>The essence of dramatic conflict lies in the clash of wants. (Sol Stein)
There’s so much that I could write about today. The above quote is from “Stein on Writing,” a book I picked up during lunch today at Tate. Nothing that he said seemed very revolutionary, and really nothing that I read was any that I didn’t already know. But somehow, as I turned the pages, I found thoughts sparking within my head about my novel that had never really appeared there. Mostly they were thoughts that made me realize just how much work I have left on Into the Flames. I’ve really merely scratched the surface of Rahab’s character and I can’t believe how quickly I’ve moved through the plot without showing everything that needs to be said. Needless to say, I’ve opened Scrivener and started re-organizing the whole plot and each character so that I make sure that no point in the story is left behind. For the past fifteen years (about how long I’ve been scribbling) I’ve given little thought to the structure of my novels, letting the characters carry me into and through the plot (or lack of plot). Now I see that if I don’t write out exactly where I want each scene to go, Rahab won’t let me write exactly her thought process and how she ended up to be the person she is at the end of the book.
Stein writes that everybody wants something, and it is the protagonists’ desires that propel the story forward. The protagonist has to want something badly enough to fight for it. This afternoon I asked myself, “What does Rahab want?” She wants to be normal, she wants to be special, she wants to understand Bracken, she wants to be understood. Not only is Rahab clashing with herself and her desires, but her parents, Jean and Hawkins, Bracken, and, ultimately, James. All these people, in turn, have their own desires that they are striving to meet. The simple statement that I quoted above brought to light all the different subplots I have unconsciously woven throughout my novel and the different conflicting desires that have to be resolved before my story can end.
I can’t wait to get started!