State of the suckitude


I’m having real trouble with my WIP. It’s not The Buried King; that’s on the back burner for now, based on the excellent advice of my agent. At the moment it’s A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark.

There’s a solid idea behind the story, and a solid setting to build it on, but as I’m writing it the whole thing feels slack.

And I think I have an idea why. I’m trying something different here, with a main character who is very knowledgeable and competent, and the stakes are both personal and very wide-ranging, but there’s a kind of emotional distance. The main character and her, well, sidekick, are a little cool-headed about things. Almost like a pair of amateur detectives from the 11th installment of an British mystery series from the 30’s. Sort of blase (imagine and accent mark above that last “e”) and unflappable.

Sort of.

Anyway, I’m used to characters who are more emotionally invested. I’m trying something new to stretch myself, but I think it’s hurting my method. I’ll need to do a couple of things to establish strong feeling soon.

And you know what? That wasn’t the post I was planning to write at all, but the act of typing about this WIP helped me find a solution. Thank you, modern blogging.

Tonight I’m actually heading out of my apartment (gasp!) to meet friends I know online but have never met in person. Two of them (I’m actually unsure how many people will be there) are highly-acclaimed writers. An occasion like this calls for a clean t-shirt.

6 thoughts on “State of the suckitude

  1. xiane

    First off, I just read Child of Fire, and it was super. Browsing around Amazon I had thought, another Dark Urban Fantasy. Ho hum. But the reviews suggested otherwise and they were right. Now I regret there aren’t slews of already published books to read, and that I’ll have to wait. I’ve already ordered Game of Cages.

    I read a lot of Wordplayer a few years back (before my child was born), and I can see many of its lessons applied on the page. Your success, literary, and I hope, financial, is inspiring. With such a cinematic style I’d like to think you could do well in other media.

  2. Thanks! I’m glad you liked the book and I hope you like the second one twice as much.

    The problem above was solved when I realized emotional investment was the missing piece. As soon as that became clear, I knew how to establish it.

  3. xiane

    Thanks for your reply! I was thinking about your 1930s British detectives, wondering why they’d do what they did, besides there the fact that there were readers out their wanting more of their adventures.

    Taking the question seriously, as regards the characters, why would witty, attractive, well-off people gallivant around solving murders, keeping a nonchalant air in the worst of danger?

    Ennui? Probably not. People that interesting generally find things to absorb their energy.

    Dark secret/past, like Batman, that drives them to carry on? Maybe.

    How about this – they love what they do. They are fascinated by it, but afraid to admit how deeply the game has hooked them, so they always try to keep it light. A bit of honesty might reveal this, but they are committed to maintaining a certain appearance, but also to solving murders.

    The example I think of, oddly, is Brett Favre, the quarterback. Why is he back again? What could he want? He’s won a superbowl, he’s rich, he holds most NFL passing records at this point, he’s never missed a game in a super long career, a record unlikely to be broken.

    Sure, he loves attention, and Hamletting around every off season, but he still comes back. Why? His body must be battered, and as I said above, what goals are possibly left in the game for him? I think it’s because he loves the game, loves the glory, and loves the attention. It drives a 41 year old man to play the toughest, most painful position in a brutal game with a bunch of amped up 24 year olds. He knows that when he finally retires, all that is really over. He’s just another old rich jock, a talking head, holding celebrity golf tournaments. He knows, and he won’t let go of the glory and the game. That’s a real life example of your British detectives, with no dark past, only a mania for the experience.

  4. Well, I really do not want to come off as a jerk, but I’d prefer it if people didn’t post story ideas for my WIP right in my blog. It’s a bad precedent that can lead to trouble later.

    Besides, I mentioned in the main post that I’ve already found a solution that will work for these characters. I know it’s fun to kick story ideas around, but for me it’s not such a great idea.


  5. xiane

    Not at all. I wasn’t trying to do anything that might be bickered about later, I’m sorry about that.

    I was trying to work through the problem you posed in your post, and thought it could be open for discussion as sort of an exercise. Reading your remarks I can imagine ways that could go awry. If at any point, however, Brett Favre and 1930s detectives meet up and solve football-related crimes…then I’ll be sad.

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