So, I was watching TV the other day and I heard something that made me take note and I jotted it down so I wouldn’t lose it. I was watching a small featurette that plays in the couple of minutes before the new feature movie started on one the Epix channels. In it, one of the directors of a movie (I think World War Z–yes, it was that movie because I remember him talking about how the book didn’t lend itself to film).
Anyway, at the very end, he said something profound and I wrote it down just to be sure that I wouldn’t lose it or forget it. He said, (paraphrasing): “Begin with the character and you can explore any world you like.”
This resonated with me because even though I write short fiction, I read novels, graphic novels, and watch movies–all longer forms of writing. I’ve long been interested in trying to write and create these longer works myself, but have been unable to maintain the “traction” needed to make it through to the end. I literally have notebooks filled with ideas that could become the basis for novels, screenplays, and comic/graphic novel scripts, but after about the first twenty pages or so, I seem to lose the thread, even if I’ve meticulously planned/plotted them out to the end.
I think it is because I’m so caught up in the plot, in the cool actions and settings of the world, that I set out to write the longer works with only the vaguest hints of my characters. I have a name, but perhaps I only have a cipher of a character rather than a true character when I start.
I’ve decided to try again at starting a novel. I have a character: Skye. She has a personality. She is a “grease monkey,” who works on airplanes. She has a problem: She is only an Aviator, but she wants to be a Pilot (there is a whole WORLD of difference between the two titles in the world the story takes place.) Somehow she must earn her place as a Pilot even though she “technically” doesn’t have the right qualifications.
I think I have a title for the novel, but for the moment I’m going to refer to it as “Project Skye,” to remind myself that it is the CHARACTER who is the most important part of the story (not the cool setting or all the cool things I hope to have her run around doing, but that she needs to be the coolest and most important part of the story.) And if this works out and I manage to publish “Project Skye,” then I owe the Director of World War Z a BIG thank you (as well as a non-alchoholic beverage of his choice 🙂 )