I’m coming to the realization that the first 100,000-odd words were basically the cost of getting to know and explore the story world and characters well enough to be able to write an effective story. Not, as I’d hoped, telling the story itself. Or something.
Which could actually be good, if it makes it possible to get through redoing the plot and rewriting in a more focused, effective and efficient manner. Good progress yesterday; I’ve got plot points charted for everything except the story climax and resolution. I got to that point and realized that the motivations/goals/moral-of-the-story type stuff had all shifted and could be interpreted differently depending on the final scenes, and decided a night’s sleep and a fresh read-through might bring clarity and shape the direction better than pushing through. There’s kind of too many interpretations at this point, and I need to narrow them down and support them with the final actions; should Cole’s journey be about escaping, taking responsibility, helping others, owning her power, reconciling with her demons/ghosts/feelings etc.? I tend to embrace the ambiguity and let too many elements lay around cluttering things up, but apparently readers prefer a tidy resolution to a poetic open interpretation, plus I need to set things up for the sequel, and Cole’s ending realization and new goal set that stage…
So, big work to do, plus some mechanics, mapping the plot points back explicitly to goal-conflict-response and character motivation. I think I’m using too many words + long form when I should be keeping it higher level and point form, but it’s too tempting to preserve ideas as they come, and if it’s all on track, I’ll have given myself a jump-start on the rewrites. I also need to review how the plot points incorporate (or don’t) the interactions and intersections of other cast members, revealing enough of the side stories to Cole that she has the pieces to start to understand, talk to the right people, and react down the road appropriately. So, kind of fun and kind of brain-melting!
I’ve had some good moments doing the planning; let’s hope my editor’s response affirms the work and I don’t have to do it all over! I’ll hit send early next week, and if it’s a ‘try again’, I’ll be seriously behind on my actual schedule, instead of just behind on my overly ambitious/wishful thinking schedule.
I’m warming up to the three-act structure spreadsheet, too; it’s certainly constraining, and I think I might have more like five acts… but it did help push me to consider what function plot points were serving and where emotional beats and stakes ought to be communicated. It also kind of forces me past all the concerns about what’s being lost and into strategizing a more engaging story, which is perhaps a bit tragic, but helpful in pursuing my pragmatic career plans over my artistic, self-indulgent fantasies, so it pretty much does what I told my editor I wanted out of her help… Well done, spreadsheet!
Note: The likability problem. Cole is a good kid with realistic reactions. Boring? She displays some intelligence & feistiness early on, but that’s about it…
Start time: 1:45 pm
Abbotsford, BC - home/couch
Drinking: black tea