Mark Terry

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Sometimes You Go Backwards

June 8, 2010
I'm about 130 pages into the next Derek Stillwater novel (the 5th. The 4th is already written and edited). It's a little bit of a departure from the previous four, more ambitious in many ways, and a significantly bigger headache. I have a lot of decisions to make about the novel's direction. Partly because I don't want it to be so dramatically different from the first 4 that my publisher and readers go, "WTF?" Partly because, well, I've reached the chess game part of plotting. Sometimes this is fairly straightforward. I know exactly what I want the novel to do and I understand that if I pick plot point A, then B, C, D etc will follow, versus picking plot point F and having it go to G, H, A, X, and M before ending up... somewhere.

The Devil's Pitchfork was a bit like this. I kept deleting chapters and re-inserting them, moving forward, then deleting them again before re-inserting them.

The Serpent's Kiss practically wrote itself. The Fallen was pretty straightforward, as was The Valley of Shadows (although less so than the previous two).

The new wip is more like The Devil's Pitchfork, only more so. Some of it's just doubt. At some point you have to take a deep breath and say, "Trust your instincts" and just write.

But right now I went back to the beginning and started reading and looking at the numerous seeds I planted along the way to see which ones took root, and which ones are growing strong and which ones are weeds, and the possibility that some of them might need to be uprooted or nurtured.

I don't know if it'll work. I know where I want to go, but I recognize that I have about twenty routes to get there and in fiction the straightest route isn't necessarily the best route. And I have a big decision to make about one of the characters--a live or die decision--that will not only dramatically affect the wip, but potentially affect any future Derek Stillwater novels.

How about you? Do you have problems like this? Or am I thinking too much?


Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

I don't know if you're thinking too much or not, but I sure know you're not alone!

9:54 AM  
Blogger Barbara Martin said...

In my first manuscript I had killed off a character to increase the suspense only to realize during the writing of the second that I needed him back.

When a writer is working hard at their craft, over thinking tends to creep up rather quickly. Sometimes I sit back to ponder over some of these new ideas of moving the plot forward to see if I've made the correct choice. I have a grid chart where I place brief bulleted phrases of scenes for each chapter, which later makes it easy to move them around if necessary, especially when it comes to actually moving them within the work.

3:45 PM  

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