Monday, March 5, 2012

The Ox is in the Ditch

No, Rush Limbaugh didn’t drive his car off the road. This is worse.

I’m 52,000 words into the work-in-progress and realize I’ve written myself into a corner.

I’m a plotter by nature. I write brief notes about every scene on index cards, then order the cards in what I think is the best story-telling sequence. The cards can change as I go. Scenes are added, some are deleted. The cards have only a sentence or two about what has to happen to move the story along. I decide how it gets moved along as I write.

This system has worked well for me. It provides the structure I need to feel comfortable with a scene while leaving me free to tell the story as I wish. Why I didn’t do it this time is a bigger mystery than the reader will find in the book itself.

I started this book last September. The outline looked good to a point; after that I wasn’t sure what to do. Rather than examine my navel for another couple of weeks, I sketched out the first ten chapters or so and started writing. By the time I got to the end of the outline, ideas presented themselves for the next several chapters, and I moved on. Yesterday, working on Chapter 32, I had the dreaded Oh, Shit Epiphany and realized much of what I’d written so far could never have happened as I described it.

My PI is investigating a case nine years old, in which his client has already been convicted. Much of what I’ve had him looking into would already be known. Even worse, I had no idea of what he needed to find he wouldn’t have been known already from reading the trial transcripts, as the police would have investigated these angles thoroughly.

This is fixable. In fact, a good night’s sleep and a shower have given me 80% of what I need to unravel this 300-foot tangle of Christmas lights. One key question still needs to be answered, and some examination of the PI’s psyche has to happen. (Thanks to The Beloved Spouse for giving me the idea of how to fix that last bit.) Very little will have to be thrown out, though quite a bit will have to be re-written. No deal breakers. This will get done.

But not until I have an outline I like.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I hate when that happens. I need your beloved spouse to help me.