The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Okay, I think I've got it. The problem with my swordfighting WIP is that I started right smack dab in the middle of action. I thought that was a good thing to do with a plot-driven ms. However, it f*cked everything up. I got the plot side of the story rolling, thinking that because I knew all the emotional side of the story, it would come out naturally and I could work it in here and there.

What I need to do is start with the emotional side of the story. Of course something needs to be happening and there needs to be some kind of tension right off the bat. But because I didn't set up the emotional stakes or establish the MC's inner conflict or what is driving him, the emotional side of the story never jelled and I for one can't get invested. I feel like I'm skimming along as I read it. It reads okay, it's halfway interesting. That's not enough. The difference between what this is now and what I want it to do is like the difference between fastening something with Elmer's glue and nailing it down.

Right now all the emotional story is backstory. What I need to do is back up and start with a scene that puts us in the MC's corner right from the get-go. I need to take some of that info and backstory and let it come out in scene. There are plenty of cross-motivations and tension that will arise on their own if I put some of the characters together and throw them a couple of curve balls and see what they do. Most of the curve balls are even there ready to be thrown.

When I say I didn't set up the emotional stakes or establish conflict and drive, what I mean is that I told about it during other stuff happening. Those stakes and conflict and drive need to be shown clearly, in their own scenes, as the main point for the scenes existing. Not mentioned in passing while something else is going on, like hair color or what the MC ate for breakfast.

So I have to figure out how far to back up, what scenes are necessary, and above all, what is the opening of the book? I'll have to mull it over, probably mostly in the back of my mind because I've got to haul @ss on this w-f-h now.

It looks to me like most of the book will probably end up being trashed, but at least I can pick through it and use some of what's there. At this moment I actually don't feel bad about having to start over, because I may finally have a chance to make it work. Before I was going to make it work, come hell or high water, but now maybe it will cooperate with me instead of fighting every step of the way.

I ought to try to think what other books do--if they start with emotion or plot--but there's no time for that. The only thing that comes to mind right off the bat is the very first Alex Rider book, which is as plot-driven as you can get, and I believe it does indeed start with Alex's uncle's death.

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