I settled down last night to work through a serious problem with my NaNo novel. It had been bugging me to the point where I doubted whether the book would even be worth writing. Lack of drama, lack of conflict. A story that, except for one moment of drama, would be toddling along a straight, level path with little of interest to see along the way. For a plot with legal slavery right at the heart of it, it was skirting around the whole issue, trying to make it palatable. And that was going to kill the book before it even got started.
I decided that I had to do more than seize the day. I had to seize a sword blade in my bare hand and let the blood flow. Once I understood what I have to do, I also began to see a lot of other things. The story will be harsher, more violent. And it will turn more surely toward a niche genre and away from any hint of literary fiction. Not that I was aiming to write literary fiction.
As usual, the solution will do more than solve the one problem. It will bring the cast of extras out of the shadows and give them speaking roles. It will make my main protagonist ever more conflicted and driven to make a decision about his place in the evolving prison system. And it will raise serious questions about the possible effect that new behavior modification techniques for prisoners might have on society as a whole.
It’s going to be a rough ride, but all the more exciting for it.