After some weeks of the muggy middle (the part of a story where the writer does not know what to write, but knows they have to fill a lot more pages before they can unleash the end, often leading to writer feeling like the story is meaningless entirely) I started to write part of Evangeline that seemed like emo-fluff. Or maybe character-info dump. The time that’s intensely inside head, directly exposing the character rather than the character intensely doing something that reveals the character. Seem is the key word here. A good example would be Speaker for the Dead. There’s very little in the series for that matter that feels like action, but it is action, its just dramatic action.
I really just wanted to kill of some characters, have a battle, something that was outwardly action oriented. Hey, I’m a guy and its no coincidence that I spend 4 years in the Marine Corps. Outward action is easier to write, period, but dare I say, left to itself–easier to forget? But one of the flaws in New Arbor Day was not getting to know the characters as much as one would like. Besides, it starts to get unbelievable if the leader of the known universe is routinely in danger for her life (though with intrigue it can always be around the corner). Thankfully, by the time I finished (almost) this mini-arc within the muggy middle, I told Alisa “That is what the story is about.” Nobody died. It was all dialogue and setting, a rather dull surrounding that stands upon the mountain tops of foreshadowing, metaphor, and irony. But not only does it perfectly fit the resolution, it takes the conflict from a cruising altitude of normal straight to awesome. I saw it all clearly, the open door that told me “The road to the end lies here.”
These are the days I write for.
Further thought: I wrote the above under the spurring of triumph, but perhaps you’d like to know the mechanics of the triumph. Well, I usually begin writing a character with a draft of their history and a draft of their traits. So I write them from the outside in “The Guardian does not like the out doors because its a security risk.” I mechanically understand them. But usually well into the story, and the rewrites, I start to organically connect with them, and that’s what happened today. The Guardian and Evangeline were having a sit down. I knew from the author perspective, what I wanted to transpire and what purpose it would serve, but (and this is only accomplished by consistantly writing in your story so that you begin to feel yourself in their skin, behind their eyes) conversation was flowing, and I actually was inside feeling what they were feeling, when suddenly, I was in her head (the POV at the time) and I was looking from her into him and thinking “Holy cow, he has this deep down hatred that I never saw.” And it was instantly clear. Everything from start to finish made sense about his motivation, and the reason it was there was perfectly obvious. But I can’t explain it, I only saw it because I was inside her looking into him.
So the mechanic, I can’t say why “it” happened. There’s no formula, as I am often forced to say. But the “way” it worked was because I’ve been consistantly writing and asking myself not what do I want to accomplish with this character, but what would this character actually think and feel in this situation?
Ironically, I think this is also what makes a great listener and great relationships, and I have yet to master it outside of the world of my own creation. Sad.
But, I think that as God teaches me through my own writing, I am learn it also with people.
And that leads to an after, more spiritual thought. If you disdain my talk of faith, you may tune out. But I realized that what I loved most about this section of writing, was the surprise. I did not see this side of the Guardian until this moment. I had the ending, where I wanted it to go but I did not have the why. And then it was there, totally unexpected, and perfect. And I look at that and say “Wow, isn’t God’s story like that?” Living moment to moment, I often say to myself “Where is my life going? What is the point of my story?” I get depressed because I can’t see it. That’s why I write fiction, because I can’t see my own life or real life clearly enough . . . that’s not a failing, it just means God teaches me about real life using fiction. If you did not know that’s what Parables are. Fiction.
Anyway, despite the fact that I did not know the why, but did know the ending, I still like clockwork landed on the why through the process of the what and how. Likewise, I have faith, that in the story in which I am God’s character (and therefore a part of the author himself), I will come to that epiphanic moment where I look back (and some distance forward at least) and say “Oh, that’s why.” And in that moment all that “meaningless” muggy middle of my life will become perfectly sensible. It all had a reason, it was all leading me to and through this place. Every jot and tittle of my life was for a reason. And it does make an unbelievably great story.