This, dear blog reader, will be a long, most likely boring post talking about my writing, mostly so I can have a sounding board for all these ideas I've been working out. If that sounds interesting to you, read on.
I have been writing nonstop and my head is full of Torii. Certain things about that story have become clear, things that I knew were off in some way that I couldn't pin point until now.
I had several questions.
Did the story require scenes of Gilly's parents, abuser and her real life setting?
I had written them in, but I knew if I was going to keep them, I would have to take them apart and completely rework them.
The last time I worked on the story, I simply cut every one of those scenes out.
When I reread the story without the scenes, I knew taking them out was the correct choice. They aren't necessary; they take up too much room and clutter the focus of the story.
The reader is perfectly capable, with the few clues I have left them, to construct their own idea of what Gilly's original family and society were like.
Another important question concerned the structure of the overall story. The story has two parts. One is the journey across the Kagamihara, ending at the Sacred Gate. The other describes Gilly growing up at the Nishiyama village, ending with her abduction to and resolution at the Underworld Gate.
The question is, where would the second part of the story begin?
I had two options, both with strong appeal.
One was to begin with five year old Gilly learning and adjusting to her new way of life at the Nishiyama village.
The other was to skip completely to an eleven year old Gilly, a month before she turns twelve.
I wrote the original draft beginning with the five year old Gilly- three chapters worth.
Every time I read it, I worried that it dragged down the pace of the story. Feedback from my editor friend confirmed this.
On the other hand, some of these scenes were the emotional foundation for other scenes. I needed them.
I thought of two options for those chapters. Take them out entirely, or switch them to the first half of the story, extending the ending.
If I choose the later, I felt the ending would drag. I preferred the clean cut ending right at the Sacred Gate. Besides, the first half was already too long.
So I cut the three chapters entirely out, but I simply wasn't sure if this was correct or not.
This is the part of writing that is so annoying when it goes wrong and so exhilarating when it comes right. There isn't any sort of clean cut equation to show the correct answer. It's all instinct and feedback and experimentation.
This time around, I realized that I could layer those key scenes further into the second half of the story as recollections or flashbacks, as opposed to bunching them all up at the beginning.
This allows the story to move forward immediately, as it should, but it also retains its depth of memory.
I have been busy attempting to discover where and how I should do that weaving. I'm not sure if I've gotten it right or not. Time will tell.
Since resolving those two major structural question, I feel much happier with the story.
I have taken out a great deal of unnecessary narration.
I am an earnest story teller. I very much want the reader to understand, to see, to feel, so I end up over directing them at every point.
I have pushed down into several key scenes, deepening their emotional tone. The characters have become more human and natural in those scenes.
Doing that has allowed me to finally see the ending. I understand how it will be structured- what scenes are required and in what order.
I have questions about whether or not I should take out some scenes already written, and I wonder if there are a few I should write in. I still have to actually write the ending.
All in all, it is a good story. It's always better than I thought it would be, when I finally drag it out and make myself read it.
In addition to this, I have been writing three other stories.
One is the allegory. That story proceeds the slowest. It wants to go to places that I can't understand and that I don't like. I have to force myself to let it go there. I write it, question it, delete it.
I have these two contradictory beliefs about the story. One is that it is exactly like everything else I've ever written and therefore why am I writing it. The other is that it's more real and more raw than anything I've written before and therefore it is promising.
These can't both be true. I don't know which is true.
The other two stories are like reservoirs where I freely dump everything that bothers me about the allegory. I can say anything that I want in those stories, because it doesn't matter. No one will read those stories.
No one may ever read the allegory either, but I persist in writing it as though they might.
I keep telling myself, be real. Don't gloss over. Don't side step. Just write it.
Then I write it, question it, delete it.
This is a good sign. It means that I am stretching myself. I can't see the results yet, but I'm hoping they will be worth it. I just have to stay with it.
And it's so satisfying. It just is. It's like tearing a hunk of bread off with one's teeth or something.