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Ondine Brooks Kuraoka


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Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

Hear that sound? It’s the sound of my novel splintering off the axe. Chop chop chop. My plot ails (using a charitable term). My scenes are too chipper. Am I uncomfortable with conflict? Uh, yes. Ouch. That’s going to be difficult for me as a writer of fiction. Difficult but not impossible to overcome.

A good scene involves goals in conflict. Two characters each want something, perhaps two different things, but they can’t both win. How many novels have I read in my lifetime? Why I wouldn’t have absorbed into my psyche this basic ingredient in the rich stew of a good novel, I have no idea. Articles I can write- I was actually starting to feel competent as a writer of articles.

But fiction humbles me, which I guess I needed. So that’s me now: humble, but not humbug. I’m grateful for the feedback on my scribblings before I submitted it into the endless loop purgatory of We’re-sorry-but-your-manuscript-does-not-meet-our-current-needs.

I begin with new determination: to let loose on the page. My characters are stamping at the gate, ready to go- all that pent-up conflict just waiting to play itself out. I’m sure they’re relieved I’ve finally "gotten it." They’ve probably all been saying, "My God, doesn’t she know we’re bored of being nice to each other?" The funny thing is, I thought I had so much darkness (intertwined with light) with a good bit of conflicted conscience thrown in, that I didn’t need more interpersonal conflict.

But I understand now that I do. So, the challenge is, now that I know it, am I capable of writing it?

One solid page a day is my new discipline, my new dance. As much as I want to reach the end-point with this story, there's no rushing this process. One page a day. As in, it’s coherent, with one sentence leading to the next, engaging all senses to immerse the reader in the characters’ world. And just tell the story with real words. Don’t worry about using poetic, "beautiful" language. Just tell the story, one sentence at a time. Keep in mind: goals in conflict. Then, once a solid draft is done, it's time to polish. I’m not there yet.


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