Four years ago I forced myself to finish a book called Almost Human (which has become Faerylander). I gave it to some people to read and they came back with lukewarm endorsement.
Martha said, "All the characters except the Mayor sound like you."
It was a flat book. Had some interesting ideas and settings, but no emotional content. It had a snarky tone, the main character being a faery creature observing the foibles of humans.
Thing about satire. To me, it's boring. I can't read it. I can't get involved. I really don't like Hitchhiker's Guide, for instance. Or Terry Pratchett. One Piers Anthony Xanth book, and I was done. (Don't judge me, just my personal taste -- I totally understand why others might like it.)
Thing is, if I don't like reading it, why would I write it? How involved could I really get?
So then I went in and tried to add drama, which helped a little, but was awkward.
All along these many rewrites, I've felt the writing was better than plot.
So in trying to fix the plot, I thought I was trying to figure out the backstory -- how this world worked.
But here at the end, I've figure out that what I was really trying to do is figure out the character's motivations -- what made them who they were -- and even more importantly the emotional connections between the characters.
In other words, why the plot even mattered.
I had to take that "flat" book and infuse it with personality. Create interesting characters the reader could care about, and make them interact in ways that created feeling.
So...I think I've done that. All the pieces fit.
Now I need to increase the quality of the writing to match the plot, instead of the other way around. I need to really make those character interactions have feeling and meaning. If I do that, the book works. If I don't, the book is just a collection of incidents and ideas.
I think I've got solid emotional possibilities and now my job is make sure those are realized on the page. That the reader feels it.
I feel a huge sense of satisfaction that I've ended up with a good book in my eyes. I like these characters and why they do what they do. If I can somehow get that across, then I've succeeded.
Man was it a struggle, but all the more gratifying for it.
3 days ago