Wouldn’t It Be Cool If….

I missed my first post yesterday. Which bothers me, since I wanted to at least get out of January before letting the side down, but I’m kind of okay with why I did it. Not having had more than two hours straight sleep at a time in forty-eight – and only having had eight and a half hours *total* in that time – left me kind of unable to mash words together in any coherent fashion.

Which was the reason for the other day’s paean in praise of sleep, too. But yesterday I couldn’t even manage that.

Back on topic, though!

I was attempting to edit my own work the other day, always an exercise in anguish, when I stumbled across a major clanger that actually is one of my most treasured pet hates (I call him Steve). After I was done writhing in embarrassment that I had perpetuated Steve myself, instead of merely deriding his presence in the works of others, I had to do a major patch job on an entire chapter because Steve is not a guest any narrative should welcome.

Steve is the bad side of the ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ phenomenon, and Steve is not cool at all. Because while ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ is a great starting point for writing, when you start doing things just because they *are* cool, at the expense of characterization, they become Steve.

Steve is ‘wouldn’t it be cool if the zombies attacked in a tank’ after two seasons of establishing that a zombie can’t work complex mechanical devices. Steve is ‘wouldn’t it be cool if this character tried to seize command of the ship’ after 200 pages of having no personal ambition whatsoever and no current reason to change that. Steve is a Doomsday Device that can only be thwarted by an average high-schooler with a paper-clip. Steve is Marvel Comics and their repeated jumping of the Death Shark (LET’S KILL ALL THE CHARACTERS THEN BRING THEM BACK IN THREE ISSUES is not a sales plan I would recommend). SteveĀ  is the sacrifice of plot logic or characterization for a Cool Thing.

I was so mad at myself for doing this, although I am claiming NaNoWriMo haze for forgetting not only the local geography, but what time-period the book was set in. These things happen at around day 20. At least my visit from Steve happened in a first draft, where he can be safely excised before he’s pooped on the carpet in front of guests.