Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The tortured protagonists: McNabb and Circe

I said I would give glimpses of my protagonists, and this is the first of three such unveilings. Don't expect a lot of detail. I will keep these lean and mean in order to protect story lines and characters. I also won't give the working titles. I will start with the protagonists I believe are my most complex.

Sean McNabb is on a losing streak. Everything he put his trust in disappears. He has a definite coping mechanism (sorry, no details, but I love working with the circumstances). The good news is that there are glimmers of hope. The bad news is that not everything is as it seems. His original set of problems would give anyone reason to worry. His new set of problems are simply earth-shaking. Can he overcome? Can he even survive?

He has company in the person of Darrington Circe. His dilemma is that he faces problems that are even more daunting. Does he retreat into a shell? Does he boldly move forward to see where his strange set of circumstances leads? Can he overcome? Can he even survive?

This novel is being reviewed by a few select readers who I know are honest in their appraisal and helpful in their advice. The response to my opening chapters has been very good. That is heartening. I took to heart the advice of Stephen King to not write to an intended audience, but to write for myself. It works. My characters are stronger for it, and I am happier as a writer. The opening chapter of this novel has had at least four phases, which isn't an unreasonable amount. That opening sentence, paragraph and chapter are vital to the success of an entire novel.

I hope my readers will be ready with their reviews in about a month. I will take advice under my wing, and I will make changes as necessary. I already flagged one inconsistency in timeline, but I will wait to alter my wording until my reviews are in.

There is one consistency in these characters, which is their vulnerability. I don't write superheroes. I write about real people facing average or above average problems. They triumph, they fail, they try, they have fears, they hold back because of perceived fears, they are a lot like all of us. They differ only in the enormity of the challenges they face.

Now I have to go write the sequel to this novel, which is my current project. I love this process. I am happy to have the freedom to devote the necessary time to it.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Key to my characters? Vulnerability

I have five projects underway, which keeps me busy. One project is finished, which means it is through initial editing and reviews by my readers, and I am approaching selected agents for possible representation. Another novel is through the first-draft stage, and I am lining up readers for that one. The other three projects are in dry dock. Two are in initial process, and one needs some serious trimming and refinement.

I have three protagonists, but there is one common trait for all of them. They are vulnerable. I write characters with internal struggles and ways of dealing with difficult parts of their lives. I will introduce you to those characters in separate blogs later.

That vulnerability factor caused me problems. One of my protagonists was designed to be the MC in a thriller series. The problem is that internal conflict is not welcome in thrillers. Those works want slam bam action and little personal reflection. I believe the biggest internal struggle in thrillers is whether Jack Reacher will head butt someone or merely kick them in the teeth. My guy, Daniel Pace, wrestles with a complex past. He is thriller hero in some aspects, but a vulnerable person in others. Hence, I submit my works for consideration as mainstream fiction.

Vulnerability makes characters real, and I want to present works that feature real people. That in a nutshell is my writing style.

I have to write today. That is like saying I need air to breathe. But which project? I have a Daniel Pace novel to rework, a second Pace novel that is hanging about one-third through the process, and I have a second novel in another series (featuring fledgling author Sean McNabb). All three are good projects. Maybe I will flip a coin.

First things first. I will line up two more readers for my first Sean McNabb novel. I have good candidates to contact, and I hope they have time to read. I have a stable of four readers, with two of them repeat readers because their viewpoints are varied and they are honest with me. That's a good thing. The other two? I like to rotate readers so I get new insights from talented people. That also is a good thing.