The world and its events are interconnected now perhaps more than any other time in history and it is remembering this interconnectedness which helps drive a good story plot and produce believable character development.
I’m going to bring up one of my groups I spend many predominately non-writing hours (Predominately because I do use it occasionally for research and ideas). This group is called the Society of Creative Anachronism or SCA. Okay…so what is it and why is it important?
Well, it is an international nonprofit group stretching throughout North America, Europe, Austalia, etc. and strives to recreate the best of the medieval world from the fall of Rome until around 1650. The people recreate, train, research and play with the various disciplines from combat (this it the place I fence) to the finer arts such calligraphy, leather working, brewing, costuming, and countless other application of things.
A fantastic group which I will now use as an example. This anachronistic band of tens of thousands find themselves competing with computerized game systems and battling the affect of rising gas prices which is bringing a trend of declining membership coupled with the need for a fresh infusion of new blood.
There is a current discussion going on on how to fix this. I bring it up just to show outside influences bring effect whether you want it or not.
There are no isolated happenings as I discovered when I moved from high school ‘point in time’ history with its focus on date memorization and no real context to – POW – college with viewing happenings in its much larger format. Such as ….What was happening politically? Economically? What was happening in the popular mindset? What other events had just gone down? What were the fears? The hopes?
These are great tools where you can even theorize and project probable happenings in today’s near future.
You might ask what does this have to do with writing?
Unless you have put them there, how many protagonist live on a deserted island? Who and what have influences on them? Do you know why?
To back up just a little, my story is set in an approximate 14-15th century European-like setting which means I’ve considered styles of communication, the sciences, economics, faiths, popular mindsets, etc. I have gone through bouts of analyzing every story thread to wrangle every drop of influence to cavalierly striding forward while muttering that the reader doesn’t need to know ‘that’ so perhaps I won’t have to either.
I’m closer to admitting it’s a real art form identifying all the important influences to a character or a situation because words on the page not only paint things directly but it swirls with subtle undercurrents as well.
Going forward now. As I’ve been working on my manuscript, I’ve had an interesting time figuring out how my characters get from one marker to the next, shuffling through what is truly important to the story and what is superfluous, and also what to reveal when. Part of this learning curve is my insanity of not writing one complete book as my first one but an epic series. (I’m choosing not to include the bad novelette I wrote when I was much younger about the runaways living in hidden apartments in the sequoias).
Anyway, this week, as I have been going through major revisions…I was able to identify where my protagonist’s love interest’s story arc felt incomplete.
(Yes, it was in the middle…imagine that)
Well, I’m happy with the set-up, pleased with the ending, enjoy the suffering he (Mathias) faces, and even happy with his external conflict with the leader of this Mithraic religious group and the puzzle and battles with the wererats but there was a point where Mathias just disappeared. I couldn’t even feel his pulse which was weird because I know I hadn’t killed him.
Well, Mathias (or his corpse) wasn’t talking nor any of his buddies or enemies or even his pegasus so I said fine. I decided to go back and look at his family history.
I went on location to one of the prettier rooms in my local library and sat down with my various timelines. I figured out all the people who are his most important/influential (good and bad)…parents, friends, enemies… and delved into what probably happened to him in his younger life along with the mindsets of his most influentials and why did they have them.
It was exciting and grueling…if you haven’t experienced this weird combination you can opt to shake your head…but I ended up with some real diamonds.
I now totally understood Mathias’ mindset of why he is extremely hesitant to admit love, why when he feels the pull of “more than attraction” he flees and why it continuously haunts him.
I’m excited about revising certain scenes this week because I have the tools to make them stand out and not just Mathias (POV character 2) is more 3-dimensional and he gave up some important secrets. This exercise also showed me unexpected interconnectedness with my protagonist, Aunia, and my third POV character, Wendalin.
Anyway, Happy Writing to you all! And please feel free to share what exercises you might be using to get to the most important interconnectedness in your stories.