Getting Into Specifics

Just as I was ready to start writing yesterday, I realized that I’d hit another issue I tend to struggle with: specificity.

I knew my heroine inside and out, and I’d figured out bits about some of the other characters, but most of the secondary characters my heroine would be interacting with in the opening of the book were shapeless blobs. Even in my mental movie, they were essentially the adults in a Charlie Brown special — offscreen and just making noise. So, I needed to get specific about things I tend to handwave over. I had to name these people, think of what they looked like and what sort of people they were, what their relationship was to the heroine and how they’d be likely to interact.

It’s amazing what I uncovered while doing this. Not only did my mental movie get a lot more sharp and vivid, but I figured out some stuff that may affect the plot and that will definitely add some depth to the story. Now my heroine’s parents aren’t just generic parents. They’re people with personalities and their own goals and beliefs. I also realized I haven’t been entirely concrete about my settings and surroundings. In my mental movie, I see the characters moving through vague settings, and I’m not sure I could put that into words.

I may need to write “be specific!” on the sticky note I have covering my laptop’s camera so I won’t forget. When I’m tempted to just toss something off, I need to force myself to dig into it.

Today’s task is to do some visual world building. I know the history and culture, but I realized I don’t know exactly what it looks like. There may be map drawing.

It is possible that I’m procrastinating on the moment when a potential book has to become a real one by being put into words, but all this stuff is making it so much richer. Yesterday I would have said I was ready to start writing, but what I would have written yesterday morning is so much weaker than what I’d write today, and I suspect that what I write Monday will be so much stronger than what I’d write today if I started writing today. One of my general weaknesses about writing is that I’m impatient. I want to jump right into it and get started, and that means some things aren’t as well developed as they should be. I’m going pretty quickly from the first germ of idea to getting ready to write, and it’s easier to develop all this now and weave it in as I write than it is to try to fit all that in after I’ve written a vague draft.

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