Friday, May 18, 2012

turning corners

When we turn a corner, we are changing the story. A direct path is usually easy to see, and as long as we continue in the same direction, we are not surprising ourselves. So, what if we decide during a comfortable journey to make an abrupt turn into unknown territory? What does this say about us?

I am currently staring at the screen of my laptop, where I have my novel-in-progress up and awaiting the entry of another page. paragraph. sentence. I’m stuck. Last time I wrote in this story, I pulled my protagonist from the main scene to disappear down the hallway and into a room to be alone. The problem is that I don’t know why she needs to be alone. And she’s not telling me.

This is only the second project in which I’ve started writing from the beginning and continued to move forward chronologically. The other story was the one I created for last year’s NaNoWriMo, and I didn’t have much of a choice in that case, with a deadline and specific goal to achieve. Usually I initially write a scene from the main character’s life that defines him or her, then I write other scenes that will happen before or after that original scene. It’s a bit scattered, but I’ve always told people that it’s how we learn about people we meet—first about the present, then maybe about something that happened to them when they were younger, then maybe about their dreams for the future. As a writing structure, it makes for a lot of editing later on, to be sure that there are no inconsistencies. But it was simply the way I wrote, until recently.

I’ve been very pleased with my progress so far on this current story, moving forward and keeping (at least my) interest throughout the first half. So, why did I send my protagonist on a sharp angle away from this path? I wonder if this says more about me than it does about my character. I’m very anxious to know what’s next and how this retreat will bring the story to the next scene. And I’m very curious what turns await me in my own life.