Thursday, December 11, 2008

Perspective Jumping, Intuition, and Facebook Fix-its

One of the things I've wanted to try after the Heartstone trilogy was to write a story with fewer characters and to stay longer in their heads. More thoughts. Less dialogue. Fewer jumps between perspectives. The Heartstone trilogy is set in a world that is alive with many cultures, and even more characters to represent those cultures. With Wildmane, I wanted to scale back, to have just a couple of cultures, and to delve deeper into a single character's head.

After training myself to jump quickly from one character to another throughout Heir of Autumn, Mistress of Winter and Queen of Oblivion, it has been difficult to stay put in Mirolah's (the main character of Wildmane) head. I keep wanting to shape the world by leaping behind someone else's eyes.

But I've stayed true to my course. And after 100 pages, I made my first jump. And the chapter enchanted me (which is almost a sure-fire sign it's crap. The chapters I love the most from the outset almost always end up the dogs. I have no idea why this is). Immediately, my plotting mind wanted to jump to yet another perspective: the villain. It really was past time to go there. I'd written fully 1/4 of the story, and while a threat has already shown its face, it's mysterious, with no intelligence or discernable plan behind it. It was time to reveal my nefarious villain: Zilok Morth.

I was pumped. Ready to unleash all of my darkest thoughts through the eyes of my undead master of magic...

But that excitement faded the moment my fingers touched the keyboard. Writing the chapter was like standing and looking at the engine of a car that's not working. (C'mon, you weekend mechanics know the look I'm talking about). Stand. Stare. Put your hands on your hips. "Hmmmm..." And look like you're assessing the situation when you really have no idea where to begin.

When in doubt, just go. That's my motto. So I ran at the hill!

And stopped at the base. No no no. That's not the way it goes. I ran at the hill again!

And skidded to a halt once more.

Then turned away, disgusted. I didn't have time to have "bad writing nights" anymore. So, feeling my inspiration slump, I fell into all manner of distraction to avert the reality that I wasn't finding my "voice" for the chapter. I fiddled around on Facebook. I idled in my email.

Finally, with an inner growl, I went back to the chapter and just started typing dialogue. Any dialogue. Bad dialogue. Just to keep my fingers moving. And it sucked. And I hated myself. I went back to facebook and posted my problem. Everyone online gave their two cents.

That, apparently, was just what I needed. I'd love to tell you why, but I really don't know. When I throw problems at my friends, I never expect them to come up with the 'right' answer. Not really fair to burden someone else with that. And more often than not it's isn't WHAT advice they give me that helps, but just that they throw notions my way. So why did I do it? Intuition, maybe. Boredom? Perhaps the notion of speaking the problem aloud gives it room to breathe. I don't know. But sometimes it works. And this time, it broke my deadlock. Somehow it pulled me out of my expectation of what needed to happen, and let my intuition tell me what was going to happen.

Zilok Morth was not going to get written tonight. I'd left Mirolah in dire straights, and she needed resolution. Logically, I had to introduce the villain. That was what made sense, what my plotting mind demanded, but he refused to make an appearance. So I took a chance. I went back to Mirolah...

And the chapter sang. Ah, lovely. Young Mirolah grabbed the story back and made it hers once more. It makes me wonder if I'm creating a new addiction. Will I be able to jump from perspective to perspective anymore? Will Mirolah become a high-maintenance lady who refuses to be set aside?

We'll see. But the adventure proceeds, and that's what I was hoping for.

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