I’ve been rereading my work-in-progress, trying to get back into the mindset of the story so I can work on it. Usually by the time I’ve written 37,000 words, my characters help develop the story. No, my characters never take over — they always do what I make them do. It’s more that I know who they are, what they want, and who’s going to stop them from getting what they want. Unfortunately, during the first part of my WIP, my hero mostly contended with the ever-changing world, and the people he met were simply passing through his life. So now I have to create a whole cast of characters.
I’m thinking of having a contest — let people suggest characters, and if I use it, they get an acknowledgement in the book along with a copy of the printed book when it’s published next year. Seems a bit of a cheat, but it could be fun.
But I digress. One of the characters I have to create is a group. Sounds odd, but groups have a culture, a dynamic of their own, a character that is different from the sum of the individual members. Groups also develop, just like characters do, and there are several distinct stages:
1. Coming together and finding the individual roles
2. Defining the task.
3. Feeling unrest — disenchantment with the group and each other
4. Cohesion — beginning to feel like a team
5. Interdependence — work as a team, believe in the subculture they have created.
In addition to creating a whole new cast of characters and developing them into a group, I need to figure out how to get my hero to give up the relative security he recently embraced and go back out into the dangerous world and dubious freedom.
When the novel is finished, much of this scaffolding will be invisible to the reader, but I need to be able to see at a glance how all the parts fit together so I can show what’s happening rather than telling it. It sounds to me like a need a . . . gulp . . . outline. I’ve never outlined a novel before. Should be interesting.