Word count: 375 | Since last entry: 375
It has taken me entirely too long to get started on this story. I’ve been researching, outlining, and thinking thinking thinking… entirely too much. I’ve been paralyzed, I think, by the responsibility of writing a fictional story set in a real situation with characters based on people I know. I want to be true to their experience, but at the same time it has to be a proper story, with a plot, and that means conflict. So I’ve been trying to find a way to inject conflict into the situation without offending anyone.
I’ve written three complete cast lists, some more recognizable as the real people and others less so, each around a different central conflict. The final cast list is the closest to the originals, because the conflict I’ve settled on is mostly an internal one, and internal to one of the people I don’t know as well. So I’m less likely to step on toes because I don’t know his real problems — anything I come up with will be entirely mine, not his. I’m hoping that the resemblances between my characters and the real people will be seen as homage rather than appropriation.
The other big problem was finding a viewpoint character and a grammatical person/tense. I’ve settled on the second-in-command rather than the leader (though the real-life person he’s based on is not really the second in command) because for some reason I feel that leaders are best seen from the side, and I’m writing it in first person past tense. I’m a little concerned that I’ve been doing a lot of first-person stuff lately, because I know it’s kind of restrictive. But given the internal conflict and the source material, I think this story has to be driven in first.
This story scares me. I’m concerned I may not have the chops to pull it off. I suppose this is what Kelly Link said we should be trying to do. (I had an interesting discussion with Jay Lake about this topic at his birthday party yesterday, and we came to the consensus that the author’s truly unique voice is something that can’t be invoked consciously, though there are things you can do to encourage it.)
Whatever. At least I have begun.