Monday, August 10, 2009

Renewal of Purpose

Ok, perhaps I've stumbled upon something that will help the PPA regain a little of the focus that it's lost. I've been working on a novel now for a few years -- I know I've mentioned it in the past a few times -- and it's foundered upon the rocks of indifference lately. This year (which has been a weird one from the start) has seen me have a few breakthroughs in terms of the plot and direction, while the writing itself has dwindled toward absolute zero. So maybe writing about the various struggles I'm having will help me overcome them.

(or maybe not.)

This weekend I got past a pretty significant roadblock -- and it was one I didn't want to get past. Allow me to explain. There was a scene, fairly early on in the book, that I really wanted to work. It was (very loosely) based on a true-life tale my friend Kynan once told me, a story that I find one of the top ten funny things ever to have happened on this planet, one that to this day can make me chuckle if I just think of it briefly. I wanted to capture that story in my novel. And I knew how.

Problem: I knew how, but it didn't work. It had to be significantly altered to last more than a page. It had to be significantly altered to make it advance the plot at all (and I needed it to advance the plot). And while the scene made me laugh, because I knew the real-life story that provided the basis... I don't know how well it worked for other people. One of my readers said that by the end of that scene, she found one of my protagonists really unsympathetic. I intended for him to be mischievous -- he came out malicious.

So over the past few days, I went through a bit of a process. I acknowledged -- finally -- that it wasn't working, that I wasn't going to make it work (I've reworked it a few times already) as well as I wanted to, and that it was time to bid it farewell. So I've dropped it, sketched out the beginnings of the scene that will replace it (similarly based on a real-life experience) and am moving forward.

Of course, this means that at a time when I should be writing the latter third of the book, I'm back to chapter two. But that's a problem for another day.



Sorry to place a hex on your creative process, but obviously that story was meant for the bottom of 8 or 10 pints and not for the printed page.

What was the tale, by the way? Give me a hint.

gsdgsd13 said...

Neal's dad (I think), a Pizza Hut, a jukebox, and the Scorpions. I still love that story... but it wasn't meant to be immortalized in literature.


Oh, riiiiight. "$10 worth of 'Rock You Like a Hurricane'." Yeah, that's a great tidbit, but it's a little thin for the page. It's all punchline. Would definitely need some fleshing out, which would, paradoxically, probably dilute its potency.