Some of what I’m about to say is a reiteration of what I commented a few weeks ago at The Plot Whisperer’s site. (sorry, Martha!)
In my post about the timeline, I stopped writing before I got to the part where I should have talked about adding events closer to the beginning of the story … mainly because I didn’t want to reveal any spoilers. But, it was bugging me. So I decided to go ahead and talk about it now. It’s a very important part of the process, after all.
The best way I’ve found to go about creating the recent events that lead up to the beginning of the story is to have at least one major character fairly well planned-out. For instance, if you know how old the character is, you’ve already got a timeline-worthy event.
We know my book begins in the ‘Year of Harmony’ 2784.
And we know Cirellio is 28 years old, so…
Cirellio is born.
Voila! A starting point.
Now, to get him from an infant to the strapping young man I know in my head…
A great way to plan out these early life events is to understand that every character wants something, wants to avoid something, and has dreams. These drives are often tied together, and should ultimately steer them to their fate. This mantra works well at all stages of the book.
((This may sound wacky, but I’m going to say the next part is a spoiler. Yes, this is a SPOILER WARNING for a book that may never see print and isn’t even complete yet. :P But anyway, little tidbits about the main character’s background (without going into too much detail) will be mentioned here. Just understand a big part of who Cirellio is and what he will become has to do with his back story, which I plan to reveal to readers in small increments throughout the book. Proceed at your own risk!))
Cirellio, the book’s protagonist, as a child->
Wants: to do well in school/to please his mother and peers.
Doesn’t want: to disappoint/to get in trouble.
Seemingly unattainable dream: to someday find his father, who was lost at sea before he was born.
After his mother died in a fire->
Wants: to survive/to build up the courage to open a small box that survived the fire.
Doesn’t want: to die/to get taken away.
Dream: finding his father has become more important and urgent than ever.
After not doing so well on his own, he gravitates to an underground society of thieves to survive->
Wants: to fit in/to do well within their ranks.
Doesn’t want: to become ‘bad’, like the other members of the guild/to be bullied.
Dream: to pay off his debts and be free of their sticky economic system, designed to keep members ‘locked-in’ forever/to find his father–though it’s not as important at this point because he is finding independence.
How it all ties together as a backstory->
1. The Mother: Used to be in the guild and didn’t want her son pulled into the intrigue.
2. School: Despite the other guild members having years of experience on him, he is able to creatively use the education he received as an advantage; to quickly surpass their skill level, and, ultimately, free himself from their economic system.
3. The Box: The box, of course, presents strong evidence the fire was no accident …
4. The Guild: … and that the murderer is within the ranks of the very organisation he joined.
5. The Missing Father: … should be obvious at this point!
I hope what I said above helps to illustrate how characters’ wants, dreams, and fears evolve along with the major events in their lives. If you have a list of events for your main characters like the one above, it becomes much easier to pick out important events and tack dates to them for your timeline.
I would like to add my main goal with this blog is to always move forward with my novel. I want each and every post to be an affirmative step towards my goal. If I was attempting this alone, I’m sure every step would feel like unsure footing, but, with you guys along, it helps me take those steps with a much higher level of confidence. So thank you for being there. :)