Sunday 19th April 2020
Yesterday was spent planning out the redraft of the second Shade Knight novel. I was actually quite impressed at just how ruthless I was prepared to be. That I think is a product of equal measures preparedness (through thinking through issues of theme and character) and experience.
I’ve talked about how one antagonist has had to change. They’re not the big bad but they have a significant part to play in the story, most of which happens during the part of the story where I was considering my “Bruce Wayne” vs “Batman” dilemma.
There’s a key scene that breaks if you start turning Bruce Wayne into Batman and changing this antagonist. I wouldn’t say I’m romantic about this scene so much as it’s a key set piece that I still feel needs to be there in this redraft.
I thought I’d worked out a way to do it. Yes, it needed changes. I swapped an antagonist out which allowed me to raise the stakes and on paper it looked like I’d fixed it.
However, over the weekend I’ve thought on this some more and it’s bothered me.
I’ve blogged previously how this novel is about conflict as a question of theme, where the theme represents a question and the antagonists represent an answer to that question that the hero has to face before coming to their own conclusion. It’s pretty new territory for me, but I’ve really enjoyed researching and playing with it as part of the craft of plotting a novel.
I decided to go back to this with this particular scene and immediately found out why I wasn’t happy. Whilst I think I’ve got a good way to establish the antagonist and their answer to the theme, I don’t think this scene continues to explore that. As a result, whilst there’s conflict in this theme, it’s not tied to the theme. Therefore it feels off, and the scene looses a bit of drive.
This is all very new to me. I usually work out the scene and only after writing it do I derive theme. This time, I’m using the theme, to pull back the curtain of the storycraft to address and fix weak areas.
It’s allowed me see the problem in this section of the novel much more clearly and know what I need to do.
This scene needs to move later as it’s a good way to drive the escalation, but it means that the preceding chapters need to be changed to drive towards that. Specifically, their focus needs to be on escalating the conflict between the hero and this particular antagonist. And because I know the theme, I have a rough idea of what that conflict is going to look like.
It’s made me aware that I need a stronger sense of who this reimagined protagonist is. My initial thought was someone like Jeff Lowe from The Tiger King. One of the key things this character needs to have is misguided benevolence with an aura of threat, and in my head it’s either something too mild, or too over the top.
What I need to do is find a fictional character that can be my anchor point. Obviously I don’t want my characters to be carbon copies of anyone , real or fictional, but sometimes I need something as a starting point.
The good news is that I do feel like this isn’t that big of a job, even if I need to think on it for a few days. It’ll be something that will come to me and then everything will fall in place.
I’m still feeling good about this upcoming rewrite, and I’m loving how the new storycraft tools I’m using are helping me better identify issues and what needs to be fixed.
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