Monday, 22 February 2010

Raising the Stakes

I have been making notes on my NaNo WIP, trying to sort through the plot to figure out where I might need changes. There are no plot holes; one plot layer was left dangling which I can deal with. But I have come to realise that my characters' lives are far too easy. My protagonist isn't working hard enough for his happy ending.

I have the tendency to give my people happy lives. It doesn't matter who they are. Even when I play Sims, all my people are happy, healthy, beautiful, rich, and have all the time to pursue their life's dreams. They are not lazy - certainly not. They lead productive life, but I give them all the tools. That obviously is not the case in real life, and should not be in the novel. If everything is served on a silver platter, anyone can solve a problem.

I haven't made things that easy for my protagonist, but he certainly could do with more problems. Instead of having several mini crisis, I have given him few mini satisfactions. At the time it seemed like a good idea, and it made me happy while writing it. And it was fine for the first draft, because remmeber the rule - first draft is a creative process. But now, things need to change.

So once again, instead of running off to start rewrites, I am taking the time to think things through and trying to decide where I can raise the stakes, and how I can make my characters' lives little more difficult.

I am getting quite impatient to write though, because while this editing WIP is stuck at notes stage, my new WIP is at outlining stage. So really need to get going so word flow can start again.


  1. I sometimes have that problem too. Now, every time a character starts getting too happy, I make something bad happen to him. :-)

    If it's any comfort, I'm still editing my first NaNo novel. I think this is because the more I write, the more I grow as a writer. So then I'll start the revision of this WIP from the beginning again. Sometimes it's a vicious cycle.

  2. Yeah whoever thought writing wasn't as much writing as planning sometimes! I think Jamie is really good at the tension stuff! She really tortures her poor characters, but that's what we should be doing, right?

    I'm still revising my NaNo story too - don't feel bad. Good luck with the WIP's ;o)

  3. C R,

    I know exactly what you mean. Even since last november, I have learned so much that the amount of work I thought I needed for editing has shot up.


    I totally agree. Jamie is VERY GOOD at torturing her characters. I just need to stop being so nice to mine.

    As for the editing, I have given up all hopes for quick editing, because I have realised that it would be foolish. Editing needs careful consideration, so it will take at the very least, a few months. I just hope it doesn't take much longer than that.

  4. Sheesh - you guys are making me sound completely diabolical!

    Repeat after me: Characters are not real people. They're dolls, that's all...don't be afraid to play with 'em. If they break, we can just glue them back together. :-)

    As for the know how I am with that - just like you. *sigh* You're doing better than me, sticking with your planning instead of jumping right into your rewrites, so kudos for sticking it out!

    For the record, my *first* NaNo novel is printed out and in a binder on my bookshelf, where it will probably stay for all time. Unless I get really, really bored someday. I wasn't nearly as far along then as you are now. ;-)

  5. I know they are not real - but they are real for me ;) But yes, I vow to make my characters' lives hell

    Oh I might be sticking to NaNo novel, but this isn't my first book, so I have got my own share of piled up stories