Children are often full of fibs and fabulous tales. They crack me up with how obvious they are about it. But little white lies happen in adult life, too. They are usually a gut-reaction, a sometimes irrational reflex that we justify with the comforting thought that “it doesn’t really matter, and this way we’ll avoid an argument.”
We’ve all done it at one time or another, and in much the same way as our toilet habits are, it’s not a subject we like to discuss in polite company.
But it makes an interesting plot development. In real life, white lies can escalate into big, complicated messes that can end marriages. Love and white-lies are like the two sides of the family I grew up in – they don’t really mix well. In a good marriage, there are no white lies. White lies happen when you don’t trust the other person to accept what you have either done or plan to do.
Trust is the key word here.
In the Tower of Bones series, I have one character whose life is one long string of white lies, and that made for the most pivotal plot development in the story. It was difficult to write his tale, and yet his penchant for avoiding the truth was the snowflake that caused the landslide, and it drove the plot. The repercussions of his white-lies in book two form the tension for the next books in that series.
In my opinion, the best stories take elements of life and that are sometime uncomfortable and give them that little twist, sending the protagonist down a path where the reader would never dare to go. We just have to do it in such a way that it feels organic and not forced.
In my current work, I am writing the first draft, trying to find out who these characters are. What are their personal strengths? What are their weaknesses? I will have to exploit their weaknesses to the max, but ultimately their strengths must win out.
Trust and the bonds of brotherhood are the core of this new series. Each book will feature a different protagonist, and the final book brings them all together in the finale.
When I first conceived my new series, the Aeoven Cycle, I had a vague idea of who these characters were. The main protagonist is a legendary hero, appearing in the time of Tower of Bones in children’s books as a superhero type of character. He is the Superman character, a mythical hero who always saved the day.
In Edwin’s time, history remembers Aelfrid as a hero, a mighty mage gifted with the ability to make his sword appear as if it were made of fire. His legacy was the Temple of Aeos and the College of Warcraft and Magic. He was that man, but who was he really?
As I get deeper into this first draft, I am discovering my protagonist, and finding out what his flaws and blind spots are. His real life had little to do with the amazing legends that grew up featuring him as a great hero, but he was heroic in the ways that matter. He is loyal, which is his great weakness, and which ultimately will force him down a path he doesn’t want to travel.
At this point my first draft sits on my desk, filled with repetitiousness and flat prose. No matter how I grasp for words, a sword remains a sword, remains a sword… since to refer to it as a blade or weapon would require stretching my vocabulary and I’m struggling enough with trying to figure out the how and why of things.
It is, I keep reminding myself, only the first draft. Once I have the entire story down it will be come a four book cycle, with all the threads of the first three books coming together in the final book.
The important thing here is to get Alf’s story onto the paper. Once I have done that, I can tweak the prose and cut the fluff. It will take three drafts, and possibly two years, but I will eventually make this into something I would like to read, and hopefully, a story others will enjoy too.
2 responses to “#amwriting: the first draft”
Great post. Since I have not written any true fiction, I can’t relate to character development. My first book “One Month, 20 Days and a Wake Up” is fiction and loosely based on my four years in the military. All my characters were based on individuals I knew (some more than others). Most incidents in the book were based on actual incidents. To make the book more enthralling, I embellished (e.g. little white lies). In February I wrote a post proposing the question, Memoir versus Fiction based on life events. In it I ask the question, how much or why type of embellishment can an author include and not break the bonds of a memoir. I got several responses and would encourage more. I anticipate writing a post in the near future answering how I will handle this question on my second book. If you haven’t come by my site and take a look. https://chuckjacksonknowme.com.
That sounds intriguing, Chuck. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to your question so I’m curious to see how it goes.
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