Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Breakin' the law

Yesterday I broke Heinlein's second rule: "You must finish what you write." A few weeks ago I began work on a novel, but the project--and my gusto for it--crumbled early on.

Although I had an excellent story arc, a wonderful voice, and a fantastic setting designed for this story, something about the work began to bother me very early on. Then, after receiving a critique of one of my novellas from a friend of mine, a warning flare lit in my mind. My reader's comments made me realize: nearly all of my characters--in all my stories, whether they be a thousand, ten thousand, or a hundred thousand words long--are "warrior types." For one reason or another, they solve their problems at the barrel of a gun, or with the haft of a blade or their bare knuckles.

This fact seems to derive from the fact that my plots are frequently tight, fast paced, and demand quick, action-based resolution--instead of a slower-paced dénouément based on the characters and their development. And a subsequent derivative fact of these "fighter types" is that my characters end up serving roles too neatly and being, plain and simply, flat.

So, I've decided that my novel project--a gunslinging spacewestern--is simply not the appropriate practice I need at this point in the development of my craft. Inspired by some other writers' blogs I read, I'm returning to writing short stories in an effort to develop more sincere characters. To that end, I completed an old tale I had sitting around yesterday; and today I'll begin one inspired by none other than Iron Maiden--though, admittedly, the torture device more so than the band!

-bn

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