...Also subtitled, 'Troublesome Characters'.
I'm writing a novel called Jesscapades at the moment, right? The one-liner is 'A dedicated student assassin gets her final assignment: kill her best friend, or be killed by him.' It's not a brilliant tag-line, but it's not too shabby either. I think. The story itself has potential, and bits of world that just make me shiver and go 'Squee!'
The glass, for instance, which goes with the story behind the name of the assassin organisation. They're called Shards, and they kill at the direction of Fate. They get Fate's directions in the Glass Room, a large dome on the top of a tower filled to the brim with glass objects, all hanging from the glass ceiling, all twirling and twining in the dazzling sunlight so the room looks like gold.
When it's time for a person to be killed, their glass falls, and shatters. Shards, right?
Much squee, much happiness.
But here's the thing: right now, I'm a breath away from 60k. The first draft of the novel will be complete somewhere between 70k and 75k, and I expect that to increase by as much as 20k in edits. So the length is good.
The idea is good, the length is good.
Tension, yup, plenty of that. Twist? Oh yeah. Big twists. Conflict? Plenty. Subplots? Lots.
It works. It fits.
Tonight I stumbled upon a review of Lisa Shearin's Magic Lost, Trouble Found, which is one of my all-time favouritest books evah. If, one day, I can write a character as amusing and enjoyable and entertaining as Raine, I shall die happy.
And that's precisely the thing. There's one thing missing from my list of the things that are right with my novel: characters.
Oh, sure, I have the characters. They all do their job. They drive the plot, they have needs and wants and motivations....
But right now, I simply can't convince myself to care about them. And it's not because I'm sick of the story, because I'm not. It's because they feel flat. It's because when I compare them to a kick-ass character like Raine Benares, they're weighed and found wanting.
And mostly, it's because of one thing: voice.
Recently Liana wrote a great post on finding your voice. I read it and knew it was important - but it wasn't until tonight after reading the Lisa Shearin interview as well that it all clicked.
See, my characters all sound the same. I'm teaching this great novel at school which is told through three different points of view, and the technique is fabulous: you can tell just by looking at the page - not even reading, just looking - which of the three characters is speaking.
My story has two main POV characters, and a small host of minor ones (about 6 in total, I think??) - and every single one of them sounds exactly the same. Even their dialogue sounds the same.
And right now, at this point in my writing career, I have to admit a scary thing - I'm not actually sure how to fix it. In my head, I have nothing; the characters aren't really speaking to me, I'm not hearing distinct voices for them like I have some of my other characters - and I don't really know what to do. And I have this feeling even character chats won't work.
For now, I'll plug on, and finish the draft as per plan - but if anyone has a suggestion, be it original or directing me to an article, I'm be so grateful for the help. I'm stuck, and my brain isn't offering me any answers.
Oh characters, where art thou??