Welcome to the third day of WIP Week, where we check in on what’s happening with my current works-in-progress.
Today’s WIP was written in July as part of Camp NaNoWriMo 2011, since – apparently – I could not wait until November to get this out of my hair. Not only did it reach 50k by the end of July, but the story finally ended at around 75k on October 2011. Impressive, you say? Not until you find out what I’m planning to do with this turkey…
Much of the damage to this manuscript is attributed to the Ethan character, who – let’s face it – is a real bitch to translate into complete fiction at this point. It’s one thing for Ethan to be “inspired by” certain characters in real life, based on bits and pieces built from gossip columns and random IMDb entries. But what do you do when two of the actors who have “inspired” the character – yes, Edward Norton, I’m also looking at you – are running around your neighborhood, (allegedly) making damned fools of themselves depending on which gossip site you’re reading? And once you’ve shared the same breathing space with the primary template for the character – seriously, read the name “Ethan Trent” and tell me you didn’t see that one coming – how are you supposed to convince yourself that you wrote a novel, and not a disturbing piece of fanfic?
Compare that to, say, Jack Stanton from World on a Plate, who was conceived under similar circumstances. Sure, I wrote that novel in the throes of a bad crush on Bob Blumer – and I might giggle if I ever get the chance to meet him in the middle of high tea at the Pen – but let’s face it: Glutton for Punishment swims in the same thematic pool as No Reservations, so it’s also possible to read it as a shout-out to Bourdain. (Or Jamie, or Gertler, or Jeff Corwin.) There’s also an emotional distance factor that fell in place as soon as I introduced Gavin as the real brains behind Jack’s show, which exorcised the Gary Stu elements from Jack in favor of making him less saintly.
But Ethan, on the other hand… Fine, I’ll change his name. That’s still not going to make the fictionalization process any easier, even if I have to throw Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender into that mix.
What else is going on? Like Ellie in Plate, Claire Packard has the potential to be a great character: I could do a lot of things about her Ivy League education, her broken engagement, and her reunion with her long-lost friend Sandy. Now that I think about it, however, Claire didn’t deserve to be weighed down by so much melodrama in the first six chapters of the original manuscript, which stands in stark contrast to the fluffy chick-lit fantasy world that she steps into once she gets involved with Ethan. Thus, I have made the painful but necessary decision to divest the novel of those six chapters, in favor of getting Claire and Ethan straight into the courtship dance. But that doesn’t mean those chapters are going to disappear altogether…
As for the six chapters I’ve mentioned earlier: We’ll talk about them tomorrow.