I “completed” my fantasy novel, The Returning, a few months ago. Having given the manuscript ample time to cool, I am re-reading it, “Again” (in my best Forrest Gump voice). The process with which the novel grew from a seedling to a mature tree with its many branches is, to me, a fascinating process of nurturing like one would raise a child, with ample chastising and correcting thrown in to create the whole.
I have walked this world I created, interacted with the 30+ named characters (especially the 4 viewpoint personages) and listened to their tales of triumph, woe, and regret. Each person is (hopefully) different and varied, arising from unique backgrounds and thrown into a melting pot of love, conflict, and war—lives lost amidst blossoming love, terror tempered with steadfast acts of purpose, triumph and defeat. I know the people intimately, but I wonder, will my readers?
Characters make stories, plot only a device to build a relationship between the persons of the story and the reader.
In between re-reading The Returning, I am also writing the first draft of the second novel in the trilogy. The process—jumping back and forth between the two entirely different aspects—started me thinking of the different roles a writer takes. I call it the Writers’ Three Hats, each worn at separate intervals during the process: the Creator, the Reader, and the Editor (also known as the Critic).
Each hat is worn during a unique phase of building a story, separate though connected to each other like siblings vying for attention. And I have learned that only one hat can be worn at a time.
When building characters and stories, the Creator introduces, the Reader attempts to connect, and the Editor fleshes out the personalities to make them and their world real and whole. The hats are aspects of the craft that repeats, each donned several times from beginning to end, and each with a specific purpose and goal, and likewise, requiring a singular focus.
Next week, I will delve into ideas, the germs of the story that requires wearing the hats in the first place. From there, I’ll be discussing how and why the Hats are different, and how to use each to its own distinct advantage.
If so inclined, comment on the processes with which you create your people and your worlds.
Until next time, write . . . .
This Week’s Quote:
“Writing a novel is like a newly turned field; full of hope and dreams of harvest.”
Rick “C” Langford