Clarity from Craziness

This chapter is kicking my ass!

I’ve written 6 pages and I might think that it’s all crap. I say ‘might’ because it may just be me and this mood…

It’s a chapter that has a function. It is a rare-book shop, or more importantly, a rare-book shop owner, who is a little shall we say ‘off-the-rails’. This man has to instruct our heroes into the next clue.

I do like writing people who are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. I like the random nature of the dialogue, and how erratic their disposition and thought processes are. This is all good.

But for some reason this chapter isn’t working. It’s supposed to be dark and creepy, and move the plot along. But it feels like it’s slowing the plot down. I can’t quite put my fingers on it…

It’s difficult too because this loopy-man is actually setting up some things for a future book. So I’m trying to get those parts right, whilst not bogging down the narrative with seemingly random and meaningless dialogue. It has to flow.

Maybe that’s the problem, that this chapter has to do too much. It’s a funny one because this man isn’t in the rest of the book, but he has to make an impact. He has to be memorable. But also, he’s actually quite scary.

Our heroes are at the back of this shop with a lunatic – and I use that word because I’ve written him as very unstable – and it feels properly scary. Not in a evil-magical-nemesis kind of way, but more a this-man-is-actually-mentally-unstable-and-anything-could-happen kind of way. And perhaps that’s another failing on my part; maybe it’s too real.

I feel uncomfortable reading it back because I am worried about what this man will do…


Does that mean I’ve done my job right? It should feel uncomfortable; it should feel scary. But have I crossed a line? Am I now in adult fiction rather than young adult? Perhaps it’s the very adult nature of it that isn’t sitting well with me. Perhaps it’s that underlying worry about what this man is capable of that scares me. But maybe only I am reading it like that; maybe I am reading too much into it because I am too close to it.

I think I’ve hit the nail on the head. I think I’ve made it too adult. I think I’ve gone to too dark a place. I have to keep in my mind who my reader is most likely to be. I have orchestrated this novel to be for a specific audience, with a broader appeal so that anyone can read it. But I don’t want to alienate my intended audience…

I am going to attack it a fresh. I’m going to cut it up, because there is some good stuff in there too, and patch it back together before smoothing out the cracks. I don’t often re-arrange chapters. They normally sit as written. But I think this one will benefit from rejigging; perhaps giving the chapter a nicer conclusion, with a bit more hope.

It’s the absence of hope; that’s the problem!!! It feels hopeless and confusing and crazy; the whole chapter feels unhinged, all because Albert is unhinged. But this is a book about Crystal. Crystal needs someone to make things clear, and clarity isn’t often found from a crazy person. Albert has to almost fight for his own clarity, forcing his own foggy-mind into coherent thought; he has to gain his sanity back to help make things clear for Crystal.

That’s what Albert gives. He points her in the right direction. And you definitely should think that he knows more than he’s letting on…

I need to focus the perspective more; bring it all back to Crystal. I think I’m going to have a break now and resume writing later on. I shall return!


2 thoughts on “Clarity from Craziness”

  1. Oof! That seems a very difficult line to balance. I like that you’re stepping back and asking how everything serves the story and making sure that you convey what you want and need to (including items that leave the door open for future developments)– and I am sure you will figure the right path out.

    Congrats on making a character that makes you uncomfortable. Even if he teeters on the edge of audience-appropriate, I think that’s something to be applauded 🙂

    Here’s to hoping your re-jig will give the perspective and solution you need!

  2. Thanks for the comment Julie! I’m glad my little ramble made some sort of sense. I had another pass at it last night. I didn’t re-read the first draft again for fear of becoming even more unhinged! Instead I opted to open a brand new document and start again, knowing all that I do.

    It’s a funny thing. I’ve never written 2 versions of the same chapter before. But as a writing exercise I’ve learnt so much. For example, in this 2nd draft, I’ve made my psychotic man a little younger, with wiry uncontrollable hair, big 70’s style glasses and a tie dyed shirt. For some reason I went from stuck up English trainspotter to down to earth Welsh hippy.

    I can’t explain it. But I knew that I needed a more approachable man to be able to give them coherent and trust worthy information. I think giving him a local accent has really helped that. Also, I’ve made him a bit loopy or eccentric in a good way, rather than lunatic. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for lunatic, but perhaps this isn’t the right time to bring out the big guns.

    Albert has become Alby. He’s inherited the book shop from his late father, and has decided to comply with convention for just one Saturday a month, to keep the old shop ticking over. I think he’s a big reader so would rather spend his time reading the books than selling them. So when he does open the shop, it’s to share in his passion for the books he sells.

    Of course this is all the first part of the chapter. In the second part, where ‘the turn’ happens, Alby becomes something all the more sinister. I arrived at the point last night, where he promises to show them something special and leads them into an out building. Here, he locks the door behind them.

    He’s not all good!

    But more than that, he has to be a babbler (much like me) to put across the information he is designed to reveal. I’m going to address the next part of the chapter soon where I will be picking out some of the dialogue from the first draft, because there really was some good stuff in there. I think I just went too dark.

    Ultimately of course I’ll choose the best chapter for the book, but I haven’t completely given up hope on Albert. Having said that, Alby was born last night and he is interesting and fun to write too.

    I’m intrigued by this whole ‘two versions of the same chapter’ thing. I might even post both versions of the chapter on here for some constructive criticism. What you think?

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