Saturday, 17 November 2007


I guess I must have blogged on this topic a number of times before.
It's something on my mind at the moment.
As I continue with my life change, I look at the choices I face.
A stomach takes life upon me and I look at it and think 'No fair! Where did you come from?'
Fight or flight.
So I choose to fight and I have started swimming and doing a few stretches in the morning (and it's bloody cold!).
But I think this will not be enough and I may have to make another choice soon.
Everything comes at the expense of something else.
Every word we choose comes at the expense of some other word; every tangent we take comes at the expense of all other tangents. Writing is all about choices we make.
So unfortunately my blogging has suffered (my apologies to you all). But I am trying to balance everything, and it will all settle soon, I'm sure.
And, of course, lovely Mr Esy coaxed me into online dating, and more time is pooled from my life into avoiding 'bubbly' women, women who can't tell the difference between your and you're, and occasionally chatting with the more amicable types.

I devised a theory quite some time back. I am convinced that we are far more likely to move away from something bad than we are to move towards something good.
When my bosses chose to revoke the bonus scheme (for reasons that I'm sure were necessary for them), I found my bank account spluttering in a puddle of blood and bile.
Fight or flight. I fought, asked for a payrise, and was refused. So I fought again, and I hope to have found a new job elsewhere.

These are some of the choices I have made.
Robert McKee reckons that character is revealed by choices made under pressure.
Furthermore, if you look round some of the 'beginner's mistakes' webpages, you'll notice that one of the biggest newbie errors is the formation of protagonists who make no choices; rather, they are cast unwittingly from one event to the next - mere pawns in God's grand plan.

If I look through my ms, I see that I am guilty of this too.
Take the inciting incident: When the lighthouse breaks, what choice does Penpa have?
I've made her afraid of the outside world (and juxtaposed this against her loneliness).
She can stay where she is, and hope that the lighthouse fixes itself, or she can leave her comfort zone and try to save the world.
I'm not convinced it's much of a choice. However, by opening with a scene in which her fascination with the outside world changes from naive wonder to skeptical fear, I have at least made the choice more difficult.

But the crunch comes much later on.
She discovers that her world has been sacrificed for the greater good.
And she fights.
Hang on, I came up with a good line of dialogue for this moment ... let me dig it out ...
Oh yes: the antagonist says to her 'Does your conscience extend only as far as your eye?'
And this is the critical moment for her. She has thought no further than saving her own planet. Now she has to consider that there are countless other planets and lives, and that everything comes at the expense of something else.
Sure, this is my social commentary :o)
Anyhoo, having recognized this choice, I am now eager to compound it - to intensify it.
She sees death all around her, and I should take the mantle of responsibility away from the antagonist and throw it at her.
Currently, she argues with the antagonist until she gets her way. It's not that much of a deal though, for the antagonist had already sorted everything out, and was about to restore her life-giving energy anyway.
So I will string this out. He will need longer, and life will drain all about her, and she will need to make this terrible decision - she will condemn her friends to death, or she will allow entire galaxies to die. What a choice!
It's akin to: Your child dies, or a faceless city of people you've never met and never will meet dies, but on a much grander scale.

(NB In book two, she must choose between her own life and the lives of others.)

Finally, whilst we're on this topic, it's worth noting that the most common question that I ask myself as I edit my ms is this:
Does any given passage move the story along?
Using this question, I have been able to remove paragraphs that have only a tiny importance, emphasize scenes that have a vital importance, and ensure that the reader is thrust breathlessly and effortlessly from scene to scene.

And now I face another choice:
Do I crack on with the edit, or do I tidy the house?

Would you eat this? How hard is the choice? What do you win, and what do you lose?

I'm a Celebrity ...


esruel said...

Never mind coaxed: I ordered you to do it! And you've also omitted something else: the result!

esruel said...

Erm, semi-graphic result...

solv said...

The graphic result equals the semi-graphic result.
I am learning more about first impressions, preconceptions, and am finding much pleasure in hunting for the clues that slink beneath the undergrowth between the lines.
That's to say that writing is my mistress and she is the jealous type.
Which is a euphemism for 'nothing is happening'.