that moment when it all comes together
September 26, 2012
I’m in the process of writing I think my twentieth novel, depending on how you count the early unpublished ones. (I usually only count the three I tried to sell that didn’t sell, but there were at least two more on top of that that never even saw the light of day.) This will be my seventeenth published novel when it hits the streets. So I have a pretty good idea of how my process works at this point.
It’s still hard, because I always get to a point where I have 60,000 words of stuff that doesn’t quite fit together, and I have to find the thing that will make it all cohesive.
I hit that wall on this draft last week, and I did what I usually do: I went back to the start and did the first big revision so I could set everything up for the final climactic moment, which I can’t really work on until the rest of it is straightened out. This time, the first big revision involved making sure I completely removed the character I decided didn’t need to be there, making sure all the holes are filled in and scenes that I didn’t know where they go end up in the right place, making sure the McGuffin that I didn’t really decide on until just now is firmly in place. The last chapter is already written — this is something I usually do, get about half way through the book, then write the end so I know exactly where I’m going. Now I just have to close the gap.
I always rend my hair and gnash my teeth at this point, and curse my inability to write more detailed outlines, and wish I could figure out the plot sequence before I’ve written everything rather than after. But like I said, twenty books and it’s happened this way pretty much every time. I know it will come together. I just don’t know how, and I worry one day that it won’t.
But this week, I finally got all the pieces in place. The rest of the manuscript before the big climactic scene is finally continuous and cohesive. All those scattered pieces I had, that I didn’t know quite where they were going or even if they fit — they all fit. I had to do a lot of tweaking. But it’s really good tweaking — almost easy tweaking, because the new version is how it was meant to be in the first place, and everything fits together, and I can even add a layer of meaning and subterfuge that I didn’t even know was there. Not only has it come together, but better than I could have hoped, because my subconscious is smarter than I am. Now all I have to do is put my head down and write those last 15,000 or so words.
I love this part.