I knew this book was going to drive me crazy. I didn't know precisely how.
The general gist of the book I'm writing is that it takes place in a dream. The arc words would be "It's a dream, but you're not dreaming." Figuring out how the dream works and why the various odd events are happening is one of the main sources of conflict in the story. It's also one of the main sources of my usual over-writing as the characters reflect, over and over, that they're dealing with some very strange stuff.
I love knowing that I'll be cutting out massive chunks of dialogue and internal monologue when it comes time to edit, really I do. >_<
But knowing that the world itself is a dream has led to some interesting character issues. Part of being in the dream is that, whether the characters realize it or not, they act without filters or deception, showing who they truly are inside. It's not something that's said outright, but I've been working on this thing for about a week and a half and it's clear that's what's happening.
It's been a very strange way to look at characters. Most of the time, when I do character work, I write about two pages of notes per person, really getting into who they are and figuring out as much of their past that I need to, leaving room for surprises that come up over the course of the story. For this book, I have two to three paragraphs per character, nothing more. That struck me as odd when I was plotting, but at the same time, I didn't feel like I needed to add anything more.
The dream world captures them as their purest essence, as exactly who they want to be.
I realized this when I was writing the first antagonist, who's greatly antagonistic because they think they're the greatest being who ever drew breath and everyone should recognize their perfection and bow down before them. They're the sort of person who, in the real world, would hide behind false smiles and little lies, the type who would flatter people to their faces and mock them behind their backs.
Not a nice person at all, to be sure. But there's something interesting about writing someone like that when they can't hide it, when it's out in the open, and when they find it incredibly hard to deal with the fact that not everyone sees them the same way they do. It's also interesting when the world crashes down around them and they realize that everything they've had is just a dream, and they have to face the real world again.
I admit, writing that scene was more than a little satisfying.
The real challenge of this is going to be at the end, though, when the main character has to deal with a sudden and significant change, and only then will they realize that they've been acting as how they truly want to be, not the way they usually are when awake. I still don't know how they're going to deal with that. I really don't know how I'm going to get it across without getting all wordy and explanation-heavy.
Then again, not knowing how to deal with it pretty much describes my entire time working on this book since I first had the idea. And it's coming along pretty well so far, surprising me all the while. So I'm looking forward to seeing how things end up going.
Even if I still just say "It's insane" when people ask me what the book is about.