Once upon a time I wanted to write a novel about a kid who was a big-time stoner who just... decided to quit. Of course, a story about someone who just decides to do something for no reason is not very interesting, so I gave him reasons. Good, legitimate reasons. Then, for his arc, things needed to be piling up on him so that he would end up going back to the weed before getting his head on straight again or whatever. (No, it wasn't very well thought out. I didn't get far into the process before I changed it...)
One of the big climax scenes was going to include him getting all super-duper stoned and spending two hours lying on the floor, pondering the meaning of every fiber in the carpet. Fantastic! Except... um... what's interesting about reading about someone staring at carpet? How can this be a climax?
Rethinking was required. Instead of just being a big old stoner then, I thought he probably likes to drink a lot, too. A climax that includes getting wasted, drunk dialing an ex-girlfriend, driving(!) somewhere, starting a fight, and getting totally beat down is probably a little more interesting, I think.
And somehow, somewhere along the way, this turned into a story about addiction. I've known lots of addicts, so I'm drawing from my experience with them. I'm reading online about detox and cravings and on and on and on. I'm doing my best to keep it real, yo. But sometimes I'm finding it to be such a burden.
When my instructor says, "The line about him having an intense need to have a drink seems off to me" I spend the next hour trying to figure out what she means. If he's only been sober for three days, isn't he going to have cravings? Am I out of my mind here?
I write up a big old thing about triggers and ask whether she is objecting to the timing of the scene, etc. And then, after all that stress, I find out that what she really meant is simply that "intense need" sounds out of character while "God, I want a beer" is more spot on.
I'm telling you, this book will be the death of me.