Writing the comeback realistically

Chapter 10 is driving me nuts!
May 18, 2013
Why Do You Write?
May 20, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wrote yesterday. So much so that I went back and re-read all of it. Found a couple of errors and chunks missing, so I re-wrote a couple of things. In this case, my motivation was not to be perfect, but to make sense. And that’s all I want for my books, for them to make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to blend Legend and Spirit. They are two separate stories with two separate premises. Legend already has a problem with trying to do too much. And that’s the whole reason, I’m not going with it as my main piece right now. I need Spirit to lay the foundation for me and the readers. The readers, so they have a handle on the 21st century characters, so I can introduce the 26th Century ones. Me, so I’m clearer on the direction and tone of the story, especially when it comes to the voice and motivation of my main 21st Century character.

Which brings me back to yesterday’s rambling about Chapter 10 and something I read today from Rob. I should have actually read this on Thursday, but in not wanting to lose any of the emails, I created a special folder for them and forgot that I had done so. Anyway, his topic this week was What Motivates You? In it, he uses the comeback story as an example of how coaches motivate their teams during a comeback. He says:

The comeback happens after coaches put things in perspective, break things down, and help people focus on what they know how to do. They fall back to successes, even small ones and build. One basket, one goal at a time and the motivation returns, not fueled by the lack of something but by success.

This got me thinking about what I currently have for the mess of Chapter 10. At one point in it, my main character’s brother puts things in perspective for her by saying:

With all 23 bases competing, I don’t think we will make it past the Preliminaries, so the only riding you have to do is in the opening and closing ceremonies. You can still shoot and play your clarinet, right?

There he is, breaking the idea of riding in the prestigious competition into small, manageable, and realistic, expectation for both the reader and main character. The expectation of “Yes, it would be nice to go all the way, but if we at least make an appearance this year, that’s enough to build upon for next year.”

As the writer, I’m the only one who knows how far they will really go and what they have to do of how to overcome in the process. I have the big picture in my head. Even my characters aren’t quite sure where I’m going with them until I make them do or think something. It’s my job, not to assume that the reader has all the pieces when they don’t and make things plausible and logical so they all fit together, even when I feel like I’m explaining something obvious. That’s probably the hardest job of a writer actually, besides remembering all the grammatical and structural rules so the book doesn’t come out as one long rambling mess. (Unlike the posts in this blog, sometimes . . .:))

So what does this mean for Chapter 10 and Spirit as a whole? No major re-tooling to adjust the timeline or trying to blend it with another story. No getting lost, or bogging the story down, in the emotional self-pity that my main character is feeling. She’s already had plenty of page time for that! Rather, yes to writing a scene, chapter, and book that makes logical sense while having the emotional impact to make it believable. In other words, building upon on the premise that “when we face a challenge, our best source of motivation is to build on our past success.”

As of Chapter 9, my character had the success of overcoming her fear and riding after six years. So why not let her enjoy celebrating that small victory? The story can’t, and won’t end with that celebration.  We still have to reach the climax with the main antagonist, who has barely been mentioned at this point.

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