As the current work in progress hurdles toward the end, I’m concentrating on the threads of the main wave. Think of them like the chords played in a rock song. The main weave has to be strong and loud, as there’s no room for any sour notes. Yet there’s something else beneath the surface going on, and I want you to think of those as more than just fill-in notes. The undercurrent of every story is as important as the main weave.
For example – take the movie Die Hard – the premise is that Bruce Willis’ character is a NYC cop who comes out to LA and fights some terrorists at Nakatomi Plaza. This is the main story or weave as I tend to call it. The backstories include several other weaves: McClane’s trouble with his wife, the Limo driver Argyle, not to mention all the interesting facts we learn about Hans Gruber. The point is, there’s a lot more going on than just Bruce Willis without shoes, dragging his bloody feet around a massive building finding interesting ways to kill terrorists.
There has to be more going on than just the single plot line, at least for me. In my first novel I made this mistake, keeping the story centered on Julius and the trials of a man seeking knowledge he had no business knowing. I was young into my formal writing career, and was far to concerned with telling one side of the story, which is why in the follow up piece Shattered Gods, I expanded it to talk about Lyra and the life of a shadowy assassin.
Depth is a challenge all writers face. Are there too many characters? Is it just too much story? I’ve already chopped one character out, but it had to be done because I couldn’t justify the additional time on screen. It’s not that the character was worthless, there’s value there, but it just isn’t enough for me to add it back in. I don’t consider those five wasted chapters, as I find them invaluable, but only because I need as much output as I can get. I’m writing in a setting which has never seen the light of day, thus no one knows anything about it. Painful exercises like writing five chapters about a character which probably won’t see the light of day is fine – because I can always use the practice.
The toughest part of all of it is questioning whether or not I’ve made the right decision when it comes to the character arcs. This is something that I’ll get the chance to go over in the revisions and corrections phase, where I’ll have an opportunity to make sure I hit the right notes at the right time. In this case timing is everything. I have to make sure those arcs make sense, but aren’t beating readers over the head. Mystery is a good thing.
And so this is a bit of a progress report before the holidays. I am doing well, if not a bit under the weather from god’s know what. I am looking forward to spending more time around the house in the next few days, as it seems I might need it. I’m crafting a special present for the kids as the big day approaches. Em and I managed to put some more of our artwork and wall decorations up, which makes the new house feel more like our home. I’ll speak to you next week right before the high holiday, but for now, be well and keep building.