Friday, February 23, 2007

Soggy Muse

My muse likes showers. I know this because once or twice a week I have a major "AHA!" moment in the shower that either solves a problem I've encounter in a story or gives me a brand new direction to freshen a languishing tale.

Back in 2005 for NaNoWriMo, I wrote (and finished) a story called "The 8th Day." It's a fantasy with three premises: After creating the world and the god slept, what would happen if that god were still sleeping and a group of heroes was sent to wake him up; aside from the cliche legendary group of heroes, a back-up set of unlikely misfits were sent as well; and the narrator is a storyteller in the making who hasn't realized that she's living the stories she use to dream about. I managed to pull off all three themes, but the story is still suffering from the usual sort of crappiness that plagues rough drafts (at least my rough drafts). I've had the story critiqued by members of INK and set up some new directions for plot and character based on their comments, but I stalled out struggling for how to keep with my idea of using only one character as narrator and still tell all the elements of the story, even those she wasn't present for. I tried multiple points-of-view with hers in first and the others in third (lost too much tone), putting her in more of the events (too unlikely), pushing events to before the story takes place and she's learns them in backstory (too unwieldy).

And then, this morning in the shower, my muse pelted me with a big stone (I'll explain the whole stone thing later). It was a single opening line. "My story doesn't begin with me."

And all my themes fell into line again.

It isn't the most brilliant opening line. It isn't even particularly original. But it fixes a major problem and has gotten me moving again on a story I've always wanted to get back to. And so, today, I have! And I love how I had the solution all along (she is the "narrator" of the story, after all) but got too bogged down in conventions.

Oh, and I couldn't get out of the shower and to a pen and notepad fast enough!

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