I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on my upcoming novel. As I continue to grow and learn as a writer, I’ve discovered that it is not very often that stories just ‘pop’ into the mind completely finished. A lot of time and care must be taken to work out story, plot lines, subplots, symbolism, analogy, timeline, and character arcs if the story is to have any quality that would be worth a reader’s time. Here are three specific things I’ve spent time working on this week.
A) New Character Development: My novel has three main characters. Two of them, Pastor Butch Gregory and Amber, I’ve brought back from earlier stories. It is easy to draw out an existing character and his/her personality. That is why great writers like to find a good character and then write new stories for the same person (for example, Fleming’s James Bond). But a new character, a tough, hardened man named Wyoming Wallace is being ‘birthed’ here. What I’m working through with W.W. is his overall personality. He is tough, for certain but I don’t know yet if I want him to be a sarcastic cynic or a silent brooder. I’ll have to make a decision soon because I’m beginning to work on dialogue. You can skate by these choices when you’re writing plot and action scenes (teaser: Wyoming does like to pick fights).
B) Setting: Where a story takes place is very important. What I wrestled with was the tangent locations for the growth of the story. Originally I wanted to make it broad in scope with the main characters gallivanting all over the American West. Then I thought it might be fun to bring it down and keep it all relatively local—set entirely in Butch Gregory’s fictional town of Sydney, Washington. The problem is neither one suited me so as of right now the story is a combination of both ideas with a large part of the action occurring in Western Washington but with significant sequences in far away places . . .
C) God-Stuff: As a pastor, I intend to write a book that has definite Christian themes but without the trappings of a typical Christian novel (most of those, honestly, bore me). I’ve got to decide how many supernatural moments I want and how intense do I want them to be. The more I write on this story the more intense and frequent the supernatural occurrences. The problem is, if I go to that too many times then it simply becomes a deus ex machina to resolve un-resolvable problems and that is not how I want these to function. So, I must be careful.
I haven’t titled the book yet, but I’m thinking something like Odyssey of Pastor Butch Gregory but I am certain if I am blessed enough to find a publisher that the title will be changed. What is certain is that I am having a lot of fun working on it. Earlier last week I Facebooked that I was worried that the fun I had writing fight scenes might be evil. I hope not, because Wyoming has a powerful left hook; and a pistol.