I have cleared 110,000 words on Princess of Fire, a mark I should have reached days and days ago. Frankly, at times it’s been a lot more fun to write Horse Tamer (yes, writing two novels at the same time is stupid, but I stubbornly persist– it must be the Scots in me…). I originally thought the two stories would not compete for space in my head, but, as with many things in my life, I have been proven wrong.
But another drag on my progress on PoF has been the fact that I have been slogging through a lot of technical details, setting up the scientific background for the story, as well as establishing the main action that occupies the middle of the book (think Dunkirk with trains). All of that seemed so very necessary, but at the same time deadly thick and exhausting. At times it’s been hard to gin up enthusiasm.
However, today, while I was chiseling out a few hundred more words, it began to dawn on me– slowly, like a sunrise through thick clouds– that I have done enough, and probably more than enough, to establish the action and background. Now, this very moment, might just be the time to really start messing with Kathy and her efforts.
Back in 2013, when I passed Princess of Shadows to my beta-readers, one of them said she liked the book very much, but wondered at times how many things could go wrong for Kathy while she struggled to get to safety. I knew I had succeeded at that point, because I had intended Kathy’s journey to be a serious struggle. And that’s what I want with Princess of Fire.
It is monkey-wrench time.
Time to screw things up, insert catastrophes, create interference, cause problems, to stir the pot. Time to force Kathy to confront crises, and to overcome them. To take the plan she has in mind and turn it inside out, and make her pick up the pieces.
To put it another way, it’s past time for me to apply the Whedon Principle— the concept that you must make your characters’ struggle and suffer, often just when it looks like they’re in the clear. Joss Whedon is a master of this, and it’s a principle I learned at his feet (metaphorically speaking).
Putting it another way, it’s time for the fun stuff.
Because, quite simply, it is in the struggle against overwhelming odds that the action and the characters become the most interesting, and the author (aka, sadist, but that’s another blog post) can have the most fun writing their story. And that’s the point I now appear to be at. It feels rather like coming up and over the top of a roller-coaster, and now comes the drop, and the screaming….