I’ve mentioned it before, and I’m sure to bring it up again: to help with the characterization for my next novel I’m writing a flash-fiction series about one of the main characters – Alene.
It’s meant to be a way to explore their personality and see how they behave in different situations. So far, it doesn’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. I know that’s not true, but it still feels that way. The chapter I wrote today, just over five hundred words – roughly a page – didn’t lead anywhere. It didn’t further the story, and it didn’t do anything to let me discover anything new about Alene.
At first, it felt a bit like a failure, like I’d wasted my time without accomplishing anything. I’m not so sure that’s really the case though. Thinking about it a little I’m seeing two benefits of even this chapter.
- It lets me spend time with the character. Do I really have to take every opportunity to poke and prod at her mind to try and find out her dirty secrets? I don’t think I do. I think that just spending time with the character is beneficial. It makes me more comfortable writing her. I discover (or develop, if you like) a voice for her.
- Writing these short flash-fiction pieces, is a good way of practicing my writing. When I wrote Enar’s Vacation, I took a very long time writing up each chapter. I tinkered with word choices and sentence structures. I rearranged things and overall just wasted a whole lot of time doing things that strictly speaking didn’t needed doing. After all, what’s the point of having a perfectly polished paragraph if you later on discover that it needs to say something other than it does. Writing these short flash-fiction pieces helps me let go of the little perfectionist in me and just write the story as it comes.
So, sure, perhaps I didn’t learn anything new and important about Alene, but I got to spend some time with her, and I practiced just writing. There are worse ways to waste away a Thursday night.
Also, to add some life to the post, here’s a photo of the view from my writing spot. I’ve got a rather big beanbag on which to sit with my laptop – I’m not one to write using pen and paper.