Here’s a peek at the creative process of a book’s becoming…uh, whatever it’s supposed to become.
I started Pariah during a time when I was still trying to find my voice as a writer. I knew I loved writing Fantasy, but I’d also successfully tried my hand at Romance. During my first draft attempt, I decided to try making the story all about the romance between the two main characters, Jin and Gracie. By the time I reached the end of Act I, I knew the story would be a flop. Nope. It wasn’t a romance novel.
Take Two: Gracie’s character was pretty solid from day one. Jin was the problem. Who was this guy? I knew his mother was English and his father was of Chinese descent living in Hong Kong. I also knew Jin was a bad ass martial artist. Making him a Chinese spy on the run seemed to be the next logical conclusion. I sat down, rolled up my sleeves and began rewriting Act I. Then my mind began to wander. Some of the amazing things I wanted this character to perform would be so much cooler if he could actually do magic. Hmmmm
Take Three: It was time to decide who I was as a writer. Winning a 2014 EPPIE for Best Fantasy for my novel, Phantom Harvest, answered my career question better than anything else could. Pariah would be a fantasy as well. Everything started falling into place for Jin and for the book after I made my decision. I finished the full manuscript in a few months and was ready to start getting critique feedback.
The Tweak: It is essential to get feedback from people you trust at this stage in the writing process. However, don’t underestimate the insight you can glean from strangers in the publishing profession. They don’t know you. They don’t have to worry about hurting your feelings. You’ll get unfiltered honesty. I was fortunate to have a well known author I respect give me some great advice about Jin. She told me his personality was unrealistic. I’m paraphrasing her words, but essentially the gist was she found Jin to be an arrogant unlikable ass. Ha! I was laughing then and I’m still laughing. She was absolutely right. I went back and spent time with Jin to discover his true motivations and heart. I’m happy to report his personality has changed for the better. If you find him to still be an ass, I hope he is a likable ass.
What I hope you get from this post: Don’t be afraid to try several approaches to a story or character. Eventually, you’ll find the true path and hopefully learn some things about yourself.
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