July 16th, 2008

TUH Dreadful

The Prairie Dog Pops Briefly Out of Her Hole

I am enjoying a brief hiatus in what is turning into the Drama of the Unstrung Plot. When we left our heroine, she was setting out for Maine, bright-eyed and hopeful of polishing off her final revision in 9 uninterrupted days of peace and quiet. This was just possible at the rate of 2 chapters a day, and for 6.5 days, she forged onwards, integrating a character here, polishing a sentence there, recasting this impossible paragraph and clarifying that muddled scene. The moon waxed, the weather glowed, the tide flowed in and out, the birds twittered. She worked hard, cooked dinner three times (Ellen cooked the other ones). Life was good.

Then she hit Chapter 14.

Woe, woe, woe.

My readers were kind, but they all agreed. All that handwaving, all that smoke, and those incredibly highly polished mirrors had been for naught. My terrible secret was out. The three climactic chapters don't work. They are composed of long conversations that could be more interesting, some fancy footwork over a logical void, and one not-bad poem with which one of the characters banishes the evil spirit. Nice try, Sherman, but no cigar.


Consequently, last two days in Maine were not as much fun as the earlier ones. And I've got at least 4 more days of work than I had days to do it in.

So now we're in New Hampshire, having just spent a day at Odyssey. The stories were fun to talk about, the critiques were insightful and evocative, and the whole experience really cool. I have been thinking and talking about character and the patterns of story and pacing and all that good, technical stuff. I have been thinking, in a desultory way about why otherwise intelligent adolescents do dangerous and self-destructive things and pull their friends into helping them. I'm going to talk the plot of the errant chapters through with Ellen on the drive to Burlington for Readercon tomorrow, after which I will write until it's time to go to the first event. I will hobnob with my fellow wizards, whining, er, discussing Art and Technique and their relationship to difficult and angry adolescents, etc. And then, on Sunday, we will drive to a destination undisclosed, and I will hole myself up for a few more days and FINISH THE BASTARD, while Ellen drives back to New York and returns our rental car. After which I will take a train home.

And if it's not done by then, may Apollo, Ganesh, Benten, and all the gods of Art have mercy on me, because I'll need it.