Historical and speculative novelist K.M. Weiland offers tips and essays about the writing life to help other writers understand the ins and outs of the craft and the psychology behind the inspiration.
This week’s video shows you why this particular type of character takes much of the burden out of writing your story’s First Act.
Welcome to the second video in my month-long series of things I learned while writing my soon-to-be-released aviation-adventure novel Storming—which comes out December 4th. I have to say, writing this book was one of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had. The whole process just worked from start to finish. I wrote the first draft in about four months, no major rewrites required, and it was just fun. That made me start asking, Why? What about this story made it so much easier to write than other stories?
Lots of reasons for this, but one big one was the fact that this book featured what is perhaps the easiest type of character to write. Sounds pretty good, right? So how can you steal this character type and use it to have lots of fun writing your own book? Basically, it comes down to writing the kind of character whose story is already in medias res—or in the middle. My biplane pilot protagonist in Storming starts out with his life journey already underway. He’s already got major backstory issues with his family, he’s already established as a flyer, he knows what he wants out of life—which means I had less to juggle in that precious set-up time of the First Act.
Contrast this with, say, a coming-of-age story. The protagonist in this kind of story is basically starting at ground zero—and therefore is going to force the author to invest a lot more work and setup and development in the very beginning before actually getting to the main conflict. Now, obviously, it’s not that the in medias res character is “right” and the coming-of-age character is “wrong.” Not at all. Which character you write totally depends on which type of story you’re writing. But just keep in mind that the in medias res characters are often a little easier to write in the story’s beginning—and then just enjoy that magic when it happens.
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