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Chronology

What is up with all the Russian looking spam?  Seriously.

So it’s Monday, I’ve just gotten out of staff meeting, and I’m working on planning out my day/week.  After a weekend where I rocked out on the plotting for my new idea, I’m forcing myself back to the grind on Hunted in Shadow.  Ever since I made that big revision to the outline, I feel like I’ve only been pecking at the story.  A few hundred words here, a few hundred there.  The revision created about five new scenes earlier in the book, and I’ve been sort of lobbing words at those.  Not even the same scene, just a chunk here and there.

I actually did try to move forward last week and got nowhere.  I feel really unfocused and ADD about this project just now, and that’s not like me.

Partly, I suspect it’s my very left-brained tendency to have to write chronologically.  Even when I was primarily a pantser, I had to write things in the order they happened.  When I got stuck, I was stuck, and no amount of Pot telling me to just move ahead to something I knew would work.  It’s like writing chronologically is some inviolate rule that my brain simply cannot get around.  Having those holes bugs me.  It’s annoying.  Like a fly buzzing at my ear or a pebble in my shoe.

This is the side of me that absolutely cannot fathom how chunksters work.  I don’t know how my characters are going to be at a later point in the book until I’ve been through everything with them up to that point, so how can I write a later scene authentically without having written the earlier ones?

Does anybody else have this hangup about writing chronologically?

I suspect, too, that this ennui has a little to do with being mired in first draft suckitude.  I’ve done a couple of full read throughs the last month or two, and I’m certainly not blind to the problems with this manuscript.  I knew there would be many because the whole process of writing this book has been different from what came before.  My usual method was to polish as I go.  Whenever I got stuck and uncertain of how to move forward, I read through what came before and revised, polished, and cleaned such that what was there was, from a language standpoint, generally the best I could make it.  It was the issue of solidity of the plot that was a problem there, which was, of course, why I have moved over to the plotting wagon.

But it’s really hard, seeing all that rough language and still moving forward without fixing things.  The point of my method with this book was to push through and get that first draft DONE.  To not get bogged down and come up with tangents and complications.  I have to occasionally go back and read older work of mine to remind myself  “Oh right, I don’t totally suck.”  Because, man, I feel like I do.  I’m reading Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow (which is absolutely awesome, though don’t read it before bed if you’re prone to nightmares about zombies) and wondering why I bother sitting down at a keyboard.  She’s so GOOD.

Revision will make mine better.  Repeat.  Revision will make mine better.  It’s a mantra.  Revision will make mine better.

5 thoughts on “Chronology

  1. I’m with you on having to write chronologically. The whole point of the novel is that characters grow and change, right? So how do I write people that have had experiences that have changed them without knowing how they’ve changed?

    Skipping around … I’ll miss things; I know I will. I do sometimes add layers to scenes gone by when a new subplot occurs to me, but never deliberately skipping scenes.

  2. Revision always makes it better!

    Maybe this is a way of opening you up, expanding your possibilities the way that shifting from pantsing to plotting once helped. If you work your way through this project out of sequence, it will just give you that much more flexibility in the future. Slightly irritating now, but it could be a nice payoff later.

    1. Lord I hope so. I was jumping around this morning between the three different scenes I’ve been working on–and surprised to find them 2/3rds of the way finished. If I can figure out what actually, you know, happens in the rest of them, all three of those holes should be plugged by end of the week. It’s weird though, working this way. I see the word count go up, but I don’t feel as if I’m moving forward, even though I apparently am.

  3. Once the holes start to fill in, the accomplished feeling skyrockets, instead of just the slow, steady incremental feeling you’re used to. Personally, I think it’s part of the reason we pansters work the way we do, the payoff in a rush rather than the satisfaction of just numbers for so long.

    1. I do admit that it’s always that RUSH, that first love feeling you have with a new project that always tries to lure me back to my old habits.

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