My Current Project and Why it’s DOOMED

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve set a goal for myself to write 500 words a day. The pathetic-ness of this word count goal is a direct result of current life obligations, and was chosen to be an easy “gimme,” if you will. Something I could spit out even after 8+ hours of mental flogging at my Job, and while half asleep because my phone won’t quit ringing at 7 AM because of stupid, inconsiderate East Coast clients. Okay, they’re not inconsiderate. Or stupid–usually. But it’s hard to remember that when all I want to do is hang up on them before they get to the part where they tell me the half dozen problems they need me to solve before my alarm has a chance to go off.

Especially when Fleur is also sleeping on me, like she was this morning. She’s basically a soothing, warm puddle of cuddly that you can do a 360-triple-axle twist underneath, and she’ll just pour back into the nearest nook without ever waking up or interrupting her purr-cycle. It’s incredibly soothing and conducive to sleep, partially because of the cuddly, but also partially because escaping from underneath her practically requires a 360-triple-axle twist, so why bother even trying?

Okay, there probably is no such thing as a 360-triple-axle twist, but you get my point. I don’t speak gymnast. Or skater. Or whatever other sport-type things that do convoluted contortions with geometrically-themed names.

Totally side-tracked. Moral of the story! Writing those 500-words has become my most dreaded part of the day. I put it off until the last possible moment, and then just grit my teeth and trudge my way through it. That is not what writing is supposed to feel like. I mean, we all have our off days, but the fun should always outweigh the hard. Otherwise, why the heck would we keep doing it?

The problem is the story I’m currently writing. It’s not titled, but it’s one I have a–I thought–complete outline for. I’m 35K words into it and just reached the halfway point, which even puts it mostly on track for my anticipated final word count (an accomplishment in itself after my troubles with ALBB). Here’s a little synopsis I wrote up for it:

Three Bridges is a small mundane village, with ordinary folk leading simple lives. All his life, Rafe has known nothing else, traveled no where else, met no other people, and that’s how it needs to stay. Routine and monotony are the only things that keep the monster inside him under control.

Sinnia is an outcast of a people reviled for their ability to compel others, and a long tradition of creating harems of ensorcelled slaves. If her people find her, death would be a mercy granted only after they tore her mind apart.

Both are safe so long as they can keep up a guise of humanity. But when Sinnia stops in a small mundane village on her way to the capital, she sees what no one else in Three Bridges noticed before. A man who is not a man, but a prize among her people. And she wants Rafe for her very own.

I still love the idea of this story. The actual story I’ve so far written out, however, has one Major. Debilitating. Problem.

That problem being: I don’t have Rafe figured out. Like, at all. I thought I did. I’d done my little character arc and filled out my interview questions, but NOPE. In 35K words, his character has changed so many times, he’s practically got Disassociative Identity Disorder. Which is all manner of ironic, because I wanted to write him as having two distinct personalities in one body; one being “Rafe” the Super Ego, and the other being “Growl” the Id. (Yes, my psych degree is showing. But it’s not like it’s getting any other use).

This was a splendid idea in theory. In practice, it’s turning out to be terrible! Rafe’s whole thing is he has to do everything in his power to suppress Growl from taking over and wrecking havoc, which means avoiding anything new or stimulating or dangerous. Welp. It’s a story. Of course he’s going to encounter new, stimulating, dangerous things. Problem is, the story is in Rafe’s first-person POV, so when Growl takes over, Rafe becomes a passive observer. You know what makes a really boring story? A primary POV character who becomes passive every time something interesting happens.

The whole idea was flawed from the start. And I don’t know how to fix it.

This was supposed to be the story I finished. I know, I’ve said that before. But this one! This one was relatively simple, in a limited setting, and it has an ending I love and can’t wait to get to. But I’m never going to if I can’t figure out my main character. Which means I’m going to have to ask some very difficult questions and make some very hard decisions.

1. Is Rafe’s POV the right one?

Alternate options would include broadening the scope and making it third-person, including Rafe’s, Sinnia’s, and Growl’s POVs. Or I could keep the 1st person and make it from Sinnia’s perspective. The problem with that is, it’s not exactly her story. She has an arc, but it’s not as dramatic as Rafe’s. Which is why I wanted to stick with him and just show hers through his eyes.

2. Should I keep the Id/Super Ego split identity thing, or scrap it?

There are Reasons I want to keep it, as it affects major story developments, but the cost is proving too high, I think. It sucks, and not just because that basically means starting over. I wanted to do my own take on a “Shifter” character (yes, Id vs. Super Ego doesn’t sound that original, but I was trying to incorporate some different nuances). Charles in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series comes closest to what I was aiming for, but his Brother Wolf is a lesser entity then what I was trying to hit on in my story.

And this brings up a whole other question I’ve been debating:

3. Do I want Rafe to be able to physically shift forms into a werewolf-type creature, or scrap that too?

This is a super common and popular thing right now, and I’m quite a fan of many series that employ it. It’s not super original, but again, this was supposed to be just a simple, straightforward story I could finish. And clearly my small attempts at originality have already failed spectacularly. So, while I’m rethinking Rafe’s character, should I just make him something else entirely?

I was thinking of making Growl a full-fledged character in his own right, and giving him his own POV, but then this just becomes a love-triangly weird threesome thing. And then simple goes out the window.

I think I need to take a short break from writing on this project until I can answer these questions and feel good about it. Luckily, I’ve got a 4-day weekend coming up, so maybe that will give me enough time and energy to brainstorm.

This is very discouraging right now, but I bet there is a solution somewhere in all my notes that I’ve just overlooked, or not looked at from the right angle. I just need to figure out what I definitely want to keep (like theme, Sinnia, certain story elements, etc.) and then the rest become little pockets of infinite possibilities again. Lots of rewriting is definitely in my future, but if I can solve these problems, it will at least be fun writing again.

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