Life Gets in the Way…is That a Metaphor?

by on 10.15.2008

in writing

I’m trying to come up with a post for today’s writing category, at the last minute, and I’m coming up blank here. I’ve had a birthday for a four-year-old, I bought a new car, and entered into a custody dispute. And that was just yesterday.

So what do I have for you about writing? I’ll go with metaphors for $500, Alex.

I’m going to stick a more tag here because, if I ever were to sell this unwritten piece, it would be a spoiler.  But considering how long it takes me to write a novel, and how long it would take to sell, and then a year or so to publish–and seriously, we’re talking best-case-hey-I-won-the-lottery here, I think you’re safe.

Recently, I was trying to figure out why my current WIP wasn’t flowing for me. There are a lot of secondary characters, and that’s not a bad thing. Some of my favorite books, Faking It by Jennifer Crusie or any book ever written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips or…I could go on, here, have lots of rich, complex secondary characters. That’s real life, isn’t it? We don’t walk around, even if it does seem that way when we’re falling in love, in a world populated by he and she.

Right, so back on topic. Secondary characters. Couple of them. Not working for me. This one in particular. I couldn’t figure out a)why he wouldn’t have loved my heroine, almost felt an aversion for her sexually, despite clearly adoring her emotionally; b)seemed so roped in by his life–though I couldn’t figure out how to break him out of it. When I started exploring his GMC, I saw that his external goal (you totally know I just opened a spreadsheet, right?) was to open a nightclub, something completely in opposition to what his parents wanted for him, to what was expected of him. His external motivation, basically boiled down to (and I underlined this in my notes) something is missing.  Now, to look at his internal goal, independence.  His internal motivation–He’s suffocating, dying inside, living the life that’s expected of him.  And then I got to his conflict, which was to settle down with Betty Ann (not really, but I’ve realized she’s just a paper doll character, too).  Um, huh?  How is that breaking free?  How is that NOT what’s expected of him?

And then, probably lying in bed waiting for sleep one night, or driving down the road, it finally occurred to me.  Because he’s gay.  And then I realized, his whole life–certainly his goals–are basically metaphors for coming out of the closet.  His life doesn’t fit.  Something is missing.  He’s dying inside.

At this point, I don’t know if he’s going to figure it out as we go (which already sounds kind of lame… who doesn’t know they’re gay by the time they’re thirtyish?), or if Reader figures it out as we go (I’m thinking, yes) and I can use this whole metaphor, layering it, building on it, so that when the reader does realize, or he finally says it, they can have the same duh moment I did.  “Of course he’s freaking gay!”

Yeah, sorry, that’s all I’ve got.

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