The past ten days or so have been a nightmare, with regards to writing.
Remember my post from a few weeks back when I said I had to delete a plot arc that stretched for 25 or so chapters? I thought once I rewrote these 25 chapters (keep in mind please that my editing process involves rewriting the draft in the first place, so that would be rewrite #2), every piece of the puzzle (for the sake of argument let’s call the puzzle, STORY) would fall into place. And it did. Up to a certain point.
The particular arc I had to remove, however, extended like a ripple in a calm pond. It occurred to me about ten nights ago (once again, just as I was about to fall asleep) that since that arc was out of the way, a certain character’s importance lost its value. Said character was supposed to be the big bad guy (in the original draft that evil character fooled the MC, and lead him right into the wolves’ den). Allow me to clarify something here: the adversary in my story was never that person. The enemy was my main character’s attitude and perception (spawned partly but not limited to his madness – another reason I had to shift the voice and style to more “literary” with more inner thoughts), and the environment which kills humans (the Darkening is a post apocalyptic story, in case you forgot). So the big bad guy was originally there to take my main character to the last location the story would unfold, and all the unresolved plot arcs would come to an end. He served shall we say, as a bridge. Lo and behold, said bridge was also part of the plot arc I wanted to remove. Which made the big bad guy’s existence rather unimportant.
In my attempt to guide my characters from one location to another, I had come up with a weak solution (don’t worry, I paid for it), instead of choosing the most obvious option, though not necessarily the one the MC wanted to take. It was there in front of me the whole time, and all I did was run away from it! DOH!
But I did mention of ripple effects, yes? And that is none other than the big bad guy’s presence. He is no longer needed. He no longer serves as a bridge to take the MC from location A to location B, he no longer deceives the MC of his role. Now all he has to do is just be at location B and be the bad guy, who has his reasons for being the bad guy (if he didn’t, he’d be a very flat character, and we don’t want that, do we?).
So the question I’ve been trying to answer is whether or not I should delete him altogether and how am I going to change the rest of the story. Can the bad guy (who, as I said is NOT the main adversary) have a reason to exist in a story, where he’s introduced in the third act, with such a small role to play, yes or no? To remove him completely would probably mean I would have to change the entire story and plot, which means delete the whole thing. At least that’s what I think. For the past ten days I’ve been trying to come up with patches that would fill in the plot holes the deletion of that one minor plot arc created.
I won’t lie to you, I was on the verge of mental breakdown. I even thought about giving up completely. Add this to a series of rejections for some of my short stories that knocked on my door (or rather came through email) and I certainly did not want to see, and you can understand why I doubted my ability to write. Even when I step back from the story I still can’t see how it will work in the long run. I don’t want to have a story full of plot holes.
Despite all this, I think (and I stress the word think) I managed to patch things up. The problem is I won’t know until I finish everything and give it to someone else more experienced than me to read it. If I had a kingdom, I’d shout “my kingdom for an affordable developmental editor!” Preferably one that offers free patience lessons along with the feedback. Alas, I don’t.