Sunday, January 04, 2004

Seldom is heard an encouraging word

Wait. That's not the way the song goes, but it's frequently the way a writer's life goes. That's why a writer needs to be bull-headed to the point of stupidity. You don't like my book? Well, that shows what you know.

Which is why it's an unusual feeling to read McKee's Story. I may not have been able to put the concept into words, but when he explains explains dramatic irony--what happens when the character's conscious and unconscious goals are in conflict--he's describing what my novels always try to do. It makes the work hard to pitch--though the terminology will improve the pitch--and it makes it harder to write--though having the issues laid out so clearly will make it possible--but for me it's the only story worth telling. Not the only story worth reading or being told; LOTR has no conflict between conscious and unconscious goals, and it's a great story. But the two-minded person is the character I find interesting enough to tell.

McKee raises important questions. When he points out that the Inciting Incident throws the character's life out of balance, "arousing in him the conscious and/or unconscious desire for that which he feels will restore balance . . . ," I realize that my protagonist's goal has been slightly skewed. The conscious goal can be whatever my character thinks it is, but the unconscious goal must address the Inciting Incident. The insight sent me off in new directions for what my protagonist must deal with, and I think it's the true spine of the story.

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