MOPNoWriMo Day 8: Birds Nest Soup (6/2/2012)

Day eight: Target wordcount: 40000. Words written: 40100

Once upon a time, I built a gizmo with a couple of motors moving a mirror. A laser was supposed to shine at the mirror, which was inclined by forty-five degrees, so the laser came out orthogonal to the way it came in. The motors were partly to stabilise the mirror, but they were also supposed to put a couple of small sinusoids on the mirror so that the beam went in small circles and traced the path of a cone when it came out. In principle, when you turned the laser on at the top and held up a piece of paper to see what pattern the beam was tracing, what came out was supposed to be a circle.

What actually came out generally looked like a bird’s nest, and for a long time, this seemed like a Very Bad Thing, but in the end turned out to be so useful that several of us continue to claim to this day that we designed it that way On Purpose because we were That Clever, and it wasn’t a lucky accident at all, oh no.

So, anyway, the writing: Some days you tap on the door of the muse and out she comes, singing sweet songs and ready to dance all night. Other days you have to go in with a police battering ram and a couple of tear gas grenades, drag him out of a crack den and stick his head in a vice until he screams and then take those screams and use them, even if what you end up with makes Pirates of the Caribbean III look like a work of deep meaning with an intricately layered plot leading to a climax that is both spectacular and thoughtful. This has been one of those days. One major character has literally declared they’ve had enough and walked out. The scholarly sidekick now seems to think he’s Ozymandias from the Watchmen. And while it was quite fascinating how he disposed of the Chief Antagonist, I currently have no idea how he’s not actually y’know, totally dead and stuff and can’t come  back for, y’know, THE REST OF THE F***ING PLOT, MAYBE?

And yet.

I’d been planning to write a bit about why I’m actually doing this, but today’s little debacle strikes me as more informative. While the prose style of today’s writing is no different to that of the days before (that is to say, workmanlike and nothing to shout about – for me that’s fine and what rewrites are for), the narrative twists and turns, particularly relating to, well, basically all of my principle characters, are not. They are either much better and drive the story onto a much tighter track, or else I’ve completely disappeared up my own backside and at this point it’s quite difficult to tell which. One thing that is certain is that what I wrote today, in the context of what has gone before as it is currently written, is dire – a bunch of characters suddenly start start throwing their toys about without any particular warning or indeed, any particular indication that they had said toys to throw.

It’s tempting to throw the whole lot away. Certainly the bit where someone builds a snowman in order for someone else to shoot a it a few pages later and thus trigger an avalanche that wipes out a whole bunch of people needs a serious slap in the face with a haddock. However, it’s also possible that the agonised screams of today’s very reluctant muse have been telling me something important about the passions of the main characters in this story. That they have been a bit mute thus far. Possibly twisting various characters around to set up for today’s scenes will add a tension and a darkness that’s been missing. Instinct says go with it and take the rewrite effort on the chin.

Sometimes when the muse howls, it means more than when she sings.


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