While listening to the ever insightful, funny team of Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens debate back and forth and laugh at each other’s and their own jokes on StoryWonk, I came to a rather jaw dropping realization. Well, jaw dropping for me, I guess. And any other person who has happily finished a draft and thought, “now I just have to fix a few things and polish!” Ha, bloody ha.
It happened while I was listening to their daily podcast (now defunct in favor of a longer form weekly show) entitled Elegant Conflict. And I realized suddenly that my first draft’s conflict was definitely lacking. There were so many sticky, webby parts you might think it was a particularly disorganized spider weaving this story. Not that the conflict didn’t exist, but that it was so internalized and so distant that it didn’t exert much pressure on my characters. And as we know, only pressure and time create diamonds. Ok, and carbon.
So as I was driving along, listening to their discussion on conflict, the other part of my brain was busy untangling knots. I find that driving long distances, much like taking showers or walks with the dogs, is a GREAT place to think about storycraft. There’s something about engaging your more critical, logical and driven part of the brain in some activity that is mindless enough you don’t have to concentrate too hard, but still have to focus on so that the rest of your brain can just play and wander.
And I figured out how to ratchet up the pressure a few notches so that the conflict becomes even more visible and the characters have to actually DEAL with it! In addition to this, it creates lots of nice pockets for character driven plot that otherwise has to be forced into place. Now it falls quite naturally into its slot.
And THAT, my friends, is why we tell new writers to put their work away for a while and come back to it when your brain is refreshed and ready to see the problems more clearly! Now, I just have to REWRITE ALL THE THINGS!!
image created by the hilarious Allie Brosch at Hyperbole and a Half