Friday, June 17, 2011

Wrestling with character motivation and Faith

...I'll admit it. Like Winnie the Pooh in the honey tree, I'm stuck.

In Project #2, I have a problematic character. She's so problematic that when I wrote my first draft, she essentially disappeared for the second half of the story. No, not literally. She still appeared in most of the scenes, but her character arc ground to a halt and she just... felt stuck. Like she had suddenly turned into a placeholder, a 2-d cut-out. An 'x' marked on the floor of a stage so an actor knows where to stop and turn.

Three scenes into my first draft, I fully understood the two main characters and their arcs... but this girl... oh, she's constantly been giving me trouble.

Lately I've done a lot of research and I think I finally have a grasp of what she's like and how she is going to change, but then I got up to a scene near the half-way point and... and... and...

...and I'm stuck again.

Now that I know more about her, I have to change one tiny action in one single scene. Logically, it makes sense. According to all my research it makes sense. My brain is screaming at me to make this change...

...but it throws a monkey-wrench into the plot. A monkey-wrench bolted to a crate of C-4 with a lit fuse and an open canister of gasoline.

Yes, this one tiny action within one single small scene will mess up something HUGE later.

But I have to change it. I can't not change it. But I know if I do change it, a major character's motivation for making a rather large/important decision will make absolutely no sense, but the last 1/4 of the story and the two main character's plot/character arcs hang on that decision being made.

In short, I am screwed.

Or at least that's what I'm feeling like right now.

It would be easy to just let this tiny thing go... I mean, if you knew what I was agonizing about right now, you'd probably slap me across the face and tell me to leave it alone and keep going. You might laugh because I'm making a big deal out of such an eensy-weensy little thing, but it's important.

It's important because it's the truth. This character's truth. If I don't change it, I'll know that I have compromised what I believed to be right, and I can't do that. It would be like betraying this character I've worked so hard to understand, to just throw off her earnest expression of thought/feeling.

Honestly, I feel a little sick to my stomach right now, but I know what I have to do.

I think I'm going to leave it alone for today, sleep on it tonight, and hopefully a brilliant solution is lurking somewhere in the dark crooks and corners of my brain.

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