Sunday, February 12, 2006

Insert Tab A into Plot B

Emperor Turhan (dying): How will it all end?
Kosh: In fire.
--Babylon 5, "All Alone in the Night"
Sometimes when writing a story you head bravely down one plot path, only to realize that it's a dead end. Then comes the Big Delete.

For instance, I thought I had the Major Jeopardy at the end of my vampire novel figured out. A fire seemed like a scary climax, since vampires are a bit allergic to it, and a fire during the daylight would be just about the worst thing that could happen to them. If they stay, they burn. If they leave, they burn.

But then I realized, what bunch of dumbass vampires wouldn't have some sort of emergency plan in place for such an occasion? Not my bunch of dumbass vampires, that's who.

So I un-wrote the fire. It was a silly idea to begin with, a result of trying to cram my story into the formula that states:
When X number of pages remain, at least one of the main characters must find themselves in mortal danger.
Pah! This sub-subgenre is riddled with cliches as it is. I already had a more moving, shocking sequence planned for the scene after the Stupid Fire, when the audience should be taking a deep breath, thinking, Whew, they survived the fire, now everything's--Holy %$&^!


Blogger's Note:
I wrote this post about a week and a half ago, while I was finishing the first draft of Bad Company. Since I was using all my creative brain cells for the novel, the post ended up disjointed and rambly (yes, more than usual). But I thought it made a good point about the temptation to produce cookie-cutter material in this age of copycat publishing.

Anyway, I found a way to delay the shocking moment until near the end of the last scene, which should be a denouement, when things are looking happy and relaxed. And it just now occurred to me that the tension is resolved by setting a fire. Hah--the joke's on me! But it's not a Stupid Fire.

Hmmm, come to think of it, I'm still not very coherent. Try to wrest some meaning out of this post if you can. Or not. I'm going back to bed.

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5 Comments:

That is funny. But I'd love to know, what's the difference between a fire and a stupid fire? Is the stupid one wearing a dunce cap? LOL

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 2/12/2006 9:32 AM

Ahhh, good question, Kathy. The Stupid Fire was created to adhere to a formula, but the Non-Stupid Fire grew organically out of the story.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 2/12/2006 3:46 PM

Cool can't wait to read it. I love vampire stories that are funny. Hence my love of Mary Janice Davidson and Lynsay Sands.

P.S. These word recognition codes are not only getting longer, they are getting much harder to read.:-)

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 2/13/2006 1:03 AM

I love MJD, too. I'll have to try Sands--never heard of her before. Do you like Katie McAllister? I heard her stuff is funny. Best vampire comedy (heck, one of the best vamp books, period) is Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore. Hilarious but with actual three-dimensional characters. You don't feel like you're reading fluff, even as you fall off the couch laughing.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 2/13/2006 6:50 AM

Yep love Katie's stuff. She has a new vamp novel coming out in May. As for Lynsay Sands, there are 4 out currently. Hers were released out of order. In actual order for the timeline, her current release is actually first in the series. I can't remember the titles off the top of my head but it goes in order of Lissiana's story, Etienne's, Lucerne and finally Bastian. She'll have more coming out this year too.

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 2/13/2006 7:39 AM

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