Many of you that have followed my novels probably already know that I use a developmental tool call the “Snowflake method” when doing plot and character development for a new novel. In the early novels, I was quite anal about this, literally spending weeks and weeks sorting through plot nuances and developing detailed character profiles.
Of course, just like with the best laid plans of mice and men, once the actually writing of the first draft began, I often found my plot and characters going “astray.”
Thing is, much of the deviation added considerably to the complexity of the story, and my enjoyment in writing it.
And while I don’t mind going through the planning gyrations with the plot, I really find character development to be tedious. Not with the main characters – who are the ones the entire story revolves around – but more with the secondary and tertiary characters, particularly those that only make one or two brief appearances in the story. I don’t know how many creative ways there are of answering questions like – Describe his/her appearance? What is in her purse? What kind of music does he like? What’s her favorite movie? There have to be at least 40 questions of this type to fill out for every character, and my novels often contain 20-30 characters. Well, hopefully you get the picture – tedious, indeed.
Sure, that stuff might be relevant for the main characters (yes, in the current novel under design Jennifer Farber is a closet heavy metal headbanger, and she loves the Austin Powers films), but for characters who only occupy a few seconds of the reader’s mind, do I really need all of this?
I think not.
So with the latest novel design – AENERGY, the sequel to the upcoming SYNERGY – I’ve decided to lighten the load, particularly when it comes to character development. I’ve got pre-existing profiles for most of the main characters, and for the rest I’m just going to “wing it.” And the plot, which is usually pretty well nailed down by the time I put the first word on paper, I’m going to lighten that a bit as well. Yes, I’ll still have a scene by scene guide to follow, but this time I’ll be less reluctant to deviate from it if the story seems to demand it.
The novel, by the way, looks exciting as hell – beaten, but not defeated Joan Priest a.k.a. Jennifer Faber, returns to Detroit for her medical school clinical rotations only to be inevitably sucked into the same mystery that sent her on the run in the first place – the apparent suicide of her boss and mentor, Donald Hamister. Even though a couple of years have passed since she’s probed this situation, it doesn’t take much to raise a stink, putting both her and her family (addictive mom and crazy sister, Ann) in peril. And just like in SYNERGY, paranoid Jen Faber is still second guessing her second guesses!
Oh wait, you haven’t read SYNERGY yet. Well, get prepared for a wild ride there, too, because it’s coming soon!