Writing Week • antagonists & outlines (11/12/17-11/19/17)

So, there’s two ideas this week. One, I was just thinking about (although my NaNo story probably helped), and the other is something I’ve learned doing NaNo.

First: I like to distinguish between “antagonist” and “villain”. The former is just what opposes the protagonist of a story. The latter is someone defined as “bad”, who may act cruelly, callously, selfishly, and manipulatively. I know villains can be nuanced, from backstory and dissecting whose POV the story comes from (a la monsters), but like… I think that’s why it’s taken me this long to start seeing the appeal of villains, rather than just antagonists.

Before, if I asked, I think I would have divided villains into: 1. transformed destructiveness which may be be resolved through commonality or compassion or understanding and 2. purposely cruel, manipulative, abusive, and possessive individual (usually male).

The first appears in Disney’s Moana, Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, and Novak’s Uprooted; these are some of my favorite and strongest influences. This is also one of my favorite types of stories. That, and the unexpected twist (all these do that, as does Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings).

The second appears in Revolutionary Girl Utena as Akio and my NaNo story.

There were a lot of villains in my childhood that didn’t fit either category, and therefore, didn’t really register. Or if I had a third category, it was: mean for the sake of being mean. (A lesser form of category 2.)

But I’ve come to see how writing about villains — and I mean actually not nice characters — can be kind of interesting. Case in point: a short story I finished right before November features essentially only villain characters, but it still has a protagonist(s) and an antagonist. Like, the characters are kind of terrible people, but it’s still about them.

The other point is that I think having an outline is really useful for me — as long as I don’t numerically break down scenes. Once I have a number value, say 10 scenes, it becomes like an equation. I have to hit the quota of scenes, say 1-5, rather than focusing on the story or how characters feel. My current solution? Outline. But use bullet points, not numbers.

How do other people outline? Does anyone have anything similar to what I’m talking about? Let me know, if you like. (As it’s NaNo, I might not respond until December, but I wanted to extend the question.)

Best wishes and writing!


Writerly Notions: to outline or not? idea or story

I think the parlance terms are “plotter” or “pantser”: Does one write a structured outline or structure the story as one goes along?

I’m trying to process this whole outline vs. no outline. And how that relates to revision. And where I fit. As I’ve done both, and I’ve done something in the middle, where I have a basic procedure of events following each other.

Like, if I have a rudimentary outline, but the actual first draft deviates from that and has developed a completely different tone and plot, which is the one that should be used in revision? The initial outline or impetus for the story? Or what the story became? Which is truer to the story?

And those questions open up a more important distinction: knowing what the engine or heart of the story is. This leads to what I’ve begun to realize: there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

More importantly, I’ve come to realize there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

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January Summary

a day late

As part of the Every Day Challenge, instigated by the-cassandra-project, I set up two challenges. The second one, or Challenge #2, focused on Nights of Heroes — revision, outlining, character development. I posted about my progress it every couple days. These posts can be found here at my writing journal.

Other general writing posts can be found here.

My Challenge #1, which was to write 100+ words every day, can be found here (among other material and inspiration related to the story.)

Finally, I made character aesthetics.