Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: Secrets

“Secrets” done (victory dance here)

Okay, remind me to never, ever start a new thing again without any clue how to finish it, deal? Deal. Thanks.

Secrets is a story based on too many crime shows regarding a sort of… well, secret agency which trains agents to work a bit under the law spotlight in delicate mission. Nothing that had never been done before, so it should give me not too much trouble, right?

Wrong.

I embarked into Secrets hoping that the plot would eventually guide me and ended up with a huge chaos on my hands and a very strong male character torn in three ways. Thus the story I had gotten myself into had three main branches:

  1. Work conflict: The actual action story, which eventually developed into catching a Russian drug dealer
  2. Personal conflict: The main character struggles with his past, his present and the nature of his work.
  3. Love conflict: how both of the previous conflict affect the main character’s relationship.

secretsAt some point, when I was stuck, I started writing a flashback that would explain the background of some of the characters, and the way they interact with each other, but I got stuck there too. So I made a radical decision, I cut the flashback completely, and started writing where I had left the main story.

At some point these days I stumbled upon a very interesting post in the SFWA blog, “Painting Characters into Corners” by Nancy Fulda. Somehow – and a page of babbling and drawing schemes later – that gave me the idea to introduce a new character, a chemist, who would be in charge of analysing the drug sample the main character had obtained from his mission, and it was this guy who somehow magically had the key to make the plot roll.

I finally clocked in at almost 29,000 words (plus the 4,000 of flashback I discarded) but hey, it worked, and I am even quite satisfied with the result. I have made a huge amount of notes though, a whole new first draft so I can adapt the story to that when I go back to revise it. I guess I can’t complain in the end, and I am glad I managed to rescue it from the folder of ‘projects I shall never look at again’.

“Secrets” & Frustration

There is an inherent problem with being a character-based writer – your action spree skills suck, big time. Okay, maybe only my action spree skills suck, but I have been noticed lately – as I work on Secrets, which should be a spy(ish) thriller that a lot of my action happens within my characters’ heads, which is great when building up tension but… not so great when you try to write a chase.

Stakeouts? Easy-peasy. Running after the bad guy? Boooooring.

It is a bit on the frustrating side, actually, because a few times now I have tried to work up fast-paced stories – Secrets is the latest one but Dangerous Men and Timeless fall in this category too, and the action does not feel… action-y if you allow me the made-up word. It feels dragged by the characters… well, the characters thinking and reflecting and… feeling, maybe?

This scheme I feel comfortable in slides in the story whenever I am not on the look-out and tension builds up… but it is not the right kind of tension. It is not ‘omg the bad guy is going to discover him/her any second now and kill him/her’ kind of tension. It feels more like ‘oh shit, what if his/her secret is out? What happens when the people close to him/her find out?’

This yields to interesting discovering about the characters, which I enjoy, but… but.

But sometimes it is not what I am aiming for, and that makes me feel frustrated. After all, I am well-aware of the ‘theory’, but I just keep drifting towards the same writing style all the time. I wonder whether this is good or bad…

Procrastination (or thinking too much)

I got a bunch of notes to start a new story, and I was feeling a bit lazy, basically because I am not sure that one of my basic plot points works. Thus, I am kinda trying to push back starting it. Anyway, I was staring at the blank page and I suddenly thought about all those things said about a blank page. And somehow, I think that they were all procrastination quotes. Here are my artsy contributions to the blank page and the note-taking process. They are not much, but they earned me a few words…

secrets_notes
secrets_blank

And well, this is totally one of those working titles that are going to stick, I just know it.