I’m back to school. The weather has been shortening the days (too cold for bus stops) and Thursday’s supposed to bring snow (yay!), but I’m back nonetheless. Back to having difficulty finding time to write.
I tried to get a start on the 3000 words I resolved to write this (and every) week by reading the stump I had of a story. This story I’ve worked on for maybe 3-4 years now. The science comes from an idea my father had. It took a while for him to explain it to me and a whole lot longer for me to figure out how to make it a story. Every time I’d get some momentum going on the story, I’d hit a wall. Those walls stayed in my way until I forgot what the wall was, read it through, and got rolling again. Hence the long gestation.
Well, I read and was thrilled with the opening scene (save a few small touchups I couldn’t resist adjusting). It was awesome. Then I read the next scene: great tension and emotion. Next scene, well-layed monkey wrench. Now the plot was rolling. Next scene, tension built, things spiralling out of control for the characters. Everything I had was outstanding (if I do say so myself).
So what wall had I hit? I had tried to keep the story rolling, keep spinning the characters out of control the same way for another few thousand words. The same kind of chaos. It wasn’t working. The story was naturally trying to bring itself to an end (at just over 7500 words) and I was fighting to keep it going.
So I just put it out of its misery and let it close where it was. It didn’t leave the main character in quite as much anguish and turmoil as I had wanted, but he was pretty gosh darned miserable. Not a happy ending. And how many of my 3000 new words did I write? 273. I was 273 words away from the end of my story and I didn’t even know it.
I think I can attribute part of this epiphany to George R.R. Martin. I’m currently reading A Game of Thrones in which Martin really finds ways to heap the crapola atop his protagonists. But the pile on their heads only gets so thick before he changes flavors. I wasn’t doing that. But I knew the story wasn’t going to end on an up-note and I knew my protagonist was on a pretty doggone low note, so I just let it end through a final act of self destruction. (No one dies, though.)
I may not keep this ending as written. I probably won’t. It lacks some subtlety and it’s almost 2AM, so I’m sure there are flaws I don’t see, but that’s a matter of revision now. Revision is more artistic than the delivery-room process of writing is for me. I have a very sturdy draft at last. Now I can get some sleep.
Only 2727 words left to go this week! Come on snow days!