||[Aug. 2nd, 2006|09:22 am]
Read an interesting thread on the NaNoWriMo boards yesterday, where someone asked about the difference between plot-driven and character-driven fanfic. I was applying the insights in that post against my writers' block in The School, and I think I've realized something that would make the story work better.
One of the people in the thread distinguished plot-driven from character-driven in this way: if your main character suffers because his girlfriend dumped him for another guy, that's plot driven. If your main character suffers because his girlfriend dumped him because she found out he was cheating on her, that's character driven.
Of course, it's a simplification, but stories tend to just work better when the characters suffer because of things they brought on themselves. It provides an immediate engagement on the part of the character, at least if they're aware of what they've done -- they've already acted, so it makes it easier for them to act again, either to affirm or reject their prior action.
One of the major conflicts in the school is Ariel's overprotectiveness of Jesse destroying their relationship. Ariel is willing to give up her dreams to continue going on following Jesse everywhere, 'taking care of her' -- sort of like a martyr syndrome. I realized that I could spin that into the story, having that cause Ariel to come to The School, instead of it just being something that 'happened' to her. That immediately engages her; though she's still in the same place with the same goals, the fact that she made the decision to be there requires more engagement on her part. She has a reason to play along, which makes her early incompetence at psionics a true conflict, something that drives her. I'm still not sure I could Snowflake the story, but I'm definitely getting closer.
I'm also thinking of cutting Robert's perspective. I wanted it, mainly because I feel uncomfortable writing a story entirely from one perspective (it feels, for some reason I can't explain, repetitive), but he just doesn't have the engagement, the desire to DO, and unless I start playing perspective games it tips my hand on the plot too early. I could just do third person objective for his scenes, but somehow I feel it would be ridiculous. It's playing games with the reader, which, okay, has been done to really good effect in the past, but I still balk at it. It requires manipulation, where you carefully orchestrate the conversation so it implies something completely different from what's happening. And if it's not sinister, what am I trying to get across? Bweh.
...and if I need anything from Robert, I can do it better by just using a different character as the conduit. Hey! In a story about psychics, the main character can BECOME Robert, if necessary!
In other news, sunburns suck.
the daystar, it burns...