Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sailing the wide sea of possibilities

The plot. Does anybody besides me involuntarily shudder when they think about the plot? If your plots usually come together without much trouble, I salute you. Mine don’t, le sigh. They look coherent, they even might be coherent when I start, but then I inevitably write myself into a corner. Or several corners. “Pantsing” does not work for me.

This is what happened with the story I started for NaNo 2013, a little thing I’m tentatively calling Night Shift. Eventually -- some 35 chapters into the story -- I realized there were too many things I didn’t know, and because I didn’t know them, I had no idea how they might affect other things. And I got sick and tired of Devorah -- the POV character in a first person story -- always asking for help and needing everything explained to her. 

I can’t live with a wishy-washy female main character, and I don’t want my readers to. So I threw a bunch of stuff out of my head and turned certain assumptions upside down, which led to the realization that the story needs to start at a later point. Instead of showing how Devorah met Kazimir and how she joined his group of Crossers, I’m going to start after she’s been part of the group for a while. So she won’t need so much explained to her AND --

-- the best part is that she will be the confident, don’t-screw-with-me character I always envisioned her to be. 

Because the world does not need another helpless female character waiting to be rescued. 

Now I’m on to trying to figure out more of the backstory. One of the problems Draft 1 had was that I decided there were things I didn’t need to know because I didn’t plan to get into them in the story itself. After all, a lot of stories leave some questions unanswered. 

I know, I cringe too just thinking about it ;-) At least I didn’t publish that draft! So now I’m looking at Devorah’s dad -- who really killed him, and why? I hit on what I think is a great reason for why he was killed though the details need to be cleared up. Without spilling all the beans, it involves him having done some work for the angels several years prior. What I don’t know yet is why the angels wouldn’t tell Devorah that when Kazimir first says he wants to recruit her into the Crossers. 

I have a tiny bit of “fudge factor” in that the lower levels of angels (who deal directly with humans) are not above obscuring certain facts if they believe it serves a higher purpose in the long run. So if they believed keeping Devorah ignorant of her father’s past was in her best interest, they would certainly do that. 

(Why is Blogger red-underlining most of my words with apostrophes??)

Still, what does that really mean, in practical terms? How is it in her best interest? Writing is a continual journey of discovery. It’s like ancient mariners sailing an ocean for the first time, or the first astronomers to peer through crude telescopes. Writing a good story is challenging and sometimes pretty hard, but it’s also a damn lot of fun.

Photo credit: Alexander Steinhof via Flickr Creative Commons

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