(Reed’s Song of the Day: Hit me with dat Gerudo Valley Theme)
Hello. How are you? I am fine.
With the exception of being unnecessarily tired.
The past two days made me kind of exhausted for some random reason. I got all the sleep I needed, but when I woke up yesterday and this morning, I had to hit the snooze button (which I really don’t do very often on weekdays). There’s nothing that bugs me more than when I wake up feeling exhausted despite having gotten more than 8 hours of sleep.
But hey, now I’m just complaining. I really don’t have very much to talk about in this post, but I wanted to share a few things I noticed about my writing projects which I wanted to throw out here in this space. I didn’t really know what to call this bundle of only semi-related things, so I went with the first thing I came up with, which is the “Each Project” Phenomenon.
Basically, I’ve noticed that when I finished a project of a certain style, be it a single novel or a series, I had to set that style completely aside when starting my next project. Not like I wrote in a completely different genre each time (well, kinda, but not entirely), but more like little things couldn’t be repeated.
For instance: I’ve said frequently on this blog that I love to write to music. Even right now, I’m listening to the Breath of the Wild soundtrack. Usually, unless I’m going for a very specific tone or type of chapter, I listen to the same soundtrack the entire time I’m writing a project; for instance, in my current novel, I’m listening to the Firewatch OST. Before that, it was Journey – not the band, the video game, ya dingus. And before that it was Twilight Princess and a few other random songs.
But that’s the weird thing – after I would finish a project, I would immediately stop writing to what I had started calling the “playlist” for that novel. I tried to write my current project, Sanctuary, to the Journey OST which had worked so perfectly for Symphony of Legend, and I just couldn’t – I had to start anew with Firewatch.
This mirrors the changing feeling of each book I write. Even though all of them fall under Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I wouldn’t consider any of my projects to be the exact same kind of genre. To date, I’ve written:
- One attempt at Sci-Fi literary allegory in high school (The Trrratssmaker)
- One heavily autobiographical pseudo-Sci-Fi trilogy in freshman year (The Fourth, The Fifth, and The Sixth)
- Two heavily world-building books of a Sci-Fi trilogy that was never finished (The Palazzo and The Slump)
- Two heavily character-driven books of a fantasy trilogy that was never finished (Sleeper and Woken), which had zero larger themes
- One fantasy middle grade novelette written in a single night (Blackeyes)
- One character- and magic-driven completed novel with underlying themes (Symphony of Legend)
- One nearly completed super depressing YA Sci-Fi book about mental illness (Sanctuary)
Along with a bunch of other short stories and half-finished projects. But none of these projects feel even remotely close to each other, despite being penned by the same hand. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the writing style changes drastically from project to project, sometimes to its benefit, other times to its detriment.
I dunno, I just figured when I was starting out that most projects would be kind of in the same genre until I got good enough to experiment with things. I’m now realizing that the experimentation often comes before the expertise.
Regardless, everything feels different – hence the “Each Project” Phenomenon, where each project is very much set apart from the others.
BUT THERE IS ONE THING THAT’S THE SAME.
I have had in mind a character, ever since The Palazzo in my second year of college. She was first called Tori, then she became Melira in Sleeper. After that she was Qin in Symphony, and her newest iteration is Laney in Sanctuary. She’s a badass, witty (often sarcastic) female lead who usually has to wait for others to catch up to her. The character I want her to be – the eventual character I know she will be – is strong without being stoic, emotional without being whiny, passionate without being intense, and sarcastic without being straight-up mean.
But none of the characters I’ve written have come close to that.
Ironically, I think I’ve actually been moving away from her as time has gone on. When she appeared in the Palazzo as Tori, she was well characterized but kind of dull to read about. She did a lot of introspecting but not a lot of growth. And when she became Melira in Sleeper, I liked her a lot but felt that, compared to my other characters’ motivations, she was kind of flat.
But then she became a total bitch in Symphony, and I have no idea what’s going on in Sanctuary, but amid a litany of other problems, Laney’s character is emotional at the wrong moments, defiant at the other wrong moments, and overall a mess. Which is kind of what I intended, but still. Not very much of a feminist role model.
Still, this character keeps appearing in each of my major projects. And something about that – the only person that persists, despite all of the changing genres and circumstances of my projects – makes her special to me.
I want her to be flawed, but when I try to make her that way, she ends up being dominated by her flaws. However, I can’t make her perfect – not just because I wouldn’t know how to write perfect, but also because that kind of idealizing women is just another form of sexism. So right now I’m stuck.
But I have a new project coming up after I finally finish the living hell that is writing Symphony. I don’t want to talk about it now, but suffice to say that while it will be dark like my other recent projects, it will be underlined and cut by an uproarious adventure and good humor. And honestly, I think that’s what this character has been missing – the entire time she’s lived in my past four projects, she hasn’t had a place to express the fun side of her.
Well, I’m gonna give it to her.
Did any of this rambling resonate with you? Do you have the same “Each Project” Phenomenon going on? Do you find yourself writing iterations of the same character in each major project? If you do, hit me with a like or a comment – I’d be really interested to hear if anyone else is struggling to make a specific character come out just the way they want.
Anyway, my stomach is screaming at me, so I’d better get off and grab something to eat. But rest assured, darlings, I will be back again on Thursday.
If you get bored in the meantime, find some good new writing music.
Yours, from beautiful fiery Los Angeles,