Friday, September 11, 2009

On Being Wrong (plus more New York)

Yesterday felt utterly unproductive because I couldn't seem to focus on anything. But then I realized that it felt like my subconscious was up to something, and that was why the day came across as a waste. Sure enough, I think I've come up with some good stuff, and I've realized that I've been totally wrong about a lot of things. It seems like no matter how much planning I try to do, it doesn't count for much until I actually start writing. Then once I meet the characters on the page and see how the situation starts shaping up, I find that a lot of my planning was flat-out wrong.

For instance, talking in only vague terms, one of the major plots in this story involves the search for someone who's missing. I had thought that it would function more like a mystery, where the missing person's whereabouts are unknown both to characters and readers, so the missing person and the bad guy keeping the missing person would remain off-stage. But then once I started writing I realized that the missing person had her own subplot and conflict and the story would have to go back and forth between the search and what the missing person is up to, with the suspense coming from information the readers have from one plot line that the characters in the other plot line don't have (the Hitchcock bomb under the table scenario). And that meant I actually had to develop the character of the missing person and create the setting for where she is.

One thing that tells me how wrong I was about what this book was going to be was the "soundtrack" I created for it. I put together an "inspirational" CD of music that seemed to fit the vague idea this story was at the time. Now that I've developed characters and plot, I'm realizing that I was totally off-base with a lot of it. I've been doing the iTunes shuffle the past few days, and the songs I'm picking for the soundtrack have been fairly different. Some are the same, some went by the wayside and some have been added. The result is that the mood has mostly changed. I never would have anticipated this, but there's a lot of Ella Fitzgerald going on. It's a more classic, timeless mood. I think the emotions coming up are also different, as a whole. This may be a more serious, angsty book than I usually write, though there are definitely still humorous touches. It will be more of a book that has some humor in it than an outright comedy, though I think it does have something of a screwball comedy structure to it.

It's shaping up to be a cool, rainy day, and I have books waiting for me at the library (some references I need to develop some other characters who suddenly demanded more attention), so I think I may walk over there, bring my notebook, and sit in the cafe for a while to do research and brainstorming. If it's not actually raining, I can sit on the patio on the waterside.

And because it's not a Friday without at least a touch of Virtual Vicarious Vacation, some more pictures from my recent trip to New York. Central Park and the general areas where I was are rather Victorian, and it struck me that New York would make a good Steampunk setting. I shall have to consider that.

So, for instance, here's the famous Bow Bridge in Central Park:

And then I think this is the Ansonia Hotel, based on something in a guidebook and the approximate place where I was when I took the picture, though I didn't get close enough to verify. I suspect a mad scientist is working at the top of one of those corner towers. Or else that area reminded me of Paris because it was on a part of Broadway where the street is two-way and has a park-like esplanade down the middle, and that building also has a bit of Parisian flair.

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