De-Creating a Sea Beast

Today I created a marvelous sea beast. It had the body of a crocodile and a knobby round head with flat features perched atop a long neck. It moved with the speed of a snake strike, and its breath smelled of wildflowers. It was supposed leap out of the water to try to ravage my hero. What would save the poor guy was the beast’s inability to gain purchase on the pebbly beach.

Today I also de-created the beast. The problem? It was a duplication of effect. Two pages before the beast’s emergence, I had a similar scene involving a tiger attack, and as the saying goes: when it comes to writing, one plus one equals zero.

It’s hard to move an episodic story forward. How many times can one guy manage to survive dangerous situations in a hostile new world without it beginning to seem contrived? But if he isn’t beset by multiple problems, why would he ever let himself be maneuvered into entering a human zoo? Duplication of effect would take away the immediacy of his problem, making it seem more humdrum and less of a conundrum.

No wonder each book I write takes longer to write than the last. I don’t like to follow in my own footsteps, so I always choose stories (or they choose me) that I don’t know how to write. Not only do I have to write the book, I have to teach myself how to write it. But that’s my own conundrum: Writing that which I don’t know how to write.

At least I had fun creating my leviathan. And perhaps someday I will be able re-create him, if later in not in this book, maybe in the next.

5 Responses to “De-Creating a Sea Beast”

  1. Suzanne Francis Says:

    Maybe he is just lonely? Lack of companionship would be a powerful reason to choose captivity over freedom, and fits well with what I know of your main character.

  2. Pat Bertram Says:

    I think loneliness will play into his decision, though I won’t come right out and say it. I need to figure out how to let the reader know without his knowing. Not sure how to do that yet.

  3. Suzanne Francis Says:

    What sorts of things do lonely people do? If he goes around doing them, without musing about how isolated he feels, then I think your readers will get the idea without you saying it.

  4. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Now I’m seeing your leviathan and hearing her scrabble on the shore. Maybe she’s some other aspect of what he’s looking for – this time the urge to approach instead of the urge to flee away.

  5. Pat Bertram Says:

    Sheila, I like that — the urge to approach instead of the urge to flee. It goes along with what Suzanne said; it would help show his loneliness and his need not to be lonely.

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