Leaving the Make Believe Believable

I remember reading something a while back, something that had to do with arguing.  It is true that with some people, it doesn’t matter how well researched and put together your points are, because they will ignore your point of view and keep pushing their stuff at you over and over, whether it’s the topic at hand or not.  When reading about this, there was a quote offered that pretty much summed up the futility one might face trying to deal with someone who isn’t listening, but rather keeps on talking.  The quote was something like, “Don’t take my sudden silence as proof you’ve won.  It only means I can no longer take your bullshit.”

I ran into something similar to that yesterday, when a point I was trying to make was met by a lot of hoary old talking point that had little to do with what I was trying to say.  After the second time the same points came back at me I gave up the ghost on the argument–which didn’t address anything I was saying–because at some point you realize that no matter what you say, it’s gonna come back to rehearing something that could have been taken from a paragraph found in one of the fifty page admonishments of John Galt.

Strangely, I was thinking of this when I was working on Chapter Sixteen of Suggestive Amusements last night.  My characters were using talking point on each other as they walked through the Valley of Fire, but the discussion between them was as such:  Elektra, one of my female characters, was telling her erstwhile boyfriend, Keith, my main male characters, that his in-world logic was bullshit.

Early on in the story it’s established that Keith is a long-time resident of Las Vegas, while Elektra comes from “Scorpionville, New Mexico”, and she couldn’t wait to get out of there.  Keith has decided that he’ll leave Las Vegas one day, after he’s made it “big” as a writer.  Along comes Elektra, who has used a bit of her wanderlust to move west, young girl, and she tells Keith that his mindset is holding him back, that he’ll never be a “big time writer” because he’s stuck in Las Vegas, and maybe he needs to get the hell out of Lost Wages and gather a fresh perspective on life if he wants his stories to soar.

I know this feeling, because I’ve been there myself.  I’ve said a number of times in the last five years that I need to get out of my little corner of Indiana.  At one time I said I’d cut and run the moment I hit it big, but that was like twenty years ago, and I’m still here.  I still want to leave one day, but I wonder if it will really happen . . .

Because most of last year I was working in another city for the first time, and I didn’t handle it well.  There could have been a number of reasons for that, but had it not been for my writing, I might not have made it out . . . in one piece is the best way to describe the situation.

Was I writing about the plight of a fictional character?  Or was I putting too much of myself there?

If so the later, what should I do about it?

I do love the desert, after all.

Love in the Shrunken Universe

Since getting into the development of Elektra’s life within Chapter Thirteen of Suggestive Amusements, I feel like I’m learning more about the state of New Mexico than I’d ever imagined I would.  When I put her together I created her home town on the fly, making her a Southwest Desert Girl from the go, so living in Las Vegas wasn’t going to be a huge climate change for her.

Culturally, though, I’ve got her growing in ways I wouldn’t imagine the rest of us would ever experience.  Then again, we don’t live in novels.  Or do we?

It seemed to take hours to write my eleven hundred words last night, mostly because I not only did my research, but I was doing my nails, too.  Hey, nothing wrong with a little base coat drying as you type away, right?  But for an hour or so I did a lot of set up, and then, when I was down to the last six hundred words, I imagined her visiting these different areas of the state, and before you knew it I had her hooking up with . . . Izzy.

Don’t laugh, but that’s her nickname for another person in her past who led her onto the Road of Kink.  Believe it or not, I took the name from a character that grew up in New Mexico, and I even mention that other character by name.  (I don’t need to tell any of you who it is, because I have very bright readers.)  So she and Elektra met, get to know each other, have dinner, get to know each other better, and before you know it, they’re meeting on a regular basis.

That’s how good relationships should begin.  Find your interests, get to know each other, and eventually end up on a side road near Roswell laying on the hood of a Jeep, staring up at the sky and holding hands while looking for UFOs.  That was how I left Elektra and Izzy last night, thinking it was a good place to jump out and gather my thoughts–and get ready for bed–because I needed the time to see where I’m taking this . . .

If you asked, “Straight into the gutter?” you’d likely be correct.

I like this chapter, and I like what I’m doing with Elektra.  All this, “What I did before I met you” stuff is giving her dimensionality, it’s turning her into a real–albeit kinky–person.  This is what we, as writers, strive to do with every character:  we want them fleshed out so when they turn sideways to us, we don’t watch them vanish.  Sometimes a writer doesn’t care if their character is two-dimensional, because the story is driving the character, not the other way around, but for this story, I’d like the characters to have a bit of thickness to them.

The question I have now is:  does Elektra think about some of the experiences she had with Izzy, and do I get into the fantasies she never got to experience with her?  I know the answer to both side, so it’s a no-brainer for me.  I believe the second part of that question should be shown in Chapter Fourteen, because that’s what we’re always being told:  “Show, don’t tell.”

