Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blood & Whimsy

I'm usually not very gutsy about my prose writing. I tend to follow a pretty rigid formula:

-have a fairly detailed idea of the beginning
-have only the faintest idea of the middle
-know the ending like you know your own face
-make it as angsty as possible

Okay, so that last one is usually an accident. I have a hard time making my characters anything but overly dramatic about everything, no matter how hard I try. Oh, sure, at the beginning they can be fair to decently cheerful, but by the end they make Edward Cullen look like Bobo the Clown.

I also write fantasy, but not like you know. No swords and sorcery for me, no sir. I've heard my genre described as "Contemporary Fantasy"...which I think is kind of a general way of saying it, and not very descriptive.

Sitting down to write my FebNoWriMo Novel, an idea that has been percolating in my mind for a few years now, I drew a complete blank. I needed my two main characters to meet in a bar. They haven't seen each other in twenty years, and the last time they met one of them allegedly died. So this meeting in the bar was supposed to be unexpected...surprising...explosive...

And angsty, apparently. Because no matter how many times I started the stupid thing, they kept angsting in the first few sentences. My viewpoint character wouldn't stop waxing poetic, and not in a good way, and the other character kept acting all righteously angry about something that I couldn't quite decipher.

This was a problem.

So I started taking apart everything in the scene. What was I doing wrong? Why could I find nothing funny at all about this meeting? What was my problem?

It wasn't until I was noodling around the NaNoWriMo website that I found an adoptable opening line that went as follows: "The man in the corner booth was crying into his tomato soup."


Suddenly it all clicked into place. They're not meeting in a bar, but in a diner! Who cares if it's incongruous to the world I've built? It's my world, and I can make it work. My viewpoint character is no angsty poet; he's a socially maladjusted misfit who can't stop thinking about the other man's lack of hygiene. And that other character--the man crying into his tomato soup--is crying partly for his situation, but also because his flask is empty. (Get ye flask! You can't get ye flask...)

Isn't it amazing how a little change of scenery can do you a world of good? No, seriously.

Thus, I'm changing the name of my genre. From now on, I write "New Whimsy". Sounds legit, doesn't it? The moment I find the barest hint of angst, I shall replace it with a wash of whimsy and turn everything on its head. Fantastico.

Incidentally, there is a new song on my "makes me cry it's so beautiful" list. The band is called The Middle East, and the song is "Blood". Gorgeous, haunting, and if you're not singing along with the vocal hook at the end you have no heart. Look up the lyrics, too. A winner all around.

Word count: 2,495...I'm behind! Better go write.

-The GLS