Lol, I totally forgot about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group this month! (Hopefully I can get this post written and posted before my scheduled April A-to-Z post goes up at 8:40!)
Anyway, I haven’t been doing much fiction writing, lately, still. I want to say “oh, it’s just lack of time,” but I think it’s also lack of incentive somehow. I’m not too worried about it; I’ve gone through dry patches before. I just need something to kick-start me, probably.
Anyway, I’ve talked before about the problems I’ve been having with “The Island of Dr. Tanaka,” last year’s NaNo novel, which I still haven’t finished.
And in a way, I’ve decided I never will.
It’s not that I’m giving up on it, per se. It’s just that I’m abandoning the draft altogether, and I’ll eventually start over with two of the characters replaced.
I’ve talked about them before (and if I weren’t so rushed for time, I’d look for the links, but I am, so…they’re probably all on the “IWSG” tag if you’re really interested) but the two leads are the reason this book just wasn’t working. Ironically, they’re also the reason I started it in the first place.
I wanted to excise them from the backstory they originated in, the one that was going to have them die three days after finally realizing their love. ‘Cause that’s a pretty sucky ending for anyone, right? But I couldn’t write a realistic drama about two young men in the early 1970s overcoming the social issues surrounding accepting their love for each other. I couldn’t even write that about about what homosexual men go through now, let alone about what it would have been like a few years before my own birth. (I could research the ’70s easily enough, if I had time, but I don’t.) So I put them through this convoluted accidental time travel thing, and created what I feel like is a pretty interesting setting, and gave them some fun characters to interact with.
But I just wasn’t feeling it. The scenes with them always ended up just being about their love story, and the mysterious time travel thing kept getting pushed aside, especially after Ashley confessed his feelings. (Except when my other POV character was able to step in.)
I think the problem is that — despite their origin as backstory characters for a goofy sci-fi piece — they’re actually very down-to-earth characters who need a moderately realistic story. So I’m going to enlist my brother’s help and have him come up with a “Die Hard”-like story for them (only less violent, since I’ll be the one writing it) in a setting I’ve come up with. No idea when he’ll be able to do that (I haven’t even given him the materials to work with yet, and he’s in the process of moving right now, so he’s sort of busy) but he did agree to do it, so it’ll happen sooner or later. (Most likely later.)
As to “The Island of Dr. Tanaka,” I’ve decided the best thing to do is to just do a flat-out replacement. I took out two characters, so I should put two characters in.
The characters I took out were two men — one aware he was in love with the other, and the other in love but unaware of it — and they were soldiers serving in Vietnam. That last part came from their original backstory in the other book, and it was a mistake all around; I know very little about the armed forces, after all, and it necessitated them being sucked out of time in the very first scene, to hide my total lack of knowledge.
The characters I’m going to put in, I’ve decided, are two women (it’s always easier for me to write for women, for obvious reasons) and since the ones I’m removing are lovers, they’re going to be lovers, too. But none of this “he’s straight; he’ll never love me back” crapola that I had to deal with in Ashley’s POV. That was annoying. So these woman are already lovers. And because I liked the other three soldiers who ended up in the book, I’ve decided that they’re war protesters who were doing something outside some training facility. That way my shouty sergeant — who is, after all, based on every drill sergeant in any movie ever, pretty much — can be a drill sergeant, and the green recruit can be so green that he’s not done with his training yet. It’ll be a little harder to work in the medic and the combat/rescue chopper pilot (though he’s more of a plot device than a character anyway) but I think if the training facility is well outside of town, and one of the girls gets hurt, that’ll probably do it…though I’m still not sure what my medic’s doing there, unless he’s in the process of being released from service. (It’s actually sort of important for the plot that he’s been in Vietnam for some time now: he’s a sci-fi fan, but if he’s seen too much Star Trek, he’ll be too suspicious of the island’s AI.)
I’ve also slowly been coming up with story and character details for the experimental piece of fiction I wanted to write. Since I decided that almost everyone in the cast will have a superpower — most of them totally useless — it’s been fun coming up with character ideas, but not all of the powers tie neatly into the plot I came up with. Came up with some good hero names for that world’s Superman-analog, though. (No names yet for the Batman/Iron Man-analog, though. She’s going to be trickier to name, because there’s some weird stuff going on with her suit.) I did actually write the very beginning of it, but only about 3-400 words, if that. I came up with the scene and wanted to write it down, y’know? It might not actually even be the beginning; it could just be the introduction of the male lead, and the actual beginning could be the introduction of the female lead. Since she’ll probably be more the focal point of the story, that might make more sense.
Of course, the “character ideas” I’ve been coming up with have mostly just been about powers, and not much about things like names, personalities and especially appearances. Some of the personalities are easily extracted from the power set, at least in part, but appearances and names are serious weaknesses for me. Even the heroine hasn’t got a name or an appearance yet! (Another reason I haven’t really done much with it yet…)
I’m not sure why I have so much trouble with names and appearances. I mean, names are pretty darned crucial, right? (How can you write about someone if you don’t know what to call them?) And appearances dictate the way everyone around them reacts to them, but…honestly, very few of my characters in anything have ever had an appearance, unless it was back in my fanfic days, and then they had an appearance (and a name) before I even got to them. (Usually.) I think it comes back to my lack of visualization skills. I don’t usually know what my locations look like, either. I just don’t think in images. Maybe that means I shouldn’t be a writer…?
Well, I’m running out of time to get this posted, so I guess I’ll just hit the old “Publish” button and worry about it later.