While working on the first book in the Strickland Diaries yesterday, I realised that the way I'm writing it mirrors to a large extent what happens in the story. I've had a number of structural problems since I first started working on it a few years ago, but I am finally in a place where writing it now feels right -- the story feels like it is being told in the right way.
There are several reasons, I think, why it took me such a long time to get a handle on how the story needs to come through. I had problems with perspective, changing from first, to third, back to first, and finally ending up with all but one character being written in third.
This happened for several reasons, the main one being that I wanted to create an additional viewpoint of the protagonist from the perspectives of those around her, this viewpoint being shaped by events of the story and the observations of those around her, while the reader gets another perspective of the protagonist through her actions and subjective observations.
I have ideas about why the story works this way. To a large degree it has to do with thematic content. The story is an interpolation of magic and science, often leading me to have to speculate about how interactions between the two will pan out. A lot of this feels similar to the way in which the different informed/uninformed aspects of the different character perspectives affect events.
It's a lot fun -- and sometimes surprising -- to see what characters assume about others when they don't have the complete picture. What's more fun is leading the reader along with these assumptions, and then making characters do something completely "out of character", when really, all you're doing is revealing another personality trait.
This is definitely something I have assimilated from my own reading. I am quickly bored by characters whose actions I can predict. I want characters to surprise me. I'm not entirely sure I agree with the notion of "out of character"... I can only speak for myself, but in 36 years, I have done plenty of things that would by others be considered "out of character". Frequently, these actions were pivotal in some way or another, giving me greater insight into my own sense of self, my identity.
I'm currently standing on 60K. The book being the first in a series, the end result will probably be around 80/85K. Soon, then.