I write deep and complex fiction, I research every layer (hands on, where I can) and include twists and turns wherever and whenever I am able, which means surprises for my readers – Now, the only way I can be sure these surprises work is if they catch my Official Reader out once I have handed over the final draft, and that means, folks, that I must not previously tell him anything that will give the plot or those surprises away.
Sometimes, however, I have a problem with the manuscript that I would like to talk out, so I have to employ a sort of code where I make all the right sounds and hedge around the issue without actually telling him what it is I am talking about.
A bit like I do here, really.
A case in point: Va’el (yes, again).
You know a bit about Va’el. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you’ll know he’s a ten year-old obnoxious brat prone to throwing tantrums. You know he’s the bastard son of a bastard son of an emperor and he has his mind on a crown of his own. You know at some point he’s going to clash with Sevi and that it will be (hopefully) fun. You also know he’s got some nasty stuff coming up which is going to twist him up in some unexpected ways and play into his future. You know it likely involves blood and also that I’m disinclined to go there (which means it must be pretty bad because I am not shy when it comes to my writing).
Yet you don’t know what that event is or how it actually will influence his future. You can surmise that it’s not Sevi giving him the wake up call he so badly needs – and you’d be right, it’s something much more troubling. This you can gather.
As much as I want to talk to you, I cannot do so without spoiling things for you in the long run, so I need to keep those details to myself. Nor can I talk to Greg (who, if you don’t already know, is my husband, my closest friend and my Official Reader). He could really help, but his honest and fresh reaction to the final draft is far more important to me. It’s only through his assessment of my work that I know if the finished product is actually what I want it to be. If he knew something of the plot, his reaction would be “Oh here it is,” and not “Bloody hell!”.
Of course, I could tell for myself if the book says what I want it to, but only after shelving it for three months or six months after I have finished and polished it ready to go, and I know for certain there are some people who would not like to be made to wait an extra second, never mind six months.
So… it’s back to keeping secrets and talking without really saying anything.
I can tell you that the method works. Writing out the issue in yesterday’s blog (“Realism versus Uh-oh of Consequences. Do I or Don’t I?”), even without discussing it, helped. Talking to Greg without saying much also helped. I think the very act of reconstructing it – even in non-description – highlights different aspects of the whole, enabling me to see different angle and therefore view it more clearly.
Va’el’s event had my focus locked down on the event itself, mainly because it’s horrible thing for a kid, even a fictional one, never mind the future links. That focus had me hesitating. Now that I have shifted that focus to the future it leads to, I can see more clearly the importance of that event.
Put plainly, if the scene was there just to shock or just for the sake of having something gory up close and personal, it would be better gone. As something pivotal to both character and plot, it stays.
So that’s it. It stays.
Forgive me for not going into detail. Sometimes it feels like I’m just waffling, but waffle works. I hope it works for you, too. 😀