Where Are the Elves When You Need Them?

I wrote a scene in my climax today.  It sucks.

Have I spent so much time on it I’m sick of it? Or is it really that bad, that much of a let-down? Shall I go on telling it like I have been, or scrap it and start over from a new point of view? Or is the entire concept so completely screwed I might as well start the whole book from scratch?

This latter thought, I suspect, is yet another trick of my brain to convince me not to finish the darn thing.

When I started this novel the whole point was not to get published. It was simply to prove to myself that I could finish something of this scale.

So I will.

Still, I want it to be the best I can do right now. So, outside of my designated butt-to-chair hour, I’ve been reading some pretty good stuff on how to construct a climax. Harry Potter and Ender’s Game, for instance. Deconstructing and reconstructing. And these:

Improving Plot Climax

Mistakes Not to Make

That latter site contains several really helpful articles, including one on writing a novel pitch. Not that I’m writing a pitch yet, except I did. But that’s another story for another day. If you’re struggling with your novel, try writing the pitch. It was quite a useful–and fun–exercise.

Hasn’t helped much with my climax, though. Where are those darn elves?

This one will do just fine. Thank you.

Merely Super Talented

It started with the usual nightly request: Will you read to us? But then it got ugly. I asked them whether they wanted me to continue reading Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire… or treat them to an excerpt from a new section of my WIP! (WIP means work-in-progress and refers to the novel I’m in the middle of writing. Using the acronym helps me feel like an insider to the world of novelists.)

Those ungrateful little brats chose Harry Potter.

Because apparently, J.K. Rowling’s record-breaking bestseller is more fun to listen to than the first draft of the first novel I’ve ever written.

Obviously, my novel sucks.

Luckily, it doesn’t matter. Watch this. It’s worth it AND it’s funny. And he’s wearing the most awesome indoor sunglasses and mustache ever, which goes to show that if you are funny and smart (and perseverant, apparently), it really doesn’t matter what you wear. Whew.

“Lots of people want to do it. The odds are against you. But luckily, very few of them are sane. Then there’s a subset who are medium to low talented… but perseverant (even WordPress doesn’t think that’s a real word but it doesn’t matter because we all know what he means)… and they are much more likely to be successful than those who are merely super talented.”

Oh, thank God.

Coming Out

I did not want to write this morning. Did not. Want. To write. I was so sick of my story. So sick of my characters. So sick of the plot that just never seems to untangle and move forward. The last couple days have been booooring.

I wanted to spend my hour reading advice from novelists, see if someone could tell me how to fix it. I wanted someone else to tell me how to move forward. It’s so frustrating how lonely this journey is, how much of it you have to do YOURSELF. Ha. Wouldn’t it be nice if the stories would just freakin write themselves?

To break through this barrier, I considered going back and starting my edits, even though the draft is not done. I seriously considered it, even though lots of authors say not to edit till you’re done writing, and I’m not convinced it would have been a bad choice. Perhaps it would have been useful, and might have propelled me forward again.

Still, I’m glad I did what I did, which was to keep plugging along. Decided to go ahead and write a specific scene, one where a pair of my main characters is traveling through woods with another group of characters they’ve just met. I wanted to hurry ahead to the plot again, get my characters busy doing something that  will move things toward their inevitable conclusion, but I had too many questions before I could do that right. So I wrote this “boring” scene.

I think I was somewhat inspired by reading several “boring” chapters of Harry Potter to the kids last night. We’re on (rendition #2) of The Goblet of Fire (having already read the entire series to them once before, and to myself several times). This is my least favorite of the stories, so much exposition at the  beginning, so much scene-building, so little action, so. much. Quidditch. Yech. But the kids like it, so I kept plowing through. (“How come you don’t read very much to us each night any more, Mommy?” said Eli. “Because it’s boring!”) And last night I began to see that it’s okay to exposition some. The kids love it, even if I don’t. And so I gave myself permission today to write some “boring” bits. I can always take them out later.

And it turned out to be pretty okay, actually.

It answered a lot of questions for me about the characters’s motivation, and helped forge an alliance between two characters who have been butting heads through the whole thing but who, I’ve known from the start, will eventually be partners if not something slightly more.

And, it was actually pretty interesting to write and I think it will be interesting to read. It’s a scene I’m rather proud of, in fact. Yay.

At the same time, there is something niggling at me. I kept getting distracted by this thought, and then putting it away for later cogitation. My niggling is this: All of my female characters seem to play second fiddle to a male character. This was NOT intentional. It certainly does NOT reflect how I think life SHOULD be or even what I think is “natural” for people. It does, however, reflect my upbringing and my own personal insecurities about leadership.

Now to cogitate on how to address this. If the female/male inequity were central to or important to my story, I would leave it in. I don’t need to make a political statement. But it’s not. I believe it’s a weakness in myself, and therefore a weakness in the story, to leave it like that. I’ll be thinking on it…