Character building and setting

I’ve been going over my second novel (provisional title: Through Stranger Eyes) and in particular trying to make sure I have created a fully fledged main character. In doing so, I came across C. S. Lakin‘s post on Live Write Thrive where she suggests we ask our characters twelve questions related to the setting to present and create them in the most realistic way. As she says in the beginning of her post, “When choosing settings for your scenes, you want to think about the kinds of places that will allow the emotions, needs, dreams, and fears of your characters to come out.

In my second novel, the setting is an important element of the story and goes hand in hand with the plot for a reason. In cyberpunk worlds (such as in Through Stranger Eyes), the fall of moral and social values alongside the disproportionate rise of technology that makes life easier for very few, could easily have its roots in the socio-economic structure of today. In that case, the setting can (and in my mind, should) be something not only to set up tone and mood for a story, but to also create awareness in the subtlest way possible.

Of course, no one expects a fiction writer to go that deep into sociology and philosophy just to tell a good story. But we are expected to create well-rounded characters, with their hopes, fears, and memories, and at the same time flesh out worlds for them that could easily be real, regardless of the genre. Hopefully, these questions will help all of you in this pursuit.

The story I’m currently writing

A few weeks ago I had mentioned that I was working on two novel-length stories; a medieval fantasy and a post apocalyptic one. I had also mentioned that the medieval one was going to be a very long one, since it dealt with 6 different POV characters and a great deal of things happening.

Since then, I’ve read a fair amount of articles written by agents on how easy it is for a newcomer to break into the industry with anything longer than 100k words. I have yet to find one article that says it can happen (if you have read one, though, and you happen to remember it, please send me a link. I’m interested in things like that). The reason is that even if the agent likes the story, they have a hard time convincing a publisher to back it up financially, since the writer isn’t an established one. They fear (and it makes sense, to a certain extent) that without an established audience the book will fail financially.

For this reason, I decided it was time for me to focus on the post apocalyptic story. That doesn’t mean that I have discarded the other one; far from it. I still come up with ideas and take notes whenever I can. When the times is right, I will tackle that behemoth of a story but probably not before I have managed to have some novels under my belt.

So, what’s this post apocalyptic story about?

The title will most likely be “The Darkening” and it will deal with the difficulties one particular survivor faces, his isolation and the madness that creates and hidden secrets from his past that will slowly emerge as the story goes one. So far, there are two twists in the story, one of which is directly related to the main character. Oh yeah, I should probably mention this: the shadow each person casts is alive and it kills the person that created it. So, humans have to live in darkness. Interesting setting, don’t you think? 🙂

The story started off as a short story, no more than 2000 words in length and it’s one I’m still trying to find a home for in a magazine. It’s difficult though, since editors so far insist that it opens too many arcs and it feels to them like the part of a book. I didn’t get the idea to make it into a novel until long after I had finished it. In my eyes, the short story is complete and I’ll be extremely happy to see it published somewhere, since, as far as short stories go, this is my favourite one. It’s also the one I have worked the most on and the one that has gotten the most rejections so far.

So, this is what I’m working on at the moment.

Would you be interested in reading a sci-fi novel like that? Comment below and let me know what you think.