I have a theory why online auction sites are so successful, as compared to regular online retailers. Auction sites allow you to win. And winning feels nice.
Think about it: shopping in and of itself makes us feel good. The buyer’s remorse comes later, of course, but at that moment you hand over your cash and take possession of that object that you have coveted for who knows how long, your body gets flooded with all manner of feel-good hormones. (Come to think of it, one could probably consider buyer’s remorse the hangover that occurs when one come off the high produced by this particular naturally produced drug.)
But auction sites take it a step further. Even before you hold that coveted item in your hands you get to experience the unsurpassed joy that’s produced when the message flashes across the screen that you have won the auction.
Everyone likes winning. As such, the concept of winning is very useful in motivating people to do crazy stuff (consider Minute to Win It, Wipe-Out and Takeshi’s Castle) like writing a novel. Last year I won NaNoWriMo, and it felt great. This year I didn’t. This year, this happened:
I got over my emotional bump quickly enough, but even then I was unable to get that word count moving. In hindsight, this was a good thing. It gave me time to think.
I came to the realisation I need to start over again. Reading back over what I had already written I saw that I had fallen into the common rookie-trap of info-dumping. Oh, I did it well, with plenty of dialogue and action, but it was still info-dumping. I also decided to change the setting once more. It’s now moving local (write what you know, and all that), for the first act, at least.
But the bigger problem is that of the antagonist. I realised I need one. That is, I have one already, but the story is full of secrets and people not being what they appear to be. This has created a problem: once the various subterfuges are revealed, which will happen around the middle of the novel, there will be no more antagonist and by implication no more tension driving the plot. I need to up the stakes for all the characters, lest the entire story falls flat halfway through the second act. I’m thinking a true bad guy might do the trick.
Of course, all this means a completely new outline, and that’s what I’m doing at present. And then I will start my third attempt at my third attempt at a first draft (no, that wasn’t a typo).
I’m starting to get that Hemingway quote. You know the one. Does it get easier as one goes on?