Just a Little Squirrelly

It’s been a crazy time at the Town’s End. Both kiddos ended up with fevers, my husband has been sick, and I had a medical detour that resulted in me bawling at the table while shoveling cheesecake and gummy bears into my mouth. Don’t worry, I’m fine. I just love cheesecake. And gummy bears.

Health stuff aside, NaNoWriMo hasn’t been going great. I’m at 2K right now, and I’m supposed to be up over 13. What’s the problem? Glad you asked.

LaTonyaI’ve been trying to play catch-up with my character LaTonya. I know her pretty well. She’s a feminist who wants nothing more than to destroy the monster that killed her guardians. Her goal is to protect Naomi, the last guardian and likely next target of the monster, while dealing with a misogynistic foreigner who seems to be hunting the same creature. The problem is, there isn’t much for her to do. She is pretty much stalking Naomi and butting heads with this overly cheerful guy who has a horse following him everywhere. She gets to deal with broken guardians, missing leaders, attacking monsters that eat her power, and transporting people where they need to go, but writing her point of view… well, she’s really nothing more than a powerful babysitter.

That’s pretty darn boring.

She’s relevant because she’s part of the team that takes out the monsters in the end. Her sword becomes the instrument of her revenge and a cage for an immortal monster that would otherwise continue to be a threat. She saves the hero and learns how to cope and continue on without her life-long companions. But what the heck is she supposed to do until then? While the other characters are trying to cure people, keep the world from imploding, fix the imbalance of power, cope with becoming a monster, and figure out new powers while accidentally ripping apart deities, she’s just kind of hanging out.

I don’t know if I can handle anymore subplots. I’ve got too many as it is. But I need something for her to do. She’s supposed to be the character who introduces the reader to the new races invading their land. That’s great, except I don’t have a clear path ahead of me. So we’ll see if I’m tossing out another 50K after November is over because I pantsed a bunch of words that just won’t work in the long run.

I know I missed IWSG last week. I was under anesthesia, and I didn’t think I’d be coherent enough to visit blogs. Sorry. But if you didn’t see last Friday’s post, be sure to check out Aldrea Alien’s rerelease of Dark One’s Mistress. It’s worth the read.

Have you ever had a character who seems to do nothing? How did you get past it? Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

23 thoughts on “Just a Little Squirrelly

  1. I hope you and your family are doing and feeling better, Loni! Sending good thoughts your way….

    I’ve got a big gaping hole in my NaNo novel between where I am now and where I need to get to, and I’m building a very shaky rope bridge, piece by piece, to get across. πŸ™‚

    Hang in there!

  2. I wouldn’t beat yourself up about NaNo. It seems more important things have needed your attention. It’s only the 9th so you have quite a few more days to achieve a lot, if life allows. Perhaps try not to think so hard and let LaTonya lead you, rather than the other way round. Hang on in there. I do hope you and your family have a less traumatic month and that you are all feeling better. Take care!

  3. Whenever I have a character who’s basically waiting for something to happen, I bring up a complication that threatens the character’s ability to even react when that something does happen. Suddenly there’s a ticking clock, because the character has to solve this new problem before the thing he’s waiting for occurs. Just a suggestion.

    You should have tried plotting while under anesthesia. It would have been interesting to see what developed. πŸ™‚

    • I was actually out quick with the anesthesia. The nurse said, “Your arm will feel a little cold…” and then the next thing I knew, they were waking me up. Of course, I wasn’t alert yet, so I went home and slept for another 4 hours, but after that, I couldn’t process anything. I just sat and zoned out for a while. I think that plot is probably a little too boring for a story. πŸ™‚

      Oh, but I decided I’m going to kill off a bunch of people as victims of the monster she’s hunting. That should give her something to investigate!

  4. You know, maybe you’re telling the story through the wrong protagonist? It sounds like a very cool plot, but maybe it would be best to use the active character in the story as the view point character?

    • Most of the story is told from the other POVs, and LaTonya’s percentage is tiny compared to them. Derek is the one finding a cure and keeping the world from destruction, MaTisha is turning into a monster and trying to offset the imbalance her existence created, Cameron deals with being banished and the discovery that he isn’t fully human. It’s just LaTonya’s section of the plot… What does one do to get revenge on an immortal monster when there is no way to even find said monster? Maybe the monster needs to appear more?

      • If the monster is still tormenting her somehow, like psychologically, through dreams, visions etc. I don’t know. That’s a tough corner to be in, but cheese will inspire the answer, I’m sure.

