Form before content.

I think I've know what's slowing me down with "Eden's Return" and why it's so hard to get a handle on it:

I figured out the theme and where I wanted the plot to go and then tried to fill in. That is--I figured out the form before I figured out the content. I know what I want the characters to talk about, but until the last few days I couldn't think of a way to make it seem natural.

So now I've created a couple of new characters (or adapting existing characters, actually) that I will focus on, so that will possibly work. Though the motivations for the discussions may have to be worked out.

I have two themes I want to explore and research more and see if I can't beef up the content of the story a little.

1.) The Noble Savage. This was the original conception and it still holds. I need one of the characters to be an intellectual type, who can expound on the concept.

2.) The Garden of Eden and the loss of innocence. I'm adding a religious character who can spout some Bible verses.

I think I'll probably just riff on the themes--the philosophical content--and write them down, and then figure out which character says them and where. I don't know if this will work. I don't know if it will be lifeless, or will fit into the story. But I think I can probably pull it off. This is more of a crafting of a work with some intellectual ideas, tacked onto a purely action story.

Which I think is a good thing. The purely action story is just having the characters try to survive. The dialogue is basically, "Watch out!'' "Run!" that kind of thing. So it certainly could exist on that level alone and be fine. But I'd like to have some content that deepens the interactions a little more.

So for example--I've killed off more than half the characters, but the two main characters have only interacted up to now in a distant way. I need to draw them closer together. So I'm going back to the chapter I wrote yesterday and putting in a meeting with the two.

Now why is the girl helping them? Gratitude?--I haven't had them do anything for her. Just natural kindness?--well this works better because I make her a pure innocent. Curiosity?--definitely this. Loneliness?--this is probably closest to the mark, so I need to establish that.

But none of this seems quite right--or all of them.

Anyway, what I know is that I like the plot, the theme, and the main characters, which is pretty much the basis for a good book. I can fix the writing, I think.