Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting Loopy

[She’s already loopy] I heard that.

The kind of books I write, because they are the kind of book I like to read, inevitably loop back on themselves… What do I mean? I mean I like all the subplots to head back into the main thing eventually, I like foreshadowing from early on to be relevant to the final action sequence.

But I have reached the point in this trilogy where I’m looping, and MAN is it a lot of work to keep everything straight! In the first book I had some events that need to be gone through from a different perspective (and place, usually) but carefully keeping them in line so it’s not inconsistent. In the second book I introduced characters that I now need to give a ‘how they came into play’. It is a mad mess of things to keep track of.

My Primary Failing

I’m not the world’s most organized person. In fact as I type that, I can hear my husband across town laughing. I’m pretty darned bad at it. When I was younger I didn’t really NEED organization because I had a FABULOUS memory, but two pregnancies and 20 years later, that memory is no longer what it used to be. (I usually blame Sam—my pregnancy with my son caused a noticeable drop and it has never rebounded—since he is SMART, I generally just say he got a major portion of my brain, including the part with the memory storage)

I know in my HEAD that I should keep notes (in fact when I wrote DENIABILITY—my NaNo novel, and the only one I’ve written at the computer) I at LEAST kept a character file—it’s easy in Excel. When I am hand writing though, taking the time to take down notes really throws me off. The only time I do it is to note FUTURE things I want to come out of something… ideas for later.


When I wrote CONFLUENCE I handled all this stuff in my rewrite—I didn’t worry about it as I wrote. It made some sections of the rewriting a little tedious, but it seemed okay, possibly because I had a really clear vision of where things were happening and that didn’t change over the book.


The problem now is I am dealing in a realm I am less familiar. I’ve mentioned the art theft (think I’ve worked out my organizational structure with names and everything, so that will help), but the mystery here is more convoluted. In LEGACY the characters were kids and teens, so I was okay with not entirely understanding everything—it was truer to voice that way. ILLUSIONS I had a teen and an adult who is trying to help find some answers (so somewhat clueless). CONSPIRACY though, is from the perspective of two people who’ve known for the most part, what is going on… so now I have to figure out what is going on… Oi!

In LEGACY Athena found ‘clues’… now I have to go through the thought process behind LEAVING those clues… The whole thing just feels a lot bigger than it did in either of the other two books.

It’s possible I shouldn’t have written any of it until I knew, but that isn’t really how I work. I write with a general ending in mind (which is still in mind) but not the detailed path by which it is reached. So now, a third of the way into the last book, when I am to the point in ‘backstory’ where it all becomes clear, it is time to really pound it all out and make it work.

Keep in mind this isn’t entirely unexpected… I’ve said from the beginning that LEGACY would not get edited until all three were written because I knew I may have to adapt to things in the later books (heck, even names have changed!).

But it doesn’t change the fact that I think the next half dozen chapters are going to be hell to pound out… then the end will fly—since I sort of know how THAT is supposed to work…

Anybody have fool proof methods for keeping complexity straight? I’d love to hear them, especially if they don’t require me to get organized…


Helen Ginger said...

I have no great ideas for you, except to make notes as I go in my Book Bible (the notes I keep on each manuscript, character descriptions, etc.). There's bound to be a program out there, though.

Straight From Hel

TreeX said...


Watery Tart said...

yeah yeah... I just seem incapable of doing that notes thing until I get to an editing process... that's the problem. If I'm writing, it totally throws me off. if I'm typing, I'm not paying enough attention... though I suppose typing IS the time I ought to be doing it, since I'm at the computer already...

Jan Morrison said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha, chortle, snort ha! Yep, I've got advice for you - come on over to my house and we'll drink tequilla instead! Oh, Tartlett, where did we go wrong? I never blamed my son but I think I'll start!
good luck to thee and me!

Watery Tart said...

Excellent! Tequila inspired plots are ALWAYS full of twists and turns (even if they are marginally incoherent) so I'm in!

Yes, good luck right back atcha! And I am going to try your advice--probably not with flash cards, but going through and writing down the questions definitely seems the best place to find the answers (unless your a social scientist anyway *shifty*)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Those darned kids! Mine slurped up whatever brain power I had left, too. Sigh. Ah well..they're worth it.

Keeping plotlines and characters straight with a series like yours would be a real challenge. Some of the writers I know swear by Excel..although it seems like Math to me, so I'm not fond of it. Spreadsheets of everything, complete with whatever digital pix they've taken to help with settings, etc.

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Watery Tart said...

teehee--It's somewhat reassuring to not be the only one, Elizabeth!

Excel is GREAT to me for characters. Plot, not so much...

I decided to approach it with a detailed outline. I'm trying that for now... then I can just turn to where I need to keep things straight, hopefully... once the darned thing is created, that is..