Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making Things Work

I'm fighting with my novel right now, and the fight is getting nasty. I know what I want to happen, what should happen, what needs to happen for all of it to come together:

1. Forgiveness, or at least grudging resentment instead of outright hatred. My main character, her father--no, her entire family--have to put behind the past and help those who condemned them.

2. People need to be physically saved from a rooftop, before the church they are sitting atop breaks from its foundations and floats away in moving flood waters.

3. The people on the roof have to accept the help of those trying to save them--one person almost refuses, one person almost drowns, but all end up in the boat, whether they want to or not.

4. All of this happens in five minutes tops. (Yes, I can slow time down, but one chapter max. is all I have.)

5. The rain is coming down in sheets, and everybody has to somehow communicate over the sound and see each other through the driving rain.

The rain and flood are the hard parts. I joked with the hubby I should just take those out, and it would be easier. Except that they are the whole point of the book. Without them, there is no book.

Darn. I guess I'll just keep fighting, until my right brain figures out how to get all of this to happen without the whole thing turning as implausible as Armageddon. I couldn't bear ending up with a book I was embarrassed to have written.


  1. To shorten the communication of the scene in #1, can't you introduce the concept of forgiveness a chapter or two earlier say in a sermon preached in the church they are sitting upon? Use the sermon to telegraph what needs happen in the critical scene?

    As for the rescue it sounds like a good point to kill off a character, especially one that is liked.

  2. You didn't ask for advice, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Since you're rescuing from the roof of a church, I would slam your boat (assuming that's what you're using) right against it. Then I'd take a chapter from the elevator scene in Speed. Surest way to get confidence is to put oneself into danger - have one of the rescuers jump down and push, pull, cajole the would be reluctant refugees into the boat.

    I totally bought the elevator rescue scene. In a largely implausible movie, the motivations of the male protagonist were universally plausible even if physics and other events weren't. That's why the movie worked anyway.

    It's harder to decide to take the risk when someone else will die with you. Just my two cents.

  3. Great ideas, both of you. Actually, Walking Man, I've decided to save the forgiveness for the rest of the book. Just because someone saves someone else doesn't mean he's forgiven him, and it will add to the drama on the rest of the boat ride.

    I'm using the smashing boat thing, too, Stephanie. I was afraid to, since the boat would likely make the roof too unstable, but that just increases the stakes... I wrote the scene last night, and it's pretty gut-wrenching. I think it will work once I've revised the hell out of it.