Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WIP Diary: Unsubconscious

Had a major breakthrough on a plot element that had been hanging over my head for a good part of the book.

Conventional writing wisdom says to jump over it and write on, come back and figure it out later. This approach has never worked for me. I wish it did, but I have to work with what I've got. And for me, I need to know how things work before I can move on.

In this case, the solution is so beautiful (I think so, anyway) that it changed the way I felt about the whole scene and my approach to the next plot element. If I'd jumped over it, I'd have screwed up the rest of the scene anyway.

I wish I could articulate how I finally figured out the solution to this particular problem, but I can't. I have to put this one down to the subconscious again. Or, to be fair, a combination of the subconscious and staring at the page while thinking through various scenarios until one of them clicked. That sounds like it should be easy but it's not like leafing through a handy selection of story solutions. It meant thinking through every character's motivations and possible reactions to what any of the other characters might do. I did write out little bits of those reactions and things so they were there in front of me to help me along. Okay, so this isn't very subsconscious-y at all, is it? Except I do think my subconscious did a lot of the work while I was doing other stuff. Like sleeping.

Now I'm hoping that over the last week, my subconscious has been at work on the next hurdle in this scene. Someone's gotta die and I'm not quite sure who is going to make that decision. It could be any one of three characters and each one would change the meaning of the book itself, maybe.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Day of Writing

I have a day (well, possibly five hours) to myself today and I mean to make the most of them. So I thought I'd keep a running log of my writing day here, hour by hour, to keep myself honest. I've done a couple of chores so that "There are so many other things I need to dooooo" feeling is at bay. I've had a slice of blueberry quick bread. I've got a big bottle of water, three peanut butter creams and the TV is OFF. Time to start.

11:00 AM: Where I am (in the story, that is. Physically, I'm at home)

It's the climax, at last. But I'm going to backtrack to where the literal "journey" to the climax starts because I've got that itchy feeling that I've been pushing my characters around again and that always leads to disaster. If I don't get that right--if I don't go back and let them say and do the things they would naturally say and do rather than what I think they should say and do in order to move my plot forward, I'm going to hit a brick wall. I know this from bitter, repeated experience and I'm going to try to avoid it this time. I'll be back to update in an hour (unless I really get caught up in what I'm doing.) So here we go. Eddy and Hugh are in the subterranean cavern beneath the castle...

12:00 PM:

Making slow progress. Smoothed out the kiss scene. Specifically, Eddy's reaction to the kiss. The scene still leans heavily on Hugh's POV, which is odd since this is first person from Eddy's POV. Memo: don't forget your main character. Duh. Back to it.

1:00 PM:

Scene working well enough to make forward progress. Two new pages into the climax. There's a ton of backstory that has to be worked in here. And more backstory to be worked into the denouement, but I'll worry about that later. Right now, I'm going to focus on action, the actual physical events that need to happen in this scene.

2:00 PM:

Wrote actual new words, even leaping ahead in the story as a character reveals herself and her motivations. I write those bits out and stick them at the bottom of my file so they're handy when I need them. There are about three pages of such notes at the moment. They might not all be used in the finished text, but they help me think through understanding the characters, so it's useful to have them at hand.

Took a lunch break. (Peaches are divine this year!) Now back at it.

3:15 PM:

Got caught up in the scene. Lots of good stuff happening. I have given myself shivers. (Delicious Man-in-Jeopardy shivers!) Characters are saying unexpected and delightful (awful, but delightful from a literary standpoint) things that have brought the POV back around to my MC and I think and hope may actually relate to some sort of theme. See, I never know what my theme is while I'm actually writing and I don't worry about it too much. Sometimes, even when I'm done, I still don't know what the theme is and leave it up to the reader to decide. Still, it's very hard to juggle dialogue between more than two people while keeping the MC's thoughts, reactions, emotions in mind. But it's falling into place in that mysterious subconscious kind of way. I love this kind of crap. Back to it!

4:30 PM:

Well, my men are home, so my writing day is interrupted. I'm still hoping to get more done after dinner. I'm not going to post a word count because I've cut a lot of notes from the bottom of the file that I incorporated into new writing today, as well as rewriting that journey scene, so no way of knowing the real word count. But in terms of forward progress and discovery, it was a very good day. The climax is moving forward at a good pace. But more importantly, what the characters are doing makes sense. This is such a bugger of a complicated book with its own mythology that my first person POV MC doesn't know about that it's been a massive mess to bring in all of the information necessary while still keeping the MC and the reader guessing. But it's making sense! Hallelujah and pass the potato chips.

Wrapping up:

So I managed a little more work this evening, but must admit that I am stuck on something that needs a little thinking time. Plus, it's late and I want to watch the rerun of Friday's episode of General Hospital, so. Y'know. There is that. But I'm quite pleased with what I accomplished today. More forward motion than in a long time. Keeping track of my progress like this was really helpful, too. Might try it again.