It seems that I might be back on track for my goal of finishing Kingdom of Happy Fools for June (it might be the end of June, but June nonetheless). I’ve had to pull the story apart–something I did with Copper Rain–rearrange the scenes, remove scenes that didn’t seem to pull their weight, and add a few more to solidify the story. After I complete the “replanning”–basically going back through each scene and updating and, in some cases, writing the scene plans–I’m going in to look at each paragraph for what Dwight Swain, author of Techniques of a Selling Writer, calls Motivation Reaction Units (MRUs).
MRUs are what they sound like. The POV characters (after an objective, concrete description of the setting) are given some sort of motivation. This can be simple or complex, but needs to be motivation. For example, after describing to the reader the busy streets of NYC with all the hustle and bustle of the cars speeding past with brief openings giving the character a chance to cross without having to worry. The motivation would be the screeching of tires and a horn behind the character as s/he is crossing the road. The reaction is visceral, instinctual. Most people would jump either straight up or out of the way. Then, of course, there would be a period where the character is angry and might show that dismay either verbally or nonverbally. This is when they say something and move on to the next MRU. Now the motivation has changed, the driver is angry and annoyed that the walker, who wandered into the street while he was minding his own business, crossed the street without looking. So his motivation is now to get him out of the way because he’s driving to the store with this fool blocking his way. Now, his reaction is to blow the horn and wave his arms to get the walker out of the way. New motivation. So on and so forth.
Here’s the really cool part. Most of us are hard-wired to think logically this way. So, all I’m really doing is making sure that I did put it like this already. Very few have ever said writing was the simplest thing in the world. Those who have, have never written a novel. Novelists like Stephen King, Clive Cussler, JK Rowling and every other famous author in the world, all make it look easy only after months (even years) of poring over notes, reviewing sketches, researching, going to the Psychiatrist, talking to a priest, and inquiring about sanity. Let’s face it, if it were easy, everyone would do it and be millionaires.
Well, there’s a little more insight into the state of the book. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. Thanks, guys for reading.