Monday, April 4, 2011

Genius vs. The Group

Larry is a GENIUS!
At our last meeting, I agreed with pretty much everything he said about the story, and at one point, I even called him genius. But I don’t say that out loud to him very often, because then he’d expect me to agree with him all the time.
Such prolific agreeability threw my equilibrium off balance, so I needed to find something with which to disagree.
He said in his last blog “Will we get it done? Absolutely! Will the rewrite go smoothly? Could happen—but not likely.”
That’s where I disagree.
I think it depends on our personal interpretations of the word “smoothly.” For me, smoothly will be if we don’t rip each other bald in a scrap over what degree of realism to use.
For Larry, “smoothly” doesn’t include assault and battery at all.
He’s very attached to one of the less realistic characters, Chief Branch. And I totally get that.  I’m attached to one of my characters (Vic) who, in a few of his earlier scenes, was WAY over the top. But he has been tempered with some violently realistic scenes as well. His realistic scenes balance the over-the-top ones.
So now we’re back to balance. Our critique group indicated Chief Branch is too—and to use a quote from one of our group members—“Keystone Cops.” Maybe it’s time for him to shake off some of the slapstick for a dab of realism. Would a law-enforcement officer really do that? There is motivation for this character to act that way, but is the motivation strong enough?
Unfortunately not, according to Group. Not when lives are on the line, and he’s obstructing justice.
Like Larry, I thought the scenes were funny, but I’m not opposed to changing them. Then again, I’m just not quite as attached to Branch as Larry is.
Now if somebody told me to change Vic, I’d kick up a serious, unpretty fuss. He started out as a crazy, disgusting, wretch of a human being, which was really fun to write. However, he has evolved, and was an interesting and fun character right even up to the end.
Maybe that’s what Branch needs. Evolution. Not change his character entirely, but a bit of growth on his part would make him more sympathetic and less likely to be skimmed over when readers get to his scenes.
We’ll do what needs to be done, and Branch will be better for it. He will come out of revision just fine.
But I’m not quite so sure about Larry. Poor man might end up bald.

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