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Fixing the end broke the middle

August 3, 2012

Today I finally stuck a fork in the first draft of my Steampunk fairytale story.  It had taken a long time to tinker with the next to last scene to make the action build correctly.  I wasn’t thrilled with what I had, but I had something workable and moved on to the scene with the final confrontation.  (Maybe it was more than one final scene, but that’s beside the point.)  The ending from the previous draft worked okay, so I tweaked it a bit and put it in…and realized my new middle scene had made the ending impossible.

Boo.

The easiest thing to do is probably to change the ending.  Heck, it’s the last four paragraphs that need to be changed.  That’s it.  But changing the ending to fit the middle (that I wasn’t thrilled with) takes away the cruel poetry imparted on the bad guy.  So instead I really need to change that &@#$ middle scene.

So what’s up with the middle scene?  Well, it’s a heist subplot (or event) in the middle of a story.  The heist will end up successful, that much is certain (to make the story work).  That doesn’t mean it has to go smoothly.  In fact it should not go smoothly.  When I ask myself, as the writer, “does their plan work?” the answer needs to be either “yes, but…” or “not quite, yet…”  I have kind of pinched myself into a corner with it.  Based on the surrounding material, the answer pretty much just needs to be “yes, it works.”  Not acceptable in this story.  (That’s only entertaining if George Clooney and Brad Pitt do it…and not in a sequel.)  Too cut-and-dry.  Too tidy.  The story doesn’t need tidy there; it needs to be messy.  It needs to dial up the tension.

I think the solution is going to force changes on the end, unfortunately.  I mean, there needs to be a cost to the heist.  It could cost a character’s life, but I’m not prepared to go there.  So the cost needs to be in terms of assets.  The main asset the “good guys” have is…that would be spoiling, but it was needed for the ending.  Alas, I see no way around that.  I think I can make the heist more successful than planned in order to trick the ending into working again.  Basically, plan to use asset X to procure target Y; X is destroyed in the process of obtaining Y, but they also get bonus Z.

Hmm…did blogging just solve my dilemma?  That would be pretty sweet.  I’m sure this story has other issues.  Perhaps some more vague rambling will help me devise fixes for those too.

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