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Thursday, 15 October 2015

A trail of crumbs in a dark wood

I’m going through a sticky patch, not so much ‘writer’s block’ but more 'where the hell am I going with this?' This being the final book in a trilogy. 
The first two novels, ‘The Gift’ and ‘Bloodline,’ are strong; books I’m happy to send out, perhaps the best I’ve written so far. I dip my quill in hubris and look around nervously.
On the other hand, this final book, putatively titled 'Blood-fall', is teetering on 'Still-born.' At present a nightmare. What do I have?
It is set between 1932 and 1941. 
It has a prime motivating force. 
 I know the fate of one of the major characters, and more importantly why. 
Other than that, for the moment at least, I can’t see the wood for the trees. There are so many rich and fascinating trees:
Brendan Bracken, Churchill’s intimate advisor who had occult leanings and associated with the black magician Evan Morgan in his younger days, The Princess Stephanie Hohenlohe, the beautiful and manipulative master spy who had Lord Rothmere and Adolf Hitler wrapped round her perfumed fingers, despite being half Jewish. Guy Burgess and Edouard Pffieffer, the aide to Daladier, the French Minister of War. Burgess, a communist spy, and Pfeiffer were predatory homosexuals who once played ping-pong over the supine body of a Parisian rent boy – but more to the point a weak link in the highly secretive correspondence between Neville Chamberlain and Daladier during the Munich crisis. I have Ribbentrop and the deeply troubling Lord Halifax who once expressed a wish for a State Procession in honour of Hitler, the British monarch by his side in London. And had it been Edward VIII this would likely have come to pass.
All this you cannot make up – but so many rich and variegated trees for my fictitious characters, John Grey, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride to weave their way through in something approaching a compelling plot. I'm looking for that trail of crumbs in the dark wood; no worse. I'm feeling my way through a maze in a thick mist, and wearing a blindfold. Wish me luck


Maria Zannini said...

Sounds like you have a lot of important historical characters and events. Are they too much competition for the fictional characters?

As long as you keep your eye on the main characters' story arc, you should be fine.

Mike Keyton said...

Good question, Maria, but I don't think they're the real problem. I have only one broad arc but no plot incitements and the necessary smaller arcs that carry the reader along. I never plot in detail, preferring pants-ing for stretches. Even so, some minor landmarks might be nice rather than just sailing into the deep dark sea without a compass. I'm sure things will work out though. They always have in the past. Thanks again.

PS If I sent you a photo can you give me a gut impression as to whether it would do for general publicity. I can't hide behind my avatar forever, and the last one used by the Argus was horrendous. It brought home the importance of 'image' as opposed to conceit - though there is that too of course :)

Maria Zannini said...

Send away.

Veronica Sicoe said...

Plotting when you have multiple Players is a bitch (important characters who aren't the protagonist or antagonist). Also, too many good ideas can ruin the progress on a novel just as well as not enough good ideas.

Since you're focusing on character arc as the spine of the novel (if I understood it correctly), I think you might benefit from Libbie Hawker's book "Take Off Your Pants" - in which she details a way to outline geared toward pantsers, and based on character arc. I found her advice VERY useful, and think it might help you get out of the quagmire. :)

Good luck!!!

Mike Keyton said...

Thanks, Vero. I'll check it out