How Conan The Destroyer Saved A Sagging Storyline

Original Post Date April 05, 2013 at 01:34 AM

Where does inspiration come from when you’re mentally, physically and artistically drained? The author reveals unique sources for recovering the dreaded sagging storyline.

2013-04-04 09.31.12 2013-04-04 10.31.50I feel honored to mention this, as I understand every novelist experiences this. I encountered a sagging storyline. I know, from reading the advice accomplished fiction writers give on plot development, to not get discouraged. It happens to everyone. Just like crashing a motorcycle or falling off a high platform. Everyone.

One way to fix it, successful writers share, is to find sources of inspiration. This was a challenge. I had spent every alert minute addressing my changes, and my body was in no condition to leave the Treehouse. And lo, from the darkness, a distinct flash of red called me forward. Ah yes, Netflix.

I’m not going to stop Netflix from rewarding my praises, but I assure you all I am not endorsing them exclusively. However, there is a treasure trove of movies, films and documentaries to indulge in. As I edited, I played in the background useful references such as Cleopatra (now there’s a way to kill four hours), Nacho Libre (filmed entirely in Mexico, where my story occurs), and Hellboy (no one presents diabolical creatures as beautifully as Guillermo del Toro).

My characters, specifically the warriors, were blah. So I referenced my personal favorite of the Conan series, Conan the Destroyer. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Wilt Chamberlain? Grace Jones? Oh yeah! You who know know what kind of antics those celebrities were up to in their heyday. So I lightened up my warriors. Gave them zing.

Another area the warrior concept sagged was the dialogue itself. Too cerebral, too proselytic. At 1:30am, the wheels weren’t turning, so I visited my auxiliary unit. He and I shared a late night meal, and we discussed, ironically, committed relationships. I meant to say, “I posit this. The fallacy of men in contemporary relationships is they don’t understand fortitude. The moment the relationship gets tough, they back out and give up.” He stopped me at “contemporary” and asked, what does “fallacy” mean? I paused and responded, “Oh, that means, the downfall or the failure of…” He made this face, and in an agitated voice said, “Why don’t you just say that then?? What’s with the big words?” That fury in his voice, that annoyance and frustration he exuded, triggered an idea for a comedic exchange. When I got back to the Treehouse I worked it in. Now that subplot is crisp.

Last night, at 8:32pm per Google Drive, I completed the minesweep. Although I experienced sag, I didn’t get discouraged, I found inspiration, and I avoided the mistake that accomplished writers warn against, rewriting the whole thing. That is defeatist behavior. If a Les Paul plays out of tune, you don’t go and smash it!

Corrections are frustrating, but as you complete them, you’ll find you have a richer, sweeter instrument to present to the world. That’s what I’m working towards.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m gonna go pass out for the next four days.

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