Running Out of Space

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Space Series

The awesome Lyn Miller-Lachmann is no stranger to this blog, to the blogosphere, or the publishing world. Her latest novel, Rogue (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin), has been released to critical acclaim. Now Lyn is working not just on another novel but a graphic novel as well. And she’s here today with part 4 of the Space Series. (The first post in the series can be found here, the second here, and the third here.)

I have a dilemma. I am running out of space.

The table that has housed my Lego community, Little Brick Township, is already full. Everything fits perfectly in a tight circle around Town Hall, the seat of power that embodies conflict in my stories.

photo of town with no spaceThat’s right. Not an inch to spare for a new building.

Now, Lego has announced the release of an adorable Parisian Restaurant that reminds me less of restaurants in Paris than those in Lisbon, with the narrow exterior staircase that leads to surprising new spaces as one climbs uphill.

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In addition, I want to put in a canal along my main street to evoke Amsterdam, one of my other favorite cities. And once the canal is in, I need a houseboat. Lego doesn’t make Amsterdam-style houseboats, so I plan to use Jabba’s Sail Barge as the basis for a MOC (My Own Creation).

LEGO-Star-Wars-Summer-2013-75020-Jabbas-Sail-BargeWhile I need to expand my space, my husband wants to move from our house in Albany to an apartment in New York City, where space is at a premium. I could rent artist studio space for my “installation,” but I have so far earned $20 as a visual artist, and the stratospheric payouts that some YA authors enjoy have so far eluded me.

Right now, the future of Little Brick Township is all about making choices. The same goes for writing.

When I begin a novel, the possibilities seem endless. I have dozens of characters in my head and a lot of things to say. One of my biggest weaknesses is focus—having too many characters and trying to address too many themes at once. It hurts me to have to give up a character, but readers have trouble keeping too many characters in mind, and the truth is, characters have to do more than one thing to earn their keep. So I combine characters and save the one I gave up for the next book.

photo of traffic jam2

Uh-oh. A traffic jam.

The same goes for theme. It’s tempting to address all the issues people are talking about nowadays. After all, they’re on the characters’ minds too, and complex characters have complex lives. But these, too, have to be pared down so that the reader can concentrate on what’s most important about the story. In the course of revising Rogue over eighteen months, I had to take out multiple plot threads and themes, all of them related to the secondary characters, so that the reader’s focus would remain on my protagonist, Kiara, and her search for a friend (her external desire) and her own special power (her internal desire).

NaNoWriMo begins in about a week. This is our chance to write away, dreaming of all the possible places our characters can take us. However, there comes a time when we have to make choices for what works in our story, what the central themes and conflicts are, and who is most important to be around for the particular journey of our main character. The rest needs to be chopped out in the revision stage, perhaps to appear in the next story. In writing as in Lego towns, there’s simply no space to have it all.

Parisian Restaurant from legogenre.com; Jabba’s Sail Barge from brickextra.com.

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25 thoughts on “Running Out of Space

  1. It looks like you’re going to need a bigger table, Lyn. The Parisian Restaurant is a must for your village. You’ve taken me back in time with this post. I loved Legos as a kid. I’d spend hours constructing houses and buildings. Legos made me feel as though I could construct anything even though I’m not in any way artistic. I might have to put aside my jigsaw puzzles and purchase some Legos.

    • There are people who do that with Lego in that there are programs allowing people to build creations on their computer. Minecraft is one example. Getting away from Lego, there’s also Sim City, though I never got into The Sims because the program pushed players in certain directions (i.e. making lots of money and having lots of stuff) to have a successful life. I like to take my characters in directions of which the corporate masters may not approve.

  2. By the way, if folks want to see more pictures from Little Brick Township, I’m on Instagram. So far, I’ve put up some of the interrelated stories that are part of the graphic novel I’m writing, as well as random characters who may become important someday, special minifigs that the Lego company has sent me for being such a good supporter of their product, and MOCs (My Own Creations) that I’ve designed and built.

  3. Pingback: Silence and Space | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

  4. Pingback: Space to Breathe | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

  5. Pingback: Safe Spaces | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

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