Search This Blog

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reverse Engineering

When I first conceived of writing six books in this series, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. The story seemed so blissfully simple when I outlined the overall series. I knew, of course, that there would be unexpected twists and turns along the way, but knowing that and navigating my way through it now that I am there are two entirely different things. As I buckle down this week to begin serious work on book 5, I'm faced with the task of making sure that all the subplots I introduced along the way begin to work toward their expected - and unexpected - conclusions. I am once again thankful that I plan before I write, because at least I do know how the story is going to end, and there wasn't a single subplot introduced without that in mind. The difficulty really becomes simply making sure that I don't forget anything as I draw the story to a close. Two books might seem like a lot of space in which to do this, but when you're writing a novel, it always ends up being far less space than you think it's going to be. All along I've put off plot points that I couldn't get to in one novel to the next novel, but now I can't do that any more. I also need to be careful not to introduce too many brand new plot points in book 5. If the story arc is a hill, I crested it in book 4 and it's time for me to start working my way down the other side. After thinking about how I'm going to do this for several weeks, I've come to the conclusion that the wisest thing for me to do first is to reverse engineer the story. I'm not going to write it backwards from the end of book 6, that would be insane, but I am going to make a detailed plan of the climax of the whole series (a plan, keep in mind, of an ending I figured out long ago), then I'm going to lay out all of the prophecies and oracles side by side with this plan and make sure that the dots connect. That way I'll have all the BIG stuff accounted for. Then I'm going to take each of the main characters' story arcs and make sure that they connect properly with the plan in the end. If I get all this straight, the rest of the subplots should fall nicely into place... if I've been as careful about what I've introduced along the way as I think I've been. This should dovetail nicely into the document I wrote up last year detailing all the subplots and their necessary conclusions, so it's not as though I'm starting from scratch on this. (I'm a woman with a plan!) Truthfully, though, even with all my careful planning, I am a little daunted. I feel like a juggler with about fifty balls up in the air, and each one needs to be caught and carefully lowered to the ground. If I let any of them fall, I will feel like a failure. So now I need to go and collect about five writing journals, consolidate and analyze about 100 pages of typed notes, and stack the first four books beside me (gotta fact check!) to begin this task of reverse engineering the last two books. In writing, when you know where you're going, you can more easily figure out how to get there.

No comments:

Post a Comment