Day 10: Study Session

Today I did more thinking about writing than actual writing, but the story moved forward, and I’m going to take any forward momentum as a win. My first task was to wrestle with Hero again. Today’s scene involved him trying to convince Heroine that the crazy plan they’ve hatched up together is going to work. I was having a hard time writing his argument because if I were in Heroine’s shoes, I’d say “there’s the door, sorry, I can’t work with your idea.” But then that would mean the end of the story at a paltry 12,475 words, then cue sad trombone.

How was I to solve this?

I picked up On Writing, and read up on character. King believes in free-range character development: let them go and see what they do. Well that wasn’t going to quite work because I wrote a schedule for my characters and I wanted them to stick to the schedule, dammit. My Hero and Heroine had places to go and people to see. Free range wasn’t going to cut it. 

Since Janet Evanovich was responsible for said schedule, I took a peek at what she had to say. She handles character development by giving them clear motives and layered personalities. Somehow, this information wasn’t enough to get me over the hump.

Frustrated, I went to study group at the corner coffee shop with with Cee, my writing friend forever, and behaved very maturely: I bitched about Hero behind his back.

“I just don’t know what the problem is,” I said. “He’s a big unknown to me.”

“Have you talked to him?” Cee asked. “Have you taken him out to the bar like you said you would and get to know him? Do you really think he’d go to a bar?”

“Yes, he’d go to a bar,” I said. “And no, he hasn’t told me anything new. I mean, I know what he’s saying makes sense, but I just don’t believe him.”

“Why don’t you believe him?” Cee asked.

“I don’t believe him,” I said, “because Heroine doesn’t believe him.”

And suddenly, the lightbulb clicked on. I don’t believe Hero because he’s not convincing Heroine, and therefore, I don’t trust him. Ever engage in a story (on tv, movies or books), where a character does or says something that seems unbelievable and you think ‘ugh, that would never happen’, and dismiss the rest of the story? That’s what was happening to me.

So Cee and I talked through what would make Hero’s argument valid. Very, very helpful. I went home and wrote them out of their scene, and now those two crazy kids are on their way to an honest-to-goodness-fake-date. I finally got them out of the house! Whew!

What I learned from school today: study groups are an amazing support, and I’m so grateful that Cee helps me with my homework!