|Before we begin, check out this sexy picture of Pan I found on Google Image Search. Yowza.|
Fairy Tale. It’s the name of the novel that’s been brewing inside me for about three years now, the novel that I attempted to start last year, gave up on 50,000 words in to try and redesign the plot, and which I’ve spent months and months outlining, outlining again, and picking apart. I’ve added completely new characters and taken them out before they even had a chance to be written down, I’ve changed the setting, the character’s names, I’ve tried to merge Fairy Tale with another story, then decided not to, then tried to do it again, all without writing very much of it down. I find myself with probably half a novel’s worth of concept material and unfinished scenes, but very little in the way of a serious book. I’m not even ready to look over the 21 chapters I wrote for the first draft of the novel, because I know that the “action” scenes are terribly written, the plot is confusing and ill-explained, and there’s a serious lack of direction.
In fact, that’s the main issue with Fairy Tale, there’s never been any direction. Even the title is vague. I thought it was clever before, but I’ve also considered going with The Fairy’s Awakening or something else; I decided to call it Fairy Tale before I even added a fairy to the story, and then I was upset because my plot resembled Final Fantasy and Bravely Default too much. In fact, every time I get inspired and add something new to this story, I feel like a fraud, pulling too much material from someone else. At heart I’m kind of a fanfiction writer, I love having my own characters, but it’s so much easier to put them in someone else’s setting, someone else’s world. And Fairy Tale even has it’s own word, vague and somewhat shapeless though it is, but I’m not good at describing it.
The truth is, I believe I’m a good writer, but I’m not good enough yet. I’ll know when I’m good enough. But when I put down the first draft of Fairy Tale, I decided to step back from it, take some time, think some more about where I wanted to go. What I ended up doing was coming up with practically an entirely new plot, and now at this point I don’t even know which version of the story (of which there are about seven to ten completely different outlines) to start with. But I realized something: I’ve written a lot of conceptual material for this novel, and probably more concept scenes than the actual first draft itself. I’d even decided to just let the first draft go, start all over, and rewrite what needed to be rewritten. But that’s just… not fulfilling to me. In fact, a few days ago I felt sure that I was ready to finally start on this story again, from scratch, and then the next day I woke up and suddenly my desire to write this story was gone. There was just too much. I’d thrown in so many ideas that the entire story was just as vague and devoid of true meaning as it had been when I’d first imagined it.
Ultimately, I wanted to tell an adventure story about magic. Magic was always the central focus. There were a lot of themes and messages I wanted to get across: Lucas has a terrible relationship with his father, Chancellor Elliot Varner, and I based that relationship on how I feel about my own father, who is abusive and distant. Bronwen appeared in my story and I didn’t even realize that she was transgender at first. Imogen and her adopted mother appeared in the story when I was still Pagan, before I became an atheist, or at least something close to an atheist. Lucas is in love with his straight best friend, an experience that I believe is probably very common for young gay people. Drosselmeyer is the leader of a corrupt religious organization that mimics the Catholic Church and worships a deity called the Unknown God (a phrase borrowed from Gregory Maguire’s ‘Unnamed God’ from Wicked). A character called Dexter who’s been a part of the story for a long time but has rarely ever shown up in any scene I’ve written was raised in an aristocratic family but hated wealth and power, fell in love with his adopted brother who he didn’t yet realize was a transgender female.
These are all great places to explore themes about love, about boundaries and whether they’re appropriate, about the power people exert over others, and about being honest with yourself about who you are. I don’t think there are nearly enough gay characters, much less gay heroes, in all of fiction, much less written fiction, and even less in fantasy, which is still mostly dominated by a straight-male perspective, despite it’s penchant for outlandish geekery and misfit-acceptance. But there isn’t REALLY a central story. It’s just an adventure. I’ve been asked over and over again what this book is about, and the truth is I don’t know. If so many elements of this story are so easy for me to pick up, throw out, and replace with something new, then maybe there isn’t really a glue holding all of this together. I’ve managed to throw in every single idea for a story I’ve had, and what I’ve gotten is a stew that’s made up of too many ingredients and I just don’t know where to go, this story has no direction at all.
So I’m at a weird place. Part of me wants to just drop Fairy Tale and start on something completely new, then come back to Fairy Tale when I’m a better writer and I can find some sense of direction for this book. Maybe I’ll do that. Another part of me thinks that it’s better to have a crappy draft that is FINISHED than a brilliant scene that is unfinished, and that I should just pick up where I left off on the first draft, and worry about rewriting and changing things later. I may do that too. All I know is that I’ve got to choose SOME course of action, because now even I’ve lost my direction.
|I was very torn about which sexy Dylan O’Brien picture or GIF to end with, but this one shows off his eyes, so we’ll go with that.|