I’ve had this idea for a story nagging at me for the past… jeez… 8 months?! I promised myself I wouldn’t do anything more than plot out ideas in my spare time until I finished the Kael Family trilogy. Today was the first day I actually sat down and introduced myself to these characters. The beginning of a new story is nothing short of amazing to me. Allow me to get a little artsy-fartsy for a minute…
There are roughly two types of stories; character-driven and plot-driven. The latter is easy to recognize once you know what you’re looking for. The action propels the story and the characters are mostly along for the ride. It’s more about resolving the action or conflict. The former is more internal and personal… characters who go through emotional change. They start in one place and end up in another.
Think Die Hard. Did John McClane learn a valuable life lesson that intrinsically changed him as human being? Were there deep, emotional, gut-wrenching moments? Compare that to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The plot moved forward from the growth and actions of the characters, not invading aliens or destructive Nazis.
I writing character-driven stories. When I begin writing a new book with new characters, it’s an introduction of sorts. They become fully-formed people in my mind with their own quirks and personalities. Some of these traits I think of ahead of time while others bubble up on their own. It’s incredibly exciting and inspiring to experience it each time I begin a new book. I’m always afraid my characters will start to blend together, but if anything, they’re becoming stronger each time.
I’ve only written a few thousand words and Clara already has a unique trait. She’s an author (something I swore I’d never do… write about writers) and has this habit of hunting for synonyms when she’s nervous. She wants to think through all the different ways she could describe an object or a mood, a color, anything that grabs her attention. I didn’t know this about her going into the story, but as the scene developed, it was almost like she started doing it on her own.
While I miss old stories and characters, it is so much fun to meet and create new ones. And it’s even more fun to introduce them to the world!