While in Colorado, I had great fun visiting the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Except for commenting on a friend’s a beta-version of a steampunk story and writing a review for another friend’s romance novel, I did no writing. That doesn’t mean I didn’t think about writing. Before leaving California, I’d finished the fourth and final Abishag’s discovery draft. I’m already mulling over the next revision in view of what I saw at the zoo.
Beginning tomorrow, I’ll re-read An Eggshell Present: An Abishag’s Fourth Mystery in light of the character arc, the emotional arc, and the mystery. Or more specifically, from the perspectives of the giraffe, elephant, zebra, and lion.
While at the zoo, we fed the giraffes romaine lettuce. Unlike in Kenya, where we fed them pellets from our lips (not me) or the palm of our hands, these reticulated giraffes stuck out their grey-black tongues as they moved from person to person, expecting us to put the lettuce there. My idea of story structure is to start with a premise. That premise better be off-the-wall and still manageable. I’m responsible for living up to the idea, following through with it, and delivering it. Even if it has a long reach, I need to re-visit it chapter-by-chapter and make sure it works.
Leslie’s character arc spans three long novellas. Like an elephant, her memories of her previous husbands will affect her emotional response in the fourth story. Both good and bad. Also, her past as an Abishag wife returns to haunt her. This is the one story that cannot be read without the others. Her ability to respond to others hinges on her making a decision. Memories will both hinder and help. In the revision, I’ll be monitoring her interior thoughts and the emotional arc in chapters and over the book to ensure I address it.
The challenge of this fourth novella was how to take a tragic circumstance and still make it both fun and funny. I visited Tanzania seven years ago and fell in love with zebras. Essentially they are lion food, but I’ve never seen creatures so bent on adventure, pranks, and hanging out with their best buddies. My next revision needs to nail elements of comedy and joy and deep affection between friends.
The final story element I’ll examine in this revision is its power infrastructure. Besides the mystery packing a wallop, will the villain be believable? Will he or she be terrifying? Will her or his story be consistent in motivation and action? Villains are predators. Can we feel their breath on the back of our neck throughout the story? Does momentum build and will the final battle roar? Will the story leave tooth marks on our hearts?
My mission is set. I face the animals tomorrow. Better pack a canteen.