I wanted to start with a clip of Inigo from "The Princess Bride" delivering his drunken line about Vizzini telling him to go back to the beginning, but I couldn't find one. But I'm pretty sure most of my readers have seen "The Princess Bride", so y'all can imagine it.
I'm a bit over two weeks into my experiment for this month and it's been a giant pain in the ass. The entire thing has proven to be a study in one step forward, two steps back, and I'm lucky if it's only two steps. I spent most of the first week trying to hammer things out only to realize that everything I had planned came to a screeching halt at the end of Act 1.
Simply put, the story's meant to be about the three main characters dealing with what pulls them together whether they like it or not, and I didn't have a single damn idea how it was supposed to play out after they realize what's happened to them.
I also thought I'd done well by creating a three-part magic system, which led to an over-arching villain who seemed like they'd be a really interesting character. However, that led to a new problem. When the magic system works in a way that means everyone's born with control over one aspect of magic, and the main villain was born with control over magic, well.... It's hard to plot when every realistic scenario ends with "And then the bad guy has Our Heroes brought to them and takes away their magic."
While I don't know where the story's going, I do know it's not meant to have such a downer ending.
So I set aside most of what I'd done, and went back to my original notes, thinking that going back to my first idea would help me figure it all out. I developed the original ideas and came up with some new stuff, some of which I really liked. I spent a lot of time this past Saturday hashing out how the changes would affect the characters and the world, and managed to patch a major plot hole along the way.
And then I stopped when I was in the middle of defining some new kingdoms, because it didn't feel like it mattered.
Two weeks in, and I feel like this is going to turn out just like so many other things I try to plot. I'll come up with revision upon revision, yanking everything apart and trying to reassemble it in a different way, hoping I somehow find one that works. I'm running into the exact same problems I always have - no good villain, stakes either too high or too low, everything turning into a there-and-back-again journey. I keep coming up with new ways to have the story play out, but they all sound stupid, and I still can't get past Act 1. And I'm starting to feel like I don't care enough about these characters to tell their story.
I don't know if this is depression, or if I'm putting too much pressure on myself to make this work, or if forcing myself to work on one thing for a month was just a bad idea. But I am starting to feel like this whole thing was a mistake, which I probably should have figured, since I always described the story as an excuse for something. And I found a quote tonight that speaks a little too well to that:
"Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it." --Unknown