It took a few weeks, but after our move, I was getting back into my rewrite of Forged Steel. It was going slowly, but I chalked that up to the fact that I hadn’t
written for a while.
Then it hit me a few nights ago. No, it wasn’t because I hadn’t written in a while. It was because I had somehow overlooked one simple little fact; Josh MacAllister’s core need is that someone will pay attention to him, that he’ll feel important. His sarcasm, his acting out as a teenager, and the way he flaunts his genius-level IQ are all consequences of having workaholic parents who tended to pay more attention to their slightly-nerdy-and-introverted second child when he did something like hack into the high-school computer system and set off the fire alarms.
But for the last few chapters, Josh hasn’t been acting according to his core need at all. The more embroiled he gets into the Underworld and fae plots, the more he withdraws and tries to find ways to escape.
It threw me for a loop for a while. Why would he do that? It didn’t fit. What was I thinking, trucking along for so long without realizing this? I really wanted to just sit and pound my head against a wall.
My brain conjured up images of unwritten characters roaming around in wild packs somewhere in the imaginative ether, all searching for writers to prey on.
“Hey, Ander, look! This writer is sure to be frustrated with you—go get her.”
“Oooh, Maricossa, this one’s for you—it’ll be a scream!”
And then there was my character, Josh:
“Hey, Josh, check it out! This writer is your complete opposite. Go drive her nuts!”
And so Josh MacAllister popped into my head, ready and willing to be stuck into the urban fantasy story that was my latest and greatest idea. He probably thought it would be great fun—after all, he was about to hijack what I thought would be a silly and simple story about a college kid who got thrown into the world of legends he grew up on.
Well, I thought, I sure hope he’s satisfied. Today, I was about to resign myself to going back and reworking the last few chapters—which made me grumpy, because it meant I’d have even less to send to my crit partners next month—when I was struck with another revelation.
The fae see Josh as a vital part of their adventure. My fae have a difficult time
with technology or math, especially higher math—their brains just aren’t wired that way, kind of like mine. The three fae that play important roles in the story at this point have never even heard of the Fibonacci sequence, which is what an important cipher in the story is composed of. To them Josh is extremely important.
So Josh should technically be torn between his normal life and the one offered to him in the Underworld. Perhaps he’s afraid that he’ll die in the Underworld, or that his parents will never understand how important his work there is—maybe a bit of both. But he’s going to like the importance the fae place upon his role.
So, the character dilemma is sorted out. Now I just need to work out which side will win—and if his fearful side does win, how the fae manage to keep him involved anyway. Which, honestly, sounds a lot better than more rewriting.
Ahhh, rewriting, how I love you… 😉