Hoorah hooray! Callooh callay! O frabjous day! Chapter Eight, that demon monster of chapters, that vile untamed beast, which emerged from the primordial scum of my unconscious mind to taunt and torment me and make mocking jokes in the face of my despair, has been defeated!
Chapter Eight of FrostFire was supposed to be a sort of training montage, in which we saw our heroine pass through various physical tests, get stronger, lose her rag with her best friend/captain and then repent. I started it five different ways, but it just wouldn't work. Every now and again I think this happens to all writers. We've got our story perfectly plotted out, we've got a page of notes on what needs to happen in this next chapter, we know just what we need to do. And yet, it WILL NOT HAPPEN.
Sometimes it's because you need to come at the events from a new direction. Maybe you didn't consider how all the characters involved would really react to these events, and so you have a missing element which makes everything you write seem hollow until you figure it out. Sometimes the events themselves are flawed, and it's only when you work out that the shape of the chapter is wrong, that it's clumsy to have this character spill the beans so early, and THIS bit needs to go here instead, and THAT bit doesn't need to happen at all, that you can get on.
And sometimes, which I think was the case here, the characters themselves dig their heels in and say, nuh-uh, that's not what happens next.
If the characters are in a good mood, they might tell you what should happen next instead. Unfortunately, the character dragging her heels in this case was not in a good mood. She was bloody furious, in fact.
Why? I asked myself. Why, when a few pages ago she was mellow and in control, is she now acting like an editor when an author asks for her third extension on a book due last Christmas? Why do I keep finding myself writing about rain and mud, instead of the sunshine and good healthy exercise I had in mind?
It was only when I stopped resisting, let the skies of my fictional world open and allowed my character to be furious on the page that I was able to get on with the scene. Which turned into something completely different than I had originally planned. Something with a suspicious lack of training montages, but something way more powerful, and something which, I now see, was completely necessary to the story at this point.
Of course, once I'd finished letting my character spew her rage all over my nice clean page and reveal all her inner vulnerability (which will be vital to the development of the plot later), I had to go back and figure out just why she was so suddenly and inexplicably livid, and with who - and then, how I was going to impart this information to the other characters and the reader.
Still, I've now got a much more powerful scene than I would have, had I followed the original plan. The training montage still needs to be written - Chapter Nine, coming up - but now it will be infused with more meaning than ever before. Now the emotional bonds between the characters are clearer and more poignant. We can see that the captain/best friend needs our heroine as much as the heroine needs her. And my other main character got a chance not to be an ***hole for once, which is nice.
But mostly, I'm just so happy to have finished this damn chapter! WWWWWHEEEEEE!!!!!