Is it still an epiphany if someone else tells you something and you realize they’re probably right? I have been going slowly and not particularly quietly crazy today. Blame it on the PMS without chocolate and lack of sleep. In addition to the two major plot threads I dropped the ball on, I realized today that Marin and Wyatt don’t have an interesting relationship. I made it entirely too easy and happy for them. There’s no conflict! No real impediment to their relationship. They are, for all intents and purposes, together at 200 pages. That’s hardly interesting reading for anyone not enjoying them as brain dolls. And I have a terrible habit of doing this. I’m always rushing to put them together because I’m a total sap and I like them that way. This is something I need to learn to get OVER and think beyond. As Pot pointed out, when I was mouthing off that I should be learning from my mistakes instead of making the same ones over, it’s not precisely a mistake. It’s a way I have of thinking about it, and that’s got to change.
The whole thing came about because Pot was telling me about some really fascinating conflict between two of her brain dolls characters, and I was thinking that until external circumstances present them, there’s really no conflict between the two of them. This is a bad sign. And I started thinking, oh, well they’re supposed to have relationship issues of some kind. What are they? I didn’t know the answer and went off into a panic that I was going to have to start the entire book over from the beginning.
Pot, thankfully, was the voice of reason.
Undoubtedly, what you do with characterization will change and enhance whatever plot you come up with. But I think you can do that work in your head and in notes and put in a line that says from this point on, Marin is known by the author to have issue X, see notes [link]. Then go on as though this has been the case always. When you have a thought: well, then this would have happened, go ahead and find that point and put in a red line. Marin’s issue would have changed this scene in [the following briefly outlined way] see notes [link] for details. Then go back and add those things on the next draft.
See how sensible she is? So while I haven’t written but one line today, I’ve been giving a lot of thought this afternoon to exactly what all these various relationship issues are. I’ve been figuring out what the relationship history is for both Marin and Wyatt. And I think between the two of us, we’ve actually come up with some interesting stuff. A lot of it will be backstory that won’t be directly revealed in this one, but it will sort of inform how they behave, which is what I need to know. I’ll have to give some more thought to how this will affect things and where things need to change. But it’s starting to fill in some gaps–not the original ones–those I still need to figure out, but it’s a start. I’ve got to push through the Valley of the Shadow of the Middle and come out on the other side.
Middles are always hard. Cause we have to keep coming up with interesting plot ideas and usually we have the beginning and ending driving us, so the middle is this wasteland that we just flounder in for about a hundred or so pages.
Well, look how smart I sound. I need to actually finish and sell a book so that I can move on to my career as a writing coach–undoubtedly something I’m much better suited for. As you pointed out, maybe it was in the next post, it is easier to find that stuff in others’ work, although I don’t think my internal editor shies away much from bashing my own. Anyway, you need to do likewise, as I will need references.