April 22, 2010

Lessons 6 and 7: Characters, Setting, and Props

These lessons are really flying by! I can't believe how much I can learn about my book in just a week. Since they're going by so quickly, I'm going to combine my reviews for lessons 6 and 7.

To read my thoughts on all the How to Revise Your Novel lessons, click here.

Lesson 6 is a character sharpener exercise, but the most valuable information I got from it came from the minor characters. This lesson helped me to see that I put a lot of weight on characters that only show up once or twice in the book. As I tried to figure out why, it dawned on me:

My main character lives in a small town where everybody knows just about everybody. So when my heroine goes into the hospital, she knows her doctor, the nurse, etc... When the police come to take her statement, she knows the chief of police. She knows how they normally act, and she knows when they're not being themselves. My heroine notices things about minor characters because of her familiarity with them.

So the question is: do I fix this "problem", or do I let it be part of the worldbuilding and risk annoying my readers because they thought the chief of police was going to have a bigger role?

Lesson 7 was all about setting. This included props, which I'll get to in a minute. The biggest, most atrocious flaw in my book is that I don't build the setting well enough. And it showed. I was asked to write down all the description I had for setting A and sometimes there wasn't anything to note.

I'm mortified. How could I let that happen?

But then came the part on props. Apparently, a story needs props that affect the story. (Who knew?) As I read that part of the lesson, it made sense. Of course there need to be props. But as I went through my book I noticed that I didn't have very many. And the ones I do have are pretty ordinary and don't really affect the story (for example: food that my characters are eating).

So I really need to go back and brainstorm. Who knows? Maybe I'm missing some great tension and conflict that would make my story so much better.


S.A. Larsenッ said...

Great post, Emily. Reconnecting with you from your post on Twitter. Glad I've found you.

Maybe that tension you're looking for is simple--because of your mc's familiarity with the small town. Just a thought.

Unknown said...

That's a good idea. I gave it some thought in a later lesson and realized that a familiar character in a different role could stir things up. I'm toying around with a few ideas. Thanks :)
Glad you have you here.

Tori said...

I don't have many props in my current WIP either. HTRYN will be worth the money for just that little bit of enlightenment. (This is wildheart90 by the way).

The great thing about being a writer is that we never know everything, we are constantly learning. So as you continue to write these things will start becoming easier...at least I like to think that for myself. It makes me sleep better at night. :D

I really like these posts about HTRYN Emily. It makes me that much more excited. I can't wait to take it with you!

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