Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Hard Way

My first novel, Everything That Matters, is in the competent hands of a BETA reader, but that does not mean I am resting on my laurels, or lounging by the pool (if I had one) sipping Electric Lemonade (mix me one?). No, I am hard at work on ETM's sequel, All That Matters, and when I say hard, I mean the last few writing sessions have been, shall we say, excruciating? (imagine solving a rubix cube while wearing a blindfold).

That's the problem with resuming a partially completed draft some two years after you set it aside; you've lost the flow. It's kind of like coming into the theater half-way through a movie--you don't have a solid grasp of the story-line, or clear understanding of the characters' motivation. So you have to rewind, which in novel-writing means you print off what you have and read it in its entirety, figure out where the holes are, and decide how best to fill them. This is easier said than done.

At least for me.

I am, usually, a linear writer. This means I start at the beginning and write chapter by chapter to The End. But with All That Matters, for some reason, about part way through I started writing chunks(actually, I know why I started writing in chunks--I was working full-time at a day job; with family and other obligations, I had very little free time after work to write, so I squeezed it in at work before my shift (and after if I had to wait on my car-pool partner) or during my lunch hour, but I did not have the MS at work, so I wrote whatever scenes popped in my head and emailed them home to paste into the main body), which means...

I have a number of out-of-sequence scenes that require bridging. Bridging? Connecting scenes to tie the chunks to the rest of the story in what will eventually be--hopefully--a coherent and seamless story. Some people, like Diana Gabaldon, are adept at doing this. I am not.

I'm a ladder climber, not a rock climber. I prefer moving ahead one rung at a time, not feeling my way along a rock face looking for hand and foot holds, yet that is, metaphorically, what I am doing. So I am moving slower than normal, and I have to pause periodically to figure out where I am in relation to where I have to go, so I can determine the best--not necessarily the quickest--route to the next anchor to tie off my line. Fortunately, today was a good day and the bridging scene not as difficult to write, unless you count the tears when I wrote a particularly emotional section (love those moments!). More importantly, I am happy.

I love a challenge. I love writing. And ATM allows me to delight in both.

What about you? If you're a writer, are you linear, or chunk? And if a reader, can you tell when you read a story if the author wrote it in chunks, or a straight go? No? Me neither. And I hope when ATM is all said and done, no one (except you of course) will know it wasn't as smooth to write, as it should be to read.

I welcome your comments!

Deborah

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next. ~Gilda Radner







4 comments:

Lara Lacombe said...

I think our processes are very similar--I too tend to write in a straight line, rather than piecemeal. When I first started writing, I tried the chunk method, and it didn't work for me. It wasn't a total disaster, but I didn't enjoy it.

Hang in there! It sounds like you're making progress, and as you get deeper into the story, I think it will flow better for you. :)

Cathrina Constantine said...

I don't chunk write either. I sit at the computer and go for it, and hope it melds together nicely. Which most times it does not. I've needed many transitions 'cause my mind was working faster than my fingers. Editing, editing, and editing will help ease the ms together. Good Luck.

Deborah said...

Thanks Lara! I'm hanging in. And you're right, once I let go of my memories of what I thought I intended back then, and spent time on research, and allowing the characters to be themselves as they are after a two-year hiatus instead of how I remember them, it is easier. And like Cathrina said...Editing, editing, editing!

Thank you Cathrina. My mind often takes off w/o my fingers too, which makes for some funny review reads sometimes. :)

Thank you both and take care!

Deborah said...

Thanks Lara! I'm hanging in. And you're right, once I let go of my memories of what I thought I intended back then, and spent time on research, and allowing the characters to be themselves as they are after a two-year hiatus instead of how I remember them, it is easier. And like Cathrina said...Editing, editing, editing!

Thank you Cathrina. My mind often takes off w/o my fingers too, which makes for some funny review reads sometimes. :)

Thank you both and take care!