I threw myself on your mercy, asking how I could possibly revise the bones of The Fucker again. I can rewrite/rephrase until the end of time, but how could I rethink the overall structure? And, as expected, you guys came through. You let me vent all my melodrama and then you gave me some very real solutions. (I love you all.)
And so today, after grading a bunch of papers (I know!), I poured myself a beer and went to work. Hey, it was 4 in the afternoon on a Saturday, I had graded some papers, and I needed something to anesthetize myself slightly to the following process. (Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye, if anyone cares.)
It comes down to plot and questions.
DP: Have you read the Writer’s Journey?
Me: Yes, of course. You gave it to me. [See how I was buttering him up there?]
DP: Well use that.
Me: But I’m writing nonfiction.
DP: Doesn’t matter.
Me: Fuck. [My mother once got fixated on a magazine article about how married people speak in 7 complete sentences a day. She would count them up and tease my father if he went over. It turns out that DP and I exchange more than 7 sentences, they are usually just very short, and are filled with meaning only we understand. 37. You told it wrong. (As an aside to an aside: Joke 38 is my very favorite.)]
So I was thinking about climaxes (get your mind out of the gutter, people!). What is the climax of the book? What is the dramatic tension? And I realized that although I had been following Teri‘s principle of having a question that each chapter/section answered, there was not always dramatic tension in the questions.
Now I am halfway through a list of questions, and I’m trying to make them contribute to dramatic tension. I have combined two huge chapters and destroyed the beginning. I have rejoiced and despaired. I have no fewer than three books on writing in arm’s reach, and I need another beer.
What’s your dramatic tension?