Okay, I’ll do that.  I wouldn’t want to upset any writing instructors . . .

Desert Rose and Points West

It’s a strange thing, having to meet with someone on a video link when you’re a couple of hundred miles apart–and the stuff on your end isn’t completely up to snuff and you have to scramble to get your connection working.  It wasn’t important, really:  just me talking to my therapist, whom I was paying for the honor of the chat.  So if I have to bail because my side isn’t connecting right, I get my money back–right?

Fortunately, I fixed things quickly, so there was no need to cry about losing my fifty minutes of chatting.  It was a good chat, too, and I figured out a few things that I need to work on for the next month.

We didn’t chat about my writing, but I’m sure that’s going to come.

I only managed seven hundred and sixty words–of which I blame my therapist, but probably have to blame that I was doing some looking on Google Maps as well, because as I dug into Chapter Thirteen, and began looking at Elektra’s reasons for leaving her home in New Mexico and moving to the wildness of Las Vegas, it became pretty apparent that she grew tired of living the small-time life in the middle of nowhere.

Now, in all honesty, the city of Alamogordo–Elektra’s home–isn’t a small town:  it’s a small city.  It’s suppose to be a great little place–the city motto is “The Friendliest Place on Earth”–but I can imagine the place being a pain in the butt for someone looking to do other things, who’ve had their mind expanded by college in the big city of Albuquerque, and can’t wait to move on to better things.  Or maybe they just want to get away from the goddamn giant ants that pop up now and then . . .

I imagined her taking a job to get away from home, even if it took her to another little shit burg further in the middle of nowhere.  Although that’s not quite correct, because in her new home Elektra is close to two interstate highways, and those lead to better places:  Socorro and Albuquerque to the north, El Paso to the south, and Tucson to the west.  I imagined her having an old college buddy living in Tucson, and she headed out there for a weekend jaunt, spent time looking around, getting a feel for the city, and even visited the remains of an old mining town left decaying in the middle of the Arizona wilderness.

It may not sound like a good time to you, but it opens Elektra’s eyes just a little wider.

Building on a character’s life as you write is a fun thing to do, because you’re taking a blank slate and you start scribbling upon it with washable markers.  Nothing is permanent yet, and it’s possible to go back and change things once I start the first edit.  Though why would I do that?  I’ve got her living her life this way now, and if I change her past, then I make her a completely different character–

If I do that, I can’t write what’s coming next, can I?

Of Late I Dream of White Sands

After a night of inactivity, I was back in the writing groove.  There were six hundred or so words written the night before, but I wasn’t feeling it–well, I should say, I wasn’t feeling it enough to be able to do the sex scenes I wanted to do.  I found myself part way into the hot and heavy, and then . . . Ugh.  It was time to rest my head.

Last night was a bit different.  I needed a few to get into the swing, with a few distractions along the way to make it even more exciting.  Sort of like, there’s sex–oh, look!  More sex–oh, look here!  Finishing up the sex . . . yeah, time to put on different music.

But what happened next?  Well, the blurb on my chapter card says, “Keith and Elektra Get to Know Each Other.”  Since I started out with sex, this means they get to know each other after the do the deed, and that means talking so someone doesn’t fall off to sleep.  So they started talking, and the question came up about Keith’s writing.  Elektra makes a comment, and Keith makes one, a little back and forth, and then comes up the question of why Elektra was at the same company, and how she arrived in Las Vegas because it wasn’t Las Cruces–

This is where it gets strange.

I didn’t give my thought to where Elektra was from.  I knew she wasn’t native to Lost Wages, but I didn’t know where she was from.  So, when I got to the point of her saying, “Because this isn’t . . .”, I knew I needed a place.  So I opened Google Maps and began to zoom out.  Where is she from?  What did she do?  What does she want?  Well, that last I have some idea about, but the other two–nada.

Then it hit me:  she’s from the desert.  From an environment like Las Vegas, but not.  Something hot and dry and . . . in the middle of nowhere.

New Mexico.  Hey, it was good enough for atom bombs and gigantic ants, so it’s good enough for my character.  I even had her starting in Alamogordo, because–giant ants.  From there she went to college at UNW in Albuquerque, then went to work in Las Cruces and, for a short time, Socorro.  After that it was time to move to the bright lights and big city, and she packed up her stuff and lit out for Vegas.

Which brings her to where she is in my story.My

This is how my mind works:  things just come to me.  The character didn’t speak to me; I wasn’t getting hints from Elektra directing me to have her start out in California, or Arizona.  No, that only happens to a few crazy people I’ve met on Facebook, who seem to think that their character control the story, not them–which is probably why these people are not always good about their writing.  I mean, if some part of your mind is actually controlling your story, where’s your incentive to be creative?

Tonight I get into the ideas in the dark.  Going to be interesting to see where that goes–

Not that I don’t already know.