The story I’m working on, we’ll call it A & R, has me mentally tied up. I’m at a character crossroad. I have my story line, I have my bullet points of events, and I’m familiar with my characters but one character in particular is giving me trouble. I have this habit of over explaining almost everything. This doesn’t just happen with writing but it’s more obvious in my writing (to me, anyway).
This character seems strong and cold but….actually, he reminds me a lot of Thackeray’s Rawdon Crawley in that he comes across as a singular individual only concerned with himself. “R” (my character) didn’t start out that way but certain events…blah, blah, blah. Like Rawdon, a woman helps us (as readers) discover that his rough exterior and cold demeanor can be penetrated; unlike Becky Sharp, however, “A” does this with patience, understanding, and giving him plenty of room. My problem isn’t their love story or what happens when they discover, accept, and embrace it, but making sure readers know how difficult it is for “R” to break down his guard for her, or why he fought to leave it up in the first place. I don’t want my readers (if I ever let my story leave my hard drive) to think it’s about insecurity when it’s about strength, holding on to, and learning to share that strength. I don’t want to spend all this time writing garbage in hopes there’s enough in there for people to “get it” when they reach the point of my story that I’m currently trying to write.
I’ve read plenty of books that had too much detail in the wrong areas of interest so I know that’s a thing that deters readers, possibly causing them to put the book down permanently. So, it’s definitely a concern and fear for me. I try to remind myself that I’m easy to bore, that things I find interesting in a story are often overlooked, or that even some of the best authors tend to give too much detail (like Stephen King, for instance).
I also need to decide how long I want to drag out this portion of my story. If I drag it out too long, I’ll spend more time editing and cutting than I spent writing because it will all be hollow words with nothing to really add to the story. But then, I wonder if I’m rushing to get to the “good stuff.” I mean, the ending is going to be painfully good and I can’t wait to write it. I have to add, I’m afraid that I won’t follow through because I have a difficult time letting go of characters or altering terms of relationships between characters. As a result, I tend to drag things out way too far and long.
I also need to decide how much of this barrier he’s built around himself I actually want to take down. If I take down too much it might water the ending which would be more tragic than the ending I have planned. But if I leave too much up then the tragedy of an ending won’t have the same meaning I intend for it. None of this makes much sense outside of my head but in my head…does it make any more sense? I’m not even sure at this point.
I guess this is why people go to school for writing