It’s not enough to just blather a million words and declare myself content. In an ideal world, I’m either writing great first drafts or learning why my current WIP sucks. Which is this case this time around.

Sometimes it helps to study something that works, and figure out why your own manuscript is falling short. What is the competition doing that you’re not?

In this case, several things. I’m about to finish the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and man am I enjoying it. It’s over the top, it’s fun, it features excellent and memorable characters, and what’s best, is tightly plotted.

So what can I learn from their success? I sat down and traced how the show’s plot developed, marking down each character’s goals and how they were set against each other, and right there I saw a gaping hole in my own novel. Each character in Spart. has his own passions, loves and hatreds. Not mild infatuations either, but overriding emotions that govern their lives. Hatreds so deep they curdle the soul, loves so powerful they render all obstacles insignificant. Ambition that reaches to the heavens, jealousy that knows no bounds.

These passions established, the writers than set all the characters at cross purposes, so that what one strives for directly effects two or three others. As the show comes to a close, these conflicts come to a head, so that now in the last episode everything stands set to conflagrate.

Lesson: each character must have not only an individual spark, but a purpose. Those purposes must then be considered, and implemented in a way that best interacts with the others.

Current reality: But for my hero my other characters lack these driving purposes. There is Tharok, forging a path toward Orc unity, and then everybody trailing along behind him, watching to see how it turns out.

OK, need to run. Sorry this post is so thin–ran out of time!