One of my main goals that I gave myself and maintain to this day is to make high quality fiction writing. This is just something I happen to prioritize. It takes longer to write…that’s for sure, but I just care about quality. That’s my benchmark of success. Well, one of them. It’s so important that I make some notes for myself every week about any small quality updates or what I am focusing on.
Lately for Splattering Yet Endearing, I have been doing some research on grammar. I am learning about how to use a comma with the word but. I thought you always use a comma! But, according to this blog, apparently not.
That website seems super useful by the way.
Goals for my fiction writing, or my fiction story, help keep me straight. It’s easy to get lost in all the details of the story, the characters, and all. But I maintain goals because I know each part of my story has goals I want it to accomplish. Checking something like comma usage is just general English quality, but it’s something I care about.
Granted, there needs to be a limit to goals or quality goals that a writer has. The brain can only handle so many goals at once…lol, while trying to write brand new content at the same time.
Focusing on quality can also cause one to avoid taking risks. Recently in my writing, I have loosened the imaginary reins on my characters. My outline has guided my characters pretty rigidly up until then, but I just decided that my characters need to grow and breathe and be free. It’s exciting, to basically come up with all new character content on the spot.
What I mean is like, you know how Bart always says (or said, whatever) “Ay caramba!”? Well, that’s part of his character. Having him say that over and over keeps him in character. It’s safe and predictable. BUT, it’s a little limiting and stale too. So instead of strictly feeding and guiding words into my characters’ minds and brains, now I am more flexible and may just randomly pause in the middle of the scene and let a character respond in a way I think they will respond. EVEN IF THEIR RESPONSE IS “OUT OF CHARACTER” FOR THAT PERSON.
I dunno. It feels a little scary to let a character do something they haven’t done before, because you want them to stick to their archetype or trope. But one of my other quality or story goals is realism. So most people aren’t like Peter Griffin or Homer Simpson, saying the same thing for years on end. They change here and there, because of new situations and new people they meet and new conversations they have. Just like how you may talk differently about chocolate ice cream before you have it, compared to after eating it.
I know it may sound weird to you to pay so much attention to the consistency of a character’s personality, but think about it. If you watch a movie and a character behaves way out of their personality, they are being “out of character” and it would probably annoy you! So characters are really expected, really assumed, to always stay “in their character” whenever you see them.
It still feels scary to let my characters behave more freely. But it’s cool too. And, it’s more realistic, IMO. People change over time. Not necessarily in big ways, but they won’t say the same freakin’ thing for 10 years word for word! Also, suppressing my characters’ behaviors isn’t realistic. People act they way they are.
Characters go off the beaten path sometimes! About a year ago I was really worried about not being able to publish or otherwise share my writing if it was too adult. I started to go back and censor scenes. Later on I found out it is OK to have adult stuff in writing, more than what is allowed in video games and movies. But I already had forced the scenes, the story and the characters to all conform to censorship. Naturally, I lifted the restrictions, but that censorship that I was thinking about in real life ended up translating into one of the characters developing a brand new trait! That character started to develop a sense of humor, by using innuendos and joking about sex.
This trait honestly probably would not have developed if I had not thought to censor my writing in the first place. So lol, that’s how one of my characters fundamentally changed. Just goes to show, the funny and unusual ways characters can change, beyond my own script for them! My characters sometimes surprise myself. Think about it. It’s like if Skywalker surprised George Lucas.