Thursday, November 3, 2016

The problem chapter  managed to get written yesterday.

It required all my tricks and all my discipline, what with the things that need to be done at the store and with Todd home.

It's amazing to me. The story seems to exist somehow outside of me and it is just up to me to discover it. It was a chapter where I wanted one of the main heroes to trick the terrorists so that they are caught by the fires they set. But I had no idea how that was going to come about.

What tends to happen is that I go into the character's head, and there is all this other ancillary stuff happening and in the course of detailing that, the main plotline emerges.

That's what writing is to me--the filling in the blanks between the main events.

So I have two characters fight. So and so slugs so and so? Big deal.

I have to fill it all in, the sights, sounds, thoughts, complications, the personality quirks, the incidental things of life. If I have a sufficiently interesting author's voice, if the pacing is good, if the details add to the story, then it's fine.

In a previous chapter I have one of the main bad guys tell another character to prop open a door and then follow them inside. So he searches around for something to prop the door and then goes inside.

And Gary at writer's group says, "Why is that there? What does it add?"

And he's right. But what really leaps out at me is that it doesn't happen more often. I'm supplying all these faux real-life details and why don't they slow down the story? How come it works most of the time?

Even in this example, it gives me a beat, a timeout, before the inside of the warehouse is revealed, it gives the bad guy the authority, the young terrorist is put in his place. Yes, in the end, it isn't worth the paragraph, but everything in a book is more or less like that. Unless you reduce it to, "Terrorist set wildfires, firefighters fight wildfires and terrorists. The end."

I've avoided "how to write" stuff this time around, because I firmly believe that if what I write "feels" real to me, then I'm doing it right. I guess I just have to hope others feel that way too.

1 comment:

Literary Litter said...

The door was propped open because that's how it happened! Now, if you took three pages to explain everywhere he searched and how exactly he propped open the door, it could be tedious. You don't write that way! I'm sure you flawlessly propped that door open and your readers won't even think twice about it.