Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Last Puzzle Piece

I've been working on "Shifts of Perception," the third book of my epic fantasy trilogy, and I've hit the halfway point. After all the interruptions I've had over the last few months, it feels great to know I've almost done it--almost finished an entire trilogy! When the Moxie met today, we agreed that the last scene in Chapter 9 needs a little bit of tweaking, but that shouldn't be too hard to fix.

Despite the fact that I have Shifts plotted and ready to roar through the last half, I've continued to chew on the plot for my urban fantasy, Beyond the Pale. Up until about a week and a half ago, I had nothing but what seems like a sound premise, a promising first three chapters, and a solid plan for the ending, but not much middle. At first blush, that sounds like bad news for a plot, but the "Girls in the Basement," as my crit partners call the muses in a writer's subconscious, weren't ready to give up yet. Ready to coax, coerce or force a complete plot from the ether, I wrote out all the scene cards for the beginning chapters I had finished already, the ones for the next one or two chapters I had already plotted, and the ones for the ending of the book. Then I worked on possibilities for bridging the gap by working my way inward from both ends. This sounds like a no-brainer, but for me, it wasn't. My husband pointed out that bridges are built by starting on both sides of the gap to be bridged, and the two ends are worked toward each other until they meet in the middle--and no, I didn't forget about the supports you need in order to keep things from falling when they start to hang out in midair!

Over the last week, I made plotting Pale my priority, and by Saturday, I had all but one major issue pretty much figured out. But that one issue was a biggie, not easily solved--or so I thought. Finally, pretty much frustrated, I just asked (don't ask who I asked--call it the Universe, the muses, the collective unconscious, whoever) for the answer to the dilemma. I asked for it aloud, as though I was talking to some childhood invisible friend. Within minutes, the solution dropped into my brain like the last piece of the puzzle, as though I had indeed gotten an answer from beyond. The subconscious mind is an amazing thing indeed. Ask and you shall receive. The answer was obvious, perfect, and so simple I'm shocked that it hadn't occurred to me before. So if you ever see me talking to myself on a street corner in the future, I'm probably asking for some elusive plot point.

However I got it, the result is tangible, written out in scene cards and stuck to my wall, and the plot for the urban fantasy is actually here, real, solid, and workable. Two Novembers ago, I told my friend that I couldn't plot or write urban fantasy. Apparently I was wrong. I can. I am. Who'da thunk?

Urban fantasy is hot right now, they say. Publishers are looking for it; it's selling. And I happen to have the plot for one now. Maybe that'll be the right combination to get my foot through the door at last. But I still wouldn't write it if I didn't love it or if it didn't resonate for me. As much as I want to get published, I know that I personally can't do my best work if I can't really connect with the story or the genre, which is why I'm not writing YA right now. I can't force myself to care about it, or perhaps I simply haven't found the right storyline yet. The epic fantasy is great, I love it and still believe in it, and I'll finish the trilogy, of course. I'll probably go on to write more epic fantasy in the future--I'm sure I won't be able to stay away from it entirely. But I also happen to have found a story I love in the more popular field of urban fantasy, so now I get to take a risk that might just pay off. Now that I've found the last piece of my new plot, we'll see what happens.

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