Monday, September 19, 2011

WIP Diary: Dear Brain, Remember Me?

One of the great things about writing--the things you can never admit to non-writers because they will look at you oddly and back away very veerrrrrrry slowly so they don't startle you into a violent act--is when your brain knows more than you do. When it does stuff without telling you why. You know what I mean? (Please don't say "Nooooo, Melissa. Nobody else is this weird.")

So here are a couple of examples from this damned book (which I'm thinking of abbreviating as TDB) I'm working on:

Early on in the book, a cat showed up. I like cats a lot (I just can't live with them--the hair, you see.) So I figured a cat was a good thing to have in a book and I'd let her stay. I didn't think she was important and from time to time, I'd consider just cutting her because it was sometimes difficult to remember to keep her in scene. But my brain knew she was important and wouldn't let me cut her.

And damned if my brain wasn't right. Come the climax, the cat was a key to getting my heroine out of a sticky situation.

And then there was the cloak. At the beginning of the climax, one of the characters put on his cloak. Now this is a big old bloated book and I'm looking to trim words anywhere and wherever I can, so I was going to take out the bit about the cloak. It wasn't important. It wasn't needed. Who cared if he was wearing a cloak or not (sexy as cloaks may be.)

But no, my brain said. Do not touch the cloak on pain of screwing this thing up yet again! So I left the cloak. Now it didn't turn into some pivotal plot point, but there is a moment that would be far less poetic if this guy hadn't been wearing a cloak.

So you see, my brain knows more than I do sometimes. I try not to take it personally and I'm learning to just do as my brain tells me as much as possible.

I had this happen to great effect in Raising the Griffin, too. I had provided Alexei with a horse because I like horses and guys on horses are very sexy. But again, the whole horse thing was taking up a lot of room and I started wondering if it was really all that important. Then I reached a point in the story where I needed something that the people of Rovenia could give to Alexei and whoa! There it was! The horse! They could give him back the horse he had to leave behind.

If you read that book, it looks like I had that all planned out, doesn't it? Maybe I'm being stupid for publicly admitting that it was a huge surprise to me. But there it is. This is one of the cool cool things about writing for me, these secret brain surprises.

But back to the WIP (TDB), this week, I am working on the denouement and trying to ignore the feeling that it is spinning out of control. I was comfortable with the idea that it would be a long denouement that would nicely tie up all of the loose ends of the story into pretty little bows. (I think it's the kind of story that calls for that. You can't leave nearly 500 pages of painstakingly detailed fluff on a spare, stylistic question mark.)

But right now, I seem to be in a mire of explanation and that feels a little deadly. But I'm going to go ahead and write it all out and then go back and see how it feels. The problem is that it's a kind of secondary character who is doing all of the explaining and it just feels weird for some reason. Just not quite sure why, yet. But we'll see.

So today is "work my way back in" day. I work three days a week (the horror, I know) and there is little time to think of writing on those days. Work consumes me entirely. And it's hard for me to just leap back into the writing after a break of several days like that. If anyone has any tricks on how to do that efficiently and quickly, I'd love to hear about them!

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