July 18th, 2010

Winter Sunlight

*tears out hair*

Man. Plotting is my kryptonite, and for some reason it's far worse with original fic than fanfic. I don't know why, but while I can more or less hold together a plot in fanfic, when I'm confronted with the infinite sea of possibilities that original fiction has to offer, it's incredibly difficult for me to settle on any given option.

Case in point is this sci-fi novel I've been working on. I've even gone so far as to write the first 5-6 chapters twice -- well, a lot more than twice, actually, but there's a major, plot-critical decision that I simply can not make, and I tried writing it both ways and still can't decide.

The decision that's flummoxing me is whether to set the whole story on Planet A (world which has colonies) or Planet B (world which is a colony of Planet A). The plot would still work in either case, and both options have pros and cons. If I set it on Planet A, then the plot is much tighter, and more focused on the main plot thread; setting it on Planet B introduces a whole host of complications and a large subplot that's really hard to eliminate without leaving a hole. Planet A also works much better thematically; it's just a whole lot tighter. However, setting it on Planet B solves a bunch of sticky plot problems as well, including making it easier to get the main characters in one place without relying too heavily on coincidence. Being able to contrast the two planets side-by-side also gives me a graceful way to explain the rather complicated political and physical mechanics of the universe -- if I keep it confined to the more limited canvas of Planet A, there's no opportunity to explain this stuff until pretty late in the novel, and some of it might never become clear without having to infodump.

Aargh!

For the writer types out there, do you run into that sort of thing, in either fanfic or original fic -- where you have two (or more) equally attractive options: you could have the main character be a cop or a hairdresser, for example, or you could go with pairing A/B or B/C, and you just can't decide, with either option seeming equally attractive? How do you handle it? Just say "screw it", pick an option and start writing? Do you outline it to see where each option would take you? Do you throw the story in a drawer and work on one that's less of a problem?