Monday, July 18, 2011

WIP Diary: The 2:00 AM Moments

You know what those are, right? That's when your brain wakes you up at 2:00 in the morning because it just had the most brilliant idea for either a new story or a solution to a plot problem or a more clear character motivation. Your brain can't wait until a civilized hour to have these revelations. No. they always happen at 2:00 in the morning. And you ignore them at your peril. (You also--at your peril--fail to write them down immediately, thinking you'll be able to remember them later. You won't, you know.)

Well, I've been having a lot of those 2:00 AM moments with this WIP. And it occurred to me this morning that one of the reasons is that I've been pushing the writing instead of letting it roll out organically. I've been pushing characters to do things to move the plot along rather than taking the time to figure out what they would really do. Then at night, when I'm sleeping, my subconscious apparently has access to my files and noses through them (yes, my subconscious has a nose) and comes and tells me how I've screwed things up.

Usually, my conscious knows something is wrong. It knows it in that down-dragging, grump-inducing "Crap, I know something is wrong but I don't know what or how to fix it" kind of way that makes you stomp petulantly through the house and take your mood out on the chicken breasts.

It also makes moving forward in the story tough because you know that somewhere behind you, you've done your characters wrong. And while maybe they won't tell you flat out, but they keep looking reluctantly over their shoulders like actors who know the director has gone nuts.

Example: Here's what woke me up at two this morning:

So I knew that these two characters had to kiss at some point and I figured Chapter 43 was a good a time as any. We had the "big reveal." The MC knew most all there was to know. A kiss would help her decide the next step to take. Right? Right? Of course right.

Wrong. I wrote through the whole next chapter--where my MC was actually walking from one place to another--and I could feel her dragging her imaginary little feet the whole way. She knew something was wrong. I knew she knew but I didn't want to admit it because.....

Okay, let's just admit it. Because I didn't want to have to think too hard about where that kiss really belonged and why.

There. I am lazy. Okay? The problem with that is that I always always always end up working harder when I try to take a short cut because I always always always end up screwing things up.

Thank goodness I still have a functioning subconscious to keep me in line and figure things out for me. At the end of chapter 44, there is the perfect place for the kiss. It's not even really a "place," like I went looking for a parking spot for it. It is what would happen. It is what these two people would do in the course of events. And I would have figured it out, maybe, if I hadn't been pushing so hard to fit everything in that I thought needed to be in there.

So memo to me: just write this @#$%& thing out first. Follow the characters. Worry about where everything fits later. Because we are getting too old to be awakened at 2:00 AM every day.

I'm going to need a nap.

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