30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 18: The Problem with Indulgence

I had a strange moment earlier, when I felt a spot of charming dialogue coming on . . . and I narrowed my eyes.

The clouds had parted and, after a few hours of work, I actually got a moment to sit down with my notebook and work out a scene. I got a few hundred words in, when Sydney met a fellow Annex Hunter, Taurean–the sidiest of side characters.

The exchange, meant to be something quick as Sydney entered the scene, slowed down suddenly . . . because it seemed like Taurean had something to say.

And, “Waaaait a minute,” I thought. “Is this Hunter about to talk to Sydney about his feelings?”

But . . . that couldn’t be right, could it? Taurean is a tough dude, first of all. Second, he’s not an important character.

And, third, I’d already had a bunch of scenes where characters let emotions out. So far, this chapter had been all about the protagonists being vulnerable.

So, why the hell was I going in on Taurean’s feels?

Because I wanted to.

Not that I wanted him to be vulnerable, but because I already wanted him to be a bigger part of the story. The selfish writer in me was all, “Eh? Eh? Why not add a whole exchange between him and Sydney, huh? Maybe he becomes a major part of the adventure? Eh? I mean, it’s what you want.” Before catching myself, I almost acted on that want.

But . . . ages and ages ago, when I forced a barbarian character into my first, worst novel–just because I loved him and I didn’t care that his presence made no sense–I learned that, sometimes, my wants as a writer can completely derail and/or muddle a story.

In that first novel, about undead monsters, there was this giant barbarian dude who served exclusively as comic relief (ugh, it hurts even to explain it). He rarely spoke (because I often forgot he was there), and when he did, it was to deliver lines on par with Zangief’s, “Quick! Change the channel!” from the 90’s Street Fighter movie. When I rewrote that novel (which still wound up being bad), he was the first major cut I made . . . before thinking that I should replace him with a new character–a bizarre ghost-ninja who I also loved. To my credit, I never wound up adding that ghost-ninja either.

Because, with that rewrite, I learned the strange, hollow feeling of writing something really selfish. There’s something cold about it, like the sensation of being watched, only the total opposite–as if I was walking with a friend only to realize, without looking, that they aren’t there anymore.

In no way would Taurean’s feelings help the plot. I’d be detracting from the action that ends this chapter, adding a bit of drag right before it starts, for no purpose other than humoring myself.

So, today, I just stopped writing that scene, tore those pages out of my notebook, and tossed them.

Oddly, it still feels like progress.

Words for the Day: 0

NaNoWriMo Total: 7,887

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