27 May 2018
Two weeks ago, I was stumped. I had my story’s villain all planned out, but I was really struggling with the hero:
Over the last few months, I’ve really discovered who the villain is. His goals and conflicts are all laid out, and now he’s easy to outline around. He has good intentions, but he acts them out selfishly. From his entry into the story through to his tragic farewell, he’s awesome.
But our hero — Esthree Postbuild, herself? Shit. She’s impossible. I just can’t make her active in her own story. She doesn’t have any personal beef with the villain; almost anybody on Earth could take her place, and experience exactly the same antagonism.
Now, I know this advice is a bit cliché, but it works: sometimes, you’ve just got to get away from the keyboard, go outside, and clear your head.
On Monday morning, I was twenty minutes into my hour-long walk to work, and – out of the blue – I had Esthree all figured out.
She was – unintentionally, I add – a ridiculous parody of social activism, with thievery from the rich and redistribution to the poor, to overcompensate for the false beliefs she needs to overcome. She was just horrifically unlikeable.
Now, though, she’s down-to-Earth, keeping her head down, and aggressively working on making an independent living to – again – overcompensate for the false beliefs she needs to overcome.
Now, she has personal goals to work towards. Now, she has personal conflict already in play before the story begins. Now, the villain can get under her skin and actually make her a hero.
So, that’s my goal for this week: Forget the plot for the moment, and focus on giving Esthree some serious goals and conflict with the villain.
For the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long, I achieved a goal! Esthree is all mapped out, and the outline is flying along!
Over the last few months, I’ve ended up with over 50,000 words of notes: world-building, character designs, and scene ideas. This really ought to be enough to draw on now and get some drafting done!
Amongst all that planning, I’ve flip-flopped again on an old decision; the story is now (i.e. again) going to be a trilogy. This’ll let me get the first bit of stand-alone story out there to my beta readers and editor as soon as possible, so I can start learning what I need to know, and get that “I can do this” confidence boost that I really need.
So today, so far, Part 1 has 6,254 words, and I’m targeting 120,000-ish words in the end.
Specifically today, I’m drafting out the the first act. I’m 3,655 words in, and targeting 30,000 words (being one-quarter of the target 120,000 total).
By this time next week, I want to have the first act outlined and have started on the second act.
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