Well, I’m plugging away at novel #3. I have a title, a location, and a really good plot. Every day, it seems, I get an email asking when the next Blake Jordan will be ready. I’m writing as fast as I can!
Okay, that’s not true. I could write faster. I’m on chapter 20 of a planned 60, so I’m about a third of the way there. I guess I’m taking my time because I really want this book to be the best one yet. My trusty laptop is whizzing and whirring and making all kinds of noises. If she can just make it another 40 chapters, we’ll be okay. This week I figured out the last piece I needed to work out for the evil plot to make sense. My bad guy is really bad. And I found the perfect location in New York City for the showdown between him and Blake to take place. I’m really excited to write this thing!
One of the themes I’m exploring in this novel is how bad decisions tend to come back to haunt us. And in character development, the hero usually makes pretty bad decisions, at least at first.
The example I keep thinking about as I write the next-in-series is Peter Parker in the Spider-Man movie. If I asked you when Peter becomes the webbed wonder, the precise moment, I think you’d tell me that it was when he was bit by the spider. I don’t think that’s true. I think Peter became who he was supposed to be the moment he stood over his dying uncle and realized that he had the chance to use his newfound abilities to catch the criminal who killed Uncle Ben, and he decided to try and right that wrong (watch it here). Only after Peter catches the guy that shot his uncle does he realize that it’s the same criminal he let get away minutes before, after making the bad decision to not help the bookie who stiffed him while he was being robbed (watch the realization here).
Those moments in our lives when we realize we’ve made a bad decision, they’re pivot points.
They’re moments that really do define us, one way or the other. The sad part is, most of us let these moments go to waste. We live with regret. We lose our confidence. We enter a downward spiral and the bad decisions that we make (and we all make them) continue to come back and haunt us, making us question our own abilities even more like a vicious cycle that we can’t escape.
Maybe that’s why I like the Peter Parker story so much. It shows us that our past actually does define us, but even if our past stems from bad decisions, we can use it for good if we want to.
That decision, if you choose to make it, becomes another pivot point in your story.
One of the best parts of writing a novel is creating a pivot point in each chapter where a character has to make a decision. Then the following chapters show the consequences of those good or bad decisions. And in the first half of any good book, the decisions are usually bad. It’s fun to write, because it’s like the choose-your-own-adventure books we read as kids, only there’s just one path: the one the author chooses to take the reader down. The path Blake will decide to take is a path to redemption. He’ll do the right thing in the end, though it probably won’t be what you think it’ll be.
Because our past does define us, in a way. But just like my hero Blake will need to figure out by the end of the story, who we were, who we are, and who we will be are three different people.
Gotta get back to working on chapter 20 now. Ol’ Bessy’s whizzing and whirring a lot louder now and I’m not sure how much longer she’ll put up with me (I just named her that). See you next week!