Book three is not going as quickly as books one and two. I aimed to have it finished by tomorrow, and that is not likely. Not unless I can magically produce 20,000 words in the next twenty-four hours, between sleeping, eating, packing for my holiday and babysitting a plumber who’s coming to sort out our leak.
In other words, never going to happen.
It’s partly because the impromptu holiday that was only booked a few days ago has eaten into my writing time. Though it was largely sorted for us, we still had to organise suitcases, spending money, cleaning enough appropriate clothes etc. Plus we had to sort out an extra day in London so we can go and see the Bond exhibition for our J date, which turned into a right carry on.
I know all this, as well as knowing that, despite him being supportive of my ambitions, I generally find it harder to write when the Boyfriend is around. Because I want to be spending time with him, not locked in my study. We get so little time together most of the time, that when he has days off, I feel I’m wasting them somehow if I’m not glued to his side.
But, despite knowing this, the slow word counts over the past few days have made me question myself. I start imagining the criticisms that might be levelled at me by fictional critiques of my as yet unfinished, let alone published works. I even go as far as imagining the negative comparisons that might be drawn between other books that I’ve written, that are equally far from being publishable.
It’s all writerly anxiety, and I’m sure I’m not alone in suffering it, but it got me thinking, because my biggest concern was my characters.
I was worried that the main character of my current series, Cadence, is too similar to the main female character of the previous book I wrote, Caitlin. See, their names even begin with the same letter!
The reason for my concern was that there are a lot of surface similarities – both women have pasts that they’ve tried to leave behind, but also define them as people, both of them are gutsy and brave. Both have a strong dislike of being talked down to, or treated badly. Both are involved in some sort of job where they face good vs evil type scenarios. Both of them kick ass, albeit in different ways.
It was thinking about this kicking ass business that made me realise how different they really are. Cadence lives very much in the now, something I subconsciously reflected by choosing to write in the first person present tense. She is reasonably intelligent, but she’s less a thinker, more a barrel in head first kind of girl. She’s got a flaming sword, and she’s not afraid to use it.
Caitlin, on the other hand, is much more manipulative. She would think of a way to gain the advantage in a situation so that she can move the players like chess pieces without actually getting her hands dirty. She’s reflective, analytical and only comfortable when she’s at least ten steps ahead of her opponents.
To procrastinate from writing a little more, I imagined what would happen if I swapped them over. Technical difficulties of two completely different worlds aside, I imagine Caitlin would fair pretty well in Cadence’s shoes in terms of solving the Big Mystery that runs throughout the series, though she would never have chosen he job – it’s far too physical.
Cadence, on the other hand, would never have been able to save Caitlin’s colleagues at the crucial moment like she does. Cadence would fit the job and the people, but the particular skill set needed to get them out of certain situations, Cadence just doesn’t have.
And the love interests? I ran the thought experiment of swapping them over too. And while I could totally see Cadence and Caitlin’s love interest going out for drinks and having a good time, I doubt they would ever be more than just mates.
Caitlin with Cadence’s love interest? They wouldn’t even like each other, and if they did there would be far too much thinking and analysing going on – hardly ingredients for a passionate relationship.
All this, of course, has been a rather large waste of valuable writing time, but thinking these things through has at least left me feeling that I have two rounded, interesting, and most importantly different characters.
(And yes, I am aware I talk about them like they’re real people. Living with them in my head long enough makes them feel pretty real at times!)