I get caught on this all the time. You look at a scene, a character, a culture, and you think, “I can’t mess with that. It took me five years to create that, it’s perfect.” Then something goes wrong in your story. Everything refuses to mesh up. But you skirt around your sacred cow, fat and ready for slaughter. It must be character x, the new kid on the block. Maybe it’s plot point y, which I created last month. It has to go. Yet you can’t. Everything you want to get rid of is an obvious pillar for the narrative, and of course you haven’t checked if it’s time to eat the five year old cow.
Whenever we have something we refuse to delete or alter, it’s usually what started everything. There is some special tie to it that we refuse to sever, something entirely emotional and irrational. I created a character based on an ex. She had a wonderful back story and it was time to write about her. I ended up having a princess, Cherry Blossom, in this far off capital city in the mountains. It was the way the woman had to be portrayed because it was the most accurate to the muse (which is to say cold and distant). Then I created another princess, Melna, at the foot of the mountains, part of another culture, but they would still interact. Yet something felt wrong.
I went so long trying to force Cherry Blossom and Melna to exist simultaneously. They were required. Blossom saw different parts of the story than Melna. But I realized that they could not coexist. Blossom’s story was out of place and weak. Melna was powerful, tragic, beautiful in her way. Despite these differences, they were also ultimately the same character. I felt close to Melna, and for that I slaughtered Cherry Blossom. Or more so gave Melna permission to subsume her.
After I did that the story flowed quickly and beautifully. The words were easy to put on the page. A story far better than the original formed. All because I got away from what started the story, from what I assumed was a required view point. The story nearly became my first novel. However, at this point it will be novel number two.
If your story is having trouble, make sure to overturn every stone. Be willing to sacrifice anything, big and small. It will allow you more freedom, and it will let the true story come out of you.
Randomness of the day:
Heard this last night on Pandora. Beautiful song. The past few days I’ve recalled just how wonderful a job Square does on making beautiful music for their majestic games. Final Fantasy XIV is no longer in beta for PS4. I will miss it. For G’desh, the story I’m working on getting published July/August, I’m using more and more Final Fantasy for inspiration. We’ll see where that leads (air ships, summons, swords the size of its wielder, magic spells like blizzaga).