November 23rd, 2003


The Write Stuff

I've been puttering around in my head with Michael Macbeth for the past few days now, and did some more intensive puttering, if such a thing is possible, today. In particular, I pulled out the big honkin' blue binder that contains The Collected Michael Macbeth ... scenes, fragments, notes, and about five major pieces of five different novels, and have been looking at them to see if I could figure out what worked, what didn't, and why -- and more importantly, figure out a way to come up with a plot for Michael to be involved with, rather than just scene after unconnected scene.

The conclusion I've come to, so far, is that while Michael is a fairly interesting guy, the things he gets involved in are boring. I.e., in order to have Michael be the eccentric genius of the story, everyone else involved is so hopelessly pedestrian that I don't actually care what happens to them. And if I don't, why the heck should the reader? One of the things about the Harry Potter stories is that almost all of the major characters are wizards, and as such, each of them have stories of their own to tell.

Another way of putting it: think about Sherlock Holmes. Do you remember any of the victims in his stories? Or any of the people who engage his services as a detective? I sure don't, all I remember is Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, and Moriarty, because they were the interesting people.

I think the problem with the MM stories may be that I was depending too much on the breezy narrative and witty repartee to carry the story, and in the end it always fell down because there wasn't anything solid to support it. What I'd be better off doing is to come up with a good, solid framework -- characters, circumstances, rules-of-the-world, and coming up with stories that flow out of that, rather than putting everything into the gloss on top.

Speaking of all of which, I found the original passage that I recreated from memory the other day. It was noticeably better, if only because it was in context and Lillian (not Susan) was a more fleshed-out character and had more input into the conversation than simply being a sounding board for Michael's pontifications.

-The Gneech
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More of the Write Stuff

Last week I posted about how Michael had somewhat become a stranger to me, and I've been wondering if I should change, shelve, or discard him. For while lots of people have read and enjoyed Stray Cat Strut, it's not like Michael has fans particularly, other than me, so it's not like there's going to be a clamor of people complaining if I move him out of Richmond, or have him put away his bagpipes ... or even just stop writing about him.

The main reason I keep coming back to him is because, at the moment, I don't have anyone else, at least in the writing arena. Tiffany and her gang are chugging along at a fairly good pace in SJ, but would not translate well to prose. The cast of NN are doing their best to hide in the dark corners of my creativity for reasons which I have yet to figure out, and as much as I like Ethangea and Soloman, he's not leading man material and nobody else has stepped up to bat, there.

What I need is for my muse to rally 'round and deliver me a good, strong vision to work with. It's done it before ... it did it with Laurie's Champions character "Mooncat's" associated backstory, it did it with "Rowan Farphoenix" and Admiral Chen in my Star Hero game, it did it with Arthur, Mopsy, and Colonel Beowulf (and has subsequently backpedaled on that, to my annoyance), and it did it with Tiffany Tiger, Leonard, Leona, and Drezzer Wolf.

When I get one of these presents from my creative mind, I can do great things with it. hantamouse's offhand comment of "a tiger on the beach" spawned four-plus years of SJ, for crying out loud! The problem is:

  1. Finding said vision

  2. Recognizing it as such

  3. Fleshing it out

  4. Overcoming doubts, and

  5. Sticking with it.

The idea-fodder is out there, and when my muse is ready, it'll strike ... I just have to be open and ready to accept it when it comes. That's one of the reasons I keep talking about it this way, to keep it "active" in my mind. I just need a spark, a touchstone to get me started.

I hope I find it soon ... these binders full of "not it" on my shelves get me down after a while. Chew on it please, Mr. Subconscious ... if you can't give me Harry Potter while I ride the train, at least give me something that will sell a few good books. ;)

-The Gneech, annoyed that Lemony Snicket is younger than I am ;P

PS: Since my subconscious works better with rest, I'm off to bed. G'nite!
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