Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lopping off heads!

I've been tromping through my current WIP (work in progress for you non-writers) in combat boots and wielding a big sharp knife, you know, like the one that Crocodile Dundee brought to NYC with him. When the young guy challenged him in the dark alley with something that looked like a switchblade, Croc laughed and in his pure Aussie accent, said, "Ya' call that a knife? This is a knife." Then he pulled out some huge, foot-long, sharp looking instrument and the bad guy ran away. I digress. I'm more like the Queen of Hearts walking around her garden screaming, "Off with their heads," and giving grandiose flicks of my chubby wrists.

I've removed many superfluous characters from this manuscript, which I wrote when I was a young babe (about four years ago) and have either merged them making for one much stronger character, or just eliminated them if the scene wasn't necessary. Remember, I said I was a babe and I meant in terms of writing. He he. Anyway, I was plowing through the manuscript fixing things, tweaking things, creating better character arcs, yet I still didn't like it. I'd come to this screeching halt at about the mid-point. It was boring. How could I ever expect anyone to pay money to read this story? Well, actually I do have to say the story is good it's just the heroine, she's not strong. She's boring. She's so damn passive I want to shake her and tell her to get a grip on her little old self.

On the verge of tossing the entire work, I went to the HWSW blog and Jenny Crusie had posted a lesson today 0n character arc. For those of you not familiar with this year long writers workshop: you must go and visit. It's the best.

Anyway, how timely was this? I asked Jenny the meaning of the term string-of-pearls plot. She replied: "The string of pearls plot is a series of events that are linked by problem or situation, but they don't escalate and therefore don't cause character change." I knew instantly what I had in this current story. My heroine was boring because she was making attempts to change but never did. Secretly, I think she was waiting for the knight in shining armor to come save her. Ain't gonna happen. This is a contemporary story set in NYC. Hell, the guys are too busy trying to save themselves let alone learn how to ride a big white horse.

Is my manuscript salvageable? Hmmm? I looked at it objectively and asked a lot of questions. Here are my answers: story is good, vibrant setting, I like the hero. He's a skank at first but he redeems himself. That's always good. I like my secondary characters and their subplots, like the paranormal aspects, plus there's a good mystery thread. It's a contemporary paranormal mystery.

Okyaaaay, so not as bad as I'd initially thought. Just make the heroine stronger. Make a kickass heroine. Now how hard could that be? I know, I'll just make her everything I'm not. She'll be my fantasy side. Yeah. She's already half my age so I'm writing a fantasy anyway. That's it, that's the ticket. For today at least, one head has been saved, there will be no more decapitations. Back to the drawing board.

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