Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's Alive!

I'm putting my plot back together, and yes it is requiring bolts and stitches and, possibly, an arc welder (but it's more this than that). And it's going, which is a vast improvement over the paralysis of the last two weeks.

While paralyzed, I spent a lot of time watching scenes in my head of my characters going about their daily lives, water cooler interactions, puttering about the house on a lazy Sunday, standing in line at the grocery store, eating the warm carcasses of their fresh kills. You know, those little incidental things that, added up, turn days into weeks and so on.

So, I came through my paralysis with a much better understanding of what makes my MC tick, what lights her fuse, and what kinds of things are beneath her notice. I also now understand the people around her better, have seen them in their own contexts, which will likely never make it into a manuscript, but which are important. I've dropped a couple of peripheral characters, combined two, and enhanced two.

Secondary characters are necessary for most kinds of fiction. Some secondary characters work as props, bland, faceless dialog and bed partners. Others stride, roaring, onto the stage and jerk the reader straight out of the forward momentum of the plot. I'm not striving for a happy medium, just making sure that I have the right people at the right place for legit reasons, that they make sense and have some unique characteristics, that they don't all sound alike, and that sometimes they do unexpected things. And a couple of them have to be funny, at least to me. I can't abide a book full of serious characters, just as I can't abide a room full of serious people in real life.

I've still got both legs to attach and some internal organs to rearrange. *snaps on latex gloves* So, off I go.

11 comments:

  1. What is up with that? You scored an agent, which means your manuscript must have been pretty hot. And now you're Frankensteining the thing?

    Quill from Nathan's forums

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  2. It was pretty hot, but we're trying to get it up to scorching before we take it shopping, and that requires rearranging a plot thread through 300 pages without losing consistency. The story isn't changing, just the timing of a few things since the pacing dragged through the middle. Tough freaking work, I tell you...mostly because I had a mental block about it.

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  3. Oh, I totally get this. I stripped my story to the bones, leaving only a few key scenes, and rebuilt it from the ground up. Most challenging thing I've ever done, but I've learned so much, and I think the story is stronger because of it.

    Wanted to let you know, I just posted an interview with literary agent Laurie McLean on my blog: www.kayemevans.com/blog

    She provided awesome info, the most substantive answers I've received from a literary agent. Hope you can check it out!

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  4. i get where you're coming from. i was stuck for a WHILE on a character because i thought she was bland. everyone else was cool, except for her. writing her scenes felt like pushing a huge block of stone up a mountain. then i eventually figured out that i had her all wrong. after that, reasonably smooth sailing.

    good luck with this one!

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  5. also, dying to query susannah... and scared. :D

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  6. Kay, I've heard great things about Laurie! Plus, your blog is so styly.

    Reconstruction, whether it's a scene or a character or an entire plot thread, is tough. But if you've taken a step back from the story and come back and know that something has to change, it's so worth it!

    Lex, Well I'm not going to tell you that you should be scared, but...Just kidding. PM me on Nathan's forums if you like. I'll share what advice I can.

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  7. I rarely have to do a total rework of a story. It's because I make myself do an outline, stay on course and when I write rogue, I re-outline to bring it back in.

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  8. LM Preston, I pretty much now think you're some kind of superhero.

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  9. I love this paragraph: "So, I came through my paralysis with a much better understanding of what makes my MC tick, what lights her fuse, and what kinds of things are beneath her notice. I also now understand the people around her better, have seen them in their own contexts, which will likely never make it into a manuscript, but which are important."

    Sounds awesome! How can so much work seem so easy before one sets out! :) Good luck!!!

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  10. Yay Hillary! I am happy to read this. Congratulations!

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  11. sputnitsa, Yeah. It seemed easy for about .01 seconds, and then...not so much. But it is *fun*. In my opinion, not getting sick of your world and peeps means they must be decent, right?

    Thanks, Kevin! I am happy to have written it. :)

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