Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I will dwell... @Liz Flaherty

My husband and I have been asking each other questions. Well, in truth, I ask more of them than he does because the whole idea of deep conversation is pretty much annoying to him, but it's something I hunger for. So, I ask questions, we both answer them, and sometimes discussion happens. (Sometimes not, too, but you can't win all the the time.)

So last night I asked him what his favorite things and his least favorite things were about both of us. We talked about things, did some laughing--and some not laughing--and went on playing Farkle.

The whole conversation gave me an idea, and I wondered if anyone had done this. (Most of my brilliant ideas are only brilliant because they never occurred to me before.) Duane's least favorite thing about me is that I dwell on things. I don't let them go until they've twisted me--and sometimes him--into more turmoil than the issue I'm dwelling on deserves.

He is horrifyingly accurate.

So, the idea is to build protagonists around a single no good, very bad point. A heroine who dwells on things. A hero who never listens. Etc. Not that those would be the only personality points, of course, but they would be the ones that created the internal--or even the external--conflict.

When I write, I don't dig very deep into the process. I write the beginning, middle, and end, and hope I've come up with a conflict somewhere in there--I hate conflict. But, if I just used that one point...

Is this what people do who pay attention to the process? An interesting thought, isn't it?

Since I always dwell on things, naturally enough this morning I've been dwelling on...yes, dwelling. Someone smarter than me said you can't fix things that have already happened, so I'm going to work on that.

Except maybe my next heroine will dwell on things, and...

26 comments:

  1. Ha, Liz! This should certainly focus a character. I'm pretty much a pantser (pantster?) myself, which is probably why I hate writing proposals. Just want to tell myself the story first, which can get me into trouble...

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    1. Me, too, Leigh, but I'm thinking this bad trait could get me going. Still thinking... :)

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  2. I'm there with you ladies. I like to get a feel for the story. However, since I sell a lot on proposal, I've usually got a "general" outline from which to work.

    I also don't like a lot of conflict in my romances. I don't believe every story has to have a black moment. People can fall in love, deal with their own issues, without it becoming a stumbling block for the romance.

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    1. I sell from proposal now, too, although I've done it seldom enough it still terrifies me (can I finish the book?) That's one thing that makes me wonder if I could build a story from that one trait.

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  3. Hmmm...this could turn into a darned fascinating story and may be a great way to work on dwelling issues--write them out. I know where you're coming from--maybe it's a "girl" thing--we dwell and revisit and dwell some more. Guys deal and move on or ignore and move. Which is healthier? Who knows, but I'm fairly sure whoever said "you can't fix things that have already happened" was way smarter than both of us! ;-)

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  4. I totally dwell and overdwell. My honey is good, sometimes too good, at saying "we've covered that," often before I'm ready to move on. Could work nicely in a book.

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  5. I take dwelling a step or two further toward obsession. I've been told that my characters think too much. And I'm like, "Doesn't everyone think things to death?" Well, no...obviously they don't...

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    1. I guess they don't, but I really don't understand why not. Sigh.

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  6. Very interesting post. I "explore" things deeply and look for where I need to work on something internally. My characters are forced to do the same.

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    1. I think my people explore a lot. The men, maybe too much, but I guess since I'm writing them, they're going to whether they want to or not. I've had guy readers say, "He wouldn't say that," and I kind of flinch, but it's too late by that point. :-)

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  7. Interesting, Liz, and I hadn't thought about it but now that I have, I think most of my characters have a 'thing' like that. Also, I would read that book!!

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  8. Interesting post, Liz. I accepted long ago that most women were dwellers and most men were excellent at filing "things" into mental/emotional compartments. *g* One of the first things I learned was that each character should have a flaw which is the same I guess as a "bad point." That flaw can create internal conflict and also external because the character acts and reacts in keeping with his flaw.

    I also think the amount and type of conflict is dependent on the kind of book you're writing as well as the length of the book. Too much conflict, and you'll never successfully resolve it in a short work. Too little in a long work and your story ends long before the appropriate length is achieved because the story ends when the conflict ends. The few pages after that are just a kind of "mopping up" and showing the characters in their "new world," living happily ever after or whatever.

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    1. I KNEW it, Joan, but I'm afraid I still haven't accepted it. :-) My characters always have flaws, and sometimes those flaws are used, but not usually for the conflict. I'm really thinking about a dweller!

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  9. I definitely want to read that book, Liz, because even I know that is my single worst quality as a human being. I need to understand the why. I've caused arguments because I need to understand the why--when arguing is the very last thing I want. So--as to writing--my process is totally pants--and pantsing right now. But I'm dying to read about your heroine sorting herself out. :-)

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    1. There are a lot of us, aren't there, Anna? Sigh. And I'm getting more and more interested in this book.

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  10. I suck at conflict. That being said, I think in some books you don't have to have a huge barrier between the hero and heroine. If they are joining together to solve a crime, if it's a marriage of convenience book where most of the plot is them getting to know one another. I have actually had many fans and reviewers say they liked some of my books because the hero and heroine aren't constantly bickering. One of these days, though, I'd love to come up with a book with great conflict. You know, the kind where the heroine is a fire investigator and the hero is an arsonist. You get the idea . . .

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    1. I suck at it, too, and don't care that much about it even when I read (except for some really good internal). Constant bickering makes me put a book down. Let me know when you write that one about the investigator and the arsonist... :-)

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  11. I learned some time ago I'm a pantser. I am horrible about putting together a book proposal or synopsis. That's why I like self-publishing. I can work on a story as long as I wish. Over the years, starting with Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, I've tried to find an easy way to get those hero/heroine characteristics and conflicts. I recently had a book recommended to me that has helped me make it simple -- Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell. It has helped me with my current WIP.

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  12. Is that just another way of saying there has to be some reason they can't get together right away? I'd think there has to be some sort of conflict, something one or both of them have to work out before they have their happy ending. Yet somehow your post made it so much clearer to me how to find that thing, so thanks for that!
    As for dwelling - it's processing! I will continue to think about something until I've worked out the why. It's normal. Right????

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    1. Lol. It's not the thinking Duane gets tired of--it's the talking.

      I know conflict is necessary, but I still hate it.

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  13. Thanks for the recommendation, Jan. I've gotten better at synopses, but they're still one of my least favorite things.

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