Christmas Carol: A Short Story - Part XVII
I don't have much progress to report today. Although I spent several hours working on the story yesterday, I feel like it was all spent just spinning my wheels in place. I wrote almost an entire page before I halted and decided I didn't really like the way it was going. After that, it just got worse: I wrote and re-wrote paragraph after paragraph, and never got past the same spot. All in all, it was a frustrating day, to balance the ecstatic and successful day before, where I completed chapter eight and started on nine.
My goal yesterday was to get Carol through the Eastern Passage tunnel, which she took out of the Candy Cove, and into the Snowflake Gardens, which lie at the very center of the Ice Cube Caverns complex. I've been looking forward to getting that done for a while since the Snowflake Gardens cave is where some of the cool things happen which lead to the
Boss Level er ... I mean, to the third act and exciting climax of the story.
Every chapter since the fifth one has started with the title "Snowflake Gardens" with my expectation of getting Carol there ... only to end up describing some other place or adding another sequence; and every time I end up extending the story outline and moving the "Snowflake Gardens" to the next chapter slot. Don't get me wrong, every one of those "new" chapters just included stuff that I needed to put, but either didn't account in my outline or didn't know where to fit it adequately.
Anyway, the current slot for the "Snowflake Gardens" is Chapter 9, which is where I find myself right now. I thought for sure this was it. I mean, there is nothing but an almost straight corridor, the Eastern Passage, from the Candy Cove to the Gardens; and back in Chapter 7 (before I interjected a new eighth chapter), I left Carol more than half-way through that tunnel. I thought perhaps she'll hear the Snowman in the distance or see some Bad Toy tracks in the snow, or something similar that would spook her; but overall, just let her walk the distance and get her into the frosted "Snowflake Gardens" already! (Yes, I'm trying to adopt Carol's "F" word now. I think it's cleaner to have it programmed in my head if I'm to have grandchildren around. )
And that's where it all went wrong. The best laid schemes of elves and snowmen, as they say, often go awry.
I had this cool idea: I thought that the entrance to the Garden, which was a doorway inlet in the western wall of the northbound tunnel Carol was in; would be covered in a thick mist. Neither Carol nor anyone would be able to tell what was inside. The Ghost and the Snowman would have been scared of it and never go in, and Carol would be afraid to even try ... except that she hears the approaching Bad Toy and freaks out, so she runs in and ... discovers the beautiful and magical (and still yet without specific form and description in my mind) Snowflake Garden!
Well, it didn't quite go that way. The "writing me" conspired to go in a different direction -- as, apparently, he is wont to do. First, he put the mist in the tunnel itself. Carol then thought the tunnel was blocked by a great big wall, and only discovered the mist after approaching it with trepidation. By then, she was already enveloped in it and couldn't see where she was.
It was all written quite nicely, and it flowed well with the rest. Below is an excerpt of this passage:
After walking for several yards, Carol saw up ahead what at first glance looked like a solid white wall, and stopped. "That's not right," she thought staring at the blockage. "This can't be the end of the tunnel. I'm sure I heard the Snowman before, and the sound seemed to come from around here. Plus, there's no other way the Ghost could have gone!"
Feeling it could be a trap, Carol approached the wall slowly and cautiously, but the closer she got, the farther away it seemed to be! She took a few more cautious steps before realizing what it was. "Prancing reindeers! That's not a wall ... it's a frosty cloud!" All around her she noticed a chilly and hazy fog. It filled the tunnel with a thick white mist, shimmering in the glow of the ice cubes, and blocking her view of what lay ahead.
Undeterred, Carol took a few more steps into the dense, frozen fog, being careful not to trip on anything, and listening intently for any sound of the Snowman. She felt her way with her hands outstretched ...
What bothered me gravely is that it brought with it several problems which were not there before, and which I now had to solve.
First, it blocked Carol's way in a blinding fog. How is she to find the entrance to the Snowflake Gardens now? Perhaps she could stumble upon it by feeling her way with her hands on the wall, but that would have her discovery rely too much on random chance, which we've already had quite a bit so far.
Then, there's the matter of the Snowman's and the Ghost's access to the Gardens. If there is mist all over the tunnel, and they must have gone through it on their way to the next chambers, why wouldn't they have gone through the entrance to the Snowflake Gardens? Was it also random chance that let them through to one end and not the other?
It also made Carol's escape much more cumbersome and error prone. If indeed the Bad Toy tracked her to the Snowflake Gardens, but there's no way to find your way through the thick fog in the tunnel leading to it, how does she know where to go to find safety? More of that fortunate luck, I suppose.
The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me, and the more I became convinced that it just wouldn't work well.
Moreover -- and this was turning into a big thing already -- it would delay yet once again her discovery of the Snowflake Gardens! I was beginning to think those gardens were just a figment of my imagination and weren't really there at all! (Well, they are a figment of my imagination, but ... oh, you know what I mean.)
So I stopped that train right in its tracks and determined to go in another direction -- something closer, perhaps, to what I originally intended.
However, I don't think I ever recovered after that. I tried a few things, then a few others, but nothing seemed to click. And Carol still has not arrived at that darn frosted garden! So I decided to stop for the day, and give up on my own personal goal for Monday, which was just to get Carol there. It was frustrating and discouraging.
Now it's the next day, and I'm fresh with vigor and motivation, and I am once again determined to get Carol to her next destination. I have resolved to fix what's broken in that narrative, patch it up as appropriate, and move on.
Let's see how it goes. Until then ...