When writing a novel there are a plethora of things to think about: plot, characters, conflict, pacing. The list goes on and on. But I realized last week that I’ve been missing a very big, overreaching point.
I haven’t stopped to think about how I want my story and characters to be perceived by readers. My thoughts have been more of how will my story be perceived, which isn’t so helpful when you think about it.
Now, maybe I’m slow on the uptake, but I truly had never stopped to think, “How do I want readers to feel about my MC? My story as a whole? What do I want them to be left with?”
Insert bolt of lightning here.
The WIP I’ve been working on for a couple of months now is very complex. Very. And I’ve really struggled with how to tell this story in an effective and engaging way. So on Friday when I imparted my above wisdom in a random chat with a friend, it kinda smacked me in the face. *DUH, Holly! Why weren’t you doing this all along?*
Naturally, I then set to work writing out exact goals for each of my characters, and for the story itself, and as fate would have it my plot problem was solved.
As an example of what I mean, let’s take an older story of mine I’ve talked a lot about before on the blog: HAPPILY NEVER AFTER, which is about a sixteen-year-old girl who is trapped in a fairy tale and has to escape before she loses her memory, or winds up dead.
Okay, my MC is Kate. Here’s what I might say in my goal list for perceptions of Kate:
I want Kate to come across as slightly sarcastic with a sharp wit, but it’s used to cover up the fact that she’s having a hard time coping with real life.
Knowing that tidbit of information up front makes it much easier to focus a character’s actions and reactions to mirror a specific personality. (At least I think it does.) And knowing how you want your book as a whole to be viewed allows you to set a tone from the start that can be carried through to the end.
So tell me, am I behind the mark on this? Do you set goals like this for your stories, or do you wander into it like I did?