Monday, March 4, 2013

That Flamingo Moment

Sometimes as I read a book, I wonder where the author decided to go with it. In particular is Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Did he sit down and plot all that nonsense, or did he, as he started to write, simply say in his head “Alice is going to have a confrontation with the Queen of Hearts and meet a lot of weirdos beforehand.” I’d like to know.

I’d like to know as well where Carroll thought the book’s pivotal scene was, when things changed for the characters, when the conflict came to a head. Was it the courtroom scene? Was it the croquet game? Was it when Alice met the Duchess in between things at the croquet match? 

Not that I can compare to Lewis Carroll, but I feel right now I’m reaching one of those pivotal points in “Doleful Creatures,” where my imagined Carroll plotting method is coming up short. Thus far, I’ve had the humans in this story appear pretty unaware of what’s going on, but I’m to the point now both logically and in line with the story that that unawareness has to go away. How to do that, and still make this a fun story, I just don’t know. I can turn to the typical human attitudes of laziness and skepticism, and that’s what I may do, but I also have to inject an element of believability here, and I’m not sure how to do it. 

So, part of me wants to surge forward with this. Part of me also wants to shelve the book for a little while to see if some time/distance can produce some fresher perspective. I feel like Alice as she’s trying to learn how to play croquet using a flamingo as a mallet. Part of her wants to be expedient – hearing the Queen of Hearts shout for everyone’s head as they delay the game is a big part of it – but part of her wants to be methodical as well. At the end, she muddles through, using what lousy tools she’s offered. I have to decide right now if I’ve given my characters the proper tools to work with, even if they’re a bit floppy and mismatched for the task.

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