Some days I’m convinced that writing is like juggling butter. The more I do it, the messier it gets. I think I have a writing skill down, as in can-do-it-in-my-sleep. The next thing I know, those cute little butter balls you get in pancake houses are splatting everywhere, and I’m back to square one.
Take the romantic comedy I’m working on. To me, comedy is Lucy and Ethel stuffing candy into their mouths at the assembly line.A BIG romance publisher is very interested. I set up a great slapstick scene where the guy and the gal end up yelling at each other over nothing. Well, almost nothing. Great romantic tension, right?
Wrong. I’m told my couple needs to have more inner conflict. So I make up some stuff about the girl being orphaned, the guy vowing to never fall in love again after a bad breakup. I’m really really good at writing pathos, wringing every last tear out of the human condition. So I write these inner conflicts. Now the story reads like Les Miz. What a downer! The butter is getting warm in my hands.
I rewrite, trying to keep both inner and outer conflicts in the air. Say what? I need a subplot? Come on, people. But I dutifully add a subplot, trying to convince myself I’m cut out to write books that have a two week shelf-life.
Now they say my opening drags. Well, I retort, you made me add all that inner conflict-subplot stuff. No wonder the opening feels more like a James Michener first chapter. No, I didn’t think the history of North America would slow down the story so much. The butter has melted, along with the BIG publisher’s interest and my patience.
See what we’re up against? Compared to writing a romantic comedy, juggling butter sounds downright easy. Maybe I’ll rewrite my comedy to be a tragedy. But first I’m making popcorn. Gotta do something with all this melted butter.