I was raised on country music, thanks to my mom, and some of my earliest memories involve car rides with that music playing. I remember Kenny Rogers's "The Gambler" very well, as even then, I understood what the song meant. As much as I could at four years old.
How does this relate to writing? Oddly enough. . . .
For all that I exulted two weeks ago about how well one of my plots was going, when I was nearly done with the thing, I found myself reluctant to work on it. While I'd gone through most of the book in a reasonable amount of detail, the entire third act was two short paragraphs, and something about it didn't feel right.
It should have been working, I knew that. The story is one I want to tell. I've had a great deal of fun plotting this thing and figuring out how to make it all work. And I was so certain that the scene that made up the first half of the third act would be absolutely brilliant, hilarious and action-packed and heartwarming all at once. No matter what, I wanted to hold onto that scene; it was one of the first I'd come up with when plotting the book, ever since I first knew the story featured intrigue and blackmail and airships. Yet despite knowing where the story was going, I felt like I was hitting a wall whenever I tried to think on those three important words: "What happens next?"
As I'm sure some of you have guessed by now, that should-be-awesome scene was the problem.
Part of the problem with writing is that things change along the way. What should be the story's Crowning Moment of Awesome may become the last triumphant moment the heroes have before everything goes wrong. That minor character who only existed to help with some world-building might stand up to become a main character as they're being written. Someone who's supposed to live through the book might decide to stab a dragon in the back. Things like that.
Far too often, the solution is to cut something you really wanted to keep - to fold, so to speak. And sometimes that's enough to make you want to walk away.
I was fortunate enough to figure out something that works a great deal better. But it never would have happened if I hadn't taken the time to go over what I had in mind and recognize that the problem was a scene that I thought had to be part of the story. No matter how much I wanted to, I couldn't hold onto it.
In the end, though, the story will be better for it. The story feels right without it. And that's what matters most. Here's hoping that, whenever I actually write this, the gamble pays off.