Monday, May 11, 2009

A Willingness to Let Go

This project has been with me a very long time, even though I have not written on it for at least ten years. When I returned to this project I was reluctant at first to change much of the plot. I did change some aspects of the story because it was far too dark originally. Those changes forced me to change the main character. However, I still maintained the basic plot for the story, which cause numerous problems as I tried to outline the story based upon the change in history and characterizations I made. The more detailed my characterization became the more difficult it was to modify the outline for this project.

As I worked on the inner conflicts of the main character I developed several ideas on what could be conflicting with this character. However, none of these worked well with the story that I had. I was too stubborn to adjust the story based upon what I developed for the characters. I wanted some strong inner conflicts for the characters but I kept trying to force those into the story as I had it. I never felt any of that worked well for me.

This weekend I thought of a good inner conflict that I could give the main character. When I tried to work it into the story I found that this inner conflict was naturally solved within a few scenes of the book. What good is character conflict if it gets solved quickly? I didn't want to give up on this inner conflict because it was the strongest one I had developed. The two sides of this conflict were mutually exclusive unlike any of the others before. I wanted to keep this conflict if at all possible.

So, I thought about the story and came up with a possible new beginning to the novel. This adjustment could certainly play upon this inner conflict and keep it going for much longer than before. In fact, it could easily become a driving force for this character. However, it meant letting go of a part of this plot that has been around for a long time.

Let's say for a moment that this is a quest story. The original plot would be something simple like someone sending the main character on a quest to accomplish something. Not very exciting by itself. The conflicts were mostly external. However, now the main character is thrown into a situation and must fight to discover what is happening and find a solution. Throw in the fact that the inner conflict forces the character to make a decision to go in one direction or another (and cannot do both, although both are equally desirable).

Even though this new adjustment could be a better than what I had before I had to be willing to cut out what I believed what was "right" for this project. That was not easy to do. I have had this story in my head for so long that it is still difficult to give up any part of it.

I think, in a way, I may have an advantage because in this project I want to "deep outline" before writing anything. Otherwise I would have written several chapters that I would never have used in this book. Some may say that is a good exercise. Perhaps so but I am the type that likes to have a very good idea of where a story is going before writing anything.

Hopefully the new direction this story has taken will work better than what I had previously. What I do know is that the inner conflict works much better now and I can build upon it better than the other conflicts I developed.

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