Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Count Back From 100....Exploratory Surgery for a WIP

Instead of writing during the four minutes my youngest was attentively watching Mr. Noodle attempt to tie his shoes, I  read Chuck Lorre's vanity card page. It's funnier and not as sad as Charlie Sheen.

I promise I won't digress into CS territory again unless either Chuck produces either the Holy Grail or Jimmy Hoffa. Sorry.

So, in an effort to jump start my writing again, I'm going to dissect it. That's not to say it's dead and needs a post mortem. I guess I could say I'll be doing exploratory surgery instead, but I don't have enough anesthesia for that. Get double gloved and start up the Stryker saw, here we go:

Problem: I'm standing with my protagonist, Fin, on the Road to Damascus. We're literally on the road. I mean, we're walking toward the Big Effing Climax. All will be revealed, except what won't and Fin will or won't accomplish what he needs to. This is IT.

Only, he's not moving. And I can't make him move. I've tried to put him on a horse, I've tried having him go on his own and with others. I've had people talk to him while (I swear this is true) he's peeing against a tree, angrily telling him that he's just not getting it, man. All of this I've deleted, which leaves Fin where we started more than a week ago. On the Road to Damascus, or more accurately, on the road to the Village.

Possible Reasons for Fin's immovability:
1) I'm scared. Now that the 'set up' is over, now that all possibilities lead to one road, I'm drying up, afraid I've made the wrong choices.

2) I don't know what Fin will do so he doesn't do anything. This isn't as daft as it sounds. If I haven't developed him deeply enough, even I might be unsure of what he will do.

2b) Subset of above, I have made Fin too much of a waffler - meaning, he himself hasn't come to terms with the world he's in and he's not achieved that moment of resolve, that moment of determination that enables the hero to GO.

3) I haven't developed the rebellion enough. I've alluded to it and explained it, but have I shown it? Is it making itself felt to the reader, or does it seem tacked on? If it isn't felt, then what Fin is walking towards won't feel like the 'big' moment.

Of course, I suspect that all of the above are true, which I guess is better than not knowing what ails you, but CRUMBS, I don't want to go back before I've finished. It feels like when you leave your house and walk down the street and remember that you've left something you need behind and you have to go back the way you came. Wait. Does that not freak anyone else out but me? I always try to go back home a different way...Anyway...

How do you know when pushing through is the right answer or if stopping and going back is the right answer? Hurry up with the answers, please. The patient is on the table and I've got him open from chin to chops!


  1. Ok, you know pushing through is the answer. Your biggest obstacle here is how the do get Fin's ass in gear. I think you know him well enough. So, think back on what skills Fin posses. What skills could he use to move forward? Are there any external forces, people, things already in the story that might persuade Fin to move forward, albeit by force, talking, etc.?

    Now, for 2b and 3, go back into the story and make the fixes you feel he needs to advance to the climax. They are clearly holding you and Fin back. Or, you could write Fin the way you would want him to be at this moment to make it to the climax. Then, go back after the novel's written to fix those areas to flow smoothly.

    I'm not sure if any of the above helped. Hopefully, it knocked something loose, enabling you to finish the novel. Break a leg!

  2. laura, these are awesome suggestions. especially the one where i envision fin being the 'man' i want him to be in the climax and going backwards from there. also, the suggestion to look to his skills - really good idea! Thank you, Maestra! this writing thing is freaking hard! So looking forward to seeing your story revise on 3/13

  3. Anvil,
    The only other idea I have is to write the part you know, skip over how Fin gets there entirely, jump in mid sentence if you have to. There might be something earlier where you veered off course, and maybe this will help you find it.
    When all else fails, read. Then read some more.


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