If you're interested, here's the link to the first lesson I learned this National Novel Writing Month.
Now, on to Lesson #2 -
Regular readers of my stories are aware that a lot of what I write is dark, maybe edgy, often sad. (Don't ask me why. I don't know and I'm not sure I really want to know...) This NaNo novel is no exception. There are some funny parts and lighter moments (if not, I'd be under my desk, weeping) but there's one particular scene - a violent crime - that gave me pause. It makes sense within the framework of the story and by the end, a lot of questions regarding the crime have been answered. But that wasn't good enough for me. This horrible scene has to make sense to the reader the first time it's read. Not later in the story. Not after some things are clarified. Right then.
You've probably heard phrases along the line of "a senseless act of violence" and "a crime with no motive," right? To us, the outsiders, the spectators, that's how it looks. To most of the victims in my novel, to the other characters, that's how this scene looks - senseless, unmotivated. That's fine. But the reader needs to see more than that, even if just a little.
The reader knows the bad guy is a creep but is he that much of a creep? Yes. But I have to show the reader that beforehand, show how one thing leads to another then leads to another and so on, until this guy thinks he has every right to do what he's about to do. This horrible thing that's about to happen makes sense to him. And so, even if the reader would never see and do things this way, it still makes sense to the reader that this guy would behave like this.
I read somewhere once that the antagonist is really the hero of his own story, that he has a reason for everything he does and says and wants, etc. So, in his mind, my bad guy is justified in what he is about to do. It makes sense to him. And, hopefully, it makes sense to the reader.
(Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to crawl under my desk and try to figure out a way to stop this creep....or at least figure out a scene where he gets severely punished...)