Monday, May 07, 2007

Sometimes you Get What You Need

I certainly don't need the grey skies overhead today but that's what we have! I don't need the pile of laundry and the towel that the cat did his business on because I, in sleeping state I didn't see him in there when I went to the loo at 3:30, locked him in. However I did need to pop over to He Wrote She Wrote on the Crusie/Mayer Workshop today. Now I wrote A Cornish House quickly trying to put all that was in my head down on paper with out stopping. This was good but now I have in front of me 92, 500 words that need one hell of a lot of taming. I do have good strong characters, I have good setting, I have good lively dialogue, I have good sexual tension but I haven't got enough twist or suspense or surprises or whatever you want to call it. So, do I pare it all down and write a YA focusing on one characters version of the story or do I step back and organize my story. Do I look at my original premise and see if I can attain that my twist my view on the story.

That brings me to Bob's first installment on plot- Narrative Structure Now normally I read Bob's bits and nod my head but there isn't a light bulb moment. My mind seems to works more like Jenny's. I like the way she addresses a story however this morning Bob made sense. I struggled in my story to have an antagonist. In my mind map that was going to Serena but as I wrote she was a protagonist as much as Madde. This confusion clearly shows in the current draft. I need to step back and decide who is the bad guy here and then look at the story from her pov. This will improve my plot according to Bob. Here it is in his words:

"Another thing to consider is this: If a novel is a problem that needs to be resolved, who usually introduces the problem? The antagonist. Taking the point of view of the antagonist during outlining can help you focus the plot of the novel. Your protagonist will be reacting to the antagonist’s plan until the critical moment at which the protagonist starts to act."

I think if I start to resolve this I will immediately tighten the story. I need to take a line. Who is the bad guy? Now if I go the YA route that is clear. Madde is. She is the wicked step-mother who has up-rooted Serena from her life in London and brought her to Cornwall. Fits the bill quite nicely really ( I can see my reader's thinking here). Now I can see that my original plan, Serena as the antagonist, is trickier. Madde is the adult. She is calling all the shots except those that fate throws at her - husband dying to cancer, step daughter landed on her lap, inheriting a house in Cornwall. She is much more the master of all in her life including Serena. Serena's antagonism to her may not be enough to pull the story through and this is clearly where I have failed. Can I, now that I see it - fix it? Because in my heart I still want to write this story as I envisioned it.

Back to Novel Racers tomorrow when normal life returns in the UK.


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I think it would be much more original as you envision it. It's unusual to have a young person as the 'baddie' (I know it's not that simple, but for the purposes of discussion...) Can you make her sufficiently antagonistic? Some teenage girls can be VILE, especially when their hormones are frothing around, and they're also usefully (from a writer's point of view) unpredictable. I'd find your version much more interesting to read than the YA one your reader suggests (and yes I do read some YA books). Sounds as if you're making progress. Hang in there!

liz fenwick said...

Trying to think things through properly......thanks for your insights. Serena is pretty vile but I could make her do worse things. But I have to be honest and say I think it goes against my nature to make someone unredeamable.

sheepish said...

I am also working along with the Cruise Mayer workshop and finding it very helpful.Take your time and all will be revealed.And I am inclined to say go with your gut instinct, it's your book after all!

liz fenwick said...

I probably shall and if that doesn't fly I can they try the YA approach :-) The workshop has been brilliant.

Therese said...

I can also envision both characters in both roles...but with the main antagonist being that common fate that threw them together. I'm presuming Bob Mayer advised that the antagonist does not necessarily have to be a person/character? Just a force against which the character(s) struggle.

Without knowing the gist of the story, it's hard to weigh in usefully, but there you have my two-cents'-worth!

liz fenwick said...

That and interesting thought. Somewhere in the workshop they said that fate or nature couldn't be the antagonist......which played in my mind as I wrote the draft. I would like it to be the story of both of them and HEA for both but I'm not sure that will be compelling enough. Thanks for weighing Therese :-)