rachelatarms (rachelatarms) wrote,

Heroes! Villains! Shakespeare! Cuddle Monsters!

So. I've been working on my new project a lot recently (it's up to 15k after about five days of writing—way faster than I usually write). You know the one. The one with the very odd codename of "Project Cuddle Monsters" or, if I want to make myself feel all official, CUDDLE MONSTERS (it does have a different working title, but I'm not convinced that it will stick). The one that has resulted in copious Hamlet quotes, and pictures of iron necklaces and keys, and sketches of Jane Austen characters all dwelling in harmony in my Evernote folders. Not to mention the memes I've built for CM while snerking the whole time. 

But Cuddle Monsters lives up to its codename: it's a very strange little project, and (as a result) evokes all sorts of feelings from me. It's the first project I've actually planned out the scenes/acts/etc. for, and maybe as a consequence of that foresight has been relatively easy and quick to write (of course, whether or not the words resulting from that quick and easy writing are any good is a different matter—I'm still battling the Inclination To Distance Reader From Character, Passiveness, etc., but I trust that I can overcome that in edits *crosses fingers*). Its strangeness extends beyond that, though; it's an entirely different sort of project from what I usually try to write. It's much more quiet (well, aside from the monsters) and intense, with the majority of the drama being drawn from family dynamics (hyper-dysfunctional family dynamics complicated by the presence of monsters, but still). It's also startlingly unfunny—humor is almost totally absent, at least in part thanks to the source material and otherwise from the natural development of the characters. Speaking of which, in spite of my plotting, I've had a positively magical time discovering new things about the characters and storyline. They've stumped me a few times, actually—the character that I thought would be Snark Warlord 2012 ended up being much, much more interior of a character than I imagined. But as a result of that, I realized exactly how hard it would be on this poor character's brain to contain, absolutely and unyieldingly, all those rapid-cycling emotions 24/7, and said character is much more interesting for it. 

As a result of CM's plot, which is inspired by all my favorite plays ever (read: lots of revenge, and tragedy, and murder), the characters all get to have moments of Ultimate Darkness and half-descents into madness, etc. which fits nicely with its tragic roots, but is actually also a way of letting me poke around with my ideas of heroes and villains. The moral grey area of revenge plots is a perfect place to torture characters examine what these situations would do to a person psychologically, and how even good intentions can go awry. The ways in which heroes and villains are made complex, tested in their missions, and how they become the people they are are fascinating to me, and I think that a thorough understanding of those factors can really deepen the manner in which a story plays out.

At the same time, though, the scenes involving that depth are the hardest ones to write because they scare me. They evoke abject terror, because while those contradictions and complex manners of thought and deed are wonderful when done well...I don't have faith in myself to actually do them well. Of course, if I never write it, then I certainly won't get better, and will doom myself to Perpetual Suckitude. But not doing something because of fear is an absolutely horrible way to live, and no way at all to write. So, with quaking fingers, I write the scenes. Some of them make me cringe, and the ones that do are the most important of all because that's where the most is at stake for me. I've spent so much time analyzing heroes and villains that now, when I try to write some of my own, I'm terrified to do it and fail. It would be far more humiliating for me, having done all this stuff on how shiny characters are, to fail at developing my characters than it would be otherwise. 

But I want to do it anyway. I want to write those characters so vivid that they can reach out of the pages and shove their presence down your throat (not literally), the characters who make tears well in your eyes from the sharpness of their pain—the ones you want to hug when they break. I want to write those Shiny characters, even though I know it will involve potential embarrassment and suffering on my part. Isn't that weird? 

I think this means either than I love my project deeply, or I've really lost it. Maybe a bit of both. 

So tell me, you 5.5 people who will read this post—if you're a writer, have you had Fear of the Shiny and, if so, how did you deal with it? Non-writers, how have you conquered fear of taking those risks in your own life, and what makes characters stand out to you? I'm all ears. 

Tags: character development, control, cuddle monsters, shiny new idea, writing

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