March 24th, 2017


Surprise vs. Sense

I thought I’d get a running start yesterday by reviewing the past few days worth of work and kept having a nagging feeling that something was wrong. So, I got out pen and paper and started making lists of what each faction in the story was trying to do, why, what was stopping them from doing it, and what information they had. That led to me realizing that I was doing something I’d just been ranting about writers doing. I was withholding information from readers and characters for the sake of a surprise revelation.

The nagging sticking point in the plot was that the heroine needed to do something absolutely critical but that no one had told her needed to be done (even though there were people who knew) or how to do it. They’d manipulated her into being in the situation to get it done but hadn’t just told her to do it. The obvious, easy fix was to go back to the beginning and write a scene in which they tell her what she needs to do and give her some hints, and she can still figure out how to improvise later because things may have changed. And then I had a moment in which I caught myself thinking “but that will ruin the surprise when she finds out what’s going on.”

That was at about 4 this morning. I finally convinced myself that it wasn’t a particularly fun surprise, it wasn’t a twist, readers wouldn’t have a big “oho!” moment. There were more benefits to the heroine having a clear-cut goal than to having a surprise revelation midway through the book, especially when keeping that a secret defied logic.

And that means I’ll be rewriting the beginning, which will reframe the whole story. It makes it slightly more dark and serious, when I was aiming at fun and whimsical, but I can’t really think of stakes that are high enough to make fun and whimsical work and still be interesting. Then I thought of other stories similar to this, and they all have a bit of an edge of darkness framing the whimsy. I couldn’t think of any that were pure fun without something very dire at stake.

On the light, fun, and whimsical side of things, I’ve discovered that the Disney channel is doing a TV series based on Tangled. I believe it starts tonight, though there was a pilot one-hour “movie” on a couple of weeks ago (on in heavy rotation and available on demand). They’ve got the same voice actors for the main cast, though it’s in “regular” animation rather than the computer-animation of the movie. The look takes a moment to get used to, but it works fine. The story is set in the time soon after Rapunzel returns to the palace and deals with her getting used to having a family, having people around, and having the expectations that come with being a princess. The pilot was rather cute, and it had some musical numbers, though I don’t know if the series will (but considering they have Mandy Moore and Zach Levi, you’d think they would). And yeah, even in this cute cartoon aimed at kids, there’s an edge and some seriousness, so I guess it’s not a bad thing entirely.