  5. Glad you’re all right now! No worries about missing under the circumstances.
    I guess it’s time to brainstorm and play the What If? game.

  6. Can’t really suggest anything the others haven’t already. Been struggling with my own little bumps in the plot.
    Tbh. I’m just glad to hear you’re doing better.

  7. Irk! I hope things go better for you.

    Early versions of my MC were like that. She kind of just went where she was dragged. Now she’s trying to do stuff and has to keep stopping to babysit other characters. I can’t win.

    Anyway, sometimes just giving them something small to do (like a hobby) is enough to get them motivated. I’ve also gone to the perspective of another character to see how I could prod her into taking part in the world more.

    I’m a little over halfway done with NaNoWriMo, but I won’t let up yet. Just do what you can. It’s what I learned from my years of not completing it. You can’t edit nothing. XD

    • I might have to take a day off of work just to pound out a few words. πŸ˜‰

  8. Aw man. I’m glad you’re okay, and I hope the family gets well soon. (Over here, we’re fighting respiratory infections. It’s hard to get much done, right?) Once things settle a bit, I’m sure that character will find her calling.

    On a side note: I like your theme a lot, even considered it. My old theme is referred to as a framework (like Genesis) more than a theme even though it is a theme, which was too much for me to even think about updating! πŸ™‚

  9. Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry to hear of your medical issues but so glad you are okay. I hope your kiddos and husband are also doing better.
    I have hit a brick wall with my NaNo project. Sorry you are struggling. Take care and glad again you are better!!

  10. Sorry things have been problematical to say the least [oops cliche]. Hope all picks up on health, home and writing fronts.

    Doing NaNo as well and trying to say distracted from my spasms and pain. This is first year in Boise group so trying to make a good impression, even if nobody’s likely to read my Alternative History – a North America colonised by Vikings. {Had fun with a scene with Columbus finding them in the Bahamas and telling him to leave.]

  11. It’s hard when you feel stuck with your novel. I’m experiencing a bit of that myself. If you’re having trouble with a character who doesn’t do much, have you considered cutting the character? Is there one or two things that you could attribute to another character? Is there a way to round out the character so they do more, mean more to the story? Just a few thoughts. Glad I found you through IWSG. I’m also doing NaNoWriMo (dihiwi) but am also behind. http://www.dianeweidenbenner.com

  12. I’m glad you’re doing okay. I love cheesecake too. Gummi bears, not so much. You can have mine πŸ™‚ I signed up for NaNoWriMo but haven’t done anything yet so far this month, partly because I’ve been away, so you’re way ahead of me. Hang in there, it will all come together.

  13. I’ve only done NaNo once, and never say never, but most likely wouldn’t again. I have been working on writing for a set number of hours each week. That seems to work better for me than holding myself to a given word count.

  14. I’m sorry everyone’s sick! My niece is down for the count too with strep throat and it’s killing me to see her so sick. πŸ™

    That aside, don’t beat yourself up about NaNoWriMo. You can work through it! Just try not to bog yourself down. πŸ™‚

  15. Gah. Hope you and the rest of your family are doing better by now. That’s way too many health problems at once. >_< As for characters not doing things, that's unfortunately not something I've dealt with; I try really hard to make my protagonists active. Maybe look at the whole situation you've got going and ask what your character would do, instead of thinking you've already determined what she would do? I've found more than once that what I thought a character's actions should be, to serve the plot, weren't what they really would do, and things worked out once I set that right. Good luck.

  16. I know this was posted days ago, so I hope you and your family are on the mend now.

    And I’ve done thatβ€”tossed out 50k after NaNo because what I came up with didn’t actually solve the problem(s) I had when I started. May you find that doesn’t happen to you when it’s all said and done.

  17. I was reading through your Nov. update thinking I’d comment on how difficult this month has been (election etc. plus NaNo) and then I got to your update about being under anesthesia and was like, “Whoa, your life has subplots too!”
    Definitely, fam and your health is top priority. I had to skip out on NaNo this year for similar reasons (though, none that led me or the hubby to the hospital–crossing fingers), but it seemed to overwhelming to even pursue. Hang in there and if the subplots start getting convoluted/diverging then step away for a time to give your mind the chance to find some solutions. #Imwithyou

  18. Ugh, sounds like it’s been rough going at your place, so sorry! But I firmly believe cheesecake helps w/anything! πŸ˜‰ I hear you on writing crap, this first draft of mine is just a mess. The only way forward is through though…*sigh*

  19. It sounds like you’ve had some pretty bad health luck! And for the record, being under anesthesia is an excellent excuse for missing a week.

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