When Characters Revolt

Kind of like “When Animals Attack,” but different. when-animals-attack-with-lightsabers

All right. Attempting no spoilers here, but I want you to be on the look-out for something as you read Waxing Moon.

I know everyone’s writing process is different, but here’s mine. I start the book knowing the general plot–the beginning, some of the points in the middle, and where it needs to end. And I know the arc of character development that happens through the story.

But I don’t always know exactly how everything moves from point A to point J to point Z.

While writing Waxing Moon, I experienced a moment when one of my characters did something utterly unanticipated. I don’t think telling you who will be a spoiler. Eliza. My Eliza–character born from my own head and heart–all of a sudden did something that left me in shock, even as my fingers flew over the keyboard. I was writing and at the same time thinking, “OMG, did she really do that? Holy crap, that’s what she’s doing? What does this mean? What happens now? How does this change everything?”

When I caught my breath, I sat back and saw it clearly. Of course that’s what Eliza would do. She made the only possible choice. She did exactly what she would do. And yet….and yet until I wrote it, I hadn’t realized that’s what needed to happen. I hadn’t realized that’s what her character demanded.

Her choice makes all the difference in the book. And I love that she wrote herself in those moments.

There’s nothing better than the moment you realize your characters are, in a sense, alive with their own demands, needs, and constraints.

Okay. So now when you read Waxing Moon, you’ll have to tell me (in private, no spoilers!) which moment you think Eliza surprised me!

Planet of the Apes

Yes, I’m really posting about Planet of the Apes. Gary and I wanted to see the new POTA movie, but neither of us had seen either of the reboots: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apesapes

This weekend, we had a bit of a movie marathon (is two a marathon?) and watched them both in preparation.

First: we both LOVED Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Now, I did have a few suspension of belief issues (Really? A laboratory of scientists and no one notices Bright Eyes is pregnant? And after she dies, the lab guy extracts the baby with no one noticing that either? And Will just raises this chimp for years at his house and the neighbors and others know, but that’s not a legal issue?). But I can forgive the movie all of that, because it did such a damned fine job engendering empathy for the apes. I loved the apes! I hated the humans! I imagine every person in the movie theater rooting for the apes to completely overthrow humankind. We deserve it.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, though? Blah. Different director and producer. Fighting, fighting, fighting, and some more fighting, and did I mention there’s a lot of fighting? And very static characters–almost character templates–who you don’t really care about one way or the other. Yeah, some are obviously “good” and some are “evil” and I nominally liked the “good” ones better. But I didn’t really care. Even Caesar, who I loved in the first move, turned kind of meh in the second.

And here’s the other thing. The second movie was so fighting blah blah flat fighting meh fighting that it really highlighted something true of both movies:

Where are the women? Like…do we need to fill out a missing person report? In Rise, we missing_person_flyer_two_pictureshave the love interest, who’s also a veterinarian (one point for STEM field). I believe she might be the only woman with a speaking role in the entire movie. No–WAIT. There’s the two women/sex interests with beers in the zoo/prison. I think they say a few words.

That’s literally it. None of the scientists or lab workers are women. None of the military or police people are women. There might be some other women floating decoratively in the background, but…

In Dawn, we have the nurse/mom-figure/wife–who, by the way, I couldn’t stop thinking of as Elizabeth from The Americans and I kept wondering why she didn’t just go solve the whole problem by herself, because Elizabeth is BAD ASS. We have Caesar’s wife, who might have a name? And might have signed a couple of things?, but primarily gave birth, got sick, and then got better. None of the human leaders are women. None of the human fighters with speaking roles are women. None of the human tech/science people are women.

Lack of gender inclusion and representation doesn’t mean a movie has no value. Look–I said I loved Rise. But it does make me wonder: How can directors and producers be so blind to the fact that they’re producing something that ignores the actions/subjecthood of half the population? What’s up with that? Why is the male the norm, still, in 2017?

We’re going to see the new movie soon. I’ll let you know what we think.

T-13 days until Waxing Moon releases!

The summer has flown by and Waxing Moon‘s release date is imminent! I’m pretty excited, because I love this book even more than Dark Moon Wolf. 

Writing the second book in a series allows you to dig even deeper into world-building and character development.

For the next two weeks, I’m going to have daily short blog posts that highlight things about Waxing Moon, the writing process, and my characters. And, well, I’ll probably throw some other topics in the mix. Like finger amputations. And GenCon.

For now, let me leave the buy link for Waxing Moon! The e-book’s up for pre-order now! The physical book will be up soon.