Friday, June 22, 2012

Better Living Through Shortcuts...Or Tell The Damn Story & Worry 'Bout The Rest In Editing!

Usually, when I reach a sticking point, a point where a story gets hung up by details, I'll side-step around it, leave a red star and a note telling me what's supposed to happen at that point.  This usually happens when I have to describe a character or a setting.  For example, in Before The Dawn, there's a conversation that takes place in Mason's office.  It's the point where I was introducing one of the federal agents, Special Agent Sebastian Eckes.

The scene was taking longer than I had thought it should because I was dwelling on Eckes's appearance and how the office was decorated.  So rather than dwell on both of those descriptions, I put a red asterisk where Eckes's description would be so I can put in a description of who he looks like.  (Yes, I have a specific person in mind for Eckes.  No, I'm not going to tell you who it is.)  I did the same for the description of the office.  This let me get through the scene and continue telling the story.

Of course, I got hung up later on by my inability to write a believable action sequence, but that's a story for another day.

I've run into the same problem in "The Fault Lies Not".  It had been cruising along quite nicely, and I was confident that I would be ending the story soon.  Then I ran into a problem.  I had to have my main character, EarthGov Security Special Agent Lin Sillo, kidnapped by the killer she and her partner have been searching for.  There would then be a scene in which information is provided to Vincent, Lin's partner, by agents of another government, and a scene where the killer gives Lin information that's counter to what Vincent's been told.

But how to do that?  There's a scene where the eighth victim is found, then an info-dump which leads to the search of an apartment and the discovery of the ninth and tenth victims.  Now, the apartment is in a tall skyscraper, so I had first thought about having the killer show up then be chased to the roof.  Lin engages him in hand-to-hand, as she did earlier in the story, but ends up being dragged off the roof by the killer.  They get caught in specialized fields designed to catch jumpers, Lin's rendered unconscious and she's carried off.

It just wasn't working.

I thought about maybe having Lin confront the killer in the basement of the building, lose and get carted off.  I was having trouble with that because, as I said, I have trouble writing action sequences.  I've been trying to figure out how to transition between these scenes.  Getting from Lin's scene, which is told from her point of view, to the scene with Vincent, a scene which Lin can't know anything about.

After much deliberation, I think I've come up with a solution.

It's a slight variation of what I usually do when I get stuck.  Rather than just put in a red asterisk and a note, I had Lin ask the unseen person she's telling the story to if he/she wants to hear all the sordid details about how she ended up being the killer's hostage.  She then says she has to refer to Vincent's report, which gives me leave to shift back to third person and write the scene with Vincent and the other agents, then go back to Lin's first person point of view and continue the story.

This will allow me to continue telling the story, while following my usual mantra:  JUST TELL THE DAMN STORY!  Finish the story and worry about fixing the details later.

Feeling confident about the story again, and about writing in general again.  Hopefully, this will help me get back on track and back to writing on a more regular basis.

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