Welcome to my series, The Editing Diaries!
In a nutshell, I’m editing my story LASER and bringing you guys along for the ride. I want you to see how my process for editing novels works (and maybe I’ll figure out my process with you). So, buckle your seatbelts, we’re going on a trip!
So, this edition of The Editing Diaries is being paired with Inquisitive Wednesday and Beautiful People.
In a nutshell, I’m still having to figure out a certain character who shall not be named in this sentence.
But, oddly enough, I am not interviewing him in Beautiful People.
I realized something, the other day. Part of the problem with Nick? Even with conflict, he’s still two-dimensional. But why? Because I don’t know him inside out. I don’t know him well enough to get inside his head and see what makes him tick. I need to know what he’s thinking about and doing and what scares him and where he draws the lines. Everyone is selfish about something– where is Nick selfish? And when does he give up what he wants for someone he loves?
I may not need to know all this, but I need to know what he sounds like. I need to hear his voice so I can bring him to life.
Hopefully, interviewing his older brother (who currently doesn’t even have a cameo in LASER) will bring out some of Nick’s personality.
By the way, I need to explain something. You see, Robyn is my doppelganger. I stopped going by Robyn online about a week ago, but I knew Nick had a sister who was basically me. Anyway.
Imagine, if you will, a small, but cozy living room. There are two arm chairs, facing each other, a coffee table between them, and a sofa off to the side. On the table are mugs of coffee and a plate of cookies and a tape recorder. In one chair, sits me, armed with a pen and a notebook. In the other chair sits a young man about two years older than me. Gold-ish hair, bright blue eyes, a little bit of a beard. He’s pretty muscular, too, but he’s been laughing and smiling in such a way that I am quite certain that I am in no danger. On the sofa, there’s a girl who is my age, also armed with a notebook and pen, and a boy who’s about eighteen. I lean forward and turn on the tape recorder.
(Katie)So, why don’t you start by introducing yourself and your siblings?
(Dustin)Well, I’m Dustin Elliot. And these are my two younger siblings, Robyn and Nick.
(K)And what do you do for a living, Dustin?
(D)Well, I’m currently working for a contracting company.
(R)He’s always had a thing for tools.
(D)Nothing like a good hammer!
(K)Yes. So, let’s get out of the small talk and go deeper.
(D)Yes, of course. What do you want to know?
What things do you value most in life?
Well, my family, of course. My mother, my sister and brother.
And your girlfriend.
I don’t have a girlfriend, Robyn.
There’s a reason for that.
What are your core values?
Well, you could sum it up by saying chivalry. By that, I mean like the code medieval knights followed. Those ideals.
Do you consider yourself a knight?
No. Not since I was a kid. But things like courage and justice and courtesy are still important to me.
Hasn’t been that long since you considered yourself a knight.
Working in LASER’s apprentice program is hardly the same thing, Nick.
You were in the program?
It’s hardly relevant. But yes.
What do you consider your “Achilles heel”?
He’ll give up his code of chivalry in exchange for black licorice.
Well, one might say I have a weakness for it. But that’s hardly what you…
It’s true. He gave away my hiding spot in hide-and-go-seek for licorice when we were little.
How do you remember that? You were five!
You should all know that I am thoroughly enjoying this. But maybe we should just move on.
Do you get nightmares? If so, why or what of?
Ha. Not sure I can answer this one. Yes, I do get nightmares, but it’s usually because I ate something odd before bed or if I just have a lot on my mind.
What is one major event that helped shape who you are?
He was born a perfect human being, of course.
Well, let’s reword the question. Where did this code of chivalry come from? Why do you follow it?
Well… when I was about 11 and getting to the point where I couldn’t wait to turn 14 so I could join LASER’s apprentice program, my dad took me to work with him one day. Another company like LASER was there–um, I don’t remember what they were called. Monsters Inc., perhaps.
That’s a Pixar film.
And LASER is a beam of intense light, Robyn. Back to the point, there were boys from this other company’s apprentice program there. And while they were possibly better trained than the LASER apprentices, they were also… they weren’t kind. They were mean to the LASER apprentices and basically bullies and they cheated. They were being taught that it didn’t matter what you did as long as the job got done. Now, disclaimer for this interview, the head of apprentices at this company has since been fired. But anyway, when I was telling my dad about this later, he told me that it’s better not to be brutal. It’s better to temper your work as a Ranger with kindness and courtesy and honor than to coldly get the job done. The rest is history.
Do you suffer from any phobias? Does it affect your life in a big way?
This is an interesting question.
Um… well, it kind of goes back to how I was in LASER’s apprentice program. And this was… what would you say, Robyn? 7 years ago?
Something like that.
Yes. Well, our dad was killed in a werewolf attack. It… it left me with quite a fear of lycanthropes. Of course, that’s just a perfectly reasonable fear.
It made you quit LASER. And it made Nick crazy.
Not actually crazy!
If you don’t mind me asking… what kind of crazy?
He’s prejudiced against werewolves, now. And not just prejudiced. He wants them all dead.
Sheesh! Make me sound like I’m just going to condone flat out murder, why don’t you?
He also writes purely out of catharsis. Which… in a discovery writer like him, causes a lot of disjointed character arcs and all the villains are werewolves.
See if you ever get to read my stuff again…
As you can see, it impacts my life a good deal. Especially when it comes down to these two hooligans.
How do you handle a crisis?
Concealing any panic I have and trying to think through the problem in calm and organized manner.
To quote Tigger, “Cool, calm, and collectivated”.
Do you have a temper?
…Well, I guess that answers that. Thank you, siblings. I’d like to speak to you both after this interview.
Are you easily persuaded or do you need more proof?
About big life issues and small life issues and whether or not the theory of relativity is actually relevant…
…I’m going to assume you meant in general, since my sister is going into one of her weird phases. I generally need proof before I can be convinced of something.
What is your biggest guilty pleasure/secret shame?
Looking for juicy details, are we? Well, I promised to do this interview, so…
Perhaps your siblings would like to see if they know?
Poetry. He writes pretty little poems and scares off girls with them.
I do not! You really have no idea what you’re talking about, Robyn.
Singing in the shower.
We all sing in the shower.
Yes, but he could be on Broadway with the way he does it. Playing every role in Les-Mis. And Wicked. And The King and I. And…
My guilty pleasure is beating up my younger brother after he makes comments like this.
[scuffle] [tape recorder is turned off]
Well, while I am still not sure what Dustin’s guilty pleasure is, I do know that this interview worked miraculously with figuring out Nick’s personality. (Don’t question, just roll with it.) If you made it to the end of this post, virtual cookies for you! And now, I must go make dinner.