A Day in the Life of a Writer: Returning to an Old Story, Choosing a Main Character, and Being Generally Irked (But Also Excited)

calvin block

I have good news and bad news, dear readers. The good news: I’ve started writing my thesis novel again. Yay! I’ve been patting myself on the back all morning for deciding to pick it back up after shelving it almost a year ago (I need all the self-indulgent reassurance I can get. I’m a writer. It’s how we roll).

The bad news: I can’t decide who my main character is. Which is the reason I stopped writing this story in the first place.

Boo city.

The dilemma I’ve run into (and been running into for the past year) is that I have two strong and compelling characters, one male and one female, who are competing with one another for the coveted spot of main character. Now, I am not a person who subscribes to the rule that you can only have one main character in a story (Thelma & Louise being a prime example of a story that breaks that rule), so when I first encountered this problem I decided to resolve it the easy way by just letting them both be main characters. Easy, right?

Well, when your characters are normal, sure, maybe you can do that. But my characters are decidedly abnormal. See, the part that I neglected to mention is that my characters are both psychopaths, and as it turns out, having two psychopaths as your main characters kind of doesn’t work. Like, at all.

better main character meme

I got about a third of the way through the first draft of having these two psychopaths pitted against each other on the page and got increasingly frustrated, because the more I wrote the more I realized that I wasn’t rooting for them. I didn’t want either one of them to accomplish their goals and finish out their quests. What’s more, I didn’t care enough to see if they did accomplish their goals or not; I disliked them so much that I just wanted to get away from them. They were just too unsympathetic, too unlikable, and I hadn’t included a character who was strong enough and sympathetic enough to offset their extreme darkness. And without having a character to root for, I lost interest in the story. I came to the realization that if I, the person who thought up these characters and brought them into existence onto the page, had this kind of reaction to these characters, then readers were going to as well. And so, a little less than a year ago I gave up on the story with the intention of never returning to it again.

The problem is the little bugger’s been nagging at the edges of my brain ever since, refusing to give me any peace of mind and keeping me from working on the other story idea I’ve been playing around with for a few years now. It’s really rather rude.

So, since I’m apparently not allowed to work on any other creative projects until I give this psychopath story another whirl, I’ve decided to return to it with a new approach and an actual plan in place (my god, what a concept. A writer with a plan!). First, I’m rewriting the entire story from scratch. This sucks because I’ve written ~150 pages of it in the first draft, but necessary, because of those ~150 pages maybe 10 of them are good/salvageable. The plot and characters got jumbled around a dozen too many times for me to make any sense of it, and trying to work with those original pages will just confuse me further. So that first draft is getting locked away in my desk and not being looked at until the second draft is finished. Then after I finish I’ll go through the first one and see what if anything I can pull from it and incorporate into the new story.

Second, I’m putting my foot down and limiting my story to one psychopath/main character. This is turning out to be harder than I thought, because like I said above, both characters are strong and compelling in their own rights. I’ve polled fellow writers and friends for their opinions on whether they’d rather read a story about a male psychopath or a female psychopath, and the results were a 50-50 split.

Naturally.

At least now I know that a.) I’ve got two cool characters and b.) I’m insane for having trouble choosing between them (fun fact: I care more about point b right now).

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to be ambitious and write BOTH versions of the story, one told by the male psychopath and the other by the female. Since writing two novel-length manuscripts of the same story told by two different characters doesn’t sound all that appealing to me (shocking, I know), I’m planning on condensing the story down into either a long short story or a novella. Then I’ll see which one turns out stronger and proceed from there. And I’m choosing to not think about the possible scenario where they both turn out strong and I find myself in the same position I’m in now, because that can’t happen, right? Right? (Ugh.)

 

ryan gosling novel

Why I’ve Been M.I.A.: Fighting Broke’s How Hollywood Works: Television

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Happy Friday dear readers! As you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty inactive as of late (read: I completely disappeared from the face of the planet). To make matters worse, I then reappeared only to disappear again. It was sucky of me, and I’m sorry. Very sorry.

Would it help if I said I have a legitimate reason for being M.I.A.?

The reason I’ve been such a bad blogger lately is because I’ve been busy working on a project over at Fighting Broke called How Hollywood Works: Television. Long story short, Chris, a former boss of mine from my stint down in LA, and I have spent the last few months putting together all the information you need to know about the television industry. We know that there are a lot of people out there who are looking to break into television or just want to know more about the industry in general, and we wanted to make it a little easier for people to go through and process the massive amounts of information spread all over cyberspace about how to do it.

It’s been a massive project, much more massive than either of us initially anticipated when we first got started, and the first two sections–Pilot Season and Creatives–are finally up and running. I’m super happy with how they turned out. Like, over the moon proud mama bear happy, because they are legitimately awesome resources that I REALLY wish I’d had when I was down in LA working in the industry. I didn’t know even half of the stuff we talk about while I was working there (which, by the way, is more than a little bit depressing) and they would’ve helped me so much.

