12/25/03: Writing like a bat out of Hell

Word count: 45058 | Since last entry: 1027 | This month: 5357 Happy Yuletide! Woke up this morning with no work to go to, so lay in bed for 45 minutes thinking about the story. By the end of it I knew how the rest of the story would go. Then, after a day of eating and unwrapping presents and wrapping presents (we haven’t yet figured out when we’re getting together with Kate’s relatives, so I didn’t get their presents wrapped until today) and a second viewing of The Return of the King I sat down and wrote for a couple of hours. At this rate I might even get done by Saturday! Here are my thoughts from this morning (spoilers ho!). First I thought about what my main character can and can’t do — he’s allowed to reorganize his staff, but not hire or fire or transfer staff in or out of his department (and he can’t demote his obnoxious assistant). Then I changed the red devils to pink demons to create a conflict among the staff. (Basically, the pink demons — think man-size plastic Ken dolls with horns — are marketing types, while the other varieties of demon are technical types.) This sets him up to try and fail to resolve the problem — the department isn’t making quota because the majority pink demons are so technically clueless that even the clever and resourceful technical demons can’t overcome it, but though he can shuffle things around he can’t really change the situation. But he does have the ability to create a sub-project, move all the technical demons into it, and assign himself to head it, leaving the obnoxious assistant in charge of all the pink demons. If he puts the pink demons back to work on mass production, which even they can’t mess up, with the Internet for distribution, and adds a limited amount of custom temptation hand-crafted by his team of techies, the department as a whole succeeds. The only problem with this solution is that it lets the obnoxious assistant off the hook. I want him to die. Specifically, I want him to get dispelled because of his own pettifogging, bureaucratic attitude. But I’ve set the situation up so that the techie team cannot succeed by itself, which means that the pink demons can’t be allowed to fail, so the assistant can’t be dispelled for failure to meet quota. Maybe I’ll find another way to kill the assistant off. In the last scene I wrote I found my main character being surprisingly insightful and multi-cultural. I swear I didn’t set the situation up consciously. (He’s turning into quite an admirable chap, despite being a Pit Demon from Hell. I hope the readers don’t find the story too P.C..) So, since the story continues to surprise me, I imagine a solution to this problem will appear as well. By the way… I am not one of those writers who burbles about characters telling me what to do. I am the writer, I am in charge, I am making it all up. But, in creating something as complex as a story, you have to make a lot of micro-decisions as you go. Sometimes these micro-decisions can suggest macro-changes that you hadn’t originally intended. For example, in writing a scene showing the conflict between the two groups of demons, I made a micro-decision about specifically how the main character resolves the conflict (he spits in his hand before shaking hands on a deal), which demonstrates his cultural sensitivity to one of the two groups, which implies things about his character I hadn’t thought out consciously. It followed naturally from other decisions I made, but it was still a surprise to me. Does this make any sense?

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