it’s a long hard road if you want to rock and roll…
or something like that.
and part of that long hard road is getting so bogged down in the minutiae of giving your readers what you think they want that you rob them of what they really want.
to make sure i’m getting this point across correctly, a very relevant example.
my porn-soap-opera-from-Hell, “Oil of Roses”… it’s over 850,000 words by now, it’ll hit a million before this phase of it’s finished.
i’ve long held the belief that my readers want all the day-to-day lives of my main characters (out of a total cast of goat-humpin’-Thor only knows how many right now). the problem is, operating on that principle mires me down so deep in trying not only to keep up-to-date on all those main characters, but trying to make all of their lives interesting all the Goddamn TIME!
folks, that shit don’t happen. even honest-to-God soap operas don’t make every second of their characters lives interesting, they only…
are you ready for it?
are you sure?
THEY ONLY SHOW YOU THE INTERESTING PARTS.
seems pretty simple.
even follows that axiom of “if it bores you to write it, it will bore the reader as well)
yet, even intellectually knowing this, you can bogged down in the reality of trying to make it all shiny and sparkly and fascinating (or in this case, perverse and stimulating) and one day you find you’ve been thinking about how to write a meet-and-greet that was going to be 90% boring family getting-to-know-you stuff, and 10% sturm und drang.
you’ve been thinking how to write this meeting for about 11 months.
you’ve futzpuddled with it here, and pissed on it for flavor there, and you’ve made some abortive stabs at writing the scene, but you’ve been smart enough to realize they should be dumped in the trash, but in this great effort to give your readers what you think they want?
you haven’t given them dick, diddley, or squat.
they want new chapters, new excitement, new stimulation, character development and developments, they want to see you producing something for the story they love.
and you’ve been thinking and thinking on how to make that 90% of boredom exciting.
so one evening, when you’re staring at the ceiling and not sleeping, it occurs to you.
if the scene is blocking you, dump it.
not just the boring 90%, all of it. forget the sturm und drang.
start the scenes in the burning emotional ruins that are the aftermath of all that sturm und drang.
and get the fuck on with the story.
there’s a line Dorris and i quote to each other a lot, most times jokingly…
“Don’t think too much, it only hurts the team.”
listen to your audience. listen to what they really want. don’t try to interpret, analyze, mythologize, or even supervise what they want. listen to them. they’ll tell you.
your readers are pretty direct that way.
then, if your goal is making your readers happy, as it is in this instance, do what they want. if something gets in the way of that, get outside the box that’s imprisoning you, and go. if you can’t write the scene you think should be there, write the scene you CAN write.
there are few guarantees about any advice in this game, but i’m willing to bet if you write what you can write, then the scene you couldn’t write will be put in perspective, and often that perspective will be the unwriteable scene is not at all necessary, or even desirable.
go ye therefore out into your work, and when you feel yourself sinking into the ground, back the fuck up and go around the goddamn quicksand.
here endeth what passeth for a lesson.
Music: the “Game of Thrones” theme, playing in my head, ’cause i just watched the season premiere