Follow me, for a moment. I swear this will all make sense. The following are all somehow related:
- Revision Xibalba, the Maya fantasy
- May’s comment that Geoffrey was a useless character, and her recommendation to deepen another secondary character, Dr. Reyes
- FOX’s Prison Break
- CBS’s Numb3rs
- NBC’s Life, particularly, Charlie’s conspiracy wall
- Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Museo Popol Vuh in Guatamala City
- The burning of the Spanish Embassy, Guatamala City, 1980
- El Mirador
In the back of my mind, I’ve been mulling over May’s crit, in particular her comments about two secondary characters for which I hadn’t done the greatest job. In fact, I’d gotten lazy. Remember the week of Valentine’s Day when we ran the Character Clinic, and I said that if you could kill a character, without impacting the story, then the character wasn’t needed?
Dr. Geoffrey Malcolm was a useless character. I don’t think it’s too huge a spoiler (since this happens in chapter 2) to say that he’s the guy who dies in the first 10 minutes of the movie. He’s supposed to help the reader feel sympathetic toward Jaid, to show how she’s damaged, but otherwise, he really didn’t have a purpose.
Huge mistake. Huge!
Dr. Reyes, a secondary character that Jaid meets in Guatemala, was perhaps even worse. He was the “plot needs him” character. I needed him to be there for certain big events, but he had no depth. I’d gotten lazy again and forgot my own saying: every character is the star of his own story.
Dr. Reyes had no story to tell other than helping–or causing difficulty–at the right plot point.
So what does this all have to do with the other points above? I’ve been a fan of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for at least a year or two now, and this year, I’ve been writing more regularly in my daily journal. I’m trying really hard to remain OPEN all the time, and just watch and wait for the right inspiration to come. Now, more than ever, I really needed some inspiration. How was I going to put some sparkle into these two characters after so many revisions already?
Bright and early this morning, the twitterverse and blogosphere was thrilled with Susan Boyle’s performance of I Dreamed A Dream. I watched it and bawled. I watched it again, and bawled some more. While working this morning, I kept thinking about why it had touched me — and so many other people. Here’s a 47 year old lady who’s never even been kissed! Going out on stage in front of millions of people, putting her dream on the line. People laughed at her. They braced for a William Hung quality performance, and instead, she rocked the house, just as she promised.
A fantastic story, right? But there’s more to it, if you look at the song she chose to sing.
I dreamed a dream. I dreamed that love would never die. No song unsung. But the tigers come at night. As they tear your dreams apart. And still I dream he’ll come to me. But there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather.
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.
*sobs* That song, coming from her mouth, dreaming since she was 12 years old that she could be a singer, and now, finally, that dream has sparked to life once more. That’s powerful stuff.
And I’m sitting here, listening, thinking, and I know that I can use this. This emotion, the common human element of having a dream, watching it die, struggling to live anyway, trying not to hope because it’s so painful…
Dr. Reyes had a dream too, it turns out. A dream he watched go up in smoke, literally.
As for the other television shows I listed, all of them have impacted the Maya fantasy in some fashion. I love the FBI as portrayed on Numb3rs and tried to build a similar team under Special Agent Quinn Salazar. I love the ambiguity in Prison Break: one moment a bad guy is trying to kill them; the next he’s the only one who can help them. Back and forth, up and down, there is no “white” or “black” character in that show, merely shades of gray. Even Michael has been “tainted” by his actions. People have died thanks to him, even though all he set out to do was save his brother. Everybody has a line to cross, and that show makes them cross that line over and over and over.
But the biggest impact is probably Charlie’s big map of connections. I love that idea and I swear I’m going to do this for the next major project. Every person he comes into contact with goes up on his board and he starts figuring out how they know each other, why they did certain things, whether he can trust them or not.
Everything’s connected. That’s how I found Geoffrey’s purpose. He’s connected in a way I never expected, and that connection ends up helping Jaid from beyond the grave. Or as I should say, even though Geoffrey has entered the White Road, he still manages to give her the clue she needs at the right time.
Now to fix–or rather complicate–Dr. Sam Gerard’s life with a little Oedipus complex, and liven up One Death a little more, har har, and then I’ll get back to the synopsis.
This has certainly been the project from Xibalba, but the story is tightening so much I think it’ll squeak when you read it.