Beginnings are hard. For me, one of the most difficult parts of writing a first draft is deciding at what point I should start my story's timeline. What opening scene will catch a reader's attention? How early is too far from the action, leaving them bogged down with mundane character introductions? How late into the action will leave them confused rather than engaged? Is it worth throwing in a prologue to give readers background information, setting the backdrop of future events? Or should all of the pertinent background information get woven into the storytelling as exposition?
I made quite a bit of progress on my working vacation, and now that I'm home again, I want to keep my momentum going. I cut in half the amount of chapters I have left to edit on my current WIP. Once I finish the last few chapters, I plan to do a final read-through before prepping for querying and pitching in December. I still have my doubts about this manuscript's quality, but then I do admit to having a perfectionist streak in me and needing to get over the fact I can't please everyone.
For the past week and a half, I have been listening to a lecture course on the history surrounding the theory of evolution, and it has left me contemplating how ideas, particularly ways of understanding, spread and change with the amount of information we have. Today, the concept of natural selection acting to produce changes in species over the course of generations strikes most people as logical and obvious, but Darwin spent many years working out that very logic after his famous visit to the Galapagos Islands. We, of course, have knowledge of genetics which had not yet been discovered at that time although experiments on inheritance of various traits were being conducted during Darwin's lifetime.
Over the weekend, I had planned to go on a day trip to one of my favorite natural areas with my camera and the dog. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed but forces beyond my control, and so I spent my time catching up on some TV series that had been recommended to me. While watching pilot episodes through streaming websites, I became quite aware of differences in writing and presentation and the nuances of what I find to be enjoyable storytelling. A great deal of credit goes to actors and directors when it comes to film-based production, but I find that when it comes to my own preferences, it's the writers' work that either makes or breaks a show or movie.
Fantasy and science fiction are my two favorite genres of storytelling whether those stories are told through the written word or through film. Part of my favoritism is due to my use of books, TV series, and movies as a means to escape from my everyday world with all its stresses and mundanity. But another part of my favoritism is due to the fact that within fiction, most real-world stories that I am interested in reading fail to create characters, settings, and communities that I find believable. They are an outsider's impressions looking in and creating stereotypes and over-simplified cause and effect. This is why one common piece of advice for writers is to write what you know.
Writers, when they are researching or building up character and plot details, can fall victim to too much information. Details can be key to creating a compelling and believable story, but at the same time, it's possible to have too much or too many.
Friday afternoon I learned that Season 15 will be the last of Supernatural. Many in the fandom seem to already be mourning the loss of the show even though we have yet to finish Season 14. Friday night and part of Saturday I felt a little lost myself - the show and fam-dom helped restore my sense of self after a rough 2016 - but then my thoughts turned to the question of what will end up replacing it on the CW? The other shows holding similar timeslots the rest of the week on the network have failed to hold my attention, and as a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, I fear that once Supernatural is gone, there will be no new fandom to take its place during my weekly TV perusal.
I'm not a big fan of first person POV in storytelling, and many of my favorite stories feature an ensemble cast. This is because the characters I'm most drawn to are fence-sitters. They are not necessarily indecisive, but they do tend to play both sides of a conflict and keep multiple options open for themselves. I always hope they'll choose the protagonist's side in the end, but a good storyteller will keep you guessing throughout the tale.
I believe most if not all storytellers will agree that characters are important to them. They also will probably agree that characters are important to their audience too. But when it comes to the interpretation of a character, who's input is more valuable?