Saturday, April 28, 2012

When to skip the garlic

The little light on the front of my muse's Magickal Crockpot of Ideas has finally come on, indicating that something's ready. My muse forces me to wait until the time has come, for she will give me nothing before its time.

Royalty Free Stock Photography Cook with crockpotJust as well, because premature, green ideas don't taste right. They're crunchy when they should be soft and smooth, bitter when they should be sweet. It's hard to wait for the "done" light to come on when you have a writing craving that lasts for months. I've been trying to figure out how to make the plot work for my novel-in-progress, but that's been the problem: I've been trying to make it work when I need to let it work itself out.

So a few days ago, totally out of the blue when these things often happen, it occurred to me that the place to end the novel is right after Neal confronts the mayor about why rebuilding hasn't happened yet. The mayor, the city council, and maybe other groups will act when before they weren't willing to work together to solve problems.

Readers will see how Neal has grown up and become completely comfortable with who he is, and that he's become a galvanizing force.

And he really doesn't like that description. He's always listening in when I blog. "Somebody has to set a fire under the political machine to get it to do something useful. Lots of people can do that. You just have to get up and do it."

Eavesdropper. Anyway, I'm going to try breaking the plot into parts. I've come up against a period of time (or two) in which the natural forward momentum of the plot sputtered. Because the members of Critique Circle can be so helpful, I posted a question about handling plot issues and one person (I believe it was Clarksvill, so I owe her a lot) said not to be afraid to consider using parts.

That had never occurred to me before. I'd been operating under the assumption that I had to show every major step of Neal's journey to the end of the novel. I realized that by trying to find something to fill that plot void, I was trying to do something I've said never to do: force the plot.

So I'm going to use breaks but judicious ones. Only two or three. I also need to cut some stuff from near the end which is already painful and I haven't even started yet, but it goes back to something else I've said that I got from Robert Kernen's Building Better Plots - not every good idea has to be used. It's true. Garlic is a wonderful thing but it doesn't belong in every dish. The reason that some of the garlic in my muse's Crockpot has settled to the bottom is that it doesn't belong.

It's up to me to find all the stuff at the bottom of the Crockpot. Now that I know about it, I feel better able to tackle the issue.

Tomorrow, I'm back on Six Sentence Sunday!

Neal wants me to close today by asking everybody to remember the Los Angeles riots of 20 years ago. It wasn't just a race problem, it was very much a class problem and it hasn't gone away. Prejudice, hate, and fear are alive and well in the U.S. Let's all try a little harder to get along, because to quote Neal, we're all in the same band.

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