MOPNOWRIMO again: Day 5 (4/5/2012)

Wordcount target: La-la-la- not listening, Achieved: Possibly none.

I realise at this point that in the denouement of the previous book (February’s effort), I’ve written myself into a head-on collision between the two driving motivations that have kept my protagonist going up to now. He’s spent years trying to get home. Having finally achieved that, does he stay or does he immediately walk out again to try and save a friend? Irritatingly it’s take a week of writing scenes and chapters and bits of chapters almost all of which have rung hollow to realise that I’ve put my protagonist in such a bind that I need to make a fundamental choice about who he is and it’s going to be a choice whose consequences ring through the whole of this story. The last time he abandoned his family to “do the right thing” he was gone for far too long. Does he do it again? Which is it that actually matters more?

I think I have my answer now. A curiosity in getting there has been how little the rest of the story has mattered to making this decision. It’s obvious (to me) that the two choices lead to very different stories but that’s as far as any thinking about it goes. I’ve written two books with this protagonist and the only thing that really matters is that he does what it feels that that character should do. I could make it easy for myself by rewriting his wife into a bit of a wet blanket across the series, but I don’t feel inclined to do that either. I also find that I’m not at all keen on starting a book with this dilemma and the choice he makes. It feels more like an end than a beginning.

So where I’m now at is this: The previous book needs an additional last chapter, probably a rewritten version of the second prologue I’d written for this one. May’s project pretty much has to start again from scratch. Some of it can be salvaged. A talk with the editor is also needed just to make sure that my new planned direction for the last book in this little series doesn’t make him run around screaming NOOOOOOOOooooooooo!

Lessons? A few. First thing is, maybe if you write a few opening chapters and your story is already feeling lacklustre, maybe that IS a time to stop and rethink instead of the usual advice I’d off to simply keep going no matter what. Plans don’t survive contact with the enemy, but the lack of any plan survives even worse. And the problem I’ve hit here isn’t a first-in-a-series problem, it comes from trying to write a story with established characters and an established world already locked into place by previous volumes. Maybe that needs a different approach. Maybe that DOES need more of a plan. You might have thought, on the whole that’s I’d have figured that out by now. Slow learner again, I guess.
Reset time. I’ll redo the ending to the previous book this weekend (fortunately I still can – I’ve tried throughout all my books never to completely lock one volume of a series down until at least the first draft of the next is done). On Monday we start again. From scratch.

Also Aaaarghswearswearswearswear.


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