“Write what you feel and not what you think someone else feels.”
Stephen Sondheim

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Day 11: Writing The Boring Stuff
Sun 2007-11-11 14:27:30 (in context)
  • 18,688 words (if poetry, lines) long

If the author is bored, the reader is quite definitely going to be bored too. However, sometimes you still gotta write the boring stuff. Maybe on revision it will become un-boring.

I haven't gotten to the really emotionally attached wincing with embarrassment stuff yet. I have to get through my MC's first date, first. And this is not a subject that intrinsically interests me. It's newcomer plot fodder, stuff that got added recently in order to make this story plausible as a Really Truly novel. The story that's been in my head for some 15 years now has mainly been about how the MC inherits her mother's supernatural nature, forces her way out from under her oppressive foster mother's thumb, and learns about her heritage. But in trying to redeem that plot from being a transparent case of angsty teenage wish-fulfillment into being a novel someone other than myself might actually want to read, the original characters have begun acquiring complexities (e.g. the foster mother isn't repressive at all; she's just very detached, and she knows some scary things that the MC doesn't know), and the plot has begun accruing secondary characters. Such as the MC's boyfriend.

And I'm just not really interested in this guy. Scenes with him seem to serve no other purpose than to give the movement time to crescendo (and give me a better chance of hitting the target word count). So I slog my way through those scenes, taking dictation as I watch them hold hands over the red-and-white checked table-vinyl at a second-rate pizzeria in Slidell, and I get bored, and I wonder why I should care.

We'll get there, never fear. We really are getting there. I'm finding new ways every day to tie him into my original conception of how the plot should work, so that his relationship with the MC plays a part in the process of her transformation. For instance, he asks her out only after she trusts him enough to say, "OK, you're going to think I'm crazy, but 1) I haven't managed to outgrow my imaginary friend, and 2) this imaginary friend has started making passes at me, and 3) I'm beginning to wonder whether he's all that imaginary after all." That seems to work on several levels. He genuinely cares for her, and wants to be there for her when she's distressed. And her leap of faith in trusting him with this convinces him that A) she deserves a leap of faith from him in return, and B) she's not going to laugh in his face after relying on him not to laugh at her. But then, for all that he cares about her, he does think she's a little mentally disturbed, and he thinks that it would be healthier for her to have a boyfriend than to have (in his view) externalized all those normal adolescent hormonal developments into an imaginary construct that sexually harasses her.

So... the boyfriend is a loving, caring, trusting and trustworthy person who also is a little patronizing and for-her-own-good manipulative. Which, I think, is realistically complex, and sets up the possibility for a scene where this ulterior motive comes out in the open and causes them to have a bit of a fight. Which tension will in turn be a plausible reason for the crux in the plot between the MC and her not-so-imaginary friend.

Also, the MC's eventual transformation will have a decided impact on the boyfriend. And the outcome of that will shape how the MC relates to her newfound powers. So everything gets worked into the network of causal relationships that push the story forward. It's all good, at least potentially so, and none of it ought to boring.

But it just isn't the stuff I've been looking forward to writing, that's all. It's the writing that's actual work, as opposed to the writing that comes springing fully formed and armed for battle out of the Muse's forehead. Of course, the latter sort of writing is a lot rarer than many people think, so where I get off complaining that I'm bored with the former sort of writing, I have no idea. But it's my blog, so I can complain if I want to. Nyah.

Anyway, that's my so-called insight for today. Take it or leave it.

(If I sound grumpy, blame the NFL. Today's game between the Rams and the Saints was painful.)