Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lies within lies

Suddenly I don't know who killed who in the novel In the Deserts of the Heart. Nobody is what they seem to be. The bad guy might be pure evil, or he might be someone who loves his daughter very much and is crazy with worry about her. The victim might be a mother trying to protect her daughter from evil, or may be a crazy woman whose delusions are dangerous to her daughter. We don't even know our main protagonist's real name, and actually never will, and further on in the novel we get two different back-stories on her, both of which check out upon further checking but which are mutually incompatible and thus one of them is a well-set-up lie. About the only person who is exactly what she appears to be is the sheriff's favorite dispatcher and ex-Marine, Marlena. As our mystery woman comments, "you're like the desert. Nothing is hidden. Everything is there in front of you, the bones of the land out in plain view."

Whether I can pull this off... who knows. I'm just curious to see what happens next. Like I said, I had sketched out a general idea and plot and ending, but the characters seem to be wanting more morally ambiguous roles for themselves (i.e. in the last scene that I just wrote, our main character and "good guy" slaps a woman and says "You seem to be operating under the delusion that I'm a nice person. I'm not. Get in the car.") That's going to affect the plot, but I'm not sure how yet.

-- Badtux the Writer Penguin


  1. "you're like the desert. Nothing is hidden. Everything is there in front of you, the bones of the land out in plain view." ---great imagery! "bones of the land" reads like a haiku.

  2. Yeah.

    I wrote a novel, once upon a time. Never got published, but it was a fun exercise. What was interesting to me was that it came out differently than I had envisioned, the characters were different.

    It's hard to explain unless you've BT,DT.

  3. I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters. – James A. Michener

  4. Well, in the finished product, we will see what the characters turn out to be. It does seem that they grow and evolve from how you initially picture them. Short stories end up having the same problem...When mine are finished, that's it. If I remember something that I forgot to include, it depends on how long the time between remembering and posting it to Kenneth Quinnell's The Practical Press is. If it hasn't been too long, I will edit. If not, too bad:)


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