it’s been two years since i worked on this story, and i think it’s high time i got it off the plate.
earlier this year i decided to finish it, primarily because my brother came to stay with me, and the subject came up.
not that the story has anything to do with my family. none of the characters resemble my brothers and sisters. just the conflicts, which are universal. jealousy, greed, fear, hatred.
i used an archetypal family structure – two sisters and two brothers in a dysfunctional family – which by the way is a smaller family than mine and leaves out a much more complex dynamic because of that, and picked people i knew in my adult life to blend into different characters. one from column a and one from column b. there’s a good book you can use to do that, a handbook of character types of some sort. it’s upstairs in my reference library. i didn’t refer to it. i had the perfect models in my own life, all around me, and i just chose from them.
to the blog. if you’re just joining me, the actual story can be found by clicking the category ‘story’, and all the other stuff is either research or plotting or author’s musings and progress notes.
there’s a tale in those categories.
between 2009 and about 6 months ago, the machine i had all my work on crashed. i was away at the time and just shrugged and hoped i had done a thorough backup before leaving. which i hadn’t. so i lost all my work, except i’d posted most of it to this blog as i was writing it.
what i lost was my detailed plot outline, my chapter by chapter list of things that had to happen. like most of my plot outlines, it got pretty vague farther along, and i’m not sure at this point how detailed i actually had it, because all i have is the ‘plot’ category here on this blog, and the ‘author’s note’, and they’re damned vague. for instance, when i stopped writing, the next bit that was to be written was killing off gordon, cindy and laurie. and this is just a throwaway mention in an author’s note summing up the day’s work. nothing more to go on. how to kill them off was left to later.
in order to figure out what to do, i had to go to my blog and visit each posted chapter and copy and paste them into a new document. then i printed it out, and now jim and i are reading it aloud. we’re almost to the end, and i don’t remember half of what i’ve written.
it needs a lot of work. it’s all just bareboned narrative and dialog. it’s preachy in spots. it’s awkward. there’s a whole lot of information left out of the vision i get when i read what i’ve written. the second draft is going to be much longer, is what i’m trying to say.
for instance, there’s the whole part about mom and how she is evil that’s mostly left out, except for what she does to frank. right now you mostly wonder what’s wrong with the grownup kids, and aren’t asking how they got that way.
the next step is to figure out the ending. we know it ends with judy in jail for the murders of all of her siblings, and mom sailing triumphantly off into the sunset.
but we don’t know how it’s going to get from where i left it to where it needs to go. and there’s that whole subthing about mom getting her way because of miracles. i haven’t even touched on that. it’s too complicated.
but as ever, stories write themselves. so no matter the written out plot, it’s going to unfold the way the characters act in the moment. and you can only cooperate with that flow, or you’ll end up with resentful characters.