Internal Conflict

I’ve been making steady progress on my novella these past couple of weeks.  It will need some editing after the first draft, but nothing like Hunted in Shadow.  I haven’t been playing with HiS.  I’ve kept my hands off, but the story and its problems are there, a splinter in my mind that won’t give me any peace.  I’ve been throwing “Well maybe…” emails at my CP so often, I’m sure I’m driving her totally zonko.  She’s just too polite to say so.  I’ve had dozens of random thoughts and ideas about it–most of which involve my brain running like a hamster on speed–round and round in circles and not making any real progress.  Most of them involve changes that are very clearly a symptom of Complicatitis–my desire to do more with my heroine to give her an internal character arc.   Except none of the ideas I have really fix that problem.  It just gives her more external circumstances to deal with and react to.

I need to find a way to give her a character arc within the story I have, not by totally overhauling it and chucking the same characters into a very different plot.  Why do I want to do that?  Well, because right this second, I see very clearly all the flaws, and I’m having a hard time loving my book.  It’s not that it can’t be fixed.  It’s not that it’s a bad story.  There’s a lot good about it.  I just can’t see that right now.  It’s like how when I look in the mirror, I don’t see the tiny waist or great hair–I see the jiggly thighs and the arms that need more definition.  And for HiS, the jiggly thighs are the lack of Marley’s internal character arc.  It’s hard.  I’m not sure why it’s hard.  I have the internal stuff nailed on my hero.  His character arc is pretty solid.  So why have I made everything external for my heroine?

I guess it’s further proof that even after 65k, I’m still not truly in my heroine’s head.  This is obviously a problem.

I’m supposed to be an ex-shrink for pete’s sake!  I’m supposed to excel with the internal stuff.  But I don’t.  A quick survey of the stuff I’ve written over the last…decade I guess…shows that I’m all about having stuff happen to characters to which they react and respond.  It’s always external circumstances that spark everything.  My how that makes me feel like a newb.

Chalk it up to Things I Still Need To Work On.  Really must remember that just because there are still things to learn, doesn’t mean I haven’t learned anything.

In the meantime, I’m contemplating doing a daily journal in Marley’s head to see if I can’t–well–get into her head.  If you care to follow that, you can over at Character Cogitation.

8 thoughts on “Internal Conflict

  1. I have this problem a lot. And though I’m sorry you still have to wrestle with it, it’s nice to see that some more established authors are in the same boat sometimes. 🙂

  2. The internal journal sounds like a plan. I have the opposite problem, being too stuck in my character’s heads and not enough external action for a balanced story. Unless you are as fascinated with my characters as I am, you’ll never make it through. This WIP has all the internal stuff well organized – its the plot points and action that I’ve realized is missing.

    Either way, it’s almost like writing a second book, one that weaves in and out with your first. there has to be both, or we just get bored.

    1. The great irony is that my CP has the total opposite problem of me (more like you). She seems to typically be stuck in her characters’ heads and also has trouble moving things along with action. If we could put our brains together, in theory we’d have a really kick ass book.

      Anyway, usually characters talk to me a lot more than this one has. She’s been singularly uncommunicative–and even in the journaling I’ve done for her so far, I know it’s not REALLY her talking. Not yet. I keep asking questions. She keeps not answering. She is a therapist’s worst nightmare, this one. Closed off, shut down, distrustful. And apart from the obvious “I’m an orphan with abandonment issues, you dumbass”, I don’t know why yet. But I’ll keep asking.

      1. I read the bit you posted on the other site . . . just wondering, does SHE know why she’s shut down? Is something blocked for her that prevents her from telling even herself?

  3. NPI word count for October 2: 1072. Somehow this is just kind of flowing the last couple of days. But I have to stop writing now and finish my editing deadline for tomorrow, no matter how much I would prefer to finish this scene.

    See, this is why I need this challenge. Once I get into a scene, I don’t want to stop, so I end up with word counts in the 1700-2000 range and figure I can work on other things awhile before coming back to it. Can you say, “Needs more consistency!”? (I know that punctuation was incorrect. Ggrrr, editor mode switching on.)

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