Friday, October 15, 2010

Big Boy Rules

I’m reading BIG BOY RULES by Steve Fainaru, and it’s changing everything. In a good way. First of all, it’s a compelling read about private security contractors in Iraq, and the fact that unlike the military, the only rules they’re subject to are big boy rules (i.e. you’re a big boy now, you know right from wrong). It’s pretty scary, actually. And incredibly fascinating.

I’ve read several books about PSCs, and so far this is the most engaging. It sucked me right in because the author is embedded with these guys and the story itself is very personal. I’m having a hard time putting it down to work on my own book.

But there’s another reason it’s affecting my WIP. My hero—along with many of the secondary characters—is a mercenary just like those in Fainaru’s book, and the author is giving me such great insight into what makes them tick. Until now I was struggling to understand my hero, but I’m starting to see how he can be both Charmer and Warrior.

The only bad part is that I have some serious reworking to do in part one of my book, which I just finished this week. Part one, that is, not the book. In fact, since I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time (last year I was in edit mode), I might try rewriting part one instead of revising it. Now that I’m getting a better handle on the character, I think I’ll have better results that way. It’ll keep me from trying to hold on to pretty words that should really get the axe.

That's my own big boy rule.

Has your research ever forced you to rethink your work or start over?


Callie James said...

YES! Back when I was writing romantic suspense only, I had a huge hostage negotiation scene in my recently finished book. Before I tried to query, I put the books down I'd read regarding hostage negotiation and asked a real hostage negotiator a few questions.

Needless to say, the scene had to be completely revamped. The difference, I guess, is how often book rules apply and what these negotiators actually do in reality.

Gwen Hernandez said...

That can be so hard, especially if it changes the direction of the story, or an important piece that your plot or premise hinged on.

But I'm sure the book is better off for the realism you gave it.

I'm just so happy to finally start understanding my hero. He was giving me fits. I'll willingly rewrite to get him right. =)

Thanks, Callie!

M.V.Freeman said...

I certainly have! Although, I in the worlds I create I can stretch the truth just a wee bit.

Still, if you are writing contemporary I bet your story will come across more vivid and tense (In all the right areas) after reading this book.

Now I'm interested to see how you are going to write your hero....(Like you I'm willing to rewrite to get the hero right!)

Gwen Hernandez said...

I sure hope it helps, Mary. I'm excited to see how it goes. I don't think my hero's qualities will change so much as I'll understand why he's that way, and hopefully be better able to convey it to the reader. I love MCs with layers (like Shrek and a parfait), but they're harder to write.

It seems to me that even in your world, you have to do your homework. People have expectations of the paranormal worlds too. And no matter what, you have to keep it consistent. All the genres have their difficulty.

Good luck with yours!

Christine said...

Now I want to read that book but then I'm not writing about mercenaries. Sounds soooo interesting. And yes, research has changed my approach to a story (and I research during and after the project is done so makes revision so much fun!).

Great post!

Debbie Kaufman said...

Sounds like a great book. After going to Southern Magic's workshop on Every Gun is Not a Glock, I had to come home and rewrite a couple of scenes to be a little more reality-based.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Thanks, Christine. I highly recommend it for some insight into the mil guys too. In this case the guys are there for money, but also because they don't know how to be civilians anymore. Lots of PTSD and such.

It's only 217 pages, so if you get a chance, you'll fly through it. I got mine at the library, but will probably buy it for my reference shelf.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Debbie: I was so disappointed I couldn't go to that workshop. Being in VA now has kind of put a damper on participating.

I have a friend here who's Secret Service and former police, including DEA task force. He's been amazingly helpful at messing with--no, no, I mean--helping me with weapons, language, and scenarios. ;-)

Jeanie said...

There's no doubt reading improves your writing and can provide understanding of your characters. Reading a book by Shannon McKenna right now and, boy, does she ever write alpha! Plan to use her for inspiration.

Louisa Cornell said...

Writing historicals I have definitely had to change some things after doing my research. I am starting to do more research BEFORE I start the story.

BUT, the funny thing is that sometimes the characters themselves make the rule changes and I have no choice but to go with them!

Saw a great blog that said the difference between good writers and great writers is that good writers do try to read as much as they can, but mostly in their own genre. Great writers read all the time and they read everything!

Just finished reading Oogy - The Dog Only a Family Could Love about a dog used as a bait dog for fighting dogs who lost half his face at the age of three months and was found dying in a cage in a drug house. The book is written by the man who, with his wife and twin adopted sons, adopted Oogy. Strange as it sounds, I am seeing traits I want my heroes to have in this dog's amazing story.

Reading now? Bram Stoker's Dracula, a favorite of mine since I was twelve.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Good point, Jeanie. Reading of any kind can affect your writing for the better. I just finished The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne and her unexpected twists got me thinking a lot.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Louisa: It's interesting that you're getting ideas for character traits from that book. I think the universal nature of personality means we can get our inspiration from anywhere. That's what's so fun.

And, yeah, I put my writing on hold for a few days while I finish and digest the book and rework my character's background and persona. Reading this ahead of time would probably have helped a lot. :-}