Way back in April of 2011 (has it been that long?) I wrote this optimistic post about finding an agent for my first novel and my goal to finish the second book of the series.
So after pitching a relatively small number of potential agents, and being rejected, I let my dream of seeing The Dictator’s Daughter in print move to the back burner. Then to the pantry. And now it’s somewhere in the attic with the Christmas ornaments.
It’s not just that form rejection letters sting (’cause they do), it’s also because I was never able to finish The Printer’s Son. See, if there’s anything aspiring writers are told, it’s that we need to keep writing. But what do you do when you hit a brick wall? I was doing all the right things, writing with the end in mind yet giving my character’s room to breathe, but each time I would get to a certain point in the story – nothing happened. I couldn’t force they protagonists forward, I couldn’t take them back. There was just nothing.
I decided to let it simmer to see if something developed.
Life marched on.
Excepting the occasional nudge from friends who read the first book, wondering how the whole thing ever wrapped up, the story just sat on my computer gathering virtual dust.
Today Facebook friend and YA author Hope Collier Fields (who wrote the wonderful The Willows: Haven, you should read it), shared a link to Kristen Lamb’s blog – called, simply enough, Kristen Lamb’s Blog. The post, titled “The single largest cause of writer’s block – might not be what you believe” may have just set me free.
Lamb points out that most of the time the weakness is not necessarily in plot or in your hero or heroine, it’s because you have not put enough thought into your bad guy.
*bing* (The light came on.)
I have a bad guy. In fact I have bad guys – a bunch of them. But none of them have sufficient reason to create enough havoc to drive the story forward. A story’s energy is created by the friction between protagonist and antagonist. Right now all my antagonists have are grudges – not necessarily the stuff wars are made of. And for this story to get from point B to point C, trust me, we need a war.
So, for me, the next point of action is to pick up my bad guys and reexamine them. What are their problems? Are they big enough to create enough friction with my hero and heroine to drive the story to its conclusion? If not, can I modify them? Or do I need to scrap them and find a brand new bad guy to rock their world?
Oooh, the wheels are turning already!