.What do you do when...
..different characters find out the same piece of information, but at different times? How is it re-presented?
...you set your characters in a familiar setting, such as a city, but still get lost? How exactly do you get from A to B and how long does it take?
...you select a book cover for your story, but the deal falls through. You have to search again, but your brain doesn't want to move on. What do you do?
I've asked myself each of those questions quite recently while working on my work in progress, Ghost of a Promise. Fortunately, I've come up with some answers! This is a good thing, because there's always another set of situations, inside and outside of the story, waiting to be figured out. New worries. But it's encouraging, I think, to look back on how the old worries were worked out.
For the first situation, re-presenting the same information to a different character (or more), I worried about repeating myself to the reader. I've run into this situation before actually, and I'm sure I will again. There are just times when a character doesn't know a piece of information that the reader does -- because you've already told her that information in some different way. When put that way, this can be a good thing...even a very good thing. It's like realizing you've blundered into suspenseful storytelling. So you go with it. But intentional or not, it can feel awkward to re-present information. For a long period of trial and error, I think I have to start at the beginning to bring a character up to speed. Maybe I do. Only, maybe the retelling is to get myself up to speed on how the character reacts to something new to them. The information might be the same, but how a character sees it, through their point of view, will alter the retelling. Eventually, I can see how to build on what has already been revealed...and yes, even cut what doesn't need to be revealed again.
For the second situation, getting my characters lost, I realized I didn't know the city I set my story quite as well as I thought I did. I may have lived and worked in Washington, D.C. for more than a dozen years, but I didn't get around the city quite the way my characters do. I took the Metro and I didn't drive. For another thing, it's been several years since I lived there and my memory needed a refresher. But I realized, other than going back for a visit, I remembered more than I thought...with a little prompting. With internet map resources I could zoom in until it was almost like being there. Eventually I resolved not to be intimidated by what I didn't know...or remember...at first.
I'm happy to say that situation number three is the best solved worry of the bunch! A few months ago I had chosen a cover for my story. I admit, to date I haven't been too fancy, but I'd resolved this would change! Only, to make a long story short, the cover I'd chosen became unavailable. But in the meantime, I'd grown attached. It really helped inspire me to keep writing while I thought of my hero and heroine as the cover depicted them. Could I "replace" them? Well, I had to try! The new cover and the experience I had working with a wonderful custom designer exceeded my expectations. I'm in love...and I can't wait to reveal the new cover very soon!
Unsolved questions are always worrisome, but don't give up! Eventually, with lots of trial and error, they can become solved worries.
Have you experienced any of my unsolved questions or something similar? How did they become solved worries for you?
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