Thursday, October 2, 2008

Two steps back, part two

This week, more of the same phenomenon that I've seen at other times, not that experience helped me cope with the stress any better. I read through Chapter 8 with increasing anxiety about how little it reflected the reality of what my character had become by that point. A serious rewrite was needed, and I poked around at that work for a couple with little confidence or little sense of how to proceed. (Also, the lack of discipline and the internet distractions have continued to slow me down.)

The problem, I'm pretty sure, lies back in Chapter 7, and twice in the last couple days I've opened up the file and taken another crack at some key paragraphs of the climax of that chapter. I even got up out of bed late last night after I had turned the light off and a possible solution occurred to me that I wanted to write down.

The more I think about it, the more I'm sure that I'm running up against a problem that has been inherent in the concept of the story and the character since their conception. When I started sketching out chapters and episodes for the book, I had my character getting his ass kicked by fate over and over again. I knew that wouldn't really be interesting if he didn't have some strength to balance him out, and I knew that any kind of action he took to resolve his problems wouldn't be credible either without some kind of asset that he could deploy. Also, I want this asset to be something he grows into as part of his coming of age story, so there is a connection between character and plot right there.

So I came up with one, and while I still believe in it, it has always been a delicately abstract idea--a part of his character--that is especially challenging to show rather than to tell. However, even though I believe in it, I have all along been hard put to describe it very well--to tell it or to show it. And this crucial moment in Chapter 7 is where that problem emerges every time I come through the draft.

Anyway, it has slowed me down a lot more than I like, but I think I got through it this morning with yet another reworking of the end of Chapter 7 and then moving on to Chapter 8 and the extensive rewrite that is now necessary there. I had hoped to finish that chapter, and thus Part 1 and thus the two-thirds point of the book, this week, but I doubt I'll finish tomorrow. Maybe, but doubtful.

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