Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Overwhelmed by the vision

I've been suffering from a lack of "mojo" since early July because of a confluence of events. I talked about some of it in the crisis of confidence post. Another contributing factor was a beta pointing out (absolutely correctly) a big problem in Part IV. Then I wrote a chunk of Part V and it didn't help.

Paging the plot doctor... we need to do this again
Yes, I'm slowly recovering. Deciding to get out the chainsaw and fix Part IV helped a lot -- rather than letting the problems in Part IV hang around in an ominous cloud, I'm going to tackle them because they are in fact finite, fix-able things.

They are. I have declared it to be so.

Disciple is going through a dark phase. Its dark night of the soul. When you look into the darkness, the darkness looks back at you -- and we have a history, the darkness and I. The despair my characters feel infects me easily, since they are close to my heart.

And writing Part V will help a little in getting to the end of the dark night of the soul, but the dawn isn't going to break for a while yet.

My point being, though, that the story and the writer are deeply entangled. The emotions in one echo in the other.

The emotion that I would usually want to talk about, here, would be how a writer's confidence echoes into the story. I believe it does. Confidence impacts things as mundane as word choice and sentence structure, and as abstract as world-building. A writer who lacks confidence is more prone to passive verbs, roundabout descriptions, and trying to explain everything up front rather than assuming the reader is willing to trust the writer.

Because they are, you know. Readers don't usually open books against their will, so they're willing to give you a chance. This ties into a bit of advice I got at Viable Paradise: SIN BOLDLY. A novel is just a sin, inasmuch as it's a lie, but when you do it boldly... lying boldly is really just what we call "acting", isn't it? Skits and plays are lies too, but we believe the actors because they stride out on the stage believing it completely themselves. Boldly.

This also ties into the propaganda concept known as "the big lie" (I may be wrong about the exact term). It's also encapsulated in the old saying "Straining at gnats but swallowing camels." My own betas bear it out when they pick at the details of horse care or childbirth, but question nothing about, you know, the fact the evil empire fields armies of monsters -- what on earth do you do with them in peace-time? I hope it's because I project enough boldness, backed up with plausibility, to sin on the page.

(I have theories about the uses of minotaurs in peace-time :D )

But it's tougher to be bold when your mojo is tainted with your story's dark night of the soul. The bond between creator and creation a two-way street, and since we all love our characters so -- despite the horrible things we do to them, or maybe because of the horrible things -- we're deeply sympathetic to the plight that we're working so hard to get onto the page. How many times have your characters left you in tears? They do it to me too, and I'm usually a very even-keeled person, emotionally.

The cover art for Disciple, Part I: For Want of a Piglet is in development! When it's ready, I'll be revealing it over at my book blog, Disciples of the Fount.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hell, I cried when I was researching my thesis. Definitely I go through the emotional wringer when my characters are experiencing challenges that resonate strongly with things I've experienced, which is most of the time.

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