Today my two youngest children (2 and 4) dragged out an old toy kitchen set that's been residing in our basement since their older sister outgrew it four years ago. Seeing an opening for quiet writing time while they played with their "new" toy, I put it in the two-year-old's room, listening to them play quietly with the single piece of plastic pizza that had survived the four years of abandonment. Hoping for more than ten minutes of writing time, I scavenged around the house for other toy dishes, toy utensils and plastic food. I was very pleased with myself as I set out the toys for them and then settled down with my laptop to do some serious writing. Not more than ten seconds later, without a single new word to my name, I hear the screaming and wailing telling me the kidlets are engaged in an all out war over the new items. So I settled it, found a couple more things and pulled out my laptop again. Screams, followed by some pushing and if I were to gauge by the the strange crescent-shaped mark on the four-year-old's arm, there was some biting as well.
So what happened between the twenty or so minutes they played happily with the single piece of pizza and the ten seconds they played with everything else. I guess things just got too crowded--too many cool things were put into play.
This got me thinking about my current writing quandary. There I was happily typing along a singular plot line, excited about my dear protag going from point A to point B with this motivation and that problem. Then I start working on the climax and the winding up and realize that things have become too crowded. I've seriously thought of screaming, pushing and biting but being a mature adult have restrained myself (ahem, those aren't bite marks on the screen, I swear!).
I kinda feel like perhaps Stephan King felt when he got somewhere toward the end of The Stand and realized things had gotten too crowded with too many story lines going in a too many directions. What did he do? Apparently he blew up half his characters (I'm only halfway through so I'm going to take his word for it until I get there).
Now blowing up half my characters isn't going to work for me, first of all, I like them way too much and have worked in hints throughout the novel that their lives are vital to the climax, and second of all, I simply don't much care for killing characters (not that you'd know it if you read it).
I did come to a conclusion today that since moving forward is proving impossible, I need to go back and untangle the first draft rats nest, working out all the character's wants and motivations. Hopefully then, I'll be able to see the climax come together in the way I want with all the loose ends tied up.
Before I do that, however, I should probably go and untangle the children from that kitchen set and remove everything except that single piece of plastic pizza.