Did lots of thinking today

Just been thinking about the kind of books that I want to write, and why I’m having so much trouble writing. Realized that part of the problem is with my skillset. Because of my background in genre fiction, I’m most used to books that have both an internal arc and an external arc. For instance, Dune‘s internal arc is about Paul growing up and coming into his power, while its external arc is about surviving and f***ing up the Emperor and the Harkonnen.

Although the internal arc is an integral part of the structure of most genre novels (i.e. Paul cannot defeat the Emperor until he’s grown up), it usually doesn’t take center stage. It’s the nature of genre fiction to spend most of its time on the external arc.

However, I’ve begun to find that the external arc interests me less and less. When I read a fight scene or a heist scene or a magic-casting scene, my eyes instantly glaze over. Like, what’s the point? What exactly is happening? Who cares how well someone shoots a fictional deathray at a fictional robot? What does that have to do with anything?

My problem, though, is that I’m still programmed to write books where the external arc takes center stage.

So far, I’ve managed to get around this through a series of shortcuts and dodges. Basically, I write books that’re full of knavery and manipulation (i.e. where the external arc is stuff that I can enjoy).

However, I’ve recently come up against the limits of that technique. I’ve embarked upon several stories in a row where there really is no good external arc. Stories where the internal arc really needs to be the main thing going on. And each time I start writing one of these stories, my characters eventually flail around, because I’m not quite sure how to dramatize their internal struggle.

Anyway, not sure about the solution to this, but now that I’ve diagnosed it, I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon enough.