(AKA: Oh, the lies I tell myself...)
Well, I'm well into my third draft, and my mood varies from foolish optimism to dismal catastrophising (new word!) from day to day. It's an interesting time, though. I'm really glad I only have to do this once per book, but I also doubt that it's quite the same every time. It's just a challenge to be SO close to being finished and still not quite able to make it there. And I'm definitely not there yet.
I decided to do another series of character outlines to help me refine and shade my characters a bit more. Generally, this is done through by creating a backstory for characters through a series of questions.
Holly Lisle, who I've mentioned before, has a good article on character development on her site, as well as a checklist for creating characters. I also add a few other variables to this list, like; what's under your character's bed and in their fridge, how to they dress, what kind of sense of humour they have, any tics or habits, and lastly, how they change during the course of the book, and why.
The point is, naturally, to be sure that I've stayed true to my characters and followed them through through their character arc. By doing this it helps show what I've missed. I've already found out that I have missed some stuff, but it's fixable. (Unlike my book addiction, which continues apace.) I also picked up a book called "Creating Unforgettable Characters" at my latest book buying extravaganza, and it seems excellent so far.
Story is all about conflict and character, and I like reading (and writing) about everyday stuff that everyone can relate to. It's, I think, an interesting challenge to write - convincingly - about why you're going to leave your partner/husband/wife, etc. when all they did was screw up your plane tickets.
Speaking of plane tickets, I think that The Amazing Race is - if you'll excuse the redundancy - an amazing place to look for conflict and characters. The Amazing Race, if you haven't heard of it, deals with the seemingly mundane subject of personal relationships and international travel. Throw in sleep deprivation and wacky tasks and you end up with a truly impressive level of conflict. They've had contestants so evil that they got death threats after the show was over. And it all deals with seemingly innocuous stuff that really can bring the average Joe/Jane to tears; I once put my head down on a check-in desk in Helsinki and took some quiet time, after being informed that I had been put on standby. This was the last straw in a very long chain of events, and ten years later I still remember it vividly.
And in another entry in my "gee, maybe I'm not co-ordinated" file, I'm currently reading through a copy of "In Cold Blood" that was published in the late 60's. It managed to last 35 years with the dust jacket, and I ripped it right off the second time I picked it up. I'm...not good.
On a happier note, it's beautiful here today - I hope the sun is shining where you are too.