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Monday, June 18, 2012

My Capricious Muse

Finished the first pass over "Dabblers" today, and suddenly, I face a dilemma. The original manuscript was finished in 2008 and went through a few edits in attempts to get it published. As noted in an earlier post, I picked it up again following the completion of  "Game Faces" because I thought it warranted another shot at seeing the light of day (or at least, computer and ereader screens).

My dilemma? "Dabblers" did not excite me, and darned if I know why. One publisher I submitted "Dabblers" to in an earlier phase said the characters were sort of flat, and I think I might understand what she meant. I did attempt to beef up the conflicts somewhat although I may have gotten too involved with style and dropped the ball on that aspect somewhere in the middle chapters. The original inspiration for the story was to do a sort of cozy mystery but with elements of psychic occurrences and pagan religions. I wanted to treat those themes in a way which could really happen, and perhaps the end result is too subtle. The story has its share of action with a couple of life-threatening passages in the climactic scenes, but I didn't get a rush, a chill, some reaction when I read those passages. I can still get a fleeting dose of excitement from my published novels which have been worked on just as much as "Dabblers" if not more. Methinks I may have to give this one some additional thought. So much for the guidance of my muse in attacking a rewrite.

Interestingly enough, while working on "Dabblers," what has dominated my flights of imagination is a third entry into the "Faces" series. The basic concept I had in mind when I started on "Dabblers" and which I decided was not well-formed enough has blossomed. I have some really good scenes, and while I don't have an idea for how it ends on the horizon (I almost never do when I start a novel), I know the general direction. A long time ago, I read a book about writing fiction which suggested seven questions for plotting:

  1. Who is this character?
  2. What does he/she want?
  3. What stands in the way of him/her getting it?
  4. What does he/she do to overcome this obstacle?
  5. What is the result of this action?
  6. What showdown does this lead to?
  7. What is the outcome?
 I think it was something like that. Usually, I get to around question 4 and find I have so many ideas that I can't wait to start. So I do.

So that's where my muse has led me. One day, I'm sure I'll be looking at "Dabblers" again. Who knows? When I reach the "stuck place" in the next "Faces" book, I may suddenly be inspired with how to fix "Dabblers."

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