Sometimes when I start these, I’m sure that I’m retreading old ground. Okay, yes, it’s ALL old ground considering somebody else has covered every single thing about writing you can imagine at some point (even Ring Method, despite my self-indulgent glee at ‘discovering’ it).
It isn’t a huge deal – not many go through all the blog posts, so rehashing the same thing repeatedly means I just ingrain it in my own mind a little more.
Quick title edit, and we’re in business!
As mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been working on one of my stories! Yes, I know, this is what I’m meant to be doing ALL THE BLOODY TIME, but it’s really not happening. The exercises I’m going through are my way to ensure that no matter what happens in a month, that I’m still writing. It’d be great to get to the point where I can launch into the pertinent parts of Trail as it’s being written without needing to preface it. We’re not there yet.
Trail’s do-over is at the very start of the story, and since the setting itself is one that doesn’t slot easily into any typical one, it needs to be set up. In the initial stages of the story, there’s actually a lot to move into place. There’s a protagonist to introduce, the immediate surroundings, and the overall world itself. Antagonists need to be presented, as well as their general level of bastardry explained. It’s important for the reader to know exactly who the Prots are up against, and what they’re capable of. I don’t want to do an infodump, but I need to get the dangers across as quick as possible, and rely on bringing specifics at a point soon after.
The best way for me to get through that initial slog is with mood. Some of the mood comes from things I’ve previously written about (such as voice), but it also comes in through the subject matter. I frequently have the mood at the forefront of the story, because it’s the thing that drives the story for me. I want Trail to be sad at times, to have bittersweet moments, for the characters to break and then rebuild themselves. I don’t know all of the details of what could happen (and if I did take the time to work them all out ahead of time, it’d close off).
The important thing is to work out the mood of your story – how your story feels. Are you going whimsical, with a touch of maudlin? Is it just meant to be as messed up as the real world can be? Is there a song that comes to mind in the eureka moments, or can you imagine the character’s voice straining in the face of despair despite not actually knowing what they’re saying? Mood takes you to the details. I’m not saying you should make up everything as you go along, but that you don’t have to know everything. Of course you’re thinking about what’s on the way in the story, but you don’t need to write a prospectus for the bakery on the outskirts of Lythwen.
The things that happen to the characters change the mood – obstacles create tension, or angst, successes lead to joy, and it all adds to the mood. The setting is another, both in terms of the environment the story takes place in, but also the description of the environments (not just the state of them). The way you express yourself is another one of the great-many that go into the barrel of ‘mood’ – Natural voice is some of that, but so is the tone you use and how you treat your subject matter.
You need to gauge the mood of your story, so that even if you don’t know what comes next, you know how it needs to make you feel.