This past week I have continued to play with an old fanfiction. I have simply allowed myself to get lost in the world of the story and play with words. I have written over eight thousand words (more than I have done in a long while) and none of it was agony. Sure I would still lament why X character is so hard to write. What would Y character do now? So on and so forth but I wasn’t beating myself in the head agonizing over the plot and voice too much. It was bliss, writing is fun again.
In rolling along with this play time I’m discovering and learning a few things about myself as a writer and what I have been lacking in a lot of my writing. One of the first things I noticed is that as I write the characters who have known each other for years, I’m not just writing thing to happen in the moment I’m writing things considering their past. I would type something about character A not sleeping well and I would pause and ask is this something that happened in the past? Would this be odd and unexplained to character B or would they know this of A? Their past while unwritten is just as important and their present (what I’m currently writing) and their future (which is yet to be written). For a number of characters in my current novels while I think they are a well rounded character I know very little of their past it is very vague to me and I realized that these are things that might be important – they can fill in gaps help flesh things out with the characters. A mental note I have kept stamped in my mind: “Flesh out character pasts”.
In conjunction with knowing the character’s past and having that fleshed out I’ve realized that I don’t know my current characters as well as I know my fanfiction characters. And before anyone jumps to the idea that is because of the source material I argue that it is not. In fanfiction I tend work with supporting characters. Characters that you only see glimpses of because their story is not as well know and there is a whole lot more room to play. The reason I know the character so well is because I have spend a lot of time working with and developing the character. I’ve done fanfiction since with this character since 2004 and done role play with the character since 2005. I’ve taken breaks here and there but my mind still chews on thoughts and ideas so you can do the math. My version of the character is like a best friend to me and I know their ins and outs. I’m not saying I need to spend that many years with each character, but I haven’t even spend a fraction of the amount of time with and on some of my character as I have some of my fanfiction characters. In a lot of ways it all boils down to “Deeper character development”. I need to make my characters more real and less shallow.
While character development is a big walk away for me, I think the other thing I have noticed is my writing style. My words and sentence structure are stronger. I am naturally pausing and going “have I said that word too many times?” I’m also stopping to think about my punctuation more often. While I may loath editing I have learned things from it, I think about commas more and I consider dashes and semicolons more. I’ve used them but not heavily and I pause and think about that in the natural flow of writing. So over all with the fanfiction adventure I am learning and seeing growth and I think I’m going to continue down the path for a while longer. I mean, I have yet to have a chapter published and see what I can learn from outside sources. I’m excited and I cannot wait!