Friday, December 11, 2009

Signals From My Subconscious

No, you aren't seeing double. That's the title of both this post and my blog. The blog title is taken from this post. The blog title's been "Gail Roarke's Blog" since I first created it. Not terribly novel, but it had virtue of being true. I always figured I'd change it when I came up with a name I liked, and this was it.

The origin of the post title was my experience this week working on a new short story. It started out very well, but as I got deeper into it, I started to bog down. It got tougher and tougher to pull the story together into finished form. Today I realized what the problem was.

In short, I was finding it difficult to finish the story because I didn't believe it. I couldn't convince myself that the heroine (call her Patricia) would act as I was trying to have her act. It just didn't make logical sense for that character to behave as I wanted her to.

So I swapped out my heroine for someone else, another character I've had in my stable for a long while. Rachel, we'll call her. She's always been a bit player before: the sidekick, the best friend. She's always played second banana to Leah, who has starred in two published stories to date and will appear in a third early next year.

Today Rachel got promoted to star of her own story. Leah will be making a supporting appearance in Rachel's story this time. That change has worked wonderfully--some of the character "bits" and personality traits I'd added to "Patricia" turned out to be far more appropriate for Rachel, as did some of her backstory. The story is humming along now and should be finished in a day or so.

So where do the "signals from my subconscious" come in? The difficulty with finishing the story, my inability to believe my own plot, were (in retrospect) signals from my subconscious that I was going down the wrong path. Writing the story should be fun. I get to sit in front of my computer and make shit up and get paid for it. If that's not fun, I'm doing something wrong. I just need to remember that, and learn to recognize it as a clue to re-examine my story when that happens.

So, Rachel gets a promotion to star. As for Patricia? She'll get a story of her own eventually. Just not this one.

1 comment:

  1. You are right on the money with this one. I had requested revision due, but the story was being pushed farther than it could go. I shelved it because I don't "see" it anymore.

    I started writing at random and finished three chapters on a new dark fantasy novel. I love that such a tiny sampling is already having the piece called "chilling" and *coughs* well the rest are actually comments about my mind being a dark and scary place...

    I'm glad your subconscious led you in the right direction. I think instinct is one of the most beneficial tools we have as writers.