/o heroine, I'm building a music playlist and I'm starting to write her diary so I can understand how she feels about the death of her mother, the fact that her life is going to hell on a slippery slope and her fears about the future. I'm doing roughly the same with some of the other major characters, trying to build up my understanding of each of them before I get too far into the book.

After the rough draft, I'm going to go back through each scene and layer in the setting and the characterization at the same time. I'll let you know how my quest for character goes over the year. I'm sure I'm not the only author fighting this particular demon and so I'm going to invite some of my fellow scribblers to my blog to have their say on characterization. Should be both entertaining and enlightening.

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