Story Structure is for Chumps

So today was my first actual day of revisions. I gotta say, I wasn’t expecting to actually have my temper tested by such an endeavor.

The frustrating problem in this first round of revisions is that, while writing the rough draft of “Finer Points,” I didn’t focus for a second on properly structuring the story. Couldn’t, really, if I wanted to meet the deadline and still get the story told. Those of you who will be getting the PDFs in the coming days will no doubt acutely notice a complete, even a brazen disregard for any kind of artistic structure. New characters get introduced three-quarters of the way in, some chapters are a good six times longer than others, hell, at one point I even spend three thousand words just having the protagonist ruminate on unrelated topics just to beef up my word count.

It’s a jumbled, sloppy mess, is what I’m saying. And in revising said mess, I’m having a hell of a time getting, to turn a phrase, my story straight.

I can do it, rest assured, but it will take some serious attention and effort to do so. But that’s good, I think. Take a month to haphazardly write down your story, and then you’ll have all the time you need to get it in just the right order. Least that’s what I tell myself, in between sessions of simply drinking myself into a weepy stupor. (Don’t judge me, I’m an artist! It helps me CREATE!)

I realize by this point that I haven’t actually described the story I am laboring on, and it would probably help matters a little if I at least told somebody what the story is about (particularly in the way of reassuring people that the book actually does exist).

The story, that I have thus far, is this: Wendoll Rollins, a kid from a blue-collar family, going to private school on a scholarship, seems more squeaky-clean than Michael Cera cross bred with Jesse Eisenberg. He’s medium build, pleasant, respectable, intelligent, and dates a pretty, intelligent girl who is very sweetly in love with him.

Wendoll, however, has already hit the bottom in a long fall into insanity.

No one distrusts him enough to even conceive of him doing what he plans to do. But Wendoll has bought knives, Wendoll has made arrangements, and at an upcoming school social he has helped arrange, Wendoll will christen his coming-out in blood.

That’s the dramatically gripping way I’m trying to present it, at least. Thematically, I am hoping to deconstruct the slasher archetype one commonly finds in literature and movies. In the spectrum of the classic movie slashers, you have the relatively normalized ones – Norman Bates, Hannibal Lector, Patrick Bateman – to the severely deranged, virtually unstoppable ones – Michael Myers, Leatherface, and Jason Voorhees. Wendoll, during the course of the story, crosses through each of these “stages” of cinematic slashers, and deconstructs the archetype through his own pointed analysis of his actions, and of the reactions of others.

I want to do it a little differently than other books have. I don’t want him to be likable, like Dexter, and I don’t want you to root for him either, like in the numerous books where the killer’s victims are all unrealistically unlikable. No, he’s a bad guy, and he does awful things to good people.

If you read what I have, be prepared for the story of a boy who does not care what you think of him. All he will care about is that you understand the finer points of the nasty bit of business he is setting up.

Oy. Alright, back to revising this thing. My back is sore, my legs are a little numb, and I want nothing more than to flee from this desk chair and take a long, relaxing walk through the Tennessee hills around my apartment. But I know, if I want to take this seriously, that I’ll have to settle for a simple stretch, warm another cup of coffee, and get back to hammering my thoughts away into my word processor.

Who knew flights of fancy could be so demanding?

– Sean

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1 Comment

Filed under The Book

One response to “Story Structure is for Chumps

  1. Jezabelle Sweetbottom

    More please!

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