Walking a Literary Tightrope

GUYS AND DOGS is almost done. We’re talking less than fifty pages, most likely. Well, unless I get wordy. And I never get wordy. Oh no.  The problem is not writing the pages, though – it’s what to put on them.

I laid in bed the other night trying to think like my antagonist. He’s got to finish this thing out with some desperate act, but how desperate? Then there’s the whole, “Is it believable?” problem. Fiction allows for some suspension of disbelief, but not if you break character or, as I’m afraid of doing, going too far.

So I took the question to my writing buddies, who are very lovely, bright women but really couldn’t give me an answer, having not read the last several chapters of my story yet. Still, they had a feeling that where I was going was tearing it. Since I had the question to begin with, I obviously agree. Too bad, too, because I could have had the sucker finished by now.

I actually talked to my mother about this the other night on the phone, as well. Yes, the same woman who lovingly reminds me at least once a month that I’m not yet published. But she was amazingly open to discussing my little problem, and offered up many examples of good guys gone bad – or even semi creepy guys like my antagonist going postal. So could what I was thinking of doing actually happen in real life? Yes, we decided, and it has happened in real life. Which is actually quite sad, since what I was thinking he might do is very dark and terrible. Not that he was going to succeed, but…

Yes, I’m being cryptic, mostly because I think what I will end up with as a final solution will at least have elements of my original idea in it. I know what I want to happen right before I type THE END, but the trick is getting there in a believable fashion that won’t leave the reader saying, “Where the hell did that come from?”  Ahh, the joys of being a pantser and not a plotter.

By the way, quick recommendation (and not because she’s a wonderful friend, either): I have recently discovered Samantha Graves, whose terrific book SIGHT UNSEEN I read while at Mayo this month. I read it because I had come to know her through another friend, but was hooked from page one. And I am a notoriously hard sell in the first chapters of books. She also writes under the name C.J. Berry, so those books are my next stop. She’s a huge plotter, too, so I bet she’s not left at the end of a book saying, “So how do I end this?” Ah, I’ll have to forgive her for that.


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