Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Moving on

OK, so I spent the weekend outlining the first draft of Pere - in other words, scanning it to see what's there (and what's not).

And really, it's not all bad. I mean, my list of sins is long - there's at least one arc that just flatlines there at the end; I have mistaken dialogue for action; and a landfill should be opened for my infodump, it's so rampant.

But there are good things, moments here and there that are actually dramatic and could be built upon. So now I'm looking at arc.

In theory, I am good with arc in general - but in practice, I have a hard time stepping it out. How do you move a person from being the kind of person who allows her controlling mother to run her life to being the kind of person who steps free? That's what I'm dealing with in Pere.

I should say, right up front, that I HATE that she lets her mother run her life. It makes me lose respect for her, and I'm having a hard time with that. So I need to look at that more closely. That reaction tells me there could be hidden gold there.

So I'm going to play around with the idea of arc and character by doing this exercise:
1. Figuring out the main character's primary trait - honesty? greed? ambition? whatever.
2. Stating its opposite.
3. Envisioning a scenario that would force the character to do or become the opposite, however briefly.
4. Then step it out - how does a character move from being entirely honest to lying? What has to change, what forces have to be in play, for that character to do something so out of character?

I'm hoping it'll shake some things loose.

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3 Comments:

Blogger inkgrrl said...

Maybe that's only what Pere's been doing on the surface, letting Mom run the show. Maybe she's been up to something else entirely behind her mother's back. Maybe that's the root of her fascination/relationship with Hades, and she's finally tired of hiding and living a double life?

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Maia said...

I like the exercise you do to figure out your character and how to motivate her. I usually stumble through draft after draft trying to figure these things out the hard way. Makes sense to think of them ahead. Thanks for sharing.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Robin L said...

Maybe there's a hugely valid reason that Pere lets Mom run her life? I gave a plot workshop last weekend, and one of the things I kept telling the class was that with the right motivation, you can many anything believable and sympathetic. You've just got to dig. And that's what came to mind when I read your post.

Is there any situation you can envision understanding why someone would let their mom run their life? What would it take for that to make sense to you?

I'd have to go look deep into the Demeter myth to find something that actually makes sense, but for an example, maybe there's some lover Zeus turned to stone or something, that Demeter's been mourning, and one way Pere's been trying to help is by letting Mom run her life. It could have started out as a well meaning distraction that's now grown into a habit that is killing Pere's soul, but it's taken her a while to recognize that.

Or Demeter's had her proverbial wings clipped for some Olympian reason, and she has to poor all that nervous energy into something and Pere, being a good, sympathetic daughter tries to accommodate her, which finally begins to become problematic. Plus, that makes for a really good arc for Demeter as well: she has to find her own life beyond her child. And really, in my experience, it's often our good intentions that can go the farthest awry.

Sorry. Apparently I'm still in workshop mode. Shutting up now. In fact, maybe don't publish this comment. Consider it more of an email. {g}

6:36 AM  

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