Last week, I had this thought that I’d started Rukan in the wrong place. It wasn’t working in its current structure. In my head I sketched out a different starting place (where I’d initially reckoned on maybe book2 started at) but it all sounded like backstory. If you read it first, you’d think you were reading a sequel.
So I thought, it’s something else. Something else is not quite right here.
Then I read this blogpost: Linear writing leads to flat narrative
Here’s an extract:
“By linear I don’t mean the way time is structured in your story. You don’t have to write scenes all out of order Christopher Nolan style to make it interesting.
This is what I’m talking about: A man is hungry. He goes to the kitchen and makes a sandwich. He eats the sandwich. He is no longer hungry.
The journey from hungry man to sated man is very straight. It’s easy. It’s obvious. It’s dull.”
My initial reaction to reading that was: THAT PERSON DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT.
Ding ding ding.
Of course they do. That was the kneejerk reaction of my conscious brain as my unconscious brain went ‘DUH, THAT’S WHAT YOU’VE DONE AND IT’S NOT GOOD.’
My story is basically one extended sandwich-making scene.
Conscious brain has now sulkily come around to the truth and we’re playing with ideas. How can I compress the narrative to get things moving quickly? What needs to be shown on screen — and what doesn’t?
And everything I’d pencilled in as possible book2 is coming on board. This makes the other main character happy, as he gets more resolution and screentime and to go home (he isn’t a fan of the desert).
Rukan, meanwhile, will need tweaked motivations. I have to make her want something at the start, something I hadn’t imagined her wanting: magic. I’m not sure yet on how that’s going to affect her character.
Aaaand so I haven’t actually started ripping things out yet. I don’t expect it to be very hard (in my experience, editing is always easier than writing fresh). What will I have left? Tatters of a story and a big ole FLAILING middle-of-the-book. BUT. I also get to make up more stuff. Another city, another plotline.
What’s interesting is that this is similar to what I did with Molly’s Gift. When I reached 30,000 words I ended up going back to the start and rejigging and rewriting huge swathes of it. Maybe I need 30k of words in order to judge a story’s shape and determine what it SHOULD look like.