Adventures in NaNo-land – Going Deep

November 23, 2012 at 12:52 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’m working on Chapter 12 of 20 now, and this is usually the point in a novel that I struggle with the most. It’s a transition point in the story for me, where I’ve introduced the characters and their situation, I’ve built up the story so it’s well on its way and now I have to start guiding them towards the climax of the tale, but touch on the messages I’m trying to relay as a part of my tale while doing so.

Intensifying the pacing of the story is a challenge in and of itself. Fortunately with this tale, my protagonist and his family have left the security of their village, entered the wilderness with a specific goal in mind and have encountered the worst of the villains in their first face-to-face encounter. I’m fairly certain I have the pacing requirements covered and I won’t have great difficulty moving the storyline (and the characters along with it) towards the climax of the tale. Delivering the messages important to the plot is a different beast altogether.

I like to include a fair amount of emotion in my stories – some would say that’s a female writer thing. I prefer my characters to be multifaceted, flawed and deep. The problem is finding the balance between adding those things to a story in measured doses and pushing them to a point where you’re resorting to melodrama. You want your character’s plight to reach your readers, to touch them, to move them, but you don’t want the readers overburdened by it. It’s a precarious line for a writer to walk, and I’m not so sure I always get it right.

Not that this kind of difficulty would ever stop me. The fun in the writing comes from the challenges, and the more you test yourself, the better a writer you can become. So I’ll keep on digging, plotting and trying to aim for something a little more profound … and hopefully I’ll get there.

Here’s an excerpt from my current chapter:

Dáidu took a seat beside his brother. “I’m surprised Oaván managed to avoid crushing her. He might as well have been a giant bull seal the way he flopped himself on top of her.”

His mother gave him an offhanded cuff at that remark as she approached Oaván with the intent of doctoring his wound. “Hold your tongue. Don’t you dare speak ill of your brother for that. I don’t like that he put himself in that kind of danger, but shielding her like that took great courage. Your father would have done as much for me.” She drew in a hissing breath as she examined the tear in her son’s flesh, the spear point having scored his skin a good three inches across and more than half an inch deep. It oozed blood steadily. “What a mess.” She glanced over at Dáidu. “But at least you prevented it from piercing through to his vitals. That might have been enough to kill him.”

Dáidu’s brow furrowed and his look darkened. “All they saw him as was as an obstacle to their prey…something unnecessary to be cleared out of the way. I have yet to meet a woman worth that kind of sacrifice, her included.”

Oaván didn’t like that remark at all. He cast Dáidu an annoyed look over his shoulder, cringing as his mother daubed blood away from his wound. “What do you mean by that? She’s likely to be carrying my child. She doesn’t deserve to be slaughtered for her skin.”

“And you don’t deserve to be slaughtered in order to preserve it,” Dáidu said, “Especially not for a woman who has already decided to doom your child to the life of a beast for the sake of her own freedom. Why would you care what happens to her? She’s just like most of the women we’ve run into, selfish and self-important.”

“Don’t allow Rana to skew your perspective of my entire gender,” Jaská muttered, peering closely at the jagged edges of her younger son’s tear. She had already begun to thread one of her bone needles with sinew, having brought along noaidi healing supplies in case of an emergency. “You don’t see me as selfish and self-important, do you?”

Dáidu bowed his head and lowered his gaze. “You’re different, Mother.”

Lifting the needle closer to the light emanating from the fire, Jaská chuckled. “Why, because I’m Haldi? No, that wouldn’t be it, because Lieđđi is too. Well, maybe it’s because you’re biased then. I’m far from perfect, Dáidu. You don’t see me as I really am because I’m a mother to you first and a person to you second. But I’m a woman just like any other. All women are different. We all have our individual strengths and our individual flaws. You just see Lieđđi in a negative light because you know what it’s like to be hurt, and you’re worried she’s going hurt your brother. He needs to face his own trials, ávvu. He needs to make his own choices and learn from his own mistakes.”

“He already makes plenty of those. He doesn’t need someone like her to make things worse.”

More tomorrow J

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6 Comments

  1. Beechmount said,

    “Hold your tongue. Don’t you dare speak ill of your brother for that. I don’t like that he put himself in that kind of danger, but shielding her like that took great courage.

    You are on to a good start, but I would re-write the sentence above. Too many “that” in it.

    Cheers
    Kenny Beechmount-Dartmouth

  2. chantellyb said,

    “That” is one of my problem words in first draft – while I appreciate the editing advice people keep trying to give me, this is my NaNoWriMo project so it *is* first draft only. I’ve explained it many times before and I’m starting to feel quite repetitive. NaNo is “write first draft only during the 30 days to get the story out, edit afterwards.” I will be editing this at a later date, and I will be targeting my “that”s, as I always have to do.

    • Beechmount said,

      Chantellyb

      I’m sorry to have bothered you with my comment.

      • chantellyb said,

        Oh – it’s not a bother. It’s a very good observation. I guess it’s my own fault for wanting to post as I go while working on NaNo. A lot of people don’t know how NaNo works, so they assume what I’m posting is post-edit. Honestly though, with a full-time day job and two younger children, writing more than 2000 first draft words a day, posting to the blog every day and even getting in 4 illustrations to accompany the blog posts, the editing really does have to wait. My plate is far too full already.

      • Beechmount said,

        Chantellyb

        My heavens, you sure do have a full plate–how do you mage? I’ve been retired for many years and pretty much do what I please, yet I’m busy like a bee every day. As for writing, well, I’m not a writer per say, I just have some fun with it. My main thing in the writing department is translating Latin American short stories from Spanish to English-my own short stories would be murdered by an editor, if indeed such a person would even bother reading them. For me, they are mainly a source of pass-time.

        Cheers
        Kenny- Dartmouth.

  3. chantellyb said,

    Lol – I gave up sleep when I did my CMA-MBA and never got around to getting back to it again. And editors have a field day with my work too. My “that”s are my biggest culprit although I love my adverbs, my saidisms, my cliches, my passive voice and being redundant…and I go crazy with commas. I have to fight with myself before I get anything presentable, so I hate the editing process, but it is a necessary evil. I’m an accountant by trade; writing is just a passtime for me as well, but I’m a little obsessive about it (…okay, a lot). I’ve managed to get several things published, somehow. Hopefully I’ll get the rest out there at some point.

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