I know David Tennant/10th Doctor…I know…
So….I am not doing so awesomely with NaNoWriMo. As a matter of fact, I am pretty much sucking all over the place. My previous 20,000 words of this novel were done over the course of seven months. To be fair, I didn’t even look at it for some of those months, but the point remains that it was slow and careful. Just turning that mindset off to type out whatever comes to mind is a little difficult. I want to plan everything out, write several versions of the same scene, tweak dialogue…the very writerly things that will ensure I miserably fail this challenge.
I need to learn to get messy.
Last night I mapped out my novel in index cards. I felt one of my biggest problems was that some of my scenes seemed similar, or seemed to be resolving the same issues, because I wasn’t exactly sure what scene was coming next. Well, that problem is mostly resolved now, and I have a general idea of what is supposed to go where. Observe:
The scene I am trying to stumble through right now is where my brainy MC (main character) finally drinks the Kool-Aid. She lets her shiny, new friends talk her into a little makeover of sorts, and this scene is supposed to describe the reactions of others. It should be fun! I love this character, I love this plot and how it progresses and resolves itself, but I am BORED. I get sleepy and just plain ol’ tired when I start typing everything out. I don’t know what to really do to fix this, besides drink copious amounts of coffee. I don’t even know if this is a normal reaction. It might be my ADD, and my desire to move onto something new whenever I invest a certain amount of time in a hobby or interest. Either way, it is killing me.
Wallow. Wallow. Self-pity. Wallow.
My wallow quota filled, I dust myself off and look around for authors who experience this almost-half-way point of exasperation. Luckily, my boyfriend John Green has some words that help light a fire under me:
Why do I quit halfway in? I get tired. It’s not fun anymore. The story kind of sucks, and it’s hard to sit down every day and spend several hours eating from a giant bowl of suck. And most of all, like the kid who spends hours preparing plastic armies for war, I enjoy setting things up more than I enjoy the battle itself. To finish something is to be disappointed. By definition, abandoned novels are more promising than completed ones.
Look at that. I’m normal! I’m experiencing something that people a million times more talented than me are experiencing! These people totally understand that sometimes you just walk away and start over. I could totally just walk away and start over. No one would blame me. I bet my next book will be even better…
Even as I begin the intricate dance of justification, I know I’m not going anywhere. Not because I enjoy figuratively beating my head into my desk, but because at some point (last week, last month, seven months ago) I fell in love with this story. There was something about this story and these characters that made me want to stick around when I had never wanted that before. So now I just need to remind myself. Whether that means reading some of my more polished scenes, or just going back through my character bios and reminding myself why they are so special. With that said, I am going to introduce you to my male main character. The counterpart to my brainy, awkward, sometimes acerbic female main character.
My Male Main Character
Let me preface this by saying I love love love Karen Marie Moning. Well, at least her Fever series…I haven’t really read much of her other work. Either way, this snippet really stuck to me. I had this really smart and fiercely independent female character, that had basically decided that she didn’t need or want anybody. I want to really flip her script. I want her to actually wake up and start living her life. I want her to have a relationship like this…something that just amplifies everything else.
So I thought about some of my favorite male characters:
I may have noticed some similarities…and can we just take a minute to appreciate how freakin hilarious that Mr. Rochester picture is…
So I figure you write what you know. I like my male characters to be smart, initially arrogant (mostly because they are from fine families or come from money), flawed, not always sweet and cuddly…just human… I like to pair them with a girl who will turn their world upside down, and possibly make them a better person for it. Someone out of their zone of comfort. Yes, it is a timeless idea that has been done many times before…but not quite like this. 🙂
My male MC is named Nikhil Sangeeta (Nik to his friends). Take a minute to appreciate the name, because I actually had to do research to make it. His mother is English, and his father is Indian, and they are both actors. They spent a lot of time in the West End, and moved to the states about 10 years ago to do some work on Broadway. They actually helped found the camp that Eloise is sent to, and their son is following in their acting footsteps. His family is famous and wealthy, and he doesn’t really trust or socialize with a lot of people as a result. So far in my book, we’ve seen him be friendly, mean, contrite, earnest, polite, and harassed. He is really fun to write, and although it might sound like he is bipolar, he seems to be very steadfast in most things. I like him. I also imagine he looks something like this:
This is model Rishi Idnani. Nik actually wears more clothes.
Here is a snippet from when Nik and El first meet:
“And you are?”
My head whips around and Nik stares at me curiously.
“Eloise Quinn. Actually, I go by El,” I say, faking confidence that I don’t even remotely have.
“Tell me, Eloise, what program are you in?”
I glare at him. I am almost entirely sure he is mocking me, and can tell that I don’t have much interest in talking to him.
“Acting,” I say curtly, glancing over to where Mia and Ben seemed to be caught up in their own private conversation.
“Ah,” he says knowingly. “Are you prepared to fight for Juliet tomorrow?” His eyes drift over the crowded room.
“Why would I fight for something I don’t want?”
Well that certainly got his attention. He is once again looking at me, and his eyebrows are arched in surprise, or amusement. I’m not really sure which. “My apologies. I assumed that a pretty girl, who ended up at an expensive theater camp for the summer, would have her heart set on being the love-struck ingenue. Was there a different role you were interested in?”
He is talking to me like I was a child, or simple, and I am not even remotely either of those things. I bet all he is used to is “love-struck ingenues,” and I was not going to be mistaken for a member of his fan club. I should keep my mouth shut. I really, really should.
“Actually, I was thinking Romeo, but I heard you always get the male lead for some reason.”
Mia rips some of her attention away from Ben to give me a what-the-hell-do-you-think-you’re-doing stare. She has bat-like hearing. I stare back at her innocently.
Nik’s eyes slightly narrow, and his condescending little smile disappears. I assume people have made enough comments in the past that he knows exactly what I am implying. I dig deep for feelings of remorse.
“Are you a man, Eloise, or do you have enough experience wooing teenage girls that you think you can do the part justice?”
“Is that all it takes?” I ask tartly. “Mess around with enough girls and you can be Romeo?”
Mia appears next to me and grips my arm hard. “El is so silly, she doesn’t want to act at all. She’s super smart though, and is going to Oxford in the fall.”
I roll my eyes at her attempt to defuse the situation. I do intend to make friends, but not with this arrogant, entitled boy.
He smiles thinly. “Oxford, huh? Tell me, Ms. Quinn, why would you come to an acting camp when you obviously feel it is so far beneath you?”
I immediately feel shamed, but just because I don’t want Mia to think I look down on her passion. “I don’t look down on it,” I say bristling. “I just have no interest in it, and my reasons for attending this camp are my own.”
“Well far be it for me to meddle in your personal affairs, but I was just trying to make conversation.”
“Well, we all learn from our mistakes.” I cross my arms defiantly.
There is probably some more information I should give you, so this scene will make a little more sense…but you’re not going to get it. I’ve avoided my novel for too long!