Rampaging Plot Monkeys

Posted on 08/08/2011 by

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I don’t write my books linearly at the best of times. The fact that the first two books of this series operate in a strictly chronological fashion has nothing to do with the way I wrote them. I tend to write a scene here, a scene there, and then over time the spaces between them start to fill and I can find my way from one to the next. And at some point the book gains a kind of momentum and sprints for the end. And for a very brief moment in time everything happens in order.

But that’s not how it is most of the time. Most of the time it’s just chaos promising that it’ll all turn out fine in the end. And one must just have faith that the jam is real.

Unfortunately this approach has introduced a new dimension to the madness of writing the third book. Because it’s turning out to be quite different from the straight up chronological pattern of the previous two. And, for reasons that I cannot adequately explain, even to myself, I have been writing each of the subplots separately, as though they were individual stories instead of the way I think they’re meant to be in the book — which is winding around, supporting, informing and traumatising one another.

I’ve finally reached the point, however, where I really need to start building up the beginning of the book into a coherent structure, instead of just writing a bunch of divergent storylines. You know, to make sure my theory of how it will work is accurate instead of just the product of blind fantasy. And, because apparently it thinks it’s funny when I beat my head against the wall, the book has been resisting.

Yes, okay, that might be because instead of actually doing it I’ve been sort of sidling up and peeking at it sideways and then looking away before it noticed. I keep having these horrible flashbacks to writing my doctoral exegesis, where I went through seven different outlines before I found one that I thought I could work with.

But that is not going to happen here. For one thing, I never outline fiction until after the fact. And for the other: seven. I would go mad.