At the moment the story is a very ugly, fragmented thing because I keep chopping and changing scenes, rethinking what my characters are like and what they are going to do to affect the storyline.
And I'm loving it.
My baddie is coming through strongest as a character at the moment...I seem to be drawn to characters with a nasty side more easily for some reason. He's got a shiny veneer but there are hidden depths and desires to him. My main character is beginning to show herself to be feisty and impetuous and brave...but I can't 'see' her yet. In fact, I've no idea what either of them looks like.
Y'see, in the past, I've often looked for images first when dealing with characters - found a picture that is similar to how I've imagined them looking. (For example, a certain character in StarMark was based a lot on Richard Armitage's Guy of Gisborne character in the BBC series Robin Hood...)
With this new story, I've not jumped straight into finding visuals. Instead, the act of handwriting into a notebook, the constant playing with ideas, the note making and question asking seems to have embedded the character's character traits in my head and in the story - all before I have a visual impression. It's a different way to approach the project, but it seems to be paying off in terms of getting to know my characters more quickly.
What interests me most in all of this process though, is how my approach to writing has changed in the last few years. Of course you improve the more you write, especially if you have taken on board comments and critiques and actively seek to become a better author. I just wouldn't have expected to have pushed the visual aspect away so quickly when I've relied on it so heavily in the past. Does it mean that I'm better at getting into character, at capturing them in words? I hope so.
I think there are other factors at play as well though. I've learnt that I need to take my time, to embed the storyline in my head before I start writing the story proper. It doesn't mean I've turned into a planner; I'm still very much a pantser at heart, working with my gut and following where something feels right and leaving it when it feels wrong.
I've also learned that I absolutely have to drive the story through my character's actions; just yesterday evening, I asked the rest of the Squidges which of two scenarios they preferred. A character who is asked to deliver an item, or the same character who steals said item to try to deliver it themselves. Guess which one got the vote...
All I know is that this is the most character driven story I have attempted and it seems to be flying.
Fingers crossed I can see this one through to the end.