And I don’t mean for the Easter bunny.
I’m afraid the characters in my current WIP, “Magic and Power”, have been leading me astray. Well, not exactly astray, but not on track, either. That’s the problem, really. There never was a sufficient track laid out for this one.
I’ve posted before about being a (modified) discovery writer here and here among others. I’m perfectly willing to embark on a short story on the basis of an idea and faith. If it doesn’t work out, I haven’t lost that much time and no writing is ever wasted. It’s all practice if nothing else.
But I approach longer works a little differently. I want at least a minimum amount of milestones to keep me from going off into the weeds. The reason for this is experience. The second book I wrote after getting serious about writing (which doesn’t count that thing I wrote back in college) is the specific reason.
I was literally writing the last page of a 100,000 word or so novel when I looked up and said to myself, “But, it’s not a story.” I instinctively knew it wasn’t a story, even though there were characters, who changed, a setting, and things happened. I was a much less experienced writer then, though. It took me half a dozen attempts at fixing it to figure out why it wasn’t a story.
It wasn’t a story because it didn’t have a strong central conflict. There were conflicts. They were resolved. But the ending didn’t feel like a resolution of the whole book because there wasn’t one dominant problem that drove the whole story forward. Once I fixed that, it became a story–one that I was even happy with.
And that’s–sort of–my problem with “Magic and Power”. This was supposed to be just a sweet little love story. Maybe 15,000 words tops. Just something to work on while I prepared to write my weird Oz story that needs more development. At least, that’s what I thought it was going to be. And for that, the conflict of the main character’s choice between her magic and her love was sufficient. I just passed 27,000 words. That’s not enough to sustain the story anymore.
So, once I finish the current scene, I think it may be time to take a step back and do a little plotting. There are some elements that are candidates for greater conflicts that can intertwine with the love story. I just need to pick one as central and go back and weave it in more firmly. Two steps forward, one step back is still progress.