So far, working on Futureproof, I mostly seem to be mindmapping and charting and researching. That's cool. I'm developing and elucidating a lot more mental depth in both my protagonist and my main antagonist, and that's all going to come out when I get back to writing properly again. I've been deliberately developing them as mirrors of each other, because that's one of the things I feel strongly about; every protagonist/antagonist pair should have deep similarities which draw them together--and a few tweaked circumstances that totally oppose their ways of expressing those similarities.
I don't usually do it on paper. I don't usually do it so explicitly. But you know what? Usually--when I write successfully--I write fanfiction. I have a whole body of canon for the characters I love to draw on, and fandom, and meta, and I can't expect creating a character from scratch to be as easy as fitting an existing character into a new situation. Even constructing Erica--who I consider to be really my first published OC, even if she's kind of canon-based--for Ring Truly, I had a lot of stuff to start with, to try to make fit with what I needed from her.
Despite my paranoia of pinning things down wrongly
, I actually work at my best when I'm trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. So I need my characters to develop some bits that don't fit, all on their own. It's too easy
when I'm writing my own story to write exactly the character who belongs in the situation, and it just ends up... flat.
I'm also really enjoying using the new character thesauruses
I bought on a recommendation. They are amazing
: each trait is listed with similar traits, possible causes, associated behaviours, thoughts, emotions, and positive and negative aspects, examples, as well as conflicting character traits and challenging scenarios for a character with the trait.
I didn't pull them out at all while I was writing Ring Truly; I guess I thought since I bought the books thinking about creating original characters, they wouldn't be useful for characters I already had. But while flicking through searching out things for Futureproof, I looked up Clark and Lex's defining negative traits for the story, the ones they had to grow through to reach their happy endings, and... wow, it's like the authors were in my head, describing the characters that had grown there. Even some of the minor things that I hadn't thought related, are apparently characteristics they consider related to those major traits. It would have been SO incredibly useful back when I was at the banging head against the wall stage, trying to approach finding a happy ending from the plot angle! It's also a bit of a boost that I'm obviously creating consistent characters instinctively, that the listed charateristics for a trait I've identified can light up in my mind like that as yes, yes, yes, not so much, but oh YES!
Here's me, learning from experience. Character drives plot. Yes, I tend to be a plot driven writer, but the more you understand the characters, the more you understand the plot. And if I'm not writing fanfiction? I'm gonna need to put more effort into understanding the characters. Living them. Being them. And it doesn't matter if they develop in a way that doesn't necessarially serve the final direction of the plot; I'm a problem-solver at heart, and that's the situation where I thrive.
These characters are still missing... something. They haven't properly woken up. I don't love
them, not the kind of love that would make me put down a book and go straight onto AO3 to check out the fandom. Or straight to my word processor to write that scene that's shining vividly in my head despite having being left out of the official story.
So, I'm not writing words right now. I'm (not entirely successfully) trying to still check in for ten minutes or so of actual writing per day, because personally, even thought I do tend to work a lot at a high level on a story, I also need to work at prose level to properly come to grips with how a character feels, and whether they're awake, or still just notes on a piece of paper. But I'm enjoying the planning. And Futureproof's characters are that little bit richer for it. Hopefully soon, they'll be a lot