On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Too Easy Problem Solving -- Set Up

I was working and a little voice said in my brain, “this is too easy.” (This wasn’t the negative inner critic because I was revising, not creating – and if I haven’t spoken about Negative Inner Critic before, I’ll be doing so more often in the future).

Anyway, I DID listen. My heroine was solving a problem too easily. When this happens, I always recall my critique buddy saying “Ailim D’SilverFir (Heart Thief’s heroine) got the loan from the FirstFamilies Council too easily.”

So I addressed that in the book:

****MODIFIED FROM HEART THIEF*****************************

"Let’s loan the money…" T'Holly said.

The Captain of the Council and her neighbor, Bucus T'Elder's heavy jowls quivered. Ailim saw calculation in his eyes, felt a wave of greed from the man. "This is too easy for D'SilverFir."

Ailim stared at him, barely keeping her mouth from falling open. Easy? All the mental battering she'd taken, all the talking and arguing? Showing up here and begging? Easy?

"We can't let anyone think that one merely requests"Bucus snapped his thick fingers"and gilt falls into their laps." His eyes narrowed. "Let's grant the loan with the proviso….”


There’s a point to this Too Easy blog. The above passage from Heart Thief was from Chapter 1. The revising I was doing that triggered the little voice was in Chapter 2. Take the first example. My heroine needed to get the loan because the loan had conditions. If her Family failed the conditions, they’d forfeit the ancestral estate.

That’s SET UP. Struggling to get the loan was not part of the story. I couldn’t take time to have my heroine fight and master this problem, I had other conflicts and issues for her to solve.

Of course, I might have added it in a little backstory….”it took Ailim three months to convince the FirstFamilies Council to meet with her about the loan…” Maybe that would have been better, but as it was, I needed Ailim sleep-deprived and unobservant. Embarrassed and hating being in the Guildhall to beg.

The point is that problems being solved (which will lead to worse problems down the road, i.e. my heroine failing to meet the conditions of the loan), can be solved easily in the first couple of chapters if it is part of the set up of the story.

May your characters sink deeper into thorny problems today.


Blogger Michele said...

There is "sinking into problems" and "getting mired" in them.

I read a book like that recently and it left me very frustrated.

For more than half the book the heroine was like a ping pong ball, bouncing between trusting the good guy who she thinks is bad, and trusting the bad guy who she thinks is good. Meanwhile the bad guy no one knows about, is playing her off the good guy so he can get the good guy offed off.
She was clueless and easily swayed. I perservered and read the whole story. She finally wised up, but I didn't have much respect for the character by that point.

So, I'm thinking that there must be a point when the reader gets fed up after an overdose of adversity and it's a challenge for an author to know the balance, to suspect when that point might happen.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

I would say that you need to send A LOT of adversity at your characters, but they should fail at some and triumph, and eventually triumph.


7:21 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

OH, I don't mind adversity per se. That's how, even in real life, we grow, mature and acheive wisdom.

The character I referred to never had the strength to wonder "what's going on", to be suspicious and to be an active participant. She was told one thing by the bad guy and her response was " Oh, OK.", goes to the other guy who says something else and she still says, "Oh, OK."
She never stopped to say, "wait a minute, somethings not right with this picture." , She never got an "uneasy feeling" or intuition that one of them or both needed to be viewed with a bit of caution. Perhaps it was how the charater was written that bugged me. It was her reacion or nonreaction to the adversity, acting more like a leaf in the wind.
Perhaps it reminded me too much of a woman subdued to the whims of man and fate and is unable to, unwilling or oblivious to the need to tap into her inner strength. A strength I believe all women are capable of.

I guess what it comes down to is the personal fact that I don't like to read about women being victimized.
And her character doesn't do anything for herself to fight it. Someone has to fight for her.
And she lets them.

I guess I'm not OK with helplessness.

Did I just have a therapeutic session?
You don't charge do you?

3:22 PM  

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