I have regular fiction chapters here with Friday Fiction, currently serializing “The Hook.” And while I’ve got about six other stories going around in my head, I’ve hesitated to start blogging them, in part because I don’t really know yet how they get resolved and where the character arcs end, and in part because I don’t want to pick just one of them to work on. Aaaand, because I’ve got a big programming project percolating along, and working on fiction seems like it might lead to abandoning making progress on that….
But now I’ve had these stories moving around in my head for long enough that, even though I don’t have them all the way plotted out to the end, I think I’m at the point where parts of their worlds, their backgrounds, their sets of characters, have matured enough in my mind to sustain their existence and if I don’t start writing their stories the characters and worlds are going to go stale in my head and the stories will be … not lost exactly. But if I wait too long I’m afraid they’ll come out stiff, overanalyzed, and stale.
One of the things I know I need to do better as a writer is allowing characters to be passionate enough for readers to care about – to have enough stupidity about the right things at the right moments to drive the plot forward, but not so much stupidity that the audience immediately considers them to be morons and ceases to care.
Then again, perhaps I underestimate the reading public’s willingness to forgive some kinds of stupidity. Especially where romantic choices are concerned. Without naming names except to mention that glitter vampires are involved, I see a very popular series of novels about someone charging headlong into an openly abusive relationship, for no reason comprehensible to any sane person. And, well, the reading public is buying this as not just a valid romance, but a story of passionate and beautiful love! As a writer I am shaking my head. I just cannot see what makes those books popular, because I can’t get past the main character’s stupidity.
If I were less introverted, I suppose I’d be looking for validation of my opinion in the form of the public approving of my work more – which would be useless, so thank goodness for introversion. As an introvert I don’t really much care what other people think of my work; but I passionately care what I think of my work. And I have real trouble writing characters who are acting mindbogglingly stupid or sequences of events that would break my suspension of disbelief.
As I look at The Hook, which is being serialized on this website, I’m not satisfied with it. It isn’t something I’d write if I were writing today. I remember the revisions and the alternate paths and the ways it came to a halt. There were weeks when I couldn’t write anything more that would fit into it and advance the story, and I didn’t find any way to progress until I realized I had to rip out big chunks of what was already there. I remember how disgusted I was with returning to that world day after day by the time I was done. I remember what a great relief it was to have finished it and be satisfied enough to put it into a final form. I remember how hard I worked on it.
But I’m not satisfied with it. I think I wrote a story about better people and more important issues than those novels about glitter vampires, but I think I missed engaging the audience with characters that have passion and make in-character mistakes for reasons that the audience can believe in and cheer.
And for better or worse, I’m not going back. I’m not returning to that story. I don’t have to go back to what I was writing years ago and try to perfect that story at this point; I can write something new, and make a new attempt.
So… I will. I can’t guarantee a chapter every week, but I’ll try to add a new weekly chapter here. I think I know which story I want to write, so I guess I need to come up with a good working title for it and begin.
Perhaps it will become another weekly installment, on Wednesdays.