I’m stuck at work, my mind lost in thoughts of plot machinations, character development, and how to improve my novel. It’s almost at a place where it needs to be. I just wish I were in front of my laptop instead of at work.
I just finished rewriting the first scene of the second chapter, where my main character run into who will fast become her love interest. Doing so, I hope, will jump-start the action, like I stated on my previous post, but also resolve a persistent question that has been bothering me. Can two people fall so quickly in love that they immediately begin a relationship?
Maybe it is possible, but I’m not a fan of the whole love-at-first-sight story arch. Instead, I rewrote it so that I introduce the idea that they were classmates back in high school, and though Jasmine shoots down the idea that they were an item back then, there is an obvious chemistry between the two, one I hope to exploit to make their quick transition into becoming a couple a little realistic.
Of course, such a monumental change means adjusting everything that comes afterwards. I believe I can do the necessary work without disturbing too much of what I have already written. Further, I hope it succeeds in drawing the reader into the story sooner rather than later.
I’ve been thinking about the problem that has had my stymied for the past several weeks. I just couldn’t find a way around this little stumbling block and I was at a stand-still. I’ll admit that even though my goal is to publish this year, I wanted to give up and move on to another project, one that I hope would be far easier to complete.
But I’m not one to give up so easily. While I waited patiently at work for customers to show up, and yes I worked on Mother’s Day, I pulled out a sheet of paper and started to jot down notes.
Who’s after Jasmine?
I began by writing down the names of my characters, the ones who are the most likely suspect to be terrorizing my main character, detailing their history and the reason why they may be stalking her. As I scribbled my notes, I had one of those moments of brilliance. I may have figured out how to save my story! I finally had my Eureka! moment.
And now the dread washes over me, hours after that brief elation. I realized that by figuring out how to fix what’s wrong with the story I would have to sit down and introduce a new character. Well, that not quite true. My savior is already in the book, but they haven’t been fleshed out thoroughly. My task is to beef up their part, including their motivation for seeking out Jasmine. Luckily, that all came to me while I jotted down my notes throughout the day.
I’m excited about this. The way the story ends has bothered me for some time. One of my beta-readers actually called me out on how I resolved the story. I made a liar out of my character. They are not duplicitous in any way. Awkward? Yes, but not malicious nor psychotic. Now, that character can be true to themselves while this new character gets to enjoy a promotion of a sort and fully embrace a role that I could never really develop.
It should only take a few minor rewrites to incorporate them into the narrative. I’ll have to tweak some dialogue and create a few key scenes along the way, but as I have already deleted some other scenes, I should do so seamlessly, or at least that’s my hope.
To think that I’ve been wracking my brains in search of an answer and all it took for me to find it was to write it down. It allowed me to focus on the problem while not confronting the issue. It worked itself out organically. I just hope I do it justice. Also, I hope I remember how to fix it.
Well, that didn’t take long! I hit a slight pothole while working on my book. Honestly, it feels more like I drove off the side of a cliff, tumbled down the embankment, and landed in turbulent seas. Though I have miraculously survived, the car is quickly filling with sea water, sinking, and I don’t know how to swim. This may be the end. If I don’t make…*glub glub*
I love a belabored metaphor. Sorry about that. Everything I’ve found so far have been relatively easy fixes. For example, one of my minor character’s story arc will be reduced, though not entirely eliminated. I want my main character to try to help her friend out with her problems while my M.C. is grappling with her own situation. What a friend! It’s all about putting everybody’s story arc in their proper perspective.
There are paragraphs, and a few scenes, that have been reduced or eliminated. Some didn’t fit, some took me as the reader out of the book, and some were just unnecessary. I’ve continued to refine my language, trying to say what needs to be said in as succinct a manner as possible. It’s hard work to write effortlessly.
The problem I found involves another of my characters. Something about them isn’t clicking. I like the character, and they have a part to play, but the issue is that their part grew the more I wrote and I’m having trouble unifying who I wanted them to be versus who they ultimately became. Their arc became more convoluted and the fix took me out to such an extreme that they became a cliché instead of a complicated character. Fixing it has plagued me for a long time.
I’m sure a lot of rewriting is in my future, and I’m okay with that. I’m confident that I have a strong story, minor problems notwithstanding. It’s just going to take more work than I originally planned on dedicating to this project. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, I’m going to have to figure out how the hell to fix it. I guess I could simply give up, but I feel giving up isn’t truly an option.
The last episode of The Big Bang Theory reminded me of something that I had grown to believe as of late. If you haven’t watched it, this is your warning that there will be spoilers ahead. With that out-of-the-way, let me proceed.
At the end of the episode, Howard Wolowitz, played by Simon Helberg, received a call informing him that his mother had died in her sleep. Carol Ann Susi, the actress who voiced the unseen Mrs. Wolowitz, Howard’s mother, passed away from cancer in November. Instead of employing some gimmicky storytelling and having her move away, which would have been contrary to what we know of her, or having another actress come in, the writers chose to kill her off of the show.
Not that my opinion counts for much, but I believe it was the best course of action. Carol Ann brought a character to life, one who had absolutely no screen time, yet somehow managed to steal the scene. She was obnoxious and overbearing, intimidating and prone to employing guilt-trips to keep Howard from leaving. I doubt anyone could have matched her skill to bring the unseen mother to life. I’m glad we will never have to see anyone try and fail.
Now comes my confession. For the past year, I had begun to wonder if the character should be written off the show. Let me say that the thought is not because I thought the Mrs. Wolowitz to be unfunny, rather I thought Howard needed something catastrophic to happen to motivate some character growth.
Out of all the main cast, Howard was the one I hated the most in the beginning. He was crass and pushed the line between funny and creepy. He came across as desperate and perverted, a sad case of a loser with no hope of ever finding a woman, that is until Bernadette came along.
However, over the course of the past few seasons, Howard did grow, probably more than all the rest of the characters on the show. Yet even so, he was stuck between being a man and a child, a son being held hostage, never really embracing what it meant to be a husband.
I wondered if losing his mother would fuel a maturing of the character, letting go of the overbearing mother that he never was able to leave. He had become totally dependent on her, much to Bernadette’s annoyance. She accepted it for the time being, but playing the second woman in her husband’s life certainly rankled and I have to ask how long would someone like her actually tolerate being treated that way?
So I believed Mrs. Wolowitz should have to die at some point. The only other character to have lost a parent is Sheldon, and that happened sometime prior to the start of the series. This is the audience’s first time to witness how this group will rally around their friend, and how Howard will struggle to grasp what it means to lose this mother.
Unlike many fans of the show, I do not lament that the original premise of the show has changed. Had it not, I doubt the show would still be watchable. Life is about growth, and in storytelling, character development is integral in keeping the audience hooked. Without it, the story lines become stale, and there is limited stories to be told. So, as people in real life change, so too must a fictional cast of characters.
So for Sheldon to be the one to offer Howard words of comfort, says a lot about how much he has grown. For Howard to let Sheldon say his piece speaks to his evolving maturity. These are not static one-dimensional characters, but complex and ever-changing people, learning and grappling with the same hardships we deal with in real life.
I shed a few tears when Howard announced that his mother had died, and I sobbed quietly as they all tried to come to terms with the news. As much as I thought I wanted to see Howard grow, I admit that I will miss hearing Carol Ann’s screeching voice. I thought I was ready for it to happen, but now that it has, I realize that I’m not quite ready for her to have left. Her passing leaves a hole in the show, one that will never be filled, and that’s the way it should be.