Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Blink Blink

[big stretch] Permission is a wonderful thing. I have not written a word (well maybe a few :)) since I gave myself permission to slack off. Personally, my children were driving me crazy and I wasn't feeling well, but things are turning around. I'm working on catching up on the Left Behind and Loving It free workshops from Paperback Writer. I spent a two week vacation up at my parents with the kids and got to read some good and not so good books. One about dinosaur spirits was a good read, I believe the author was Nina Bangs. A historical that I can't remember the name of or the author of, which is probably a good thing because I struggled through it. The backcover copy made no sense compared to the book and everyone was after this girl because she was so beautiful. Seriously I think I threw up a little. My mom gets books from friends and had a stack. So then I tried to get into a Native American historical by that chick that had plagerized. I'm sure you either know about her from other blogs or could google and find her. I made it to maybe chapter 3 before putting the book down and vowing never to return. Then I found a historical by Amanda Quick. Thank you, Jayne Ann Krentz, you saved historicals for me.

Yesterday I found a Julia Quinn book Minx sitting around my house and picked it up to read it. Yeah, another good historical. I quickly searched my TBR pile and didn't find anymore. Sigh. Oh, well, this is all good because my mind is hovering over my WIP waiting for next week when the children go back to school so it can land and start picking the bones. I've thought about adding a prologue. Gasp. They really should make that a four letter word. I don't want to add her becoming what she is as backstory later in the story and I think it will make her more sympathetic if I showed a glimpse of what she was before and what has made her who she is.

How do you handle what made your character the way she/he is? Backstory, internal monologue, dialogue, prologue? An awful lot of logues there, maybe I should just build a tree.


Kristi said...

Prologues can work ok. It depends on how they're used. I have heard strong negative opinions about them. But I've read many without cringing.

On the other hand, from reading the one version of your first chapter, I didn't think you needed a lot of explanation of your heroine to make her more likeable. She has a sort of superhero vibe going for her to start with, and though she seems to be working for the wrong boss, she was still going after bad guys. You could drop hints along the way about how she ended up there, in thoughts and dialogue and such. Or leave the chip on her shoulder and don't make her explain herself too much.

Honestly, if you keep to the same vein as the bit that I got to read, then you have a very strong character, and adding a ton of backstory could actually undermine that.

Of course, I'm not much for following "rules" seeing as how I've created a hero that begins my story cheating on his fiancee...

Merry said...

I absolutely love Jayne Ann Krentz and all her incarnations! (Ravished is my comfort read - always).

Good to have you back, sounds like the rest from writing has done you the world of good!


Silke said...

I use OneNote and everything I know about a character goes in there.
I also use "Project" notebooks (the ones with the tabs) for when I'm not on my PC to make notes. *hugs her trusty Moleskine*
I build the backstory into the story, so the reader gets to know the character as they read on.
Prologues are usually not needed and tend to distract from the action. Better to start the book with an action scene, than backstory.
Quite often little tidbits and habits say more about your character than any prologue could ever do.
I have a heroine in one book who got locked into a cupboard as a kid, and almost died in a fire.
She absolutely HATES closed doors (doesn't help that the hero locks her into a bathroom...) and it comes out in quirks like needing the door open, or a window open.
He doesn't know, he only finds out why she insists on it much later. So does the reader. The reader doesn't need to know the why at any point before, and the reader finds out when the hero finds out.
It's not all that far into the story that it comes out, which helps. (It's not a deep dark secret) You find out about her abusive stepfather a little later, during an encounter with her mother, who rejects the hero because he reminds her of the stepfather.
So you see, it's worked in, you get to know her, but before you find out the why, you find out the end result of the why -- which gives the reader time to get irritated a little... and then when the why is revealed, the sympathy is more heartfelt due to the knowledge of how the past affects her in the present.

Hope that helps a bit. :)