Sunday, March 18, 2012

Monkey Wrenches and Stirred Pots

“Our story is boring.” Larry has said this to me a couple of times recently. Thing is, I totally agree. Our second book is starting out to the tune of a big snore.
Since we’re writing as Pantsters, there isn’t anything guiding us. I think the reason we did so well with the first one is because it started with action and it didn’t let up. We had something guiding us—questions. Who is trying to kill Casey? Why did they want him dead? These questions presented themselves early and often and led to all kinds of amusing and occasionally gruesome situations.
But this story? The only question I’m asking is, “Where is this going?”
Part of the reason we don’t know is that we agreed we wouldn’t pigeon hole it into a genre. We’d just let it flow and see where it went. Well, now both of us agree it’s not going anywhere. You can’t string together a bunch of amusing anecdotes and call it a book—at least not a good book.
So I stirred the pot and took the story in an unexpected direction. Can’t tell you what it is now, because I haven’t heard back from Larry. Which means 1) he really, REALLY hates it, or 2) he’s just been busy. And if he really, REALLY hates it, then we have to talk. We both have to like what’s happening, because if we don’t, our mood will reflect into the tone of our scenes and ultimately, the whole story.
That’s what happens when you have a partner. If it were only me, I’d have thrown in something bloody and gruesome early on. If it was Larry, he’d have thrown in a hard-bodied woman wearing a short dress and a potential love interest. I’m drama and gore and he’s romantic comedy. That’s just the way we roll.
Interestingly enough, that’s what made our last book so good. He tempered my characters’ enthusiastic bloodlust and I tempered his characters’ innate need for romance into a romantic-thriller-comedy-drama-esque story, although it’s true genre is mystery.
Now into the second book, you’d think that we’d have learned what works and start this one out with a bang. Apparently not. And although I don’t think that necessarily makes us slow learners, it makes us Pantsters. Pantsters rarely know where they’re going. It’s the nature of the beast.
It’s also the nature of discovery-—of uncovering something fun and vital that has a life of its own and drags the writer along for the ride.
So far, this one doesn’t, but hopefully with the twist I’ve thrown in, it will give us questions to answer that will get us through the rest of the book.
That is if Larry doesn’t really, REALLY hate it.

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