Thursday, June 04, 2015

Springing Surprises

I'm making a lot of progress on the book and am at the point where I'd have something long enough to be considered a novel (actually, it's quite a bit longer than a lot of the official definitions, but it's at the point where I'd feel comfortable calling it long enough to be a real fantasy novel). Of course, it would be a novel without any kind of resolution if I stopped now, so I have to keep going. I don't know for sure how long it will end up being because the ending keeps slipping away from me. Stuff keeps coming up in between.

Something I've noticed about this book is that most of the turning points have been completely unplanned. I'm far more interested in the relationships among the characters right now, and I keep catching myself writing scenes that are nothing more than conversations. I decide that the scene needs some action, preferably of the fantasy variety, so I make something happen. Then that something that happens ends up revealing some clue or giving me some idea, and the next part of the book springs from the thing I just had happen because I needed some action. In revision, I may even be able to go back and trim the conversations around the action, so I guess it's good that it's going to end up being longer than I really need it to be.

I suspect I also have a few scenes that will end up being relegated to "offstage" material. They're scenes that don't need to be in the finished book but that aren't a total waste because writing them helped me get a sense of what's going on with the characters for their subsequent scenes. These events will still be canon and will have happened, but they don't need to be in the finished book and only matter in establishing the characters' mindsets in later scenes. That's something I remember from the acting class I took in college -- when you step onstage in a play, your character isn't appearing on stage. She's leaving one place where things were happening and arriving at another place. Usually the things happening in the other place aren't in the play because they aren't important to the plot, so as an actor you have to mentally create those scenes and imagine going through them in order for your character to really convey the impression of arriving from elsewhere. I think I've been writing a lot of those "stuff happening elsewhere before the arrival" scenes.

Yesterday my challenge was letting a character do something I probably wouldn't do. I think it's in character for her, even though I disapprove, and it fits the plot. Now I have to decide if it was a good idea or a bad idea for her to do it. I'm not sure if it's going to lead to another "Oh, Emily, what now?" situation or if it's just crazy enough to work. I might end up juxtaposing it with Sophie doing something that seems utterly sane and rational at the time but that turns out to have been a mistake, just for fun.

I'm not a natural "pantser" so this is driving me insane. I should have a nice plot outline that I can follow, not a book that keeps springing surprises on me.

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