Hi-ho revision, away!
And with it, three wishes that I have:
- I wish that I’d shown instead of told
- I wish that my characters’ motivations and characterisations were consistent
- I wish that I had explored everything to the fullest just so that I could eliminate/settle on certain possibilities by seeing how they play out
And now, I can grant them!
Well, I can grant them soon enough. Only six chapters to go after this one, and that’s not very much. And if I’d actually done all those things, I wouldn’t know what my three wishes were anyway.
It’s so tempting right now to convert Tallulah into a trilogy or something. I really don’t want to, just on principle, because while I do probably have at least enough story material for two tales, and I could probably find a way to turn it into three, the original idea was just to do it all in one go. I’ve got all of these side-characters and sub-plots that I’m really fond of, but they take away from the core conflict – a conflict that I only recently re-discovered, after over a year of writing this story. It was quite the humbling experience, and solved almost every single issue I’d been having in terms of focus, from plot to characters to motifs. It’s not that stories can’t or shouldn’t change, but the initial idea that I had was strong enough for me to want to write an entire story founded on it, and had driven everything I’d written afterwards, even if it was forgotten about during the writing process to some extent while I got caught up in the here and now of creating. I don’t want to think of where I’d be right now if I hadn’t had that revelation. Makes me really consider putting a post-it note on my computer with the core premise, the story-seed, the central conflict written on it, just so that I never lose that original goal.
But doing it messy is working fine. Having freedom to explore and get lost and side-tracked may have helped me to appreciate just how important identifying and tying everything back to the central conflict really is, for any story, whoever tells it, and, of course, gave me the opportunity to see what happens when it is lost in the deluge of new and fascinating possibilities that I wanted to play with at the time, and just dumped them into the body of my manuscript because it was the closest container to hand, seeing how that affected what I wrote and giving me direct feedback as to how I feel about that as a storyteller. Some of it was useful. Some of it was not. All of it was educational.
I wonder if this is going to be the way it happens every time I set out to write a story, if I’ll have to basically re-learn how to write a story from scratch. I’ve heard it said that this is indeed the case. And there’s certainly a precedent – I think of all the times I’ve had to re-learn really significant things about life, some so basic that one would expect them to be taken for granted, others things that I fear I am one of the lucky few of whom ever learns them at all. Or perhaps it’s just how committed one is to turning those revelations into habits. Something I can work on.
And so now I’m sitting in a puddle of interesting ideas and feeling like the stream of the story is passing me by. And I don’t know enough about it to make a judgment call either way, how much longer to sit here and soak before I eventually head back to wash myself off and let the current immerse and take me along again. But I do know that I like my central conflict – and I like all the other stuff I’ve come up with. It could just be that I have more than one story to tell, and that not all of this stuff belongs in just one story, but that it still belongs somewhere. I suppose that does seem a fairly obvious downside to putting all of one’s ideas into a manuscript: it becomes difficult to distinguish which ones really fit and which ones are most comfortable being alien once they’re all written into the same space.
Although it is fairly easy to find the ideas that seem to restrict the flow of the central conflict, and I suppose that’s enough of a hint to take. I would love to find a solution so that I can get every single thing I want to include into this space, and perhaps there is a way. But for now, I’m just kind of weighed down with the responsibility of opportunity.
Though I suppose there are worse things, honestly. Oh the burden of privilege. What a curse it is to have so much freedom. Heavy lies the crown.
Fourth wish: that this chapter was half the length …