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WIP Update 6: Easter is a time for new beginnings, right? | Kestrel's Aerie

WIP Update 6: Easter is a time for new beginnings, right? | Kestrel's Aerie

WIP Update 6: Easter is a time for new beginnings, right?

Steve_90x86

Now don’t get too excited: this post is not about beginning a new WIP (although I have done that, but that’s not germane) (not today, at any rate).

I know I’ve been away (from the blog) for awhile. I’ve been keeping myself occupied in other ways, though:

  • Item: I converted my homebuilt desk into a permanent standing desk. See all the before-and-afters here.
  • Item: I bought a PS3 (happy August birthday from my wife) so I could watch MLB.TV (happy early Father’s Day). Yay for getting to listen to Vin Scully again this year!
  • Item: With the PS3, I also bought Tiger Woods PGA 12, “The Masters”; Dragon Age: Origins (Ultimate Edition); and Dragon Age 2. I’ve spent a lot of time playing the first two.
  • Item: I’ve read all of Spider Robinson’s “Callahan” books (among other reading).1, 2

Missing item: Any mention of progress on Obsidian Throne. But of course, that’s why I’m here!

On Monday this week, I finally started writing again. I have been wrestling with rewriting the opening chapter, primarily to make it more compelling, and to give Connor, my protagonist, a more “believable” (in quotes because this is, after all, a fantasy) reason for leaving his home. If you’ve been following these updates, you may recall I rewrote Chapter 1 already. That rewrite satisfied the criteria of being more believable, but it failed the “is this more satisfying?” test. Failed horribly. Even after doing an exercise Tami suggested, I was only able to upgrade it from “horrible fail” to “bad fail.” In short, I didn’t like it.

So I spent days/nights/weeks pondering how to get the story started with the same sense of excitement I’d had in the original iteration. And of course I continued to read blogs—too numerous to mention here—that repeated this advice: “What’s the worst thing that can happen to your character? DO IT!” I considered. What was the worst thing that could happen to Connor? Well, at the beginning of the story, the only other person in his life was his sister Liara, and since she’s a major character in the book, chapter one didn’t seem to be a good place to kill her off.

Wait…why is Liara the only other person in Connor’s life? What happened to his mother?3 Inconveniently, I’d killed her off two years before the beginning of the book. This point is mentioned, perhaps ad nauseum, throughout the book: “Connor’s mother this,” and “My mother that…” And a lightbulb came on above my head (which really disturbed my wife and the cats when it happened around 3 a.m. one morning).

My epiphany, of course, was to make Connor’s mother’s disappearance the trigger for everything that comes after. I have almost four thousand words of the new Chapter One written (in first draft form, which means there is some clunkiness to be cleaned up later). It explains why Tanaya (Connor’s mother) is gone; it provides some backstory; and it creates more work for me. Because now I have to go find all the places where I talk about Tanaya’s illness and subsequent death, and delete or revise those mentions.

I also have to somehow resolve Tanaya’s situation, and as yet I don’t know exactly how that will work. I’m leaning strongly toward having her die (actually, get killed), because it ties up that loose end while giving Connor additional impetus to continue his quest. It also makes the entire situation much more personal for Liara, so she has her own agenda now, rather than following Connor just because she’s his sister.

I don’t really believe I was suffering writer’s block, so much as I was plot-blocked. Once I decided I could abandon some preexisting conditions, the words flowed easily. An unfortunate byproduct, however (and I realize this happens with every second draft), was that I lost at least one dramatic scene, and perhaps more. Not only was the soon-to-be deleted scene dramatic, it was also one of my favorites. That part sucks. But hey: Now the challenge is to write another scene just as (or more) dramatic, that I’ll love even more!

Right?

 

 

  1. HUGE thanks to Tami Moore for the loan of The Callahan Touch.
  2. Incidentally, if you’re a fan of either Robert A. Heinlein or Spider Robinson, I urge you to read Variable Star. Heinlein started it; Robinson finished it after the former’s death, at the request of Heinlein’s estate.
  3. And don’t start asking about his father, because I know as much about that as Connor does: Zilch. Zip. Nada. Square root of zilch. All I can tell you is, Connor and Liara are not the products of immaculate conception. I think.
 

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6 Responses to WIP Update 6: Easter is a time for new beginnings, right?
  1. Tami
    April 21, 2011 | 11:37

    Oooh, fantastic idea! I LOVE it! That solves several problems very neatly and … well, it’s perfect!

    Did you read Callahan’s Lady and Lady Slings the Booze?
    Tami recently posted…FiestaMy Profile

    • Steve
      April 21, 2011 | 12:42

      Indeed I did. Loved ‘em both! Spider could be a decent mystery writer, methinks.

      I’m not sure how “neatly” I’ve solved some problems: I think there’s even more of a mess to clean up elsewhere, now. ;)

  2. tedthethird
    April 21, 2011 | 14:37

    You could wait until the climatic battle and have your antagonist declare “Iiiiii am your Father.”

    • Steve
      April 21, 2011 | 15:56

      Damn…you saw through me, didn’t you?

  3. Mazil
    April 26, 2011 | 05:32

    I second Tami’s ooh! Sounds like a great (plot-wise), if sad (story-wise), way to make use of Connor’s mother.

    It’s strange how when you “tie down” an aspect of the plot, what can follow, or what is restrained… and conversely, when you let go of an assumption or a condition, where your story can roam!
    Mazil recently posted…The Goodness of GoodReadsMy Profile

    • Steve
      April 26, 2011 | 09:28

      It really is mind-expanding. (Not mind-altering!)

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