13 October 2009

Writing Spaces

To some people, where we write is very important. Others can write anywhere anytime. I have different writing spaces depending on the weather, time of day, and family activity. When I worked in London I used to mainly write on the train during the daily commute. Of course, for tax purposes, I use the whole house, but most of the time I tend to keep to certain locations.

During the day, in late spring, summer, and early autumn, I take the laptop down to the summer house in the garden – more of a cramped shed really. I find moving to a different place, away from the housework and other distractions, frees up my mind.

I used to write late at nigh after the children had gone to bed, but I now find it more productive to retire early and rise early, before the children are up. During this time I sit at the desk, on the laptop, in the quiet of dawn, in the study/music/office/spare/junk room. With lots of hot coffees. Once the children are up, especially at the weekends, they take over the computer.

During the day, if everyone is out and the weather is too cold/wet for the summer house, I may write in the conservatory where there is most light.

The rest of the time, if a thought occurs to me, I grab one of my many notebooks and scribble so I can get the idea out of my brain and type it up later. Early morning – here come the children – time to hand over the laptop.

Where do you write?

06 October 2009

Help, my protagonists are two-dimensional

What can you do if your protagonists turn out a bit too two-dimensional. The problem, usually, is that they lack character. When I first started posting on WIT my protagonists were a bit like that.

The art of story telling is to reveal character. Remember, description is not character: how people react to events and what they do, is character so give them something to react to. Read your story again - what happens in your story to reveal the character of your protagonists and antagonists? Probably not enough if they seem a bit wooden.

The best way to reveal character is to introduce more conflict. A lot can be revealed about the character of our protagonists if we just place a few stumbling blocks in their way. Or, instead of two characters instantly liking each other, how about making them dislike each other or doubt each other’s motives. Think of your story as an assault course for your protagonists, and give them a good workout

Sometimes, when we have grown fond of our protagonists, we make life too easy for them. You’re a writer, so act like a Greek god and make life difficult for your protagonists (and antagonists); see how they react – they might surprise you, I hope they do.