And What’s Wrong with Left Turns?

Posted: November 20, 2014 by writingsprint in Nanowrimo
Tags: , , , ,

“I took it for granted, for the longest time. Being a princess. I watched my mommy and daddy dance at state dinners. I snuck up behind them and listened while they were having meetings with heads of state. Union leaders. Criminals. You could tell the difference. The criminals acted nice, but it was like seeing a knife inside a silk glove. I learned a few things about how to play the game.”

Following up yesterday’s post — the more that I think about it, the more I realize that life is a series of left turns. If I kept everything going the way that I planned, the story would feel like someone driving 200 miles in the same lane at 55 miles an hour, refusing to pass anyone. Without changing the radio station. What fun would that be?

I learned a great lesson from Allyson Everard: sometimes not knowing what to do is the right place to be. Your characters can be confused, too. Use it. Who never faced heartbreak from not knowing what to do, or where to turn?

So tonight, I realized that I could write another action scene, and the story could keep feeling like a random collection of events, or I could try to give it some direction. Everything that I’ve written so far has been events that had to happen, but none of them have been driven by Risha’s mission. That’s because while I’ve known what she wants, I haven’t known what to do about it.

Let’s look at it in a contemporary way. How does a small-time criminal become President? Other than walking up to several million people and asking them to vote for her. More importantly, if the current President wants to kill you, why not just walk away? How could you possibly fight back?

I wrote that scene while listening to this in the background:

It’s a sad scene. Risha doesn’t want her friends to die one by one as they stand by her, but she can’t walk away from who and what she is — and destiny aside, what she wants to do, too. I wrote five different endings to the scene, none of which I liked, then I asked Risha what she would do. She had a much better idea than any of mine.

Which still left me with a few hundred words to reach goal for the night. I wrote one more scene that was a possible conclusion to the plan Risha had in mind. It was ridiculous and more than a little hard to imagine, but it passed the most important litmus test: it was cool. So in some way, shape or form, if only as inspiration, that scene will make it into the story. The heroes will figure out how to get it done.

PS: random research of the day: Do you know how hard it is to find an estimate of what the British crown jewels are worth? I found everything from 20 million dollars to a billion dollars to “priceless.”

  1. Fredrik Kayser says:

    Ah the ME3 soundtracks, I put soo many hours into those three games, and you’re definitely right. Life can be a series of left turns and if playing through Mass Effect was beneficial in any way it would have to be the game’s stance on humanity. Humanity, what it means to be human, is about finding a way trough the seemingly impossible. We’re quite tenacious, our species ^^

    A am at a similar impass, I know where I want my MC to go but I haven’t quite figured out in what way to get him there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES — I agree on both the humanity and what you said about facing and finding a way through the impossible.

      What you said about your MC is similar to the problem I was facing. Remember that your MC isn’t you. They have mad skills and courage and can imagine things you can only dream of. Sometimes it helps to have them do something superhuman or outrageous, then I figure out how they actually did it. They’re heroes! They do the impossible because they’re braver, smarter, luckier, etc. than I’ll ever be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Damyanti says:

    I give my MC an absolutely free rein in the first draft. by the end of the draft I know the character very well– and then, each time I put a challenge in front of the MC in the second draft, I know exactly how she/ he would react. For me, Character defines plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re on to something. I haven’t been letting my main character run free lately — I’m too constrained by everything she would have to overcome first. I should just go with it and not just see what happens, but let it all happen, if only to get to know her better.


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