Writing About… THEM

I keep “not writing”, and we all know how that feels. There were times, maybe two years ago, when I stopped writing my first novel for such long stretches, it occurred to me that maybe I had stopped for good. Work avoidance, interrupt-mode, outside pressure, garden-variety fear- take your pick. And sometimes I really, truly was not writing. But that’s not the problem right now.

Mostly, as I was composing “Judgement’s Tale”, these were times that I just… waited. I NEVER stopped thinking about him. Seriously, I lose sleep over that guy- and work sometimes suffers, and… wait, what did my wife just say? Until I got that first volume done, I was in a daze whether I was writing or not. And all that time, while I was “not writing”, I could almost feel little bits falling into place. A name, a reaction to an insult, two lines of a song… they would drift past my mind and I’d think “oh yes, that’s part of it”. And after a while the writing would come back.

The next story I’m working on is “Perilous Embraces”, the third installment of the Shards of Light series. It’s heroic fantasy with a flavor of political thriller, focused on the career of a high priestess named W’starrah. Once again I’m “not writing”  but listening and watching as things fall in place.

But this is different; she’s… one of THEM.

Solemn Judgement from “JT” is absolutely one of the driving characters of my lifetime- I’ve been studying him for AT LEAST thirty years. He’s nothing like me, but I know him very, very well. I can show you Judgement through the eyes of others, regular folks who chop wood and copy books- and that’s good because you will never get inside his head on my watch. You don’t want to go there. If there’s a delay in writing about Judgement, it’s just because I never noticed what he was doing at that point in the story. But HIM, I know. It doesn’t take long.

And those other folks, I think I’m pretty good at them too- heroic fantasy has lots of characters with big handles, and the Lands of Hope is no exception. I do the crotchety old geezer, the burly barkeep, the precocious child, the warrior. I’m a fair hand at the intelligent beast, if that’s not boasting, and I relate a fair villain (cliche, but kind of funny too).

And Justin, Trekelny, Feldspar, to a lesser extent I have known and chronicled these heroes informally for years. I could talk about them in my sleep- and according to my lovely wife, I sometimes do.

But W’starrah Altieri? She’s one of… THEM.

I don’t mean just “women”, although that is tougher, and she is abundantly female. W’starrah is a very active, gregarious, sensual yet courageous and heroic woman. She can foresee the future- she knows what’s coming, and no one else around her can. Foresight, confidence, femininity, mysticism… I don’t know who she is. I haven’t been watching or listening to her very long. So the little pieces come out as I walk around “not writing”, but they don’t make as much sense to me. And I’ve written some of the tale- a very little bit- but it’s like pushing a rock uphill. I could tell you what happens, but I can’t make sense of it yet.

Do you find that you have a certain kind of character that’s THEM to you? Or is it a situation that puts you off? Maybe giving background, or conversation? For me, chronicling is ALL about character, and I must admit, W’starrah is still THEM. What about you?

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About Will

I'm the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales, available at Smashwords and all the major online retailers.

Posted on February 1, 2012, in about writing, Authors - Will Hahn. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’ve had problems with one of the characters I wrote. I tried to push ahead despite it and ended up abandoning the story. Much, much later I understood the character, and only then did I finish it. Sometimes, it pays of to be patient.

  2. Exactly right, Kat! The key, I guess, is to keep moving on something if you can. So I’ve moved to a new tale as you know and am starting to lay that out instead. I’m glad your tale got finished- do I know which character it was?

    But all the time these stories are still getting written. My lovely wife says some dishes you have to let them sit for a while. Casseroles, some kinds of cookie dough, stuff like that? That’s it exactly. So just like those commercials, “I’m cleaning my oven!”

  3. No, you don’t know the character. It’s form my first historical novel.

  4. I loved your post, Will. Just watching your characters without writing about them is a very important step. That is what I am doing right now with my next book. I don’t even know their names yet, but every day as I observe them, I know a little more about them. And love them a little more, every day.

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