Yesterday I mentioned gaps, the space where I work within a building manuscript – I thought I would rabbit on some more about them and about writing, too (wot a surprise) – There are different ways to write a story, some start from the beginning and work towards a goal, some just start from the beginning and trust it will go somewhere worthwhile – Others have a game-plan and know not only where they are headed but the route along the way.
Me? I have a string of main points. I know what ending I want – for example, I already have the climax for book 4 (the next one) worked out and the actual last words of that book already written. Book 5 is also already mapped. And yes, so is the one I am currently writing, book 3, The Bastard Line. Of the three threads in book 3, two have their endings set. The third one, although mapped out, is a bit more flexible where it breaks between book 3 and book 4, so I’ll know better where that ending is when I get closer to it. I do know it’s along a certain storyline.
Once I generate a string of events and put them into the order that tells the tale, I have my map. One or two of these events will go into my manuscript-under-construction file, the rest will be in one or more of my note files, awaiting their turn. I don’t like putting them all in at once, unless they are quite widely spaced, otherwise they get in the way of the other stuff that has to go in and you end up doing a lot of shuffling, which can trip you up in more ways than one and waste a lot of time.
So… two events in place and you have a gap between them. If you wrote the beginning and wrote the end, and it’s going to be a big fat book, then the gap would qualify as a GINORMOUS one. But it is still a gap which has to be filled in and structured and closed.
You’ll be pleased to know I do not have a ginormous gap to fill. At this stage in this project, I have an assortment of gaps, most of them small (most of them actually tiny), and some of them big.
Yesterday, I closed up the gap closest to the beginning of the book. It was one gap in one thread and between that and other areas, I increased the overall page count by six. Not huge, but it is growth and another step in the right direction. The next gap in line is eleven pages further along and I will work on that today. I like to watch the first marker point move along, it’s one way I count my progress.
One of the things I learned early on is not to save the toughest things until last. In an early draft on my first book, that’s exactly what I did. I jumped over everything that was too tough and moved on, making what seemed to be great progress. But it backfired. You can’t help but make estimates based on your progress, so having taken X number of months to get half the book done, I felt it would be roughly the same to complete it. What I experience, however, was running into wall after wall after wall. It made the entire writing experience not a happy one as my days were filled with frustration.
Now I do the opposite. I work out what the hard bits will be and sort those first, if I can. As other hard bits crop up, due to twists and turns I didn’t see coming (and other complications), I deal with them as quickly as possible.
I cannot write a story from beginning to end. Those major events often get written first, and there’s always something that will flow and be magnificent that must be captured in writing, whether it’s that segment’s “turn” to be written or not – which is why I have bits written for books 4 and 5, and further notes for beyond those two.
On top of writing things out of order, once written, there will always be sections I need to pull away from and come back to, so I do move backwards and forwards as I work, reading and editing what’s there and filling in the gaps as I come to them, sewing pieces together and smoothing them down.
The gaps, therefore, build up to quite a large number. I currently have about 30 or 40 marker points, some marking areas that need reworking or that aren’t complete, but most of them mark gaps, which is merely a spot where something must be but doesn’t exist yet. As they decrease, some of the bigger gaps will break into smaller ones, swelling the number once more, even while the big gap is filling, so the gap count doesn’t mean an awful lot. And so it goes until I am done.
It all sounds very messy, I know, but that’s the way I do it. It works.
I think most writers do roughly this, with variation. So, what’s your favorite method? 😀