Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pounding It Out, Day 15, and a Vault Extra

Well, I'm still managing to stay almost exactly on pace, which is good, but at the same time...

If you read enough books about novel writing, you'll come across things like this:

Everyone, at some point, sees their novel as a lost cause. The characters are one-dimensional. The plot isn't going anywhere. The language is abysmal.

One thing I've come to recognize is that I tend to run into a wall at a certain point in all my books...It's around that point that I find myself losing confidence in the book--or more precisely, in my ability to make it work. The plot seems to be either too simple and straightforward to hold the reader's interest or too complicated to be neatly resolved. I find myself worrying that there's not enough action, that the lead's situation is not sufficiently desperate, that the book has been struck boring while my attention was directed elsewhere.

I've been experiencing exactly that this week. It feels as if I've spent much of the last thirty pages or so just barely crawling along, marking time until the next big scene. It's not as bad as Hero Go Home, in which I spend nearly all of Act Two doing just that, but it still feels boring. The book may not be as bad as I've thought, but for the last couple of days, before I started writing, I've had that feeling of, "This is starting to really suck. Is all this effort really worth it? Who could possibly find this interesting?"

And the worst part of this feeling is that I've finally hit the big mid-book turning point. I wrote the first part of it today, and it wasn't easy. I try to write with a light touch, usually, funny and light, eliding over the really dark parts and heavy emotions, because I don't think I can write them convincingly.

And this scene is rather dark and brutal. There are no laugh lines (although there are punch lines, ha ha), and it goes on for a while. It has to go on for a while, because between this scene and the next, the emotional landscape is going to change rather drastically for the main character, and he can't just sort of be thrown there. He has to be dragged there, and it has to hurt every inch of the way.

And it's hard to write this sort of thing and not end up with some sort of violence porn, where you're dwelling on the violence for the sheer shock of it, and at some point, sort of getting off on how well you're describing it and kind of hoping the reader gets off on it, too.

Because you can't bore the reader, and you can't make the reader turn away or put it down. You have to keep the reader reading, so in some way, even when you're writing something unpleasant, you have to make it on some level compelling and even attractive. And that's hard to do without becoming exploitative.

So anyway, that's where I am right now--not just having to psych myself up for the daily challenge of "how do I link this scene into what's gone before and tie it into what happens next and keep all the characters consistent and honest and believable," but also having to pick up the considerably larger psychic load of, "how do I keep plodding through this piece of shit when I know everything I've done so far sucks?"

So anyway, to end on a lighter note, remember Saturday when I said, "No one reads Corben's comics for the stories?"

Well, here's an example of what they do read his comics for, from "Den II" in the May 1982 issue of Heavy Metal:

Corinne Bohrer is turned on...

1 comment:

sargon999 said...

Bear down, keep at it. Remember the things that got you interested to begin with. It's short, so you'll hit the final slide way sooner than you think.