Hullo! Welcome or welcome back as the case may be. About the title, yes it is only most of chapter two, this chapter ended up being significantly longer than I expected. But, that doesn’t change the fact that I have a lot to talk about so lets get right to it. The first chapter ended with an opportunity or push for Kite, that would facilitate a change in circumstances for the better, spurring action for the following chapters. This was something I wanted to capitalise on, use this as a way to display some of Kite’s characteristics. The first is that she is ambitious. Not prone to sitting around and prone to seeking more than is offered.
Characters are as I’m sure you are all aware crucial to stories in general. While setting can intrigue and capture imagination, it is often the people or beings that occupy that space which give people an anchor within your novel. Something to relate their own experiences to and form attachments on one hand and perhaps more basically give them a way to understand the world in which they find themselves. A novel that had a completely alien setting and characters that displayed no human traits, would be extremely difficult to write and alien for those who tried to read it. So lets talk a little bit about establishing characters and some of the difficulties I encountered in this chapter as I tried to do just that.
Mental health, is a sticky subject but as someone with mild autism and consistent struggles with my own mental health I wanted to include elements of this in my main character. After all, characters that get everything right and never struggle with anything make for dull stories. The Fellowship’s journey to destroy the ring was no walk in the park and to use a more contemporary example Katniss Everdeen didn’t exactly survive her ordeal in the Hunger Games without assistance. I remember a lecture I sat in during my undergraduate talking about this using the framework that people’s tastes changed from the brilliant and unassailable characters of Superman who were quite literally superhuman, to Batman and the resourcefulness and humanity he displays. While I’m sure, I’ve just done a terrible job of recapping the lecture, the essence of the message was giving characters all the answers easily isn’t the best idea.
As such Kite isn’t a perfect rock of stability. Great, but how do I display this in a way that makes her seem more human without playing into the damsel in distress trope. Well the two aren’t mutually needed, there is nothing wrong with relying on friends and people close to you for support when you are struggling. However I’m conscious that I don’t want her to be reliant on other people to move the story forward and too many displays of struggling or needing other people might undermine her character as I progress through the story. To put more of the onus on her overcoming her own problems I’ve used moments of personal reflection and only sparse indications of support. But also made it clear in interactions with her closer confidants that not everything is hunky dory and that there are problems lurking under the surface that I hope to deal with, one way or another later. I hope that as the majority of times I will display the Kite as anxious will be overcome predominantly by her own actions, I can then use either a lessening or heightened success rate to indicate character growth. Or at very least a sign of increased self discipline.
The other struggle that I encountered was that I wanted to introduce a few side characters that will end up being important later, without giving you their whole biography. Which can be difficult sometimes. Perhaps you’ve heard of Hemingway’s Iceberg, (no, not the one that sank the Titanic.) Something I’ve always struggled with as a writer is trying to sprinkle information that’s needed in a productive way, rather than writing a few sentences and then hitting the ready with the complete works biographical and historical on major characters, places, goats and otherwise. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration but you’re picking up what I’m putting down right? My struggle is always not to spend too much time on details that are insignificant at this moment in time. Those details are often really important for creating good characters, but nobody really cares what their favourite food is at every point in the story. That’s the kind of thing you might get to slip in should they attend a banquet or a local takeaway, or perhaps if they’re having a vivid culinary daydream. This consistent issue popped up again more strongly than I was expecting as I began to introduce characters.
While I’m not going to go into names or details, I do want to briefly mention that very few of my full novel length projects have received second drafts, and those that have, got them a long time ago. So second drafts, I really wasn’t expecting to have trouble slimming down information as I’d already faced these problems to a degree in the first draft. However it seems that as with the second draft I have developed a much more solid understanding of characters I am finding it more difficult not to add or place one or two extra titbits of information for good measure. Whilst I have already removed some of this excess information as I went, I am not looking forward to rereading the chapter at the end of the second draft rewrite as I suspect I’ll end up questioning a few of the decisions I have thus far made. But hey, that’s what edits are for .
I think perhaps that is the most important thing all the writing of drafts I have ever done has taught me. Is that I actually quite enjoy editing and it is important not to let on the fly editing stall progress. Editing can always be done later. You can always improve that segment with hindsight and fresh eyes and that is exactly what I intend to do. Even though, that is what I am already doing by rewriting and restructuring the plot. Editing is long, laborious and can be tedious but at the end of the day, multiple edits have always produced the work I was most proud of and I hope that at the end of this process I will be able to say the same.
So I’m running out of time to get this done before I have to kick off a live stream and cook myself dinner, (hmmmm fooooooood.) Nonetheless I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, see you next week!