Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Writer Zen: We Are Our Own Protagonists

Technique Tuesday

As the protagonist approaches the climax of our novel, we pull out all the stops, throw ever thing at them, and turn what was a difficult situation into an impossible one. It's a good thing real life isn't like that-- except sometimes it is.

I spent most of yesterday expecting to find time to write up a note to post here, but there was always one more thing that required my attention. I resolutely fought through the legions of time-sucking details until I managed to clear some time in the evening. I signed on ready to write when, like drawbridge raising just before gaining the castle, I was met with a maintenance notice. I could almost hear the antagonist, doomed damsel in his clutches, on the battlements above cackling at my plight.

I hope that doesn't sound overly dramatic, but it gave me cause to consider the ways in which writing a novel is like the journey of the hero in our stories. We undertake the project confident we're up to the task of embodying our vision. There are set-backs along the way, with which we deal. And at least once during the project there comes a time that things look very dark and the prospect of finishing seems impossibly remote.

Mount Doom (Wikipedia)
With my own projects, I've often felt a real kinship with Frodo marching across the plains of Mordor: the end is plainly in sight yet it feels as though neither of us is ever going to get to the end. The analogy seems particularly strong when I have only a few chapters left to write--I know exactly where they're going and they're chock full of exciting stuff--but Heaven and Hell seem to be conspiring to use up my every waking moment.

I recognize those situations as the time for renewed resolve. And I console myself with the thought that the degree of opposition I feel must be a sign that I'm producing something really good.

But what it really comes down to--what sets us apart as novelists--is that, like our protagonists, we doggedly push through to the end.

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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