Well, I powered my way through to the end of Act II of Steam Palace. Here’s the thing. I can plot ‘til the cows come home but as soon as I touch pen to paper (type the first letter) it all goes runs off the road like the car above because my characters are unpredictable. They will do something unexpected, and I’ll go, “well that’s much kewler than what I had plotted…let’s run with it.” Sigh.
In Draft One, I knew what my main character Sophia (called Prudencia back then) wanted. Her family was in chaos, and she figured if she married into a good house, then—like magic—all that would be fixed, so the story was about her drive to become Duchess despite all the crap that she had to endure to achieve this goal. Nice, clean, focused.
Now onto Draft Two. Same beginning, same idea, same goals. Except this new character Viola pops up. And like the proverbial monkey wrench into the gears, Sophia’s lofty goals have been destroyed. Viola’s mean. She’s slutty. She’s psychotically dangerous. And she’s Sophia’s twin sister. What? Suddenly the whole novel has shifted from the story of Sophia restoring her family status to her bond with this woman who represents everything Sophia does not. Yes, I’ll say it and fuck me for writing it: Viola is Sophia’s Evil Twin.
The thing is, Sophia hasn’t changed between drafts. Her real true goal, the restoration of her family, remains intact. The world of my story has changed. Her family is not just her older sister and her mom. It’s now this other person. And then when Sophia finds out she’s adopted (well…stolen), her whole family concept is thrown into chaos. What the hell is her family? Who is she? She cannot become Duchess now. It’s like Draft One was a perfect dream of hers which now lays in ruins.
So what happened? How did I completely ruin a perfectly good plot and now sit here wondering how the fuck am I going to finish this story? Sophia’s association with Viola has completely corrupted her to the point where at the beginning of Act III, they are both on the lam ala Thelma & Louise, running for their lives. Miss Prim and Proper Sophia Stratton…a fugitive. My plot has completely run off the rails. I’ve been sorely tempted to put my foot down and stop writing until my characters behave. I’ve even threatened to end the book right here. But it’s my own fault. I listened to some writing advice about adding “conflict” and “tension” and “fix the sagging middle” to the story, and now it’s an irresolvable mess.
I guess the thing I need to do is figure out what the hell Sophia wants at this point. She wants some semblance of normality to her life. She has to find a way to make this all right. Her country is about to be invaded by two neighbors fighting for control. Her sister Viola is being hunted for murder (which she did commit), her friend Thomas is suffering the aftereffects of a leg amputation, the Duke wants them dead for messing his plans up, and she herself is wanted for committing terrorist acts (which she did do as well…no “innocent parties” here.). She has to fix all this. Everything she’s grown to care about is being threatened. And it’s kinda her own fault.
And what the hell happened to my Original Idea? That this would be some kind of love triangle story between Sophia, the Duke, and Thomas? She’s thrown all that out because of Viola, and now it’s a buddy story. Poor Thomas, he’s really getting the short end of the stick here. There is a cute scene where he spends a day with Viola convinced she’s Sophia suffering some kind of brain ailment. She tries to tell him she’s not Sophia but he won’t listen. But I digress. Thomas is now relegated to the side, poor guy.
What is this book about? Where is it going? What is the resolution? I have no idea how Sophia’s going to navigate through all this. But the thing is, I will figure all this out, and the result is going to be incredible. At last count I had 25 threads (or story promises) left dangling. I probably can’t close all of them, but I am going to try. And I realize I am going to have to do this before I start edits because I don’t know what’s going to have to change to make the ending work.
Wish me (and Sophia) luck. We’re going to need it. Otherwise I think me and her will be sharing that car up above.