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Please Pass the Jackhammer

Originally published at Joely Sue Burkhart. You can comment here or there.

I’m drowning in the Mayan fantasy.

I’ve got the premise, theme, and a buttload of characters. I definitely know the mythology. I even thought I had about 63K of backstory and character definition figured out. So what’s the problem?

I ain’t got no stinking structure.

My original thought was to tweak a few things in NSR and then give it away as a prequel here on the blog as I write the “real” story. However…I can’t get any underlying structure on the new story with these characters. The structure of NSR is cemented in my mind, and when I try to extend it to the new idea, it just doesn’t work. The stakes aren’t there for Jaid as a protagonist if I lose the on-sceen action of NSR.

So then I thought maybe I’d “fix” NSR to pull in some of the new threads (it was short anyway) and come up with the overall story arc. But that falls apart too. I can’t figure out where to draw the line. I don’t know if the problem is in genre structure specifically–NSR was paranormal romance and I want to move to more urban fantasy instead–or the concept itself. I see shots in my head for this story, but they don’t stick to anything yet. I could see this more as a TV show or movie instead of book. Maybe that’s my problem. I keep seeing these Prison Break-like cliffhangers, where the characters’ situations just get worse and worse…but what’s the END? What’s the resolution? I don’t know.

If I don’t know, then I can’t figure out the turning points and beginning–middle–end transition.

Basically I have all these cool characters and backstory out the whazoo. I have an incredible world and mythology. Yet no stinking story!!! It’s like having several gorgeous skeins of expensive, pettable wool and not a single knitting hook or loom to be seen.

I’m desperate enough that I pulled out my Syd Field screenwriter’s books. I started drawing pictures. I can map the paradigm for NSR all day. Can’t get nowhere else because that original story keeps staring at me. Hence the jackhammer request. Maybe if I bust that idea into rubble, the new idea will solidy.

Back to pen and paper for more doodles.

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