25 February 2013

Fight Club-Manuscript Style


Have you ever considered your work in progress and known deep, down inside that it is kicking your trash?  If you kept score (which you don’t, because who does that, right?) it would read:
Author: 2
Manuscript: 17

Last week in Kempo class, I got to spar.  Sparring is fun.  I’m a black belt, and this girl is about to go for her black belt, so we got to play without gear.  Don’t get excited, we still used control, and only walked away with bruises.  Lots of bruises—it doesn’t help that she kicks like Chuck Norris in training and has absolutely no padding on her.

This girl fights in a very different style than I do, which always makes for an interesting match.  She can (curse her) kick me in the head with ease, and uses her legs to keep me at bay.  On the other hand, I’m totally willing to take a glancing blow to get past her accursed legs so I can punch her in the face.  More than once.

We traded a lot of blows, and I’m not sure there was a clear winner—we were just practicing and trying out wild and crazy things that we don’t normally get to attempt.  Basics are key, and believe me, when you forego them to try something fancy, you’ll get burned about 99.9% of the time.  As a man I call Scary Gary says, “Fancy’ll get you killed.”

I feel pretty much the same way about Season 4 of Babes in Spyland.  Except for the fact that I’m pretty sure that up until the very end, the story was totally winning.

It took me FOREVER to finish Season 4.  The dumb thing is only about 30,000 words long—12 episodes.  It’s not that hard. I’ve written three other seasons before this.  (Hello, I can write that many words in 14 hours) The characters are established.  The world is solid. The basic plots points never changed…but for some reason, I just couldn’t get it out.  Even though my basics were there, I was unable to string the story together and have it work.

And all I could ask myself is, “Why?”

Well, the more colorful version was more like, “Why, cruel world? Why has my writing muse abandoned me to some sappy romance writer?  Why am I being punished?  Did I not sacrifice enough characters to you? Did I not delve deep enough into the realms of emotional torture and let them off easy?  I’ll do anything to make it up to you…anything.”

It didn’t help.  The story and I had about a hundred sparring matches, and I swear I only won about six of them.  And somehow, I ended up with all the bruises, and the story seems fine. Pretty much unaffected.  Of course, that could be because I brushed it off and set it back on its feet after I beat it into oblivion.

Seriously, my frustration level has been off the charts.  Anybody else ever have this problem? What do you do?  I had to throw more and more time at the story before I stuffed it into the right box and made it talk.  Anyone else have a better suggestion? Because I could sure use it. I have one more season to write, and it can’t take that long.  Something will be destroyed. Probably my sanity.

1 comment:

Anthony Dutson said...

I think the writers of The Following are blowing the curve for sacrifices to the Muse gods. I think there's always been at least one death per episode. So, that must be why you've been ineffective.

I've been going through a rough patch right now myself. I haven't been able to come up with a suitable climax for my religious thriller and my YA sci-fi/horror is staring at me with sullen eyes.

So what am I doing instead? Starting a Writers of the Future submission! Uhg...