Today’s entry is a bit of a hodgepodge, so I apologize in advance. A few things on my mind. Met last night with the first of my beta readers to finish Corridors, and it was really enlightening, actually. I mean, not just in getting a feel for some things that might need to be changed in the book or diagnosing issues, or even examining what was good. By the way, it was a very good review. Very fair, and almost everything she had suggestions for were more stylistic, polish issues than issues with the actual substance of the book. It sounds like I finally hit the nail on the head with this one. But what I’m thinking of here is that I’m starting to get the whole participation between artist and observer from the point of view of the artist.
I poured my heart and soul into this book, and it’s a reflection of a lot of very personal issues and ideas. To hear that reflected back in the way that I intended it was nice. I was very impressed that she could figure out some of the nuances that I had thrown in as either little nods or buried leads for the following books. Very cool. Even cooler, however, was that she found different angles for characters and situations in the book that I hadn’t considered because of how she was perceiving the story.
I’ve always been the kind of person who believes that there is one valid interpretation of most stories (leaving aside that some stories are designed to be ambiguous). But as I listened to her talk about the characters and the plot, I hadn’t even caught on to some facets of the story that she had uncovered. Not only is that going to strengthen the story, it’s really cool to see something that I’ve created imbued with someone else’s personal and emotional experiences, the filter of their own life.
So suddenly I feel like my own interpretations
So suddenly I feel like my own interpretations of art that I’ve dismissed in the past might have been valid after all. Actually, that’s not exactly what I mean. I just mean that, while I’ve considered analyzing structure and what actually exists, I’ve always felt that trying to interpret intent is a fool’s game. But maybe not. Maybe my own interpretations and perceptions of a given story’s intent were valid, even if they were different from what the author originally intended – both emotional states (the creator and the reader) being equally valid.
I hope that makes some sense. I’m rambling a bit, and I’m talking on a far more emotional than intellectual level here. I’m also really tired. It’s been a long week
I’ve really been wrestling with Entanglements. Yesterday I realized that I had quite the dilemma. While I was really enjoying the parts of Entanglements that involve the two male characters, Kenny and Noah, I was feeling like the blog entries by Adshade were a total chore and I was just not feeling her character at all. And this was only in the first “chapter”, or set of interlocking information. And it was kicking my butt. The biggest problem was just how…bland she was. Now she was a fully-realized character. I could see her in my head, hear her voice, etc. But she just bored me. I mean, honestly, I think that might be a first. She had a distinctive voice, a distinctive way of choosing words, but I just didn’t like her. She was a little too goody-goody.
So I went back to the drawing board and re-imagined her. What came out is…well, she’s a pretty unique character. She’s originally from Boston, and still has her accent, which shows in the way she writes. Her father was a beat cop for X number of years, she’s a little on the chubby side, she has a cat, etc. She feels like a real person to me, in the way that Matty did.
I was also concerned that having one voice or another being stronger than the other would mean the risk of losing readers when they couldn’t get the “stronger” or more “unique” voice more readily. I started to rethink my whole approach to the book, even if I knew that changing the approach would mean having to remove the blog entries that the characters were reading. This posed two problems. One was that the blog entries drove the plot, obviously, as everything was integral to driving the plot. The other was that I liked this re-imagined version of Adshade.
So getting rid of the blog entries was problematic at best, but then I had the problem that I kept having to stretch believability with how she could be writing the entries in the first place. If I keep having to plug holes in the plot’s plausibility, things are bound to sink.
I considered this. The other solution would be to write a story from her point of view and a sequel or something similar that would be the story of Noah and Kenny. I had planned to take the weekend and really think about which would be the better approach, but as I was walking the long hallway from the elevator to our apartment (the dreaded Hallway of Doom), the answer hit me over the head.
Invert the worlds. Instead of it being about two guys who stumble across a blog and are drawn into this world of intrigue, make it so that the woman who wrote the blog is creating their world – Noah and Kenny become the meta-story, characters which she has created, which will eventually align with her reality rather than the other way around. The overarching plot involves a shady organization who kidnaps her to force her to write – this will all become clear as the story goes on, and ties into the universe in the “of the dead” books. I’m excited about this book again and ready to go!
All right, everybody have a great Labor Day weekend. Since it’s Friday, have to send you out with a song…
- Who’ll Stop the Rain: Dealing with Hopelessness in Writing (jonathandallen.com)
- Tied to the Tracks: Leading with Peril (jonathandallen.com)