So, since I’m such a proud mama bear about this project, I figured I’d share it with you, dear readers, so you can see what I’ve been doing instead of blogging here and can check out these awesome resources.

Here is the main page: http://fightingbroke.com/hhwwtv/

They’re worth checking out even if you aren’t looking to become a TV writer, if for no other reason you can get a better foundation knowledge of how television and the television industry work. For example, do you know why the top primetime shows (think Scandal on ABC, and football on CBS) always air on Thursday nights? No? Well, you can find out here.

If you like them as much as I do, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list so you don’t miss our upcoming updates.

So now you know, dear readers. Hopefully I’ll be able to start posting more regularly on here soon, but at least you’ve got this to tide you over in the meantime!

Back, and Still Bewildered

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Long time no see, dear readers! Have you missed me? I know, I’m a terrible, horrible, evil blogger–the worst there ever was, really– for abandoning you all these long months. I have no excuse, apart from real life interfering as it is wont to do and whisking me away in its flurry of pressing matters that needed attending to: looking for work, meeting a Boy, kind of finding work, trying to write my novel(s) (yes, there is more than one now…maybe), using work/Boy/insertnounhere to avoid writing.

You know, the usual order of business for a Bewildered 20-something Writer.

But I missed blogging through all of that, and so, dear readers, I’m back. Hopefully for good this time. If for no other reason because Boy is starting to get annoyed at having to hear me whine about how hard and bewildering writing is all the time.

Publication Rights for Freelance Writers

Dear readers, I’m afraid I’m still trapped in the special circle of hell known as job hunting. It’s a hard market out there for a bewildered 20-something writer! Many of the jobs I’ve come across have been freelance writing gigs for startups and blogs, which got me wondering about what rights I have regarding any content I’d publish doing these jobs. So I did a little digging and found this nifty little infographic over at freelancewriting.com by Brian Scott that I found extremely helpful. Seeing as I’m sure at least a handful of you, dear readers, have considered doing or even done freelance writing work, I figured I’d share the knowledge and pass this on. Enjoy, and if any of you with experience in this line of work have any input on the information here, please write me and let me know!

A Bewildered 20-Something’s Goals for 2014

Happy (very) belated New Years dear readers! I hope all of your holidays were fantastic and filled with plenty of quality time with your loved ones. I know I’ve been a terrible blogger recently and have been slacking a *lot* when it comes to posting, but there have been reasons I swear!  Namely, I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my bewildered 20-something self in the new year, which was surprisingly more difficult to figure out than I thought it would be. Is it possible to have a quarter life crisis before you’re 25 (rhetorical question, please don’t say no)? Well, either way, I *finally* put together my list of goals for 2014, and seeing as I’ve owed you a post for weeks now, dear readers, I figured I’d share them with you.

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Zimmy Sunday #19: The Secret Life of Walter Zimmy

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Happy Sunday dear readers! Zimmy and I are officially in holiday mode, if you couldn’t tell by the picture (and yes, he really does love it when you rub his belly with your foot. He’s a rather derpy dog), and very much looking forward to spending quality time with our family eating all the things in all the land and watching whatever Christmas movies happen to be on cable. Writing will slow a bit until after Christmas, but that is fine, because I made a *lot* of progress on the novel last week! I cut about 70% of the work I’d written during NaNoWriMo and have replaced just about all of the cut content with new material, material that I’m actually happy with quality-wise (gasp!). I’m not completely done yet, but I’m hoping to find time to add some things here and there in between celebrating with friends and family, and then go back to full time work on Thursday. In the meantime, though, time to enjoy the holidays. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, dear readers, and happy holidays!

Friday Funday: 1920s Slang

Happy Friday dear readers! I hope all of your Fridays are passing quickly as we head into the winter holidays and vacation time. My vacation is starting a bit early, with my whole family home today and dragging me out to see Catching Fire for a second time, so this post will be a bit brief because I need to go and get my Jennifer Lawrence on (yeeessss).

As you all know, I’m a big fan of bringing back awesome obsolete words and phrases, because more often than not that are infinitely cooler the things we say now. This is especially the case when it comes to slang, which’s why I was so happy when a good writing friend of mine sent me this post on Thought Catalog of 59 More Slang Phrases From The 1920s We Should Start Using Again. Yolo and twerk have got nothing on some of these bad boys! Make sure you check out the entire list here, and in the meantime, here are some of the highlights to pique your interest along with some helpful memes and gifs to help you learn the new slang. Enjoy, and happy Friday!

Baby Vamp: a very popular young woman or an attractive girl.

“Banana Oil!”: “That’s doubtful.”

Beat Session: a gossip session between two males, consisting of idle chatter.

Burning with a Blue Flame: drunk

(Other slang for drunk: “boiled as an owl,” and “lit up like the commonwealth,” among others)

Cast a Kitten: to throw a temper tantrum.

“Ish Kabibble!”: “Who cares?” , “No worries!”

“Nerts!”: “That’s awesome!”

Togged to the Bricks: dressed to the nines.