I had my head in the dryer when the answer came to me. The dryer thing was not an act of desperation, although reaching for a white sock with pink flowers that has to be worn immediately is crisis resolution of a type. There we were, the sock and I, inside the white barrel of my dryer when I knew what would make Aunt Bets pop.
As you know from the profile on the side of the blog, I have been revising my novel for some weeks. Months, technically, but we're not going to get too technical.
Some of the changes needed were screamingly loud, and as I sat down and organized the rewrite, those slid right into place. Don't be afraid. Push it. I soon had enough to start to rewrite, so was able to ignore small pieces still missing from the puzzle. For example, Aunt Bets. She was rather blah, extremely minor, and yet I was certain she couldn't be cut. This bothered me a great deal.
Margot Livesey says that even brief, two-dimensional characters should have the potential to become three-dimensional. They need not actually pop into life at any point, but the reader should have the sense they could.
I twisted Aunt Bets every which way, but she refused to tell me what about her sweet nothingness was important. She didn't want to be mean, or snippy, or competitive, all things the plot certainly would have allowed. She didn't want a vice, hard as I tried to put a smoke or a glass in her hand.
As I stretched to reach that silly sock, it occurred to me that Bets' insistence on being perfect is precisely what rounds her out. A touch of the holier than thou makes her the perfect tool, then, through which the antagonist will reveal himself publicly, much to my protagonist's delight. I held that sock high with a huge grin.
The Muse chooses strange means of communication. It's understandable that I should receive part of my answer by sitting at the feet of Margot Livesey. That the Muse should use my dryer as a telephone, well, she's more creative than I'd imagined.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007