That title has to be the most jargon-y post heading in my history. A WIP is a work in progress; retconning means “the alteration of previously established facts in the continuity of a fictional work” (that’s Wikipedia). I am retconning like crazy, including that DSP (Damn Stupid Premise) we were talking about.
Here’s what’s going on (this is all about what I’m working on, so if you’d like to skip to something more interesting, there’s always good stuff on io9):
So first a brief recap:
Many years ago–okay, five years ago–Lani and Krissie and I came up with the idea for a collaboration featuring fairy tale heroines. We brainstormed a basic plot, did collages, developed characters and then . . . wandered off. Later we came up with another collaboration in that world, brainstormed plots, I did a collage and then . . . we wandered off. But I really liked the world so I kept world building and started working on a novel told in short stories/episodes and then I got hit with about forty different crises and it slowed me down considerably. I kept working on it, but I was just not in a romantic comedy fantasy frame of mind, so I was pretty much spinning my wheels. About two months ago, Lani said, “Let’s do an episodic novel set in the Fairy Tale Lies world,” and I said, “That’s what I was trying to do with the Zo stories, I really like the concept, let’s do it,” and Krissie said, “Yes,” and I said, “Let’s invite Toni Causey in, too,” and they both said, “Absolutely,” and we asked Toni, and she said yes. Then Lani got swamped with her own work, and Krissie got overwhelmed with other things, but Toni and I kept working, and having somebody to brainstorm world building with galvanized me, and we started e-mailing obsessively, pulling everything together, and as of today, we have a new world built with a logical system of magic and a cast of characters I love and I have 30,000 words done. Thatsalotta words for starting from scratch two months ago.
Okay, that recap wasn’t all that brief, but I had a lot of ground to cover.
So now I’m going back to the Zo stories with my head screwed on straight for a change and a much clearer view of not only the world, but also of what was wrong with the Zo stories to begin with, which means it’s time to retcon. Before they were fairly light, more screwball comedy, which I wouldn’t have been able to maintain anyway, but with the new stuff I’ve written for the book that takes place six years after the Zo Stories (that would be Monday Street), the mood and tone of the narrative world has shifted. I still want to write the subplot about the girl who got kissed and the kisser who turned into a frog, I just have to base it a little more in reality.
Reality. Always a longshot for me.
And so I came back to what I always have to come back to if I’m going to make any progress: What is this story about?
That is, I can do a rambling summation of this woman and these kids and this guy and this other woman and this other guy but that’s not what the story is about. The story is about this protagonist and this antagonist and the struggle between them that begins on the first page and end, if not on the last page, then on the third to the last page. So I know my protagonist is Zo, but the focus of the story shifts dramatically if the story is mainly about the guy who wants to kiss her or about the guy who wants to kill her. One of those is main plot and one of those is subplot and I have to decide which is which before I can really plot this story.
The truth is, in general I’m not that interested in writing straight romance plots. They’re about growing closer and compromising, and while it’s fun to put that on the page, it tends to make for a pretty low affect in plotting. On the other hand, the romance lover in me gets annoyed when the bad guy keeps making things difficult for the heroine. I want to read the love story, buddy, could you get your head out of the way?
So generally what I try to do is tie the two plots together so that one plot that spurs the other plot: the danger from the Big Bad pushed the lovers together, and the partnership of the lovers makes things worst for the Big Bad, so he increases the danger . . .
But even so, one of them has to dominate, so I’m choosing between Plot One and Plot Two.
Plot One is about an evil politician who wants to kidnap Our Girl and take her to her Evil Stepmother who wants to eat her heart (Our Girl’s name is Zo White because I never waste time with subtleties) by kidnapping her foster children (she had seven but that was too many so we’re working with the five-kid-band) and forcing her to come after them. Several times. Yeah, that one needs work.
Plot Two is about the cop the foster kids call after they break into the politician’s mansion so he’ll see all the illegal things the pol has been doing, which works until the cop sees Zo and pretty much falls at first sight, and then has to half kill himself to win her over throughout the book. Yeah, that one needs work, too.
So I have to pick one, and fix that plot. I can slide a little bit on a subplot, but my main plot is the boat that floats the story: it has to be watertight. I’m thinking I’m going with the suspense plot and play the romance as the subplot. Which is odd because Monday Street is the opposite: romance main plot, suspense support. You gotta go where the story leads you.
And of course, some of you have already noticed the really big problem there: Odolph wants to kidnap Zo, Ecks wants to kiss Zo, WHAT THE HELL DOES ZO WANT? Beside to not be kidnapped–hello, folks, it’s our old friend the negative goal–so that needs work, too.
I’ve been building new collages which is helping hugely. We also moved the time period up ten years so women can wear pants; how the hell did our great-grandmothers manage life in those skirts? Plus the illustrations from the 20s are fabulous: Leyendecker, Coleman, Eastman, and so many more. I really like using illustrations for the main picture even if I fill in with photos. I’m trying to un-photo photos with pasteurization but they’re still photos. At this point, I’m collaging the stories/chapters, and then I’ll move on to the characters, and then back to the chapters. The only thing that’s as good as collaging for freeing up the brain is driving, but I’m paranoid about that now since I rear-ended somebody while thinking about a story. That’s inexcusable.
All of which is to say, I’m working. Also, my brain hurts.
But here’s a collage in progress. See, pictures! I’m thinking of you guys ALL THE TIME.
Now off to reread all the comments on the DSP. Back later.
Oh, and it occurs to me that I have forgotten Cherry Saturday. I’ll put up a poll. Vote on the right if you want to keep it or you want to let it go (if you’re undecided you can vote for more than one thing because it’s that kind of day).
ETA: The collage wasn’t right so I futzed with it. This is why I never get anything done.