Any creative process comes in stages. Writing is no different. I wanted to believe that I was able to overcome some of the nastier stages. Writer’s block is one of them. Sitting down to write is no longer a problem. There is always a chapter waiting to be written, a scene to be editted, a dialogue to be perfected, a character to be fleshed out. If not anything else, there are piles of notes to go through and try to make sense of. I can’t remember the last time I faced an empty page. It was probably a different millenium.
But today I reached that particular point in a story’s progress where all seems pointless. When all the months of writing, months of editting amounts to nothing but a pile of wriggling mess. That point of ‘hanging above the chasm’, a point where nothing but your whirling arms keep you from plunging into the abyss.
There is a certain theme I’m trying to introduce in the story. I refuse to call it a subplot but it does suggest there’s more to a character’s past than previously anticipated.The trouble is that the story is not at the right stage to introduce the new theme (trust me, you’ll thank me later). I knew all along that to do it successfully, I need to introduce this theme very slowly and by morsels so it has time to grow in the reader’s mind and to possibly create a sense of foreboding. But the idea is so abstract that to flesh it out seems absurd in its own way. How can you flesh out an abstract? It has no flesh to speak of!
So I tried to use the character’s emotions and I tried to crystalize these into words (since this is a book, I thought words would be handy). It doesn’t work. Words are too direct, too suggestive and too much obviously hiding a major part of the plot from the reader. Readers don’t like being played, not in an obvious way anyway. They love to be surprised but it shouldn’t come in an unlikely way (“What’s a Tyrannosaurus riding Nazi doing in a Star Wars story?”)
Next, I tried using a visual image to introduce the subplot. It does work, in a way, but I still think it treats the reader like a moron. It’s way too obvious and even a little bit childish. Not something to brag about.
By the way, all of this thinking is being done on a story with its chest cavity ripped open, waiting for a new set of lungs. Yes, I performed an open bypass surgery on a story that was about 90% into completion. No pressure.
Third attempt was to hide some of the theme in the lore, fleshing out the setting while doing so. The other part I’m still worried about. It’s sort of treating the reader like an idiot but at least the main character is clueless about it as well, even though the detail is about him personally. The main character suspects something is amiss but cannot place his hand on it.
The trouble is, now I fear the plot is overly complicated for no other reason than to do an early introduction of the next book in the series.
Yes, it’s a series. I know. Sue me.
Tonight, I start closing the bypass. What’s done is done. I will let history (and readers) decide if it works or not.