Character Synthesis

(Editor's Note:Here's another blast from the past that will be a test entry until we get things working the way they should. Thanks for your patience, or tollerance.)

I haven't given you updates on the creative side of my life in a while; too long. Truthfully you've been getting select recycled journal entries from a journal writing exercise that I've been doing for school for the past couple of months. Sadly, that assignment has ended, or at least morphed into a readers response kind of deal, and unless you all really want my thoughts on Miss Julie, Hedda Gabler, M. Butterfly, Invisible Man, The Great Gatsby, Madame Bovary, The Old Man and the Sea, Heart of Darkness, Billy Buddóor have masochist tendenciesóI won't be posting these. (Yes that is my reading list for the rest of this academic year, and as I think about it you might get a few tirades about Herman Melville and Earnest Hemingway just 'cause I don't particularly care for them.)

By the second of September when my classes started the word count on Circle Games was at 42,000 words. My goal has been to write 1,000 words a week on this project, and I've been successful and the word count is now at 52,000; and by the end of the weekend I hope to have 54,000 done because of the holiday. The story is progressing in a fabulous sort of way and even though I have 30-40,000 words left to write the end is within sight and I feel confident that I'll finish this by the goal time of May 19th which just happens to be my birthday. Fancy that!

Right now, I'm working on character syntheses for an outline that I also hope to have completed by May 19th so that I can draft on it while I work on the Circle Games revisions. While I do have somewhat extensive outlines and notes for Circle Games, the process of developing the story for Circle Games happened differently, and I suppose a little background is necessary.

In august of 2002 I started to write on a project that I called "Circle Games" I didn't have an outline and I didn't really have a full idea of where the story was going to go. I did know who most of the characters were going to be, and I did know that the story stared on the perfect autumn day. I was younger, I thought was damn good, and I thought didn't need no stinkin' outlines.

I think I wrote a total of 3,000 words on that attempt before school started and I got so caught up in that work, that I was never able to pick that draft up again. Then, at some point the plot fleshed itself out and my visions of the book completely changed. My father said something to me that inspired a creative theme and message, and it started to feel like something real instead of something hopelessly pathetic. The problem was that it is really impossible to start a novel project when you have other commitments; because for a few weeks at least, you don't do much else.

I don't know what clicked but somehow without really noticing the note book that I had been carrying around with me for whenever the inspiration struck filled quickly with a very extensive outline. The only things I really remember from the outline process is that I was sitting at my usual spot in the cafeteria with a shiny new yellow or green 10 dollar fountain pen that had black ink, that might have been borrowed come to think of it, writing the physical/technical specs for the story (hyperspace, guns, communications devices, deck overviews and design principals for the ships), and then as I was finishing I remember talking the whole plot over with my father, who remains the only person other than me to know the outcome of the story and the full meaning of the title.

I finished the outline around the time of my birthday in 2002 and had about six weeks before school would be out and I would be able to start on the draft, which at that time I thought could finish by the time school started in September. I spent this time writing the character brainstormings and profiles, social and cultural histories, and several types of plot summaries. When school let out I started this draft, and I think the rest is history, more or less.

The end result of all this is that by the time I started the outline I already knew all of the characters fairly well, and I knew the basic turns of the plot pretty well. It helps that a generous census of characters runs at about fifteen, and the plot isn't terribly complicated; and thus the outlining process was fairly painless.

The next outlining project is turning out to be very different because I don't have any story or character cast to start with. Everything is new; and that's a little scary and intimidating in equal measure. Right now, I'm busy doing all of those things that I did after I had finished the outline project: the character profiles, basic tech/design specs, the thematic design, and plans for literary effects. We'll see how things develop, and there'll be updates as this project progresses.

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