Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brain Cramp

A dear friend of mine, Katy Cooper, talks about how in every manuscript there comes a point where the project makes her brain cramp.

That’s where I am right now with NIGHTSHADE. All my clever plotting threads have gotten tangled and interwoven so tightly that my brain is cramping up and writhing in agony, trying to figure it all out.

At first, I thought it was time to pull out the color-coded index cards and the spreadsheets and bring the left-side of my brain into the equation. However, in lieu of my last post, I think instead, I'm going to back away a bit and try to reconnect with the parts of this story that had me so excited about writing it, and make an effort to strip away anything I might have encumbered it with. Once I've done that, I'm going to do some journaling and play around with the "promise of the premise." This is a term I picked up from a recent craft book I read called, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It's a very quick read, and I thought it had some interesting new ways of looking at plot elements and structure. It didn't feel as seminal to me as Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass or STORY by Robert McKee, but very worthwhile. I think its greatest value will be in helping reduce a sprawling mess of a story to its core focus.

Which I'll try, just as soon as my brain uncramps


Katy Cooper said...

And here's the really horrid thing about the every-project brain cramp: it doesn't come at the same place and it's not caused by the same thing.

Actually, that could be a good thing. Because then you wouldn't be banging your head on the desk, wondering why, oh why, didn't you figure out how to get around this the last time you went through it.