Monday, April 26, 2010

Guys (and gals), it's time we talked about something: the voices in my head.

My character's voices, that is.

Right now I'm working on two projects at once. And my main characters are warring for attention in my head. There's the part of me that really wants to work on the project I had already started, because it is a powerful story, and it compels me. Then there's the new story. I like to think of this one as an annoying little sister, constantly pestering me and following me around. It's a much more fun and lighthearted project, and I want to write it just as much as the other one, only for different reasons.

The bad part is that the two projects are drastically different. It's work to switch between the voices of the two MCs.

One of them is. . . well, frankly, an ass. He's learning his lesson-- that's kind of the point-- and it's a new and exciting format for me to be writing in. This project hits me on an intellectual level as well as an emotional one, because it forces me to think about everything from a different perspective.

My other MC is strong, and female, and quippy. I quite like her even though I've only known her for about 3,000 words, and I'm already having "the talks" with my fiance about where this story is headed. (When I'm trying to work out a plot, I always bounce ideas off of him. Today he bounced one back that is brilliant, and now I'm ten times more excited about this project than I already was).

The types of stories are completely different, too. But I should be used to that part by now; just as I should be used to the completely polar voices running around in my head. The project I'm currently querying was a total departure for me, as well.

In fact, what I've learned so far from this whole two-projects-at-once thing is that I have only one certainty as a writer: uncertainty. I can no longer use "that's just not me" as an excuse not to write something because as it turns out, it doesn't matter if it's "me" or not. It's only the voices of my characters that matter. They'll tell their stories to me, and I let them out onto paper. Who am I to tell them to quiet down and go away?

So, dear, dear reader-writers, please assure me that I'm not, in fact, crazy. Do your characters come from different places, and if so, do they pester you until you let them out? Have you ever worked on two projects at once?


Joshua McCune said...

Writer = crazy :P -- I've never done two big projects at once... I've done edits on one and started the next, but it'd be too difficult for me to keep everything separate were I to do multiples at once.

L. T. Host said...

So... what you're saying is... I'm crazy.

I KNEW it!

Anyway, see, I was the same way not more than six months ago... in fact, I distinctly remember writing a blog post about how I wished I could multi-task so I could start writing "I" while editing V. Yet here I am, writing two at once.

I have a feeling though, that one of them will grab my attention harder in the long run and I'll finish that one first. We'll see. I'm still undecided.

Rick Daley said...

I've worked on two projects at the same time, one in the mornings and the other in the evenings. made great progress for a while, until a third project picked up momentum (i.e. agent interest) and the other two were shoved too the back burner.

Now I'm focusing on one at a time. the reason being, it takes long enough to finish one book, so I think the best use of time is to invest all available time in a project until it is complete. I hate having half-finished manuscripts, and unless I focus on completing them one at a time, none will be ready to publish.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I can't write two books at the same time. I can barely revise one and write another- I have to take turns with weeks at a time on one before I switch.

So yeah... I think you're totally crazy. :)

L. T. Host said...

Rick-- here's hoping that happens to me, lol. But I see your point. And like I said above, it may just take some time before I pick one to focus on. For right now though, I'll keep plugging away at both.

Stephanie-- I am, I know... :D

dolorah said...

I've had this one major project for 5 years, and threw in a few short stories now and then. I can't go to much back and forth or I get the voices mixed up.

Right now I'm trying to finish up the last of the revision on book one of the women's fiction so I can delve into the work of the Fantasy.

But both MC are females; one assertive and one shy. I find myself making the assertive too passive and the other too aggressive. Then I have to re-write.

No, I don't separate those voices too well. I'll end up shelving one for the other.

Kudos Rick on working on two in the same day.


L. T. Host said...

Donna-- thanks for sharing some of your process. It seems this is a worse idea than I thought! I'm not giving up yet though. I want to see where these bad boys take me.

Unknown said...

Fabulous post. Fear not. You are as insane as I am. I always work on multiple projects at once. I'm currently working on editing two and researching one plus a series I may or may not get around to. I love the feeling of all the characters dancing around in my head jumping through hoops to get my attention. It makes me feel like the Belle of the Ball and I get to stand back and take as long as I want to decide which one to dance with. I do have to choose eventually of course but not until I've written at least the first chapter of every idea paying court to me at the time and even then I flirt with (No I don't know how far I'm going to extend this metaphor) pet projects on the side who sometimes take over my attention from my "main" project for a few days or even weeks. Needless to say I have many unfinished projects floating around, looking for someone to dance with.

"I have only one certainty as a writer: uncertainty." --would it be nearly as much fun any other way?

L. T. Host said...

Taryn-- I <3 that metaphor. Perfect.

And you're right, it wouldn't be as much fun any other way. The characters ARE the fun, everything revolves around them.

I may have to keep one of them trapped in my head longer than the other, but the dance will go on. Once they're in there, it's practically impossible to get them out til they've told their story.

storyqueen said...

I find it easier to work on concurrent projects that are Completely Different (like yours). I even have different pens I use if I am writing in long hand. If the projects are too similar,they can bleed into each other, which you might not want.

Good luck!


L. T. Host said...

Shelley-- that's a neat idea about the different pens. I don't write longhand, but I could always change my font color! Hmmm... thanks for the great idea, and the solidarity :)