Friday, May 7, 2010

Curses, Foiled Again! Plotting Against Myself

Yesterday I had the wonderful experience of sharing writing time with my 10-year-old daughter. We were both in my office, on separate computers, working on our stories and occasionally tossing out comments and questions to each other. I had a great time and actually got a good bit of writing done. I'm hoping these 'write-ins' become a regular part of our daily life.

What I found most interesting is that we were both facing the same issue in our writing: The Dreaded Middle Part. I can come up with a great beginning to my story and I know where I want it to end up, but getting from Point A to Point B can be dodgy, especially when I include the necessary psychological changes in my characters as I go along. My daughter's story is about elves and fairies in a made-up galaxy. Mine is about human beings in North Georgia. But we faced the same dilemma.

Somewhere in the course of our conversation, when my daughter was sounding way more deep and grown-up than a 10-year-old is supposed to, she asked a profound question: How do you get from Point A to Point B in real life? The same process should apply, she suggested, to characters and their storylines.


First of all, I don't know many people who apply themselves to life with the mindfulness necessary to even identify Point A and Point B, much less figure out how to get from here to there. Sure, most of us follow the standard go-to-school-and-get-a-job plan, but my daughter's Point A and Point B included more than just the practical bits of reality - she meant, how do you get from the person you are at Point A to the person you want to become at Point B?

Sure, no problem, kid, I'll just outline the process to you in three easy steps. Not.

Thirty seconds of conversation yesterday morning has kept my mind busy for more than a full day now. I've identified my own Point A, who I am and where I'm at right now. I've identified Point B, in both practical and philosophical terms. Now I'm patiently waiting for insight as to the path between the two points. All right, not entirely patiently. But I'm filling up the time by working on those same points and the path between them for my novel's main character. I know who she is when the novel starts. I know who she is when it ends. Now it's my job to present her with situations that force her to change, to undertake the process that moves her from Point A to Point B on an inner level. It won't be pretty. Life rarely is. But I'm sure it will be satisfying. I hope I'll be that fulfilled when I reach Point B, too.