In Montana, people joke that there are four seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction. In the summers, those dreaded bright orange cones make their appearances all over the state. Everyone learns to keep an anxious lookout for the color orange when they drive, because they know the color signifies delays, bumps, and possibly a few hours of banging your head against the steering wheel until your horn honks in time with the music on your radio.
My novel right now is surrounded by the color orange. Parts of it have more than others. For instance, the beginning is mostly smooth sailing. Maybe one lane is closed, but traffic manages to move along right around the posted speed limit. In other parts, it’s down to one lane with a flagger who has to direct you through.
Most of that is taking care of itself with the rewrite, and at the end of all of it, I’ll set up the final cones to re-tar and pave the way until it’s smooth and an easy drive from beginning to end. Before that can happen though, I have some plot holes to fill. There aren’t too many, and some of the few I’ve spotted don’t even have relevance to the first book in the trilogy, but one I noticed yesterday was deeper than the others. Luckily, it proved to be a quick fix that actually served to both further the story and develop three different characters — two protagonists and one antagonist — a wee bit better. Goody!
I’m of a mind with several prominent authors who are in the camp against plotting. I have never plotted a story in the sense of saying “this is going to happen, and then my character is going to do this, and then something will happen to her that will make her do this, which will bring the book to a climax and then I’ll resolve it with this.” If that’s how you write, kudos to you, because you probably feel more in control of the situation.
My lovely Great Dane of a muse is the one who normally takes care of where the story goes. He bursts into a gallop off toward that new smell or the Pomeranian down the block and I just hang on for dear life. My switchboard operator hooks me up with the characters and they tell me what they’re like as the Great Dane drags me through the story. The old granny with her butter cookies and tea? She adds the texture, the grit. She coughs in her gravelly voice and wipes crumbs from her jean jacket as she shows me which details form the picture best.
The road through the story gets laid wherever the Great Dane decides to go, and it evolves from gravel into asphalt into expressway because of the others. During the revision process, I think I expected that goofy shapeshifting muse of mine to be more silent than during the gravel road stage, but instead she’s been all over the place, sniffing about or blinking owlishly through those Mason jar spectacles.
The muse is there just as much through the revision as through the birthing stage — and as crazy as he is (or she, depending), I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Gotta go now, gentle viewers. The Great Dane is tugging me toward that mountain pass, and he sees something exciting up ahead.
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