Thursday, 7 January 2016

Flaws and issues

Am making slow but useful progress on The Boss's Secret. It's crawling along really, but some progress is better than no progress at all, so it's all a plus.

I'm reading an interesting how to book at the moment, about outlining, called Take Off Your Pants! It basically offers guidance on how to use clever outlining to help you write the book and write it faster. Which makes sense. I always used to be an outliner, but never felt very good at it, because I'm crap at plotting and you need a plot to make an outline. So, over the years, I became more of a hybrid plotter/pantser, leaning towards pantsing more, lately.

The trouble with pantsing, at least for me, is that I tend to write myself into pickles, and into stories that don't make sense, have no conflict [I hate conflict!!!!] and end up going nowhere or sounding suspiciously like something I've written before. At least once.

So I thought I'd give outlining a whirl again, specifically to help me revamp Boss.

Although I don't agree with everything in this book, it's good because it's got me thinking about the characters more, and their issues and their personality flaws etc, and the way these drive the [rudimentary, in my case] plot. I've got what I think are some workable flaws and issues for Lawrence now, but Rachel is proving harder. I realise that in the old version of Boss, she was a bit of a cypher, but I'm getting glimmerings now, of how she can be a stronger character.

The problem for me is that I don't like just picking an 'issue' out of thin air, to make a romantic conflict or whatever. I know characters have to have them, but I feel uncomfortable taking something serious and 'using' it, just to create artificial angst in what I consider a fairly lightweight piece of writing. I know my own level. I write to entertain and to provide escapist fun reads. I'm not setting out to make some great point on the human condition and all that, so I feel guilty using issues that are pretty terrible and agonising for people in real life, just to make a character arc for my fictional people.

But, having said this... this is my issue, and every writer and every reader has a different take on it, and I suspect I'm a bit of an outlier here. :)