Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chronology Conundrum

“It's just a jump to the left And then a step to the right With your hands on your hips You bring your knees in tight But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane, Let's do the Time Warp again!” So I’ve been thinking a lot about time and timing lately. It can be such a wonderful tool, or a curse, or a thousand pound gorilla you need to wrestle. In the hands of Tim Curry, or from a literary perspective, Tom Robbins, messing with time is the most fabulous possible mind bend. Even main-streamers are doing it, based on the popularity of The Time Traveler’s Wife. And while the uses of time aren’t all that common, the use of timing (typically the WRONG timing) is a favorite spoiler in many genres. So I will just come out and say, I LOVE it as a tool. As someone trying to publish though? Not so much. You see, while I look calm, cool, and… well, naked… I actually have a bit of control freak to my personality. I want things MY WAY. I am okay with having to do the work to get them my way. But I hate the idea that how interested people might be in my book has to do with current trends, long-term trends, the economy… It’s not even like my 401K where if I just put a little out there every month the ‘chance’ in there balances out. Nope. I spend three years writing a book and it is done NOW—all of it. How the heck was I supposed to factor in the mortgage bubble bursting? Heck, I didn’t even factor THAT in when I refinanced when the market was at its peak—because I didn’t KNOW. I suppose when I get to a dozen, or twenty, or thirty books, the challenge of timing messing with my ability to get out there would have balanced, but it seems to me, it is really only the first one that suffers so harshly under this beast. Assuming my book is GREAT (and it is), I shouldn’t have problems publishing after this no matter HOW BAD the timing gets. So it is this one bar I have to hit EXACTLY. And then there is the issue of timing for the editor… Most of you know CONFLUENCE was originally 200,000 words (759 pages for those of you who don’t speak word-count)—too long. One of the easier ways to shorten is to combine events—some action moved forward at this party, or that sleepover—and now I have the two collapsed into one event… but there was stuff that happened in the middle, so now I have to go in and edit and make sure nobody knows anything too soon, or acts too moronic by acting as if they DON’T know something that they really SHOULD. I ran into one of those in my second to last chapter of my polish—one of my characters ‘sending something’ that had not yet been requested of her. Grrrrrr! The fix was easy. FINDING the fix and verifying that was the ONLY problem, because I was by this point feeling vaguely paranoid for so obvious a mistake, was another matter. Hopefully though, that is the last thousand pound timing gorilla I’ll be wrestling for a while. I’d much prefer to return to wrestling more manageable partners.


Joris said...

Well, in GoF Jo got away too with Voldemort needing "one more death" for the path to Harry to be open, whereas it never became clear who that was; it's probably the only artefact left of the biggest plot-hole in the series, and I don't think anybody too obsessive noticed. (Of course, we delighted in finding even the tiniest flaws in the books back in the War, but that's another matter entirely ;) ).

I do hope you really don't encounter any more 'Gorilla's' like that, but I think you might not have to worry too much about them if they do slip through. :)

Just keep steadily editing and tightening, and you'll end up with a good book :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Oh Lord...now I'm going to have the Time Warp song going through my head the rest of the day!

The editing is the hardest part. It's driving me crazy right now, but there's always a light (over at the Frankenstein Place...no, wait!) at the end of the tunnel.

Mystery Writing is Murder