Adventures in NaNo-land – Dodging the Corner

November 17, 2012 at 2:28 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

I faced an interesting challenge today. I discovered, much to my surprise, that a third of my current chapter involved an argument between my protagonist and a reindeer. It was one of those situations where I had the argument in my mind’s eye: a tense encounter where my protagonist, Oaván, was pushing for certain allowances, to ensure his love interest, Lieđđi’s, safety, but she was resisting rather resolutely (sorry – I love alliteration) because she did not fully trust him. The incident had to occur at night, because she had slipped away from the village while people were sleeping. But I forgot to consider one small detail. At night, this character trades her skin and exists as a reindeer – something that is particularly important in this circumstance.

So how do you address an argument between a man and a reindeer? – And I’m not talking a reindeer a la Disney who can magically speak her way around bunnies, skunks and the occasional owl (there is an owl in the chapter, but it’s only the protagonist who chats with the friendly hooter.) Obviously, it’s going to be fairly one-sided, but I found ways to make it work. It involves having the man talk to the reindeer as if he is speaking to the woman and not the beast. It requires having the animal make gestures appropriate to its kind, but somehow fitting to the situation, as if responding to what has just been said. And then, it demands that the man openly interprets the gestures as those specific responses, whether the reindeer actually intended to relay that or not. It was quite the enigma around which to wrap my brain, but I feel as if I came up with a reasonable solution.

I am a dedicated outliner, specifically because I like to know where I’m going with a story, but that still doesn’t avoid the unexpected altogether. My outlines are guidelines – they are fluid and organic and shift when the story demands it. Be it a result of failing to consider conflicting ideas, or having rebellious characters refuse to follow a certain path, I sometimes find myself at a bit of an impasse. Some writers would see this as writing themselves into a corner, but I like to see it as an opportunity to create an original way out. I won’t back-pedal and change things to make them more convenient. I find doing that degrades the story a little, offering an easy out. I could have changed circumstances and come up with an excuse why Lieđđi would have made her fugue during the day – instant solution, requiring a minor rewrite – but it would have completely changed the effect of a scene I had planned for the end of the chapter, where Oaván holds Lieđđi as she transforms back into a woman. The scene loses its impact if I’m forced to use the reverse, woman to reindeer, because I opted with the easy fix earlier on.

I hope to have this chapter complete and available on Scribd.com tomorrow.

Until then… J

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