Drifting, drafting and dramatis personae.

Ladies and gentlemen, I offer some advice:

If you would like to start an even remotely semi-productive blog, you should definitely not start an all-consuming writing project less than two weeks later. It’s just bad for business.

However, I am happy to report that I am making progress. Perhaps not quite as much progress as I would like to be making, but, nevertheless, progress is there. It can be hard to find the time and the opportunity to work on the story, but I believe I am doing well with what I do have.

I am also happy (and somewhat relieved, to tell the truth) that I have yet to run out of story to tell. This is something that can happen from time to time when I’m writing. I will end a section or a chapter, then sit back and ask myself, “Where do I go from here?” Luckily, that has not happened. I wish there was some wood around that I could knock on quickly.

I have been staying a couple chapters ahead of myself throughout this entire process. Sure, I know the entire story, but I don’t necessarily know how it unfolds. It’s more exciting to write that way, as the last entry explained.

Good Omens mass market paperback coverRight now, the pieces are all falling into place. All the major characters have been introduced. In fact, in a departure from my usual modus operandi, the entire cast of characters is introduced on the first page. Generally, I tend to start out slowly, introducing characters one or two at a time. I try to ease readers into a story, letting them get comfortable in the shallow end before the water gets any deeper.

Not this time.

Most plays and even some novels with large casts of characters often begin with a list of dramatis personae—a list of the work’s characters, sometimes accompanied by a short description of who they are. One of my favorite uses of a dramatis personae list is in the novel Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a book I highly recommend if you have not read it. The book is about the beginning of the Biblical Armageddon and the attempt by two friends, an angel and a demon, to stop it, since they’ve decided they’re rather fond of Earth after all and don’t really want it to be destroyed. In the book’s opening, they list the characters of the novel and, as a glimpse into the humor of the book, offer amusing yet accurate descriptions of these characters. Here is my favorite, which is the listing for the demon:

Crowley: An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards.

That particular line always makes me laugh.

Now, I didn’t make a list, per say. I introduced the characters in paragraph form. Still, since it is a work with a large number of characters, all equally important, I wanted the audience to know who they are from the very beginning. And, using this list, the story is going to rotate from character to character as it progresses. What are essentially three different story arcs will all be taking place simultaneously. It’s going to be a challenge, but a fun one.

With that, I should probably get back to it. If my entries become more and more infrequent, I apologize. However, when I finish this draft, I will have plenty more to write about. Wish me luck.

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About [rlh]

Ryan L. Haddock is an aspiring writer, emphasis on the "aspiring." He mostly writes short stories, but that is only because he doesn't seem to have the attention span necessary to write a novel. At least, not yet. He is also a husband and a father . . . yet he is still struggling valiantly against the notion that he has to grow up. View all posts by [rlh]

One response to “Drifting, drafting and dramatis personae.

  • alltheseblessedthings

    I’ve been wondering how in the world you can be writing this novel and keep up the blogging. Go you. 🙂

    Thanks for the new vocab word: dramatis personae. It was at that point in the book that I knew Good Omens would become one of my favorites.

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