The Crew for the New
So…I'm writing this new novel…and I'm using the approach known as 'pantsing'…what that means is I'm working without an outline. I'm just making it up as I go along.
So, one thing that's happening that is very fun is that characters keep popping up. As I move my Main Character (MC) forward in the story, he runs into people, and thus the burgeoning list of characters. The only thing is…
They're complete strangers! I don't know them at all. That means I have to engage them, ask questions or at least get answers. If you have an imagination with as much horsepower as mine, the process of getting to know the characters can be a major hoot!
At this stage of the game, I'm not spending very much time with them individually. For one thing, I can't get out ahead of the story with my character development, right? I mean, I don't want to dive deep on someone's backstory—if I'm gonna end up killin' 'em off in the next chapter. Yeah, there's things like that to keep an eye on.
My approach right now is to do group things with my characters. I treat 'em like they're actors and I'm the director and we're blocking an original play/movie. I ask them all to meet me at a certain time and we do our activity and, in the process, I learn something about them.
Today's activity was a bike ride.
When I went out on the bike, I took all the known characters with me. Hey, I want to know who's in good physical shape and who is not. That could become very important in this story, especially since it is essentially one long chase scene. So, I took 'em all out on my bike ride. Turns out, the two young female assassin's apprentices are in excellent shape. They left me in the dust. Serious. Well, there's only about a four-decade age gap there. Anyway, I was delighted to be dusted by them—and disappointed with everyone else. And I mean every EVERYone else. Bunch of couch potatoes! From the 14th street hooker to the head of the Mob. Some fell out altogether, couldn't even finish the ride. I hope they don't have to run or exert themselves during the story. They might get culled from the herd!
So, I come back and make some notes and have some important information about my characters' character. I'll keep having activities for them and we'll keep getting to know each other better. Might have to put a couple of 'em on diets, maybe a little exercise routine.
I've got a birthday coming up, we'll have something for that. My personal preference for birthday party programming is axe throwing, but with the Covid in the air, I'm not going indoors for anything. And the mobile axe throwing outfit blew town. Hopefully in search of richer axe-throwing fields…
How about a ball house, with ten hits of purple microdot thrown in. He who finds it eats it?
What about a bounce castle? We might get lucky and get picked up by a monsoon storm! "Can you fly, Bobby?" I once was on one of those inflatable thangs that was a water slide. It was way cool, fit in the back yard perfect, had a decent depth pool at the bottom, it was a lot of fun. We could set mine up in the parking lot behind the shuttered Korean Barbecue next door.
That's where I was going to have the axe throwing set up. In the Korean Barbecue's parking lot. Might be able to get away with doing it in the apartment complex parking where I live. I've never worked with a loaded axe before so I don’t…what? What do you mean what do I mean loaded axe? How are you supposed to hit the target with an unloaded axe? Never mind, the axe wielders left town, there won't be any axe throwing—unless we make it happen ourselves. Go to Home Depot, buy a couple axes and some big bags of peat moss, no, now listen, we can do this. It's only a couple axes. Unloaded!
See, the problem is…I get to know my characters—they get to know me. Got to be careful I don't show them too much. They might not be happy knowing they're working with a total psycho.
The key thing is, when it comes to being in my story…I'll be happy to teach them everything they know.
I just won't teach them everything I know.