Yesterday, I finished a manuscript for THE REVENGE OF LORD EBERLIN, which follows THE YEAR OF LIVING SCANDALOUSLY. This book too me much longer to write than normal. Not because it was so complex or deep in thought, but because my life intervened too often. Inevitably, every time I came back to the manuscript, I had trouble liking what I was reading. So the upshot of this is, if you are me, and you take too much time, you end up rewriting the whole damn book. However, if you have a strict deadline, you get ‘er down and get ‘er done. Lesson learned.
Nevertheless, you can see by the screen shot that the thing was a big fat mess. My storytelling skills go through an evolution with each book. What sounded great in theory often turns out to be just dumb on the page. So the story evolves, and I evolve with it. I find myself thinking about certain scenes and thinking, wouldn’t it be better if this happened? But if this happened, don’t I have to change the front of the book? And the back? And all the stuff in between? Discovering your process is the hard part of storytelling. Mine is pretty messy, but it seems to work.
I am happy the book is done. It always feels like a cause for celebration when I finish one. I want to do something FABULOUS. I want to buy things, eat things, drink things. I want to fly somewhere, drive somewhere, skate somewhere. I feel euphoric…but then I will notice that the laundry needs doing or the kitchen needs to be cleaned, and voila, euphoria disappears and the chore list rears its ugly head.
Yesterday, however, I took in a movie. It was a rainy day and I haven’t seen one in a while. So I went to see:
Well, here’s another hard part of story-telling. No matter the story, you have to give your characters some redeeming qualities so readers will root for them. There has been some controversy among readers about the book this movie was based on (Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin), because the lead characters behave badly in ways that none of us would behave. I read the book, I knew the challenges, and while I can think of how I might have done it, the movie kept me engaged, just as the book did. It’s a salacious little tale, and if you don’t mind that sort of thing, I thought it was pretty good. But then again, my standards are not high. I thought the previews for Kung-Fu Panda II looked pretty good.
Have you read the book? Have you read a book with a difficult conflict where you were still able to root for the characters? What is your story-telling process? Is it as ugly as mine?