Work on the new novel – RUFUS – has been on hold for
[what is beginning to feel like much more than]
a little while.
There are reasons, of course: work to be done to bring in money so that I may continue to indulge my muse, planning for a tour that never actually happened thanks to funding issues at venues, releasing and promoting Sparse. All of it well and good. It was a conscious act to pause work on Rufus, as opposed to a drift due to writer’s block.
And it was true to pattern.
With each of my novels, I have found myself nearing the end of the first act and reaching what feels like a natural pause. Specifically, the first act serves to:
- introduce and ground the main characters
- bring our protagonist face-to-face with his central dilemma
- whet the reader’s appetite for the journey to come
It’s also the point where the mountain ahead becomes truly visible, like base-camp for Everest
Oh, my word, there’s a SHIT-load of mountain to get up!
My first act pauses have got progressively shorter:
- Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies? – 5 years
- Karaoke Criminals – 1 year
- Family Rules – 6 months
- Escalation – 2 months
although it has to be said that Rufus has bucked the trend – it’s been more like 4 months.
But, as ever, the story has been fomenting in the back of my mind, a drumbeat beneath other more immediate activity. I’ve been churning over the missing piece in my story. In this case, it’s not character, event or action, but instead a conceptual gap in the challenge set by my antagonists – we’re in the metaphysical, pan-dimensional world here and I was at real risk of having passive villains, the kiss of death to any page-turner.
Not only that, but I was at risk of them being omnipotent – and I always have a beef with any fiction that makes a villain so incredibly powerful that it takes a deus ex machina for the hero to succeed.
[side-note: I’m really enjoying the Song of Ice and Fire books because the bad guys are human, the good guys are human, and the Others – well, not so much]
But this week, the conceptual lego block I needed burped up from my sub-conscious – I think I know how to position my bad guys so that they’re fallible, and in the process gain a deeper transformation for Rufus. I’m ready to dive into act two, with Rufus now ready to head into learning of his antagonists’ weaknesses as well as their strengths. He’s got a long way to travel and much to learn; these are hard roads for our journeyman song-smith.
I’ll report on progress as I’m going, but don’t expect any spoilers or a glimpse behind this particular creative curtain.
Onward into story!