Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Prowling around...

Yesterday I wrote a new scene that put me in what I call "prowl around" mode. After I left the computer and went about the rest of my work/routine for the day, I was very preoccupied with that scene. At such times, I feel like one of those caged tigers in old movies, prowling around their cage. In this case, I was trying to decide whether or not the scene should stay or go or be rewritten or moved.

It was one of those scenes that I thought was necessary to show a different side of a character, and provide more details about the hero's family and their relationship. But then it veered into a different direction, one that I began to question almost immediately.

For one thing, what was suggested wasn't even remotely in my mind when I planned the book. Now, this isn't necessarily a problem. In fact, shifts like this can help take a book from a well-trod path to something more unique. So the notion that an unforeseen change had occurred wasn't troubling in and of itself.

This also means additional complications, though. Again, this isn't something that's necessarily bad. I've talked about adding layers to stories before; this could be a whole new layer.

But if I keep this change, how is it going to affect what comes after? And also, is this taking the story in a direction that seriously alters the whole tone of the story? That's not something to be taken lightly.

I also began to wonder if that change had occurred because of what's happening in my real life. (It's nothing bad! Just one of those life things that tends to dominate one's waking moments and I don't think any writer can keep "real life" from creeping into his or her fiction.)

I actually took out the scene later, because it was making things quite complicated in an unforeseen way and especially changing the tone. After some prowling and thinking, I put it back and went on with it.

Because complications are our friends when we're telling a story. Complications mean more conflict and more drama and more opportunity to create layers and depth to your characters.

So for now and at least until I'm finished the first draft, the scene between Nell and Buggy's mother stays put.

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