My Protagonist And I Both Need Friends

So I’m finally working on revising my novel, Peony Warrior. I wrote the first draft last year for NaNoWriMo, did a couple things with it through the rest of winter and spring, and then used it for this summer’s Camp NaNo project. Unfortunately I hit a roadblock. I couldn’t decide what gender to make my character. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if not for the fact that the plot hinges on the main character producing a child. The story of a father in that situation is very different from a mother’s, and I liked both ideas.

Now, my older brother actually suggested I try both, an interwoven story, and I have noticed I tend to use dual protagonists for my stories, but it just wasn’t working out. Their stories were too similar to work together, but too different to condense into one. Plus I really didn’t know what to do with them outside of the original basic concept. I didn’t know how to get them from “confused and isolated single parent” to “hero.”

I have a lot of siblings, but the other one relevant to this story is my roommate. She’s three years younger than I am, and we like a lot of the same things. In particular we’ve begun watching Kamen Rider together in the afternoon. Generally, though, we just kind of exist around each other, not a lot of interaction.

Friday or Saturday night, we got to talking about stories. She writes, but she’s afraid to show it to anyone, probably because of how my siblings and I handled reacting to each other’s fiction a few years back. Point is, she does like to talk about it, and to hear what I’m up to. We started talking, and went on for about two hours. In explaining my situation to her, I figured out what I really wanted–and what would work better. I had a full arc planned for the father version, and as she pointed out, it seemed like I had more planned for him. The mother version really didn’t need to be about a mother, just end up in a position where she had to unlearn her training as a mindless member of a military horde. Maybe I’ll find a way to tell her story later.

Now that I was settled on the main story, the ideas started to come in. I had a lot of scenes or sequences planned, but as I got into revising the synopsis, I realized another problem that had been nagging at me. Most of the plot events could be placed in any order, because none of the secondary characters changed anything. If they were at all interesting or relevant, it only lasted for their “episode” in the plot. That meant my lead had to develop as a character basically by himself, which is not an easy thing to write. However, now that I’ve gotten the energy back for this story, I’m starting to come up with some engaging secondary characters. Now I just need to decide who or what the border invaders are…

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