Over the last week or two, I've been working on another story. It's basically an expansion of the very last Flash-fiction-a-day 1 entry; the story on how Facyr and Cassandra met.
I've also been trying to read some of my old stories - just a few glances - for really critical flaws. And oh boy, did I ever find them.
I hope I could avoid the big problem, a little bit, in this new story. Of course, fixing it up retroactively is a bit difficult - but I hope I lessened the damage.
There's one big problem I found with some of my character designs. It was actually serious enough that I had to scrawl some thoughts on the edges of my printouts, just to further define what's wrong...
For me, the problem is not the character development; I think I can make the characters interesting outside of the stories. The bigger problem is what I do with the characters in the stories. Here's my rambling, from the last page of my second review printout of the story (2007-07-15):
"Things we've learned today, is there such thing? YES, THERE IS. A good character in a story interacts with its environment: causes other characters to react, reacts to other characters. Facyr is an interesting character in this story; Cassandra is an information dumper who isn't interesting."
From the third printout (2007-07-17):
"The character shouldn't be like Sun; radiant, warming, yet something that you forget is there at all..."
So my problem is that the characters tend to be observers. I have learned a bit; I think the characters interact a little bit better in the upcoming story.
Another thing I learned is that I really need to weed out the Boring Explanations. Something was "much improved over the days". Yeah - how improved? "...just greeted him like they always did". Yeah - but the reader doesn't know how. Also, there's improvement that needs to be done with the character interactions outside of the spoken comments; I had to add a ton of stuff; I rely too much on the dialogue!
I noted that if I would rewrite Shadows over Nothross right now, it would get quite different weighting, and quite different phasing. My first gut instinct when I reread the story was that one should never make stuff up as they go, but the empirical evidence from this story is more like "you can make stuff up as you go, but you will probably find plot holes the size of your fist; don't get scared if you need a truckload of concrete to fill them up, and don't be lazy about plugging them. Don't be afraid about rewrites."
The last part is what I really needed with the new story. A few huge chunks were rejected... the funny thing is, I crossed out a whole big chunk of the story and somehow, in the next revision, the word count had jumped up by 1000. So if anyone's reading this: Don't be afraid to throw stuff out if something better shows up. I put the junked bits on hold; perhaps I'll use them later.