DISCLAIMER: I don’t mind you guys sharing my thoughts about the mentorship with others. However, if you don’t see the art or writing bits up at SongofExile.com, that means I’d prefer you keep it between us! Enjoy!:)
This was a week of writing and re-writing, of tears and fears! My victory of having a short pitch figured out was now overshadowed by this week’s challenge – how do I turn that short pitch into book 1 and how do I make book 1 work on its own without feeling like all setup? My assignment – write the synopses for Acts 1 – 3 of book 1.
Luckily for me, the upside of having this novel stuffed inside my head for 10 years means I’ve had plenty of time to think about the major plot points. I already knew what was going to happen to the characters and where they would end up (for the most part), but how then could I present those moments as interesting, emotional, relevant arrangements for a synopsis? It wasn’t easy and it took some fair critique from fellow writers and a few rewrites to get them remotely decent!
Things I Learned This Week
– Passive vs. Active Characters – It’s really easy to fall into a formula of ‘this thing happened and the character did this’. This is especially common in more subtle, emotional stories (like the one I’m trying to tell). I constantly ran into the problem that my character felt too passive and reactive, rather than making decisions (even bad decisions). I eventually came to the solution of finding ways to emphasize my main character’s choices.
Ramah goes through a lot of trials that challenge his morals. It was important for me to emphasize those moral decisions over his physical experiences that were not as relevant without mention of those internal moral choices and how they direct his path through the book.
– He Must be Emo! Related to the last lesson. The more I let my character simply react, the more emo he became and while emo has a place, it doesn’t usually make for an engaging prolonged experience nor an interesting dramatic structure (ie. Stuff happens. Character mopes. Stuff happens. Character mopes). I find I like my own character much more now that he makes more active choices, even if those choices might not be the right ones.
I think the key moment of revelation for me was realizing that a character makes a choice in hopes of changing or correcting something rather than waiting for things to happen or assuming his choices don’t matter. Again, characters who are hopeless have their place, but more often than not, an interesting story will force them to grow and adapt…or suffer the consequences of inaction.
– Tutorials FTW! This advice on writing a good synopsis using Star Wars as a framework was super helpful!
– Murder Your Darlings! I rewrote my synopses drafts 5 times. 5…TIMES! I had to delete a lot and it hurt, but then I realized the story was so much better for stripping out the unnecessary information that wasn’t relevant to the ‘bones’ of my story. Plus, better to figure out these pacing problems now before I end up re-writing a 50k draft!
Art Wrap Up for this Week
I realized now that my story has changed so much that these scenes are going to need redoing. The joy of revision!
Read about the rest of my journey with the IP Development Mentorship here: