Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Second Time Around

Draft Two of "My Soul to Take" is, for all intents and purposes, done. And I'm pretty pleased with it. Half the time when I finish something, I just want to put it in a box, in a drawer, in a locked basement, and forget about it for a while. But this one… I like it. I'm not angry and frustrated at it.

So, some highlights.

Just past the midpoint of the story, Jake was starting to not be a total selfish asshole. He'd found a possible way out, but then Evie was in trouble, and he decided to go back and he ran in for his Big Damn Heroes moment.

So in all that, I wrote a paragraph. It was just a paragraph, to get everyone where they needed to be for the next scene. But the more I read it over, the more I like it.

Another shot rang out as he sprinted up the walkway. Assuming the revolver was fully loaded when she picked it up, she only had one bullet left.

And she used it just as Jake shoved the heavy front door open. It flew from where she cowered behind the dusty piano, straight through the thing moving ever closer, past Jake’s head, and embedded itself in the far wall.

It's like, there's all this stuff happening, and then for a second we stop and follow this one bullet. And that's so unlike how I usually write, so I think it's really cool.

Then I reached the end. Now, I was worried about the end. I had just kind of figured out the whole escape route situation. But I still had to put into action. I had an outline that told me what to do.

And that's the point where you have to make a decision. Is the outline gospel, that you have to follow to the letter, because Past You surely knew best? Or is it more like a guideline, nudging you in the right direction?

I'm inclined to think it's the latter.

See, the outline had events from the midpoint on in the following order:

  1. The Entity goes after Evie
  2. Rescue from certain doom
  3. An escape route is found
  4. Jake helps Evie escape
  5. The Entity returns for Jake's tasty soul
  6. Jake closes the escape route, with Evie outside, him and the Entity inside

But when I got to it, Point 3 was moved up to before Point 1, because I thought it said more about Jake's character growth if he found the way out, but went back to help Evie anyway. He could have left on his own, but didn't.

And then there's the ending. Point 6. It seemed like the easy way out. Jake redeems himself and dies for it. Maybe it's because I've been killing all my characters lately, but it didn't feel right. So I was thinking about it when I went to bed on, I think, Saturday night. Fun Fact: I don't sleep very well, so I tend to a lot of thinking. And I figured out exactly how it should end. I could picture it all. The sun shining through the clouds, the wind blowing away the last of the fog… And more amazingly, I remembered it later so I could write it down.

Anyway, so I changed the ending. It's a redemption story. It's the journey from selfish sociopath to real god damn human being. It's not about sacrificing yourself for a noble cause. It's about being willing to.

I'm probably going to post Draft Two, but I want to read it over first, to make sure there's no egregious spelling errors or anything. So it will probably be Friday.

So how do you feel about deviating from an outline? Is it the product of a poorly thought out outline, or is it just the natural evolution of a story?

I'll see you Friday.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say outlines are akin to maps: they keep you moving in the right direction toward your destination, but there are times when some of the more interesting adventures lay off the beaten path. If you find the entire journey and end goal changing dramatically - then it might be a case of poor outlining.
    That "bullet time" bit was very well done; that single element used to thread the narrative in such a smooth yet encompassing prose. Little moments like these prove novel writing isn't just describing scenes, but it is truly an art form.
    Also, can't wait to read what you have!