Writer’s Notebook, 4/20/12: The Dumb Blonde Novelist Panics, in Seven Quick Takes


This morning, resisting both Scylla (“exhaustion”) and Charybdis (“Twitter”), I forced myself to sit down and at least look at writing another scene for my novel.

“The action of your book rises toward a climax,” The Weekend Novelist says brightly, “the high point, the culmination…

Yes, yes, I know.

“…the moment of resolution in your story that explodes while it reveals and releases.  This is the climax for your reader, a purging of emotion because of your expert handling of theme and symbol and character…”

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I don’t have a working climax. 




In my experience the dramatist gets tired at precisely the same point as the protagonist: facing the third act,” says David Mamet in Three Uses of the Knife. “The act is outlined, the task is plain, if difficult, and the very clarity of the task is dispiriting…”


Part of this is true for me.  I do have an outline.  Technically, I do have a resolution.

But… it is a resolution to the actual conflict in my story? Or is it a nice-and-happy patch that I’m sewing over the frayed hole that my conflict has created?

I’m afraid, at this moment, it’s the latter.


 Then I remembered that I have hope:

“…all your thoughts, at bottom, are bizarre and troubling… So there you sit in the coffee shop, talking to yourself. ‘Oh my God, is this the real thing? Has someone thought of this before? Am I insane? Is anybody going to like it?’

“That’s part of the process too.  And it’s probably a sign that you’re on the right track.  I used to say that a good writer throws out the stuff that everybody else keeps.  But an even better test occurs to me:  perhaps a good writer keeps the stuff everybody else throws out” (Mamet).

I have hope for this novel because I found some stuff that everybody else throws out.

But can I write it?


 “We have created the opportunity to face our nature, to face our deeds, to face our lies in The Drama.  For the subject of drama is The Lie.

“At the end of the drama THE TRUTH–which has been overlooked, disregarded, scorned, and denied–prevails.  And that is how we know the Drama is done.”

And, yet

“The dramatist/protagonist confesses powerlessness in the face of the gods/the ways of the stage/existence” (Mamet).

I can’t force a resolution to the conflict of my novel.  I have to admit my powerlessness, believe in a Power greater than myself, and turn my will and my life – I mean, my characters’ wills and lives – over to the care of God.

(Love me some Twelve Steps.  Handy no matter what your life issue is.  Check out Fr. Emmerich Vogt’s work, if you don’t believe me.)

So, answer is:  I don’t know how my dear-to-my-heart characters are going to find THE TRUTH, the resolution that they’re aiming toward.  But the hope is that, in time, the answer will come.


You are probably waiting for the blonde bit.

Some of us need more help than others. (credit)

I had passed through the six days takes of creation writer’s panic and, having come to the conclusion in #6, decided it was time to get on with my day and run to Target.  As I was driving by the neighborhood elementary school, I noticed what seemed to me to be an extraordinary amount of cars.

That’s funny, I thought.  Is it an early-release day?

I look at the reader board.  Early release on the 16th, but not today.  Hmm.  I drove on, puzzled.  Then I looked at the dashboard clock:


It didn’t sink in for a few seconds.  And then… The Moment of Revelation.

It’s not an early-release day.  They’re getting dropped off at school.  School starts at nine.

Yep.  That’s right.  Just keep nodding your head.

I keep laughing at my own photo caption: “…need more ‘help’ than others…”
Help.  Hee, hee, hee, hee!  (Get it?)
Oh, sweet Jesus, please help me.


Other 7 Quick Takes are waiting to be read at www.conversiondiary.com – enjoy!



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