I'm In Trouble Again
Periodically, I wander off on some tangent, like a child who's playing in the garden and catches sight of a pretty flower in the distance and wanders into the woods.
It all started when I got stuck in my WIP, Dead Man's Hand. My characters decided to take hold of the story and next thing I know, the three of us are sitting at Cold Stone having ice cream.
How could that possibly move the story forward, add conflict, deepen character? For God's sake, give me something to work with here guys!
Evidently, I can hear them, but they can't hear me.
So I used the situation as a little sequel to a prior tense moment and then added sexual tension--we are...er, I mean they are...eating ice cream after all, right?
But then found myself stuck again. What next? Nothing seemed to flow. I felt like I needed something significant to happen at that point in the story, yet not sure what that something was, which sparked a random thought in my brain--maybe I'm missing a step in the journey.
That's when I pulled out Christopher Vogler's book, The Writer's Journey.
I attempted to read this book twice before, but I couldn't get through it. In fact, I couldn't even wrap my mind around what Vogler was trying to say enough to give me a slippery grasp. In hindsight, I believe I had preconceived ideas about what the book would cover and when I found it was something different, my mind rejected it.
This time, I absorbed the lessons and messages with ease and relative clarity. Seriously, this book was in my To-Give-Away pile. But there are some powerful messages in there that resounded with me, and I believe its a book I'll refer back to often in the future.
Now I realize that while my story isn't missing a pivotal point, I am at a stage where I'm building toward the step of crossing of the First Threshold, which is why I'm sensitive to the depth of tension and strength of conflict. We need all that in place in order to justify/motivate the characters to step over that threshold.
And as I read deeper into the archetypes and their roles and the three act structure and the way the journey blends with that structure and how that structure builds a stronger story...I get taken away. My brain floats off to previous chapters and later chapters that I can now see need so much more depth and plot shifts and twists and...jeez, everything.
I've found a shiny shell, and now I'm going to stay at the beach all day long looking for more.
Do you find yourself following tangents? Are they craft-related? Do you revise when you've found a way to deepen your work, or do you just move on to the next project and apply the new technique there? Have you read or used the Writer's (Hero's) Journey? If yes, what do you think of it?
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