So, with some other things out of the way, I’m starting to get back into the rewrite. And one of the things I’m doing at the moment is recalibrating.
I don’t want to get into details, since spoilers and all, but I have changed rather a lot about this book since the last draft. I actually don’t know how clear I’ve been about this, but a lot of the problems I’m fixing in this draft are problems that I caused by not having exact answers for things in the last draft. I wrote something, realised I didn’t have a detail for a scene, but decided that it wasn’t important to understanding the scene and kept going. Then, as I changed things in the new draft, some of those details actually became instrumental to how the story was going to play out, especially as I decided to draw out some of those characters and have them play larger roles in the story, so of course some little details about their backstories were going to be more important.
However, I have never had so much cause to believe in the Butterfly Effect as when I’m trying to restructure a novel. I move a joke from a conversation on page 15 to page 156 and three hours later I’ve invalidated three character arcs and need to add in three subplots and a new character. Usually, I like to think that the effort is worth it and the story will be better for it. But sometimes it is frustrating.
And also, being a person who doesn’t like change very much, sometimes it means that I feel like I’ve got everything patched over until I sit down and actually write the scenes, at which point the duct tape splits and a ravine opens up.
That happened again this week.
Actually, at the moment, I have large sections of the plot that I haven’t quite figured out yet, mainly because I’m waiting to see a few things. First of all, I want to know how much bulk actual descriptions of the world will add to the story – if it’s just 100 words here or there, I’ll need to pace the story with that in mind. But if I actually need to add in a lot of detail and some extra scenes in order to make things work, I’ll need to change the pacing accordingly. Not least, at the moment, I’m still trying to decide whether the story is going to need to be split into two or three sections, and thus where some big plot points are going to fall in relation to each other. But there was one part that I thought I’d have down, and that was the first 20,000 words. They’ve gone through a few iterations in the past few rewrites, but I was pretty sure what needed to happen. After all, some of it was pretty straight forward. Character A needed to decide to go to Place B, otherwise there is literally no plot following that. That’s the cornerstone of the entire story.
And then I took the cornerstone out of the arch.
Not intentionally – I just changed something that changed something, and suddenly where there was a very solid and compelling reason for Character A to decide to go somewhere, there was nothing.
And that raises an interesting question. There are a couple of ways I can take this. I could find another way to get to the same place. I can find another reason for that character to go where they do.
Or I can see what happens to the story if they don’t go there. I’ve now got enough characters in there that I can actually see that working for the story; there’s a couple characters I can call in to give that impetus another 20,000 words down the track, and move some other things forward to give myself some plot in the meantime.
I’ve still got another few thousand words to write before I get to that point, so I’ll keep going to keep my momentum for now, but in the meantime, while washing dishes or cooking food, I think I’ll be thinking up a few different ‘what ifs’ for the plot, and see which ones fall together the best. It might be that all this one needs is a spit-shine and some caulking. But if I do have to change up the whole timeline again, best to find that out now than another whole draft down the track.