Friday, May 4, 2012

Stories are Complicated

I do counted cross-stitch.

No, I’m not some big expert--so far, I’ve done three Dimension kits, which means you get the fabric, needle, thread, and pattern all in one package. Two of my previous projects are about 5” by 7” and one is 16” by 7” (though not even all of those squares are stitched).

For some crazy reason (read: I really like Robin Hood), I decided that my next one would just be a pattern, finished project 20” by 15”, completely stitched, for which I would have to buy all of my own supplies.

This decision has left me thinking several times: “why the heck did I decide to tackle this thing?!”

Strangely, that’s a very similar thought to what I had last week while working on editing my novel, Forest of Lies. Maybe this is a sign that Robin Hood is bad for my nerves.

Let me back up.

When a normal person thinks of a story, they probably think of a single line:

If you’re a bit more educated in how a story works, maybe your single line looks more like this:

If you’re an OYAN student, it looks both like that AND this:

My point here, though, is that on every single one of those graphs, the story is represented by ONE LINE.

Back to cross stitch.

When doing a cross stitch pattern, you buy a long piece of thread called floss. The floss is very easily separated into six strands, or ply. Usually you don’t use all six when stitching--most of the time I use two, sometimes using just one and sometimes three.

My problems with Forest of Lies currently have to do with threads of story. I have the main, simple, plotted outline of events. But inside this simple line, I have so many different things going that it’s overwhelming. I have:

-Marian’s progression on her own, as a character.
-The progression of Robin & Marian’s relationship
-Robin’s own progression
-Much’s progression
-Much/Robin relationship
-Much & Marian’s relationship progression

Inside these, I have even more threads. Mixed between the Robin/Marian relationship, Marian’s own journey, and some of Robin’s is:
-The faith/heresy discussion
-The attraction
-Both of them trying to ignore said attraction for different reasons
-The politics of medieval England and the state of the peasants
-Robin’s past and health
-Marian trying to make a choice

It's not one stinkin' line. It's a thousand different lines, none of them taking the shortest route between two points.

Even these do not stand on their own, but are all mixed up together. I feel betrayed by my book last week (and am still wary of it today, I admit). It clipped along so merrily until chapter 9, and then suddenly I’m drowning in mixed-up, tangled-up story, character, and relationship lines, trying to figure out which of them to use and how and I thought: “hey, this is like cross stitch floss!”

Except it’s not. A thread of floss is only six strands, and those strands can maybe be split into two smaller ones. So, twelve.

Unfortunately, my story is not so uniform. It’s not all one color, one theme, or one relationship. It’s not nicely packaged for me. In fact, it’s more like the monstrously huge project itself--147 different colors, all with six strands, needing to be woven onto 18 count aida cloth that is 20” by 15”. And someone’s gone and pulled all the labels off my floss and tossed them all together.

People are complicated.

Emotions are complicated.

Motivations are complicated.

Relationships are complicated.


Stories are complicated, just like real life.

Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't written one.


Hannah said...

Oh, I love the parallels. And it is so true...anybody who says writing is easy has never written.

Mercia Dragonslayer said...

....Never have plotlines made so much sense. O.O *bookmarks*

Cait said...

I so relate to this post!! EVERYTHING is complicated. Especially when you're trying to write it all down into an epic, thrilling, moving, emotional, breath-taking novel.

Writing is SO hard. But fun. And rewarding. All at once. No wonder we can't stop... :)

PS my novel (right now) is 147 tangles and they are NOT cooperating into a brilliant story either. :P

Godsgirl said...

"Stories are complicated, just like real life. Anyone who tells you otherwise hasn't written one."

I so am putting that on my quote section on my blog!!! :D

Wow....You amaze me with the cross stitching.....
~GG/Lady A

Nairam said...

@Hannah: Yay! I couldn't decide if they worked or not, which delayed my posting this. :P

@Mercia: I guess that's good...

@Cait: So true. And reality so often falls short of our brilliant plans. I hope you get the tangles sorted! Mine is behaving for the moment...I'm waiting for the next shoe (thread) to drop...

@Godsgirl: Cool! ^_^ And don't be amazed. I'm just reckless, not talented. :P

Godsgirl said...

*chuckles* I still think you're talented :) And definitely patient. I don't think I could cross stich....

Abigail Bunting said...

YES YES YES! This is so true... great post!

Nairam said...

@Abigail: Thanks!

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