I have a serious problem.
I don’t know my characters. At all. I’m working on some of my very earliest scenes of my novel and the interactions and the dialogue just feels so…wooden. I’ve sketched out their basic personalities but I now realize that I have a lot more still do to. This week, instead of focusing on plot development, I intend to jot down every tiny little thing about them that pops into my head – likes, dislikes, memories, past experiences, regrets, hopes, etc. I have to make them feel more three-dimensional than they do right now in order to write them the way that they deserve.
This “writing a book” thing is exhausting!
As a writer, do you have daily word count goals for yourself? I work full-time and have a home life so I’m trying to find a manageable per-evening word goal for myself. Right now, I’m settling on 500 words each evening and on the weekends, at least 5k words total for the two days. What are your goals? Are mine realistic?
The thing I love about history is that it’s everywhere. Growing up, I was convinced that I lived in the single most boring spot in America: southern Indiana. My parents were quick to correct me of this gross inaccuracy and then proceeded to haul me all over the state over the next few years, pointing out that I was, in fact, from a very interesting area. There was the house just down the road, built of Indiana limestone and with nicks in the rocks from an American Indian raid in the early 1800s. As a child in Madison, I was regaled with stories of Civil War hospitals, escaped slaves, and clandestine stops on the Underground Railroad. I saw the site of the Battle of Corydon,where General Morgan attacked during Morgan’s Raid in 1863. I’ve stood at the first state capital building in Corydon, before Indianapolis snatched up the title in 1825. We visited (and eventually became volunteers) at the site where Abraham Lincoln and his family lived from 1816 to 1830 in what is now Lincoln City, Indiana. I’ve stood at the grave of his mother in Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and at his sister’s grave just across the road in Lincoln State Park.
As I grew older, I became fascinated with World War II history and as it turns out, there was plenty of that around, too. The most visible site was the old Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, which stretched for miles along Highway 62 between Charlestown and Jeffersonville. The place looked abandoned, forgotten, like everybody just packed up one day and never came back. The old buildings, with their cracked windows and crumbling glass, used to send chills down my spine. Even still, I was wide-eyed at the history of the place. Opened in 1940, it was a major producer of munitions during World War II and employed over 27k people.
Once I became a college student majoring in history, I learned even more. The great Falls of the Ohio (in Clarksville) was a captivating place because it was where Lewis and Clark, with their Corps of Discovery, set off to explore the west in 1803. Then there were places such as Rose Island, which was on a piece of land where Fourteen Mile Creek empties into the Ohio River. An amusement park reminiscent of Coney Island, it was a great attraction for residents on both sides of the Ohio River in the 1920s and 1930s. Steamboats from Louisville and Madison would drop patrons off daily for a ride on the Ferris wheel, a trip around the wooden coaster, a swim in the pool, or a spin around the roller rink. The Great Flood of 1937 destroyed this park and it was never rebuilt.
Now that I’m writing a war-era novel and I’ve decided to set it in my old stomping grounds, I’m indebted to my parents and professors for making the rolling hills of southern Indiana come alive with history. What seems like nothing more than abandoned buildings, decrepit homes, and forgotten railroad tracks are, in fact, fascinating places. There’s a story to be told behind every door and I hope, through my novel, to bring some of those stories to life again.
One more quick post that revolves around a single thought – I’m alone on an island! I’m a boat without oars! I’m a cart with no wheels! I’m a phone with no receiver! Why? Because I have no one with which to talk about my crush on 1940s Don Ameche. It started thanks to his appearances in Lux Radio Theater (he has an amazing voice) and now I’m just full-on crushing and no one understands, considering I’m a 33 year old woman, this is 2012, he’s been dead for years, and I’m attracted to the man he was when I was approximately -35 years old. *sigh* I’m going to go watch Heaven Can Wait from 1943 on Netflix and swoon all by my lonesome.
I’m at an impasse and until I figure this out, I can’t move forward. I’m about to yank my hair out at the roots from obsessing over it.
Here’s the gist – I’m writing a novel that takes place during World War II. Two best friends are about to go off to war but I absolutely cannot decide what unit I’m putting them in. It is imperative, though, that they see some form of action as early as possible for the story to progress properly. See my notes below for those I’m considering or not:
So the question is, where do I send two farm boys from southern Indiana that, up until that moment, had lived a pretty quiet, idyllic (albeit poor) life? Their division/unit isn’t the focal point, of course, because the novel is actually more of an affair of the heart as well as a growing up/coming of age story for my heroine but still, I have to know where I’m sending the boys because I need to research troop movement. I need to be historically accurate.
I can’t make a decision!!!! *sobs*
As a writer, my biggest dilemma is almost always the same: do I write in the contemporary setting or do I place the story in the 1940s? The fact is, I am obsessed with the World War II era. I can’t help it. Every single time I start working on a contemporary piece, I get distracted by something from the 40s era and am drawn back to that time period. The reason my goal is to write contemporary is simple: contemporary fiction (romantic or otherwise) is often easier to get published than historical fiction. It simply has broader appeal. Not everyone likes historical fiction (although I cannot fathom why.) The problem I encounter, though, is that my heart and soul belongs to a bygone era. So do I take the easier route and write in the modern era or do I write what I feeds my soul and work a lot harder to find acceptance in the publishing world? It’s not an easy question to answer.
I’ve written and posted two short stories that take place during World War II.
I’ve always been a writer. From the time I was old enough to know how to spell, I’ve had a story in my head clamored to be told. From the stories I wrote about the members of New Kids on the Block when I was 10-years-old (*facepalm*) until this very moment, I’ve never loved doing anything as much as I do writing. The problem, though, is that life is currently trying to pound me into the pavement. When I started writing heavily again 2.5 years ago, it was because I needed an escape from the ugly parts of life that were bearing down on me. For the longest time, escaping into the lives of the characters I wrote about was quite a healing balm. Now, though, the dark part of my life that seems to be trying to surround me like a net and suck me under is just too strong. It pushes away my concentration, my drive, and my very need to write. It forces me to surf Netflix for an hour trying to find something to watch (and escape into) before I inevitably decide that Netflix is useless (as usual.) It pushes me to watch stupid videos on YouTube because they take my mind off that unanswered email or that text message that I’ve put off until later because I simply can’t deal. I guess the whole reason I’m rambling on this new blog is because I need to find my way back to words. I have two very vivid novels inside my head and I know that I have the talent to make them happen. I just don’t know how to dig down deep, past all the darkness and misery that is clawing at my heart, and find the words again. I have to try, though, right?