Thursday, March 26, 2009

At Least this Time I Caught It Early

Recently I've been working on Children's Crusade again, and I had decided to jump ahead to the second book for working while standing in line, etc. However, I'd become stuck on the scene in which Grigory Semyonov is meeting with the Politburo, discussing the significance of the events at the end of the first book. I just couldn't seem to find a way to get it moving beyond the introductory paragraphs.

Today while I was standing in line at the grocery store, I realized that yet again I'd made the critical error of starting the scene with the principal character in isolated introspection, thinking about the situation but not talking to anyone -- and then I couldn't find a suitable bridge to get someone else into the scene with whom he could talk.

So there was nothing to do but throw the entire scene away and start afresh with Semyonov talking with his long-term assistant, Anton Dumar, about the things he'd been thinking about privately in the original version. We'll see if I can get it to go anywhere.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Black Box

A few days ago, after having several repetitive dreams dealing with someone I knew at the University of Illinois, I decided to pull out The Ballad of Katie Hart and get back to work on it. It had stalled out in the seventh chapter and I'd never been able to get it going again.

And as I was thinking about the scene in which Sergei Gerasimov's clone-brother is talking with two of the Stalin clones and one makes a scathing remark about just what Katie sees in Ferdinand Yabur, and I realized that I had a major logic hole. Never once have I established what exactly had led to Katie becoming so emotionally obsessed with a man who was actively disliked by at least one major POV character, and who was despised by several others because of his obliviousness to the strife his wife was sowing.

Once I saw that logic hole, I also realized that the characters of both Ferdinand and Marie Yabur were effectively black boxes. Their inner lives were completely opaque to the reader, with no evidence of their motivations except those attributed to them by POV characters who had absolutely no reason to think well of them.

I think at least part of the problem is that the novel had its beginnings as a roman a clef, and Marie Yabur in particular was based upon someone I regarded as an implacable enemy. But to make it work, I somehow have to get inside the headspace of these two characters and find a way to show what is making them go.