Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oh, crap.

You know that moment when you realize you've done something wrong and you can't fake your way forward anymore? That you'll have to stop everything and go back and fix it? Yeah. Oh, crap.

Yesterday after work I was pounding around the house, racing upstairs and down, trying to change into my boatbuilding clothes so I could glue stuff. (I'm on Frame 4 of the Welsford Pathfinder design). Working with epoxy is always stressful, even in cold weather when it theoretically dries slower, and so I was in a rush to get started. On one of my passes through the kitchen (thirsty) I saw THE TURNING AWAY stacked up on the counter, where I'd been editing it at 5:30 that morning.

Still the same old problem. The story doesn't start until p.33. Why? Why wait until then? Because everything that happens before then is important.

Is it?
Yes.
Really?
Yes!
Come on. Think about it.
Oh, crap.
Oh, crap.

Why not condense the timeline from three weeks to one day? Why not make stuff happen faster, rather than trying to write shorter sentences about time passing slowly? No wonder I wasn't getting anywhere with my coffee-fueled, early-morning line edits. My main character was sitting around for two weeks doing nothing. Of course it felt slow!

And so like a badly healed fracture, I now have to re-break my first several chapters into their component plot elements, re-set them, and hope they heal properly this time.

I stood there, picking dried epoxy off my boatbuilding pants, then scrawled down a note to myself:

All one day. Sam on dig, finds bone, introduced to J+K, is awkward, brings out bone. Then dream. Then decipher.

Much better. Tighter. And we don't have to read about how Sam is bored all day and thus boring TO us.

Out to the garage, head full of ideas. Epoxy and bronze screws and clamps.

A good day's work.

2 comments:

P said...

Are you going with a sloop or yawl rig?

Onto writing, it's good to find the rotten section now and scoop it out and into the trash. Don't let it contaminate the healthy narrative!

S R Wood said...

Yawl, y'all.

It's always amusing to madly dice the story into tiny pieces -- Yan Can Edit! -- and then reassemble the critical parts only to discover I've trimmed a mere 600 words. But the *sequence* is better.

Fascinating to learn that it's not an assemblage of unrelated incidents: there's a leaning momentum. Or at least, there SHOULD be.