THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FASHIONING AN EPIC AND COBBLING TOGETHER A RAMBLING MESS
Posted on November 20, 2016
I like writing the first six or seven chapters of a book the most. Here's why. It's all so new and wide open. You can introduce so many tangents and plots to develop. The back half of a book is daunting because you constantly worry if you've adhered to a strong narrative thread or you've wandered.
I'm really grappling with that in the book I'm working on right now.
The Powers That Flee is a book that I want to be done in one volume. I don't want the story to unfold over three or four books, because I have enough series I need to finish. The nature of the book is one that is rich in concepts and deserving of letting the reader spend time exploring this universe. The characters gain new powers every seven days. That means I need to let the reader see them at work for weeks rather than days. Having the characters even just explore two power sets doesn't seem like much ground covered. I opted to have the story unfold over a month, culminating in a grand battle on Halloween night, October 31st, 1985 to be exact. Covering that much time is tough.
The difficulty is that I can't take time with some of the plot points. I have to keep the story moving to a gripping climax. You can't spotlight every day, but skipping several days is hard when the threat to the characters is supposed to be escalating. I'm in the last 30,000 words and feel like things are where they need to be. The story has to show several brushes with the enemy, so the heroes can gain some experience with their abilities. At the same time, I don't want it to drag on forever. I know I have too much story for a movie. I have to see it as something bigger but not too big. Basically, when the book is done, it should read like one season of a TV show.
I'll keep that idea in mind as I finish the first draft. When I go through the book again, I want to see how it would break down into episodes. This should help me with streamlining the narrative.
This book is teaching me a lot about how to weave a complex story. It's a lot of balls to keep in the air. What I want to do next to grow another part of my writer's brain is tell a smaller story, one that is concerned with showcasing the growth of one character and not as concerned with showing how three to four cast members evolve. To that end, I have a story called Misplaced about a boy who gives up his fictitious friends only to have them return to him when he's an adult. It'll be told from the adult perspective in the main narrative with journal entries tucked in that display what was going on in his childhood. I sincerely hope to keep it at 50,000 words. We'll see.