Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Oh, The Agony —

Three hours of work last night, to fiddle with three paragraphs of the story.

Okay . . . maybe it was more like two hours and five pages. And yes, I figured out how to handle the chapter better. So it was not actually a waste of time. Hopefully I will finish streamlining this chapter tonight . . . or at least by tomorrow night . . . after which I will have a chapter or two to relax before I hit the next chapter that needs actual work.

Naturally, I figured out how to reorganize this problem chapter after finally shutting down the laptop and going to bed. Why is it that you immediately figure things out after shutting things down for the night? ‘Cause it totally happens ALL THE TIME. I scrawl a quick note so I don’t forget, but I never actually start working again.

I am working, as I said, on streamlining — cutting Erest’s point-of-view chapters and also getting more “in his head” and giving his early chapters a more immediate feel. This is a certain amount of work, but at least I am pretty sure none of my characters have ever been hit by the Character Transformation Bazooka.

I miss INTERN and am reading her archived posts, see. You should read the whole thing! Because it’s funny as well as insightful! But the most directly useful bit was this:

“INTERN has been doing a lot of research into this triumph thing, and has found that really effective triumphs in novels happen only after one or a few of the following have happened in the story:

-a character has had to sacrifice something
-a character has had to make a high-stakes choice or moral decision
-a character has tried several other options and failed
-a character has suffered a hard loss or injury over the course of struggling towards a particular goal
-a character has, indeed, been struggling in some way, not floating along easily.
-a character has been forced to change significantly
-a character has undergone real trials and conflicts pertaining to the goal

If none of these things have happened, but your characters are still smiling weepily and holding each other while Chariots of Fire plays in the background, they’re probably the victims of a T-Bomb.”

This is the kind of post that makes you (a) laugh and be glad you never do this, followed rapidly by (b) worry that maybe you HAVE done this. You have to quickly think of all the moments in your book where Chariots of Fire might plausibly be in the soundtrack and confirm that yes, yes indeed, the characters have earned their moments of triumph.

Which they HAVE. I’m pretty sure.

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