Saturday, April 6, 2013

When Plot Lines Attack!

I had a plot. I really did.


I had this awe-inspiring idea for a time-travel thriller about a guy who jumps back and pops Adolf Hitler, saving six million Jews in the bargain. Of course, then it would cause the Nazis to win WWII and then I would have to send him back in time to stop himself from killing Hitler, and it would be this killer chase across time, and there would be tears and thrills and deep questions about whether we should be screwing around with the past.

But then, disaster struck.

My plot exploded.

It all started with a guy at work who asked me to use him in one of my books. He wanted to be a psycho serial murderer, and volunteered to get popped in grand fashion in the book. So I looks at 'im oncet' and I say, "Lemme see wut Ah kin do." It turns out, I happen to need a serial murderer to set up my anti-hero's character, you know. Just something to whet the plot line, so to speak.

So I start in on the chapter, and I stall. HARD. Weeks go by, and I can't get through what needs to get done. Just find the guy and kill him, already. But no. The line won't just run from Point A to Point B.

Now, I', basically a Plotter. I usually come up with a rough outline, not like Point A, B, C, etc. More of a Point A, Point F, Point M, Point T, and Point Z, and I give the plot some freedom in the middle to do what it wants. The main thing is, I try to keep the line going through my main points, and end at Point Z.

This time, it turns out, my muse rebelled.


 Now my secondary character has taken over and declared itself The New Boss. I fought to out it back in the box, all to no avail. At least I get to keep my title: Tempus Fugitive will now feature the chase in a more traditional order, but with fewer sociopathic tyrants, and more serial killers. One less World War, to be replaced by one more personal.

Sure, I could force the book back in line. But would it be anything close to acceptable? The best I could hope for in that case would be two hundred or so pages of sheer drivel. Real writing, to me, is a cooperative effort between me and my muse. I think most you you may agree.


So my book is turning into something other than what I originally intended. At this point, I need to rethink my real aim: to write the story I set out to write, or let the story become its own definition of brilliant?

I think you know the answer.

At least my muse hasn't demanded I shave the beard.

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