Today will feature a much longer post than any of my last ones. It will contain Opus Draft 2-related shenanigans, general novel discussion (maybe some snark), and perhaps some advice.
I’m sorry for not posting anything of any use for a while, but I’ve been a tad bit swamped with, well, just about everything. But at least Opus Draft 2 is going alright. And I use the word ‘alright’ fairly loosely.
Alright as in this new draft will be roughly 77.5% new material and 22.5% material from the first draft. I’ve ended up doing way more rewriting than I originally planned. I’ve retooled several major characters, tightened up the main character arc, and have begun to layer in deeper meanings in the novel.
In short, for any betas who are reading this blog, odds are you’re pretty much going to be reading an entirely different book from what my critique partners first read.
I like to think that Draft 2 is turning out better than Draft 1. I really do. It’s definitely not going to be perfect, but I think it will be better.
I said there might be general novel discussion right? Right.
Like every writer, I have my specific writing issues. Some authors struggle writing action, others struggle writing serious scenes, others have problems with being not-subtle-enough. I’ve mentioned some of my issues before, but I have two that I am trying my best to work on. Actually, they are a bit embarrassing to admit, but I will do so (for science).
I tend to dislike (and am bad at writing) romance. I also struggle with writing female characters.
Romance. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why I really don’t like romance in novels. Most of the time, I suppose, I find it too shallow. Or too unrealistic. Or just plain annoying. There are times when I feel that authors are telling the same story over and over again. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl can’t be together for xyz reason. Boy and girl get past xyz reason using power of love (or detailed action sequence). Boy and girl are allowed to love each other in peace.It bores the hell out of me. And yet, I have two (two, count them, two) important romance arcs in Opus. And here’s the real shocking thing about those arcs. One is intimately (pun not intended) tied to the plot (and is not present in the first book, oops). The second one…well, I just wanted the second one. These romance arcs are seriously killing me. Because I rarely enjoy the romance plots in other novels, I’m having an incredibly hard time writing in chemistry between spoiler! and spoiler! (I’m sorry, that was a tad bit cruel). I am so much of hypocrite, but I am working on it. I challenge you, my betas reading this, to look for said romance. See if you can spot it. And know that (because I don’t emulate things that bore me), said romance arc will be unexpected. Now for female characters. This, even to me, makes so little sense. I look over at George R.R. Martin and his impressive cast of flawed, amazing female characters. And I say to myself: “Oh come on! He’s a dude, you’re a girl! This should be easy for you!” This is not necessarily true. And I believe I have found an answer to this dilemma. And the answer does not lie in me (not wholeheartedly, there’s some blame that is placed solely on me). There’s a large part of the blame on us as a whole. You look at the way we (critics, readers, all of us) ruthlessly deconstruct the female leads of everything we read. Katniss of The Hunger Games, Tris of Divergent, and even Hermione. I don’t know if it’s this way with other authors, but this picking apart of female characters really terrifies me. It terrifies me as a woman and it terrifies me as an author. It also makes me angry. I don’t want to have to spend inordinate amounts of energy making sure that you like my female character. That’s always one of my biggest worries. That you like them. But why do you have to like them? Why are we always focused on making female leads likable? When you really think about it, someone like Sherlock Holmes is not a particularly likable lead character, now is he. So why do we love Sherlock Holmes when he is not inherently likable? I mean, come on, Conan Doyle himself disliked Holmes. In Opus Draft 2, I have stopped worrying about whether people will like my lead female character. I want them to see her in certain ways. I want them to see her as on par with my male lead (the book is evenly divided between the two of them). More importantly, I want them to not relate to her (because odds are, they can’t) but to understand her. Not blame the things she does on irrationality or say ‘oh, she did that because she’s in love with him’. Because I believe readers are better than that. So my advice? I know that there are other writers reading my blog at the moment. All like me, unsigned and undiscovered. I challenge all of us to write the characters the way we want to write them, how they naturally come to us. This applies to every character of every gender and identity. Without worrying if she/he/they is “a strong character” or a “Mary Sue” or even “relatable”. Because I can guarantee you, there are few people in this world who can say they “relate” to Sherlock Holmes. And he’s one of the most beloved fictional characters in history. Progress:
3 months and 12 days left
Oh Lord, I need to work faster if I want to make it to 50,000 words or more by Sunday.
Fair thee well, penmokeys.