Thursday, July 23, 2015

Character arc


I had a letter to mail today and it wasn't actually raining (though still rather damp and dreary) so I walked to the post office to mail it. There is a post box much closer than that, but walking for 30 minutes allowed me to buy myself a treat (twisties - cheese flavoured snack food). I haven't finished that motivation book yet, for some reason I'm having trouble getting motivated enough to read it (I've been reading old favourites instead, like Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse, which I always do when I am sick, sad, tired or stressed), but I have got up to one piece of advice which is to tie exercise to something you enjoy. A friend of mine only allows herself to watch a certain favourite show when she is on the treadmill, so that gets her to the gym. I'm not sure treating yourself with junk food is what they meant, but it got me out of the house!

That is three times in the past four days that I have walked, which is a good streak for me.

Other than that, I worked on my novel a bit, which I have also done several times this week. As you will remember, I was given a critique on my early draft by my writing group back in February. It took a little while to recover from hearing that it wasn't perfect, and then my dad got sick and died, and basically I wasn't ready to work on editing it for a while. But I am now. The group gave me lots of nice feedback, but a major criticism was that my main character didn't have any real wants or needs (this is a big flaw!). Things happen to her, like being enslaved and attacked by dragons and so on, but the group asked me "what does she want?" "To go home," I replied. "No she doesn't," they said. "She hardly ever even thinks about home, and she doesn't have anything compelling to make her want to go back. Sure, she doesn't want to get eaten by dragons, no-one does, but that does not give her a great character arc." etc.

For a movie example of how important this is, Bruce Willis in Die Hard doesn't just want to stay alive and maybe rescue a few random people, he desperately want to save his estranged wife whom he still loves. Even a motivation like "saving the entire world" isn't enough, it has to be personal to the protagonist. What matters most to them, what would they go through anything for? Frodo is going to Mount Doom to save the world, but Sam is going to protect Frodo.

This is something that requires a lot of thought and reworking. Part of my heroine's character arc is that she goes from being quite passive to taking control of her life, and that is fine. But she still needs a strong motivation - which may change during the course of her story as she finds out that what she wants maybe isn't what she really needs. Getting buffeted from dramatic event to dramatic event gives her a story-line, but doesn't make her a compelling character who you want to succeed.

So my current work on my novel is more thinking than writing. I get to the end of a session only having written a few notes, but hopefully with more things worked out. Actually most of my ideas arrive when I'm walking, driving, showering, or about to go to sleep. Not so much when I'm sitting with pen and paper!

The tiler came back today and stood on the roof with the garden hose, with me inside waiting for water to come through. Hopefully we have found the problem now, he is coming back tomorrow or early next week to fix it. It supposed to rain tomorrow which would mean it's too dangerous to be up on the roof.

Report card:
Diet: Poor.
Exercise: Good.
Water: Ok.
Sleep: Terrible.
Mental health: Ok.

I was extremely restless last night, and while asleep had vivid annoying dreams. An intruder who sat around in the house and wouldn't leave even when I prodded him with a little knife. Getting to the start of a 5k race and paying my fee then they wouldn't let me run because I was two minutes late. Stuff like that. Frustrating.

I learned something while watching the Tour de France bike race, I heard the word "bobo" and saw the translation of "small injury" come up on the screen. It's not a term I use but I've heard it a lot and assumed it was a childish thing. But no, it's French!


  1. I could have told you what "bobo" was :-) But it's use mainly when talking to children, we don't want to tell them, "you are injure!" so we say "you have a small bobo!" and we kiss it and everything is fine.

  2. Here, we call it a 'booboo'...a 'bobo' is someone's butt!