Stephen King said something to the effect of "if you are bored writing the story than imagine what it is like reading it". I was bored writing the chapter I was working on, it was that simple. So on Wednesday I started mulling over what was wrong with that chapter. I always think better when I'm walking, so during my breaks at work I went over the issues in my head during my stroll around the building in the crisp autumn air.
I realized that my main protagonist had been relegated to a supporting character? How did I manage that? Easy, the item that all the other characters wanted was no longer in his possession. The key source of conflict was now moved to another character. My protagonist was left doing errand boy work (which could shape up to be exciting and all, but seriously who wants to read about an errand boy in a supernatural thriller?).
What is kind of funny is that I subconsciously realized what I was doing. I actually had quite a few moments where the character was thinking that he really couldn't let this object go to any of the factions that wanted it. The thing was too damn dangerous. But then I had one of the factions sweet talk it over to them. If I do end up going in that direction it should happen in the final third of the book, not at the half way point.
Instead it would be better to stretch the tension with my protagonist still in possession of the item, still being pursued and confronted by those that want it, and still be afraid of losing it. That is where the conflict lies and that is what drives the action.
Once I got that figured out I suddenly felt like I had the momentum back in my story. I was excited to start writing again.
One small problem, for this new story path to work, I'd basically have to scrap the last five chapters I'd worked on. We are talking about roughly 12,800 words. Ouch. But that was the best place to have the story switch gears to this more action oriented path. Suddenly those three chapters of exposition were gone. Some of that fun dialogue was gone, but also some of that bad dialogue that was essentially me just spewing out lines while looking for the hook. I tend to do that and it's a bad habit.
For NaNoWriMo purposes I'm not going to cut out that chunk for my word count. It is still words I typed for the novel and I'm actually still going to use portions of it. Some of the discussions, settings and confrontations will still occur, but they will be modified and happen in different places. It won't be wasted, its more like a deleted scene in a film, one that director thought was working, but was actually too clunky and was replaced by something more streamlined and engaging (at least that is what I hope it is).
And that is my final fear. Self doubt is my biggest issue as a fiction writer. Mr. King also said something to the effect of "your initial instinct on the story is usually the right one". Of course that word "usually" is sitting in there. I'm rusty on writing long fiction, and I knew I'd probably make some kind of storytelling mistake. I'm glad I caught it and figured out what the problem was.
Tonight's writing went great. I had a few interruptions but I still managed to write beyond the minimum, and frankly I'm still wanting to work on the story, but I'm just stopping because it is so late. That is a great sign. I've got several scenes planned out, and I'm looking forward to writing them. All in all this is a great learning experience and since I documented it in this blog I can always come back to it if this happens again with another novel.
Music for this run:
- i Robot (soundtrack) - Marco Beltrami
- Pan's Labyrinth (soundtrack) - Javiere Navarrese (Holy Crap is this a great score!)
Final Word Count: 42200