Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The End of the Honeymoon

I recently read, in a book on screenwriting, that the relationship between an author and a longer piece of her work (a screenplay in the example given by the book, but it can easily be applied to novels as well) is very similar to a relationship and a marriage.

You get your idea, and it's the same as meeting a new person. Things start out swimmingly, you discover you like the same things, the first few pages are blissfully easy to write and you have every hope that this will be the work that gets published, that this man will be the one that you marry.

Of course, partway in, the honeymoon is over, and you start falling into a routine that very quickly gets boring. Your hubby smacks his lips when eats, you find you can't write anything better than scene descriptions, he starts working late hours, you wonder why you were tempted to waste so much time on an idea that is evidently going nowhere, he forgets your birthday.

Even worse, soon into this relationship you start noticing other guys, you start coming up with new ideas - ideas that are so much more creative and clever then the one you've been throwing pages away on, these guys are so much more polite than the husband who won't floss and they like to pay attention to you and tell you how pretty you are (which hubby hasn't done of late), and these new ideas are just so great that it becomes obvious that you're just wasting paper and computer space by continuing with the derivative piece of crap you started with, and you know that life is too short to spend it with a man you're not satisfied with when there are dozens of beautiful men out there who will do it for him!

One has to get over that hump for a successful marriage, methinks, the same way an author has to overcome her insecurities about her story and see it through to the end. Now this isn't completely applicable to me, because I'm polyandrous with my stories. You may say I keep a handsome harem of novels and screenplays, and when I tire of one I will visit another. Usually it works, especially with short stories - I stopped by "Magic Doesn't Grow on Trees"'s place recently, and oh - he's shaved off his unsightly goatee and took a massage class! Working with other stories gives me new ideas that I can then apply to stories I've given up on.

But with novels, well, that's harder. With Shining Empress, I managed to pull myself through three drafts, and while I got to the end, I think I chickened out and didn't really make any conclusion, and in the end I didn't really have a product good enough to ship out anywhere.

So I'm having problems with The Boy Who Would Be Queen. He's become very childish of late, and I don't want to end up with a story that would be classified as "Young Adult". I realize that lots of perfectly good fantasy ends up termed as "Young Adult", but I've never visited the teen section of a bookstore since I was thirteen, and I want my novel to be on the same self as the Big-Girl Fantasy stories. I realize this is childish in and of itself, but that's my current attitude and it's putting a strain on me and My Boy.

Also, I have no idea where we're going. I stopped giving myself much of an outline past the gimmick that starts the plot off in the beginning, because more often then not (and this happened all the time with Shining Empress), I get a new flash of insight, the plot heads in an entirely new direction, and all of my plotting goes to waste. I just write and write and write in the hopes that something will come up, but right now I think I've wasted words on a generally uneventful dinner party, a mild argument that ended with a fish-eyed stare, and is going into a game of croquet where I can descibe the pretty clothes that people are wearing and not much else.

I'm very tempted to give this novel the "Extreme Makeover" - that is, write a better outline and start from the beginning, from scratch. And maybe do some research on what medieval life is really like. I made my protagonist a stable boy, then the son of a coachman, without really knowing all that much about coachmen and stables. I'm going to keep slogging at it, because I know I have some good ideas in there SOMEWHERE, but it's very hard and I'm so tempted to just do away with it completely and focus on my stories and screenplays.

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