Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Plan for Getting Unstuck

Okay, one down, one to go. Well, really, many more than that, but one more for now. How do I go about this?

(What the heck is Karen talking about? One what?)

King JorThis. I finally got the next bit of scene written up for the "otherworld" King Jor, got it posted on the fiction blog, and even took notes on what Jor wants to see happen next. As I've mentioned here before, I've been stuck for a while on this scene from The Mâvarin Revolutions, the sequel to the Mages from Mâvarin trilogy. Back around February my handwritten text for it was up to a bit in which the dying King says,

“So Cathla has fled the Palace. That complicates things. Hmm. There’s an idea.”

I wrote that at lunch one day in the food court at Park Place Mall, and then went back to work. If I ever knew what King Jor's idea was, I didn't write it down, and promptly forgot it. I've been trying to figure it out ever since.

One of the main things I do to get my fiction moving forward is to simply start writing, regardless of the fact that I don't know what the characters are going to do or say next. Basically I let them talk it over, and work things out for themselves. But this time, King Jor refused to cooperate. I opened my leather notebook several times to that page, but no new words appeared.

Prince Carmi. Original art by Sherlock; combined with photo and colorized by KFBEventually one day I managed to add several more paragraphs, in which Jor refused to elaborate on his idea until more witnesses arrived. This time the text ended thus:

Lt. Govan

That's all. No sentence, just the character name. Apparently I learned nothing from the Jor debacle, because again I forgot what the next bit was supposed to be. It wasn't until I sat and waited for chicken wings several nights ago that I finally realized that Govan was simply arriving in Jor's apartment, one of the witnesses the dying king was waiting for. So Jor asked him where the Princess and Commander Masan were, which led to an argument between Jor and his son, Prince Carmi, about Carmi's sister Cathla.

Finally, just tonight when I typed this up and then drove to Safeway, King Jor finally divulged what he has in mind. This time I took notes! It's not the world's greatest idea for preventing a war over the royal succession, but if King Jor were capable of doing that, the book would be over in fifty pages or less, and have a different title!

Now I need to work out a similar issue in Chapter Six of An Adept in Mâvarin, the first volume in the Mages trilogy. I think I mentioned this problem here before, too; basically, Darsuma needs to wriggle on the hook a bit as she struggles to find out why she's having memory blackouts and concentration issues. Having skipped over this and other unwritten or unfinished scenes for the last several edits and rewrites, I promised myself that this time through I would finally write or delete the placeholder scene bits, and also fix continuity errors as I found them. But again, I don't know what Darsuma has in mind. I've added all of thirty words so far, none of which tell me much.

So I've got a couple of choices:

1. I can force myself to just start writing, and hope Darsuma gets her act together.
2. I can sit on Chapter Six for the next couple or months until my brain finally gets moving on the problem, or
3. I can give up on it for now anyway, and keep going on other scenes.

When I was writing the bulk of Mages, I had this good little method going. I would add the next chapter or so of scene breakdowns to my master outline, and then write whichever upcoming scene seemed the most fun or acheivable at that moment. If the scene with Talber in Chapter 8 wasn't working, I could write that other bit with Rani from Chapter 9 instead. There were always two or three pending scenes available to be written at any given time, all within a chapter or two of each other.

But now, years later, there are only a handful of scenes that haven't been written up yet. I don't really have the luxury of skipping ahead, because the next bit is already written, and the next and the next. I need to just start writing, I guess, and hope that Darsuma does something soon!


Art by Sherlock, 2004. Drawing of Carli / Del / Carmi combined with photo, colorized and made way too effeminate by KFB, 2007.

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