Joined: 12 Feb 2005
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
|Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:23 am Post subject: It's Working
I've been working on a shape-shifter novel. The middle sagged. Not enough happened, and what did happen wasn't all that interesting.
Well I patched it up by firing those lazy coyotes and hiring a real honest-to-god wolf pack. This was not only hella more interesting, but it was a better way for the hero to learn the lessons he needed in order to defeat his evil brother.
Massive problem. I kinda know wolves (who doesn't), but I don't know wolves well enough to realistically write real wolves into my novel. I mean, if I was writing werewolves, kinda knowing wolves is good enough. I could use real wolves as inspiration for werewolf society, then make up all the little nagging details. After all, werewolves aren't real wolves--they're hybrids.
But the bigger problem was that I didn't know my new wolf characters as individuals. I didn't even know how big my pack needed to be.
This weekend I created character synopses for my wolves. I decided I needed 4 males and 7 females, who was related to whom, and how each came to be a member of this particular pack. Better yet, I discovered the personalities and motivations of my wolf characters.
My character synopsis worksheet has the typical stuff: name, age, gender, motivation, goals, blah, blah, blah. But I added an extra section: "character tells the story". Each wolf tells about when they met the hero, the change of pack leadership, and the abrupt departure of the hero. Each story is told in first person and none is over a page long.
What a massive difference! In the actual story the hero is the POV character for those scenes. It's been hugely helpful to explore other attitudes.
For example the beta female (3 y.o) is helping watch the pups while the rest of the pack is out hunting. 10 wolves go out, but late afternoon only 5 wolves return, and the alpha female is a mess with a cut up face. Poor beta doesn't know what to think... did a rival pack kill 4 males and a female? Then at dusk the omega female comes dragging into camp and she's cut up too. Omega flops down, alpha and two of her daughters stand, and they attack! The three females chase the omega to the edge of the woods before they catch her, where they tear her apart and leave her for the ravens. What the heck? Sure she was a backstabbing bitch, but murder is a bit much. Then next morning the hero (now alpha male) and a low ranking 1 y.o. male return to camp, and they are happy and uninjured. However they both stink of human female and they've been eating some weird smelling stuff. Bottom line: Old alpha male is gone. 2 y.o. male who'd been causing trouble is gone. Omega female is raven food.
Well, that's just an example of a key incident in the novel as seen through the POV of one character. Some wolves observed events, some participated (and in 3 cases their stories abruptly end), and some are left to guess what happened.
A fun and useful exercise.
|Kantaro wrote: |
|Almost real enough to be considered non-fiction, if it weren't made up. |