Saturday, March 08, 2008


I've spent most of my writing time this past week outlining the current draft of THUMB in all its hideousness. This was so that I actually knew how I had gotten to the crunch I encountered not long ago. I had already realized much needed to be changed, but without a good handle on what was there and how I should change it, forward progress was moving at either a snail's pace or propelling me backward with the force of Sheer Suck. It got so bad at one point that I realized I had two characters essentially yelling at each other over supply delivery in what amounted to a slightly more sophisticated version of "I know you are, but what am I?"

The outline helped me see a few patterns. The first being that having a villain POV in this just sucked the conflict right out, especially when I had my protags face whatever obstacle he presented in the following chapter. Nothing was building, and my poor villain was going to wax melodramatic just to build a plot that would really confound them. Also, I kept resolving big stuff "off-camera" in order to have more time for dialog that, while mostly good and character-revealing, essentially served to introduce the characters to each other, trot out their backstory, and explain what they were trying to do. Over and over again. Oh, and I realized very quickly that shifting this to first person POV drained the life and color right out of the story. (This happens to me when I try to move a story to first person POV when it doesn't need to be; the effects are startling and immediate.)

But, I also saw how there was a lot of good stuff in there, hiding under all that Suck, waiting to get teased out and buffed into gleaming awesomeness. I saw what nixing the villain's POV would do. I saw what I would miss in getting rid of a secondary character's POV. And I found a whole bunch of better ways to dump my protag into conflict and have her try to swim out on the page instead of off of it. Without wallowing in angst (mostly). Or, at least, I think I did. That's the problem with that right-brain, left-brain translation issue. The right brain is buzzing with excitement, seeing all the threads and mostly confident that the dark spots of the threads, the hidden snarls in shadow, are still going to take us to the end of the story. The left brain wants the right brain to write everything down in triplicate.

Meanwhile, I have to decide if, after setting up a new outline of what the story should look like vs what it currently is, I need to write the story to match or if I can take the story on faith and write as if I've already written it. The left brain really wants to do the latter (ya know, the model of efficiency). The right brain views the "story as it should be" outline as a new toy and is just itching to play with it. The rest of me just wants to have a complete draft of the book so I can move on with revisions as that's when both the right and left brains seem to be in harmony.

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