This was going to be a post about The Mummy (the recent one which is currently on Netflix). I was going to do an in depth look at the plot structure and talk about how I think some of the story telling decisions lead to it being less successful than expected and potentially putting the kibosh on Universal’s proposed “Dark Universe”.
Then I got distracted by thinking about some of the writing difficulties I’ve had this week and how I probably needed to talk about that instead. I also realised that If I put off talking about The Mummy it gives anyone who’s interested the chance to watch it themselves and see if they agree with me.
So that’s your homework. Watch The Mummy (the 2017 one with Tom Cruise not the 1999 one with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, or the 1959 one with Christopher Lee, or the 1932 one with Boris Karloff).
This week I have actually done some writing and some writing adjacent activity and I’ve been dealing with a couple of recurrent problems. One is a technical writing problem, well a bunch of problems really. The other is an extremely on brand confidence/panic problem.
Let’s talk about the technical problems. I’ve been back at the rewrites of the big fight scene at the end of Project Kindness. It’s not the only thing stopping me from finishing Project Kindness but it is the main thing. Normally I’d count fight scene amongst the things I’m good at but this one is a special case. I’m unsure about how to handle almost everything about it.
The first problem, which I’ve mentioned before, is that it’s a super important scene. There’s a lot of story stuff that has to come together at the same time.
The second problem is how many of the cast are present. There’s three people participating in the fight and a bunch of people watching. One of the participants and four of the spectators have been PoV (point of view) characters in previous scenes and the spectators have stuff that they need to be doing during the fight. That means that I need to manage multiple PoVs within the scene. There’s nothing stopping me breaking it down into smaller scenes but i don’t have much else going on so it’s hard to cut from the fight to another scene elsewhere and then back to the fight with a different PoV which is how I prefer to switch PoV. And since I’m switching PoV I need to work out which characters to focus on.
The third problem is that I’ve made so many attempts to write this scene that I keep getting lost. Did I actually write that bit or did I only think about writing it? Which of these four slightly different versions of this bit is the best?
The fourth problem is the knowledge base problem. I know what butterfly swords look like but I can’t rely on my readers knowing that. How much detail do they need in order to know what’s going on and at what point does all the detail become overwhelming? Am I introducing some of this stuff too late? Should I go back and add additional fight scenes earlier on so that I’m not dumping a bunch of exposition this late in the story?
The non-technical problem I’ve had is with a piece of commissioned writing. It’s a guest blog that I haven’t talked about much because I didn’t want to jinx it. It’s been finished for 3 days now but I’ve been having trouble letting go and sending it in. At first I thought the problem was that it was too long and didn’t have a good title but gradually it became clear that the real problem is my twin fears of rejection and fucking up. I’m scared that it’s no good, or that it’s not what they want, or that they just won’t like it. I’m scared that I’ve written it so badly that they won’t even tell me to rewrite it.
I suspect that it’s a kind of impostor syndrome. And also an entirely rational scepticism about the possibility of anything ever going well for me. Historically things have not gone well for me. I fail at things a lot. Succeeding at things is almost worse because then I have to do more things and when those additional thing fail it’s even more painful.
I’d love to say that I’ve got some sort of insight on how to deal with this problem but I don’t. I just forced myself to hit send on an email and now I’m writing this blog post as displacement activity so that I don’t drive myself crazy with panic.