That Fargo Kid post-draft thoughts.
Draft 2, 134,016 words.
A bit late on getting this down, but I call Draft 2 from March 3, 2011 of 134,016 words the first official draft. Draft “1” was more a rough cut, so hence draft 2. But draft 2 “finished” has several loose ends and an unconvincing ending. The ending in itself I like, with Randy’s realization of his deeper feelings for Donnie that transcends the physical, but that outcome’s credibility is stretched based on what has come before in the form of Randy’s behavior.
The problem is twofold. The first involves the original length and the second involves what type of story I want to tell. Right now the novel seems an unwieldy, bastard child containing too many different stories; I mean different stories pulling at the protagonist in unhelpful ways, not just via entwining fictions or internal character conflicts.
I wrote D1 with a short story in mind, but then after completion decided it didn’t probe deep enough for the story I wanted to tell: a rich, complicated relationship between Randy and mentally-challenged Donnie that changes/develops over time. So I set about expanding elements; going way back in time and moving forward literally year by year. But in the course of expansion, some of the already written components of the story had to be tweaked or outright omitted.
Some of my original sequences were downright off and when I went through with the expansion I also worked to make everything more logically consistent with respect to school time, calendar, days of the week, etc. The problem is, I really liked the language of some of those written parts and labored over how to make certain passages fit in the revision. It maybe would have been better if I had never finished the rough cut version, leaving me with less of a structure in place…
The second fold of the problem is Randy becoming too worldly in terms of sexual experience. As such experience unfolded, I though this could work, making him into an anti-hero. After all, the cornerstone of the story is his relationship and possible abuse (depending on perspective) of Donnie; make him into the kind of person that is using pretty much everyone, male and female, for gratification, including Ken’s younger brother Carson.
But in retrospect, that seems to make the story less about That Fargo Kid and more about That Randy Kid. For how do I get someone who is using people in that fashion to really care what happens to Donnie at the end when the others attack Donnie? And the addition of Carson as told seems to take the story in a different, unwanted direction. Carson might be better as an outtake – a dark short story in itself. I might have to deconstruct this draft and mine it for different story strands:
Story 1: Original, Randy taking advantage of Donnie and also, later, Andy. Exploitative with respect to Donnie and Andy, but Randy retaining an innocence where it seems the events have sucked him in (the power of circumstances) rather than his actively being (merely) an exploiter himself.
Story 2: Randy becoming (more) corrupted and using others besides Donnie and Andy; more exploitative all around with Randy being conscious of his exploitation and working it.
Story 3: Cookie Monster (Dark short story, involving Ken’s younger brother Carson and Randy’s abuse)
Story 4: Tree (Dark short story involving Richard, Robert, Kevin and Randy)
Story 5: Nerds (Dark short story involving Kevin and Carson)
For the ending to play right, I need to strengthen Andy and Randy’s scenes together. And I’m thinking now such scenes would be stronger if they didn’t ever have sex during the course of the story – leaving that unrequited urge untapped and pushing a jealous Andy to incite the crowd against Donnie.
There are multiple loose ends, particularly involving the different levels of abuse (or use, depending on perspective) that take place throughout the story. I should either refine them or eliminate them altogether:
1) Andy’s physical abuse by his mother
2) Andy’s emotional abuse by Randy
3) Carson’s abuse by Randy
4) Carson’s (near) abuse by Kevin
5) Randy’s abuse by Kevin
6) Randy’s abuse by Robert.
7) Margaret’s role in things
8) Andy and Randy’s boyfriend status
9) What happened to Richard and Robert?
10) What happened to Kevin?
11) Need to hint more about the thematic meaning behind Donnie’s collection of rocks.
12) Need to hint more at the meaning (and symbolism) of Keebler and its significance with regards to Donnie’s understanding of boyfriend.
The story focus has moved away from Donnie into a less literary and more boysploitation realm. I need to reel it back in; not for qualms about writing such things, but simply because the increasing worldliness of Randy has diluted my original story, which requires more subtlety as things change between Donnie and Randy (and eventually Andy too).
I haven’t developed the non-amorous portions to the extent they should be developed. There are a lot of different components – and expressions — of intimacy and I need to show their more nuanced aspects. I especially need to nail the ones that contribute to Randy’s taking advantage of Andy’s liking him. I also need to make the symbolism in the story clearer without being explicit or obvious to the point of distraction.
And, of course, I need to ensure the final story is ultimately about That Fargo Kid!