Don't you just love when you come across information that unlocks the door to clarity in your writing? That's how I feel about these articles by K.M. Weiland on plot and character so I'm sharing them: "How to Choose Your Story’s Plot Points" can be applied to practically any story, but mainly to a lengthy and complex one. And, if you continue reading, click on: "4 Ways to Choose a Better Theme for Your Book."
For me, both articles made clear how the heart of a story is not in the plot but in the main protagonist. Here is how I answered her questions regarding theme as they apply to my book The Sylph's Tale:
1. What is it your protagonist brings to this particular conflict that no other character does?
The Archangel of Light saves a pubescent girl from her ancient tribe's rite of passage. He is dammed for eternity to be Ayekah, a being without a soul.
2. Why is this his conflict and plot—and not anyone else’s in the story?
Even thought Haya is equally essential it is Ayekah who tells the story of his falling and their love, and it is he who loses all he was for her.
3. What is your protagonist’s greatest virtue?
Not sure if it's that Ayekah continues to be righteous and ask for forgiveness until The Almighty tries to destroy his descendants; or that he stays with Haya even after she abandons him for her clan.
4. Greatest flaw?
As the Archangel of Light, he violated his purpose as a watcher and not interfere with humans. This caused him to become both anguished over his choice and enraged with the Almighty for damning him.
5. How do this virtue and this flaw directly influence the plot—and what do they say about both the plot and the character himself? It is because Ayekah has the power to be more than any human and can change Haya's life and the live's of all women in her clan.
I plan to continue refining the above points as they apply to my story and characters and hope you find them helpful.
Showing and not telling offers an undeniable appreciation of a protagonist's feelings, purpose, and reasons but is difficult to carry out.
As a research analyst, and later as a columnist, my focus was facts. Also, books filled with a minutia of information to build volume annoy me. But, novels are not technical guides nor reports, so I am learning how to show not tell. Not to limit the protagonist’s involvement, emotions and setting with a scarcity of detail while not dragging the story into a mountain of verbosity.
For example, in The Sylph’s Tale, when Haya demands “Take me back” and “use wings” Ayekah says “no wings,” even though he realizes that she fears her people but without her, he loses all. To describe a hero's struggle and uncover passions became magical and compelled me to dig deep into who characters are and how experiences influence them and their reality.
My readers complain that THE SYLPH'S TALE is too short. I agree and love that my readers care. Their observations are helping me to improve the next book of the series VIRGINS.
Who the heck ever said writing is glamorous, creative, fun and natural? It's the hardest, loneliest, most unpredictable work one can ever wish for, and one could put in an existence doing and NEVER even earn a dime or get read much less be accepted as an author. Moreover, there is the NEVER ENDING learning process of refining, editing, and marketing! But as one writer to another, could you, would you, do anything else? I started my writing "vocation" (if one could call it that) after I raised three children, a husband and retired from 30 years of going to college while working an 8-5 and at times an extra job. What the heck! Am I nuts or what?
You know that feeling? The one after you announced your book is done, and you will publish in a week or so, but then you feel you need another eye or two and a couple of trusted friends accept to read it - and then full of confidence you will put that baby out. However, as you wait you wonder: is egg on your face or patience better? "Patience is not simply the ability to hold on - it's how we behave while we're waiting." Joyce Meyer But then! You read your email and find, on a trusted site such as K. M. Weiland's, the perfect article on how to get your edits done once you get your feedback! 6 Tips for How to Organize Your Novel’s Edits http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/tips-organize-your-novels-edits/