Thursday, 21 March 2013

Organic Growth and Character Development

Hey all,

It’s been a good few days for me as far as my personal writing has gone. I think the slight break that I took to edit From Ash has refreshed my writing brain. I’ve gone berserk on Dreamstate II, and am averaging something along the lines of 3000 words a day. This is about half again what I usually max out at, and I’m feeling great about most everything that I’m getting down on paper.
Solid stuff, lots of a fun, a good deal more Daniel being on his own and having to internalize everything and stand on his own two feet. A bit of the ‘transformation from child to young adult’ thing going on.

Incidentally, I really had no idea what I was going to write today’s blog post about until I wrote down that last sentence, or two, about Daniel in Dreamstate. I’m not sure how many of you folk have actually read my book, because I do seem to get more people reading the site here than have picked it up; although, if you become wildly confused by what I’m about to go over, and want the basics of the first story, Dreamstate: Dark Eyes on Amazon has the first few chapters for free, and you can sample them at your own convenience.

Anyways, I’m going to try to write this post with a few spoilers as possible from the first book, and none at all from the second one. To be honest, even if I did tell you what was going to happen in the second book, by the time it is released everything will probably be different, and I will have just lied to everyone here.

Right, so, in the second book, Daniel is a bit older than in the first, and a bit more of a teenager. When people are in that awkward thirteen year old phase that we’ve so affectionately dubbed ‘young-adult,’ there’s a lot of self discovery going on. When I first kicked up the actual work on the second Dreamstate book, I had no real intention on how this was going to play into the development of Daniel as a character. I gave him a bit more independence, changed up his interests a little, and made him a bit more sassy and standoffish—the usual stuff. What this did, though, that I really hadn’t intended on writing in, was give Daniel a lot more sway in the world. He’s a lot more apt to be able to handle things on his own, and even when he can’t, he tries. This new attitude obviously plays into his interactions with the other characters and how they treat him, and incidentally, it drives the plot more towards ‘what Daniel is doing,’ rather than ‘things are happening to Daniel.’ The difference might seem subtle to the outside observer, but for me, and my writing, it feels like a very major turn in the series.

In the first book, Daniel needed help learning to do everything, this time around, he doesn’t. When things fall apart, he still needs guidance and the advice of others—possibly even J’anex’s sword arm, but not nearly as much as before. And in a lot of ways, he really starts to eclipse the other characters when they had been his superior not too long before. Obviously this causes a bit of internal strife for Daniel, which in turn has become a fairly substantial sub-plot that will probably grow until the fifth and final book. I could get more into the specifics, but once again, spoilers, and I want to avoid those.
What I’m talking about, in more generic terms, is the way that characters in your story can really drive the plot. In my mind, plot is just a word for events that happen due to the whims and actions of your characters. A lot of folk, I think, really try to build a plot beforehand, and then squish characters into it, and refuse to let their personalities take over at all. I feel like the process comes about far more organically when you don’t force square pegs into round holes, and rather, just let things happen. Dreamstate II might not be going exactly where I had expected, but the general direction is the same, and I’m very, very happy with the end results.

-Trevor

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