Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deadline, Time lines and Back story


Deadlines have a way of forcing a writer to focus.

Working to a finite date clears the mind of all the petty distractions and makes you focus on what's important.
In an author's case: The finished article.

And the finished article is a 70,000 word romance novel. And I'm happy to report the book is now on the home straight and the finish line is in sight.

I've had a lot of fun with this WIP and the day that writing becomes a deadly chore or ceases to be fun is when I'll figuratively speaking hang up my quill.
It is so easy while bogged down in editing to forget the true joy of creating.

And its the joy of creating that keeps me coming back and back to my keyboard.

The technical aspects of writing is something I've learned by trial, error and practise. And the only sure way to finish a book is to actually sit down and write the damn thing.
Writing is hard work. It's equally as tiring a hard physical workout.
I've found the best way to combat mental fatigue is to make sure I take regular breaks in the fresh air. Potter in the garden, pull a weed  or two, feed my birds and generally as the young ones would say: chill out.

And this brings me to the other problem area in writing. 

Time lines.

I've found a very useful tool when I begin to plot out a novel is to work out the timeline over which the action in a novel takes place.   And keep a hard copy for reference close to my computer.

This ensures events occur in an orderly fashion.
Only in time travel epics will a reader accept chronological happenings being blurred as characters change worlds. And yet in each different world a character occupies there must be a good sense of time to make it work.
In every work of fiction there must be a sound sense of chronology. I know as a  reader I very quickly become disenchanted  with any work where a timeline is obviously out of sinc. Or where a character has to fit an impossible amount into their own personal time line.
A recent example of a time line gone awry was a romance novel I was reading where the heroine had a 19 year old son, she was 37 and claimed she was pregnant and being forced into a shotgun wedding at 17. Hey you do the math! It doesn't fit. 
When events pull a reader out of the story to such a degree where they reach for a calculator, you've lost your reader.
I've found it useful when doing the background of main characters to write out a timeline for the major events that occurred in their life, especially any event that has a major impact on the back story.

Back Story.

I never forget the importance of back story. It impacts on the current events and hangups each character brings forward into the current story. Back story lies at the heart of every character's motivation.
The more angst in the back story the harder your character has to strive to overcome and to grow.

My father used to say no one comes into the world hosed and shod. (An olde worlde term for wearing shoes and socks)

And a writer forgets at their peril that no character arrives on a page without a personal history. And a personal history equates to backstory.
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