Sunday, August 1, 2010

Moving Up and Moving On

Ever have one of those damn stories that just seemed to stall on you? Where the characters went one way while you were trying to write them going another and somewhere in the middle you both gave up? Well, I'm here to tell you, there is hope.

The second novel in my Ruins and Relics saga has been giving me fits since I started outling it last year. The first few chapters went swimmingly enough, but the further I got into the meat of the story the more my characters were pulling away from the expected plot. And the more I noticed my motivations were weak and characters illogical (to quote Spock). What in the hell was I going to do? I was already 50K into the book and needed to salvage both the work and my sanity. I got so disgusted with it I hated to even open the file - oh, yeah , like that's helpful. I actually wrote another novella while avoiding fixing the problem. How's that for committment? My poor characters deserved better. I could do better.

Welcome to the world of post-surgical recovery, where I had nothing to do for a few days but write long hand and think about where my stories were going.

And on the sixth day...epiphany.

What my story lacked was one specific character who had an agenda that was totally separate from everyone elses, but still connected to the main conflict or plot premise. I found was I was looking for (though I won't tell that here, you have to read the book to find out) and I think it works. Of course it required me to go back through the work and add in new scenes here and there to place the new character at stragetic points throughout the book and lace his story in with the existing pieces. Kind of like having two pieces of fabric and find a needle and thread to sew them together. Sometimes that's what it takes to pull a story from the pits of despair to something that's fun and intriguing to read. We'll see if I pulled it off to any degree of effectiveness when I turn it in to my editor later this fall.

At least now I have a clear direction. All the other small problems I can fix in rewrite.

How have you dealt with these problems. Do you try your damnedest to salavage or do you throw in the towel and start with something new?



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