Friday, April 02, 2010

Wrong Turns

Somewhere along the way in my short story, I took a wrong turn. It only came apparent when I couldn't write the final scene.

I've written a lot of smut. You'd think by now that I could bring it on home with three humpy, horny vampires primed to jump in the sack and shoot like the fountains of the Bellagio. But no. I couldn't get into it. And I don't mean in a sexual way. I just couldn't type the words.

Every story is a path. It leads somewhere. I thought I'd led my characters to the bedroom, but instead, we were all looking at a dead stop and couldn't figure out how to get around it. Some writers might blast through the wall and make it happen. I retrace my steps. Some paths are false ones. I have to figure out where the misstep happened and get on the right path.

The problem, I finally figured out, was that several thousand words into the story, I switched gears. This short story is part of a connected universe of short stories and novellas. My mind slipped into novella mode, which brings in too much story, too much plot, and way too much talking. Nothing kills short story erotica like characters yakking away when they should be, to put it politely, fucking their brains out.

Oh, how I hate to delete several thousand words. There are writers who tell you to save it, to squirrel away that bit and maybe use it later, but to me, every word has to flow organically through the characters, and trying to force a scene to match up to words written for another situation and other characters doesn't work. So I just erase it. Several days of work, obliterated.

But I was back on the right track. How can I be so sure, considering that I was fooled before? Everything fell into place. It wasn't the sex scene I expected, but it was the right one. And best of all, it effortlessly flowed to the ending sentence I'd hoped for but refused to force. That's how I know.

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