Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Post-Holiday Update on THE ISLE

Thanks to Wynn and Debra for their recent comments! It was nice hearing from you. Yes, it sure does take perseverance, and I think I'll stop by the marina store sometime soon and ask whether they have a can of "TENTACLE-OFF". I think Batman had some of that, I'm not sure. It would take a superhero/ine to keep those tentacles under control without a can of that stuff.

The current word count is 20,624, still in Chapter 8.

The holidays did get in the way of writing, but I kept the novel in mind and continued thinking about the plot and characters. I got back to writing recently and hammered out between 5,000 and 6,000 new words, some of them from rewriting when I replaced text in the later chapters, and some of them new additional words that went into Chapter 1, expanding a brief scene there and helping develop the story in more detail (yet again).

It turns out I keep running into the same problem. The story is about a group of young adults on a long-distance flight. Their plane crashes and a group of them winds up stranded on THE ISLE. The problem is: which ones??? I know for certain the bulk of the group I want to participate in the events that unfold on THE ISLE, but there are a couple of extra characters who are important, and who can be used to good effect, but it also hinders developing other aspects of the storyline if they are present. So, I keep going back and forth with this and it's driving me up the wall.

I tried really, really hard to work out an answer to this, and thought I had it, but again I am never satisfied. As soon as one version looks good, another one looks better. I did hammer down the other big questions that I had previously, prior to my last posting. That stuff has remained solid. It's just this one question at this point, who to keep in the group, and who to let go of. It's a significant issue since whether a character is present or not will impact the bulk of the rest of the book. The two characters that I am going back and forth over are both minor, but important. Their presence or absence will make for very different stories.

A few days ago I was steadfast in my determination to keep them, even working out ways to have them "go away" for a while if needed. Now, since last night, I'm back in the mindset that they should just go away. So, later today I may well sit down and rewrite EVERYTHING after Chapter 3 (about 10,000 words), starting with the premise that those two characters are NOT there and WON'T be after the crash.

Whichever way this ends up, I can't progress until I decide. Oh, the drama of it all! And I'm usually such a low-drama or no-drama person.

In other things, I've been watching a lot of good movies recently, expanding my familiarity with gay and lesbian cinema. I also found a good fantasy novel, finally, with a style that I like and that I can think of as a source of inspiration for me as I write my own fiction.

And, I came across another aspiring writer's blog. He has written the first few chapters of what appears to be a YA novel. I found it when searching for images related to FOG (Google image search), since the survivors on THE ISLE encounter a heavy fog. I wanted to find some nice pictures of fog and island scenes that I could use as wallpaper to help put me in the mood when I sit down to write. When I saw a picture of the cover of the novel, I thought I should check it out. I was incredibly impressed with the author's style. His first chapter is about the tightest, clearest, most focused bit of fiction I've read from an aspiring writer!

I promise to post a link to the free online chapters (Adobe) in the near future. The author has also made the sample chapters available through, hence the availability of an image of the cover.

Best wishes for COMPLETION and SUCCESS to all aspiring writers in 2007!



Debra Young said...

Hmmm, your character problem echoes mine. I'm about to return to work on "A Lamentation of Swans" and I'm thinking I have a couple too many characters. The way I've decided to solve the issue is to determine which of the "minor" characters has the most influence on the situation with a major character and their potential for inflicting damage. A worthwhile perspective? d:)

Adrian Swift said...

Yes, I think that's an excellent way to look at it! Thanks for sharing that.

You are right -- the other factors aside that might influence one's decision, the real issue is what the "extra" characters contribute to the main dramatic tension, as much of it as they are a part of. They might be relegated to a subplot, but it is still something that feeds into the main tension.

So, the proper perspective should be to assess contributions to complications (a dubious distinction, not something I'd want a plaque for myself).

The idea is the main character has a main goal that drives the story, and everyone and everything else is supposed to help or hinder that in some way, with emphasis on who/what hinders it.

If these characters don't add enough in those terms, they should be 86'd.

Of course, the MC needs some support along the way, resources, info, etc., so the extras that serve as enablers are needed, too, but the main goal in developing the story is to find a way to complicate things.

In my case, these characters are essentially allies and I had a plot worked out where they were caught in the middle between the opposing sides (protagonist vs. antagonist), where their peril was of concern to the protagonist, but then the real question is which peril(s) I really want to keep in the story, which subplots or main conflict pillars are the right ones, the best ones, the most dramatic ones, etc.

That comes down to what I really want this story to address, what I am really trying to say with the story.

So, even though it starts with "who complicates things best", that in turn boils down to "what's the main idea here, anyway?", which will guide me in making that decision.

I've turned one question into two and haven't answered either, yet!

I'll reflect and come up with definitive answers ASAP.

Thanks, Debra! Terrific insight.

dayya said...

Well your two questions feed into each other. I think "what's the main idea" has to be the chicken and the other's the egg. And you can give the "extras" combined roles of supporting/backgrounding the MC and complicating the main issue--either directly or via subplot. Getting to that "just write" stage means climbing an ever-rising staircase.

Oh, and thanks for the compliments regarding pendrifter. d:)

Adrian Swift said...

U B Welcome!

And thanks again for your sharing your comments here, which are directly relevant and very helpful!

The staircase idea -- I can so relate to that! That's how I had pictured it, too. How it feels.

RomanceWriter said...

I like how you wished all aspiring writers well. Wishing you all the best right back, Adrian.

May this year be the year your writing dreams come true.