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Posts Tagged ‘discovery writer’

Only a week ago, I posted that my rolling outline for BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM stretched six chapters ahead of where I was at that point.

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Well, now I’m down to two, counting the one I just started. Well, three, but only because I added another new chapter before the one that returns to Kaleran’s POV.

Sometime in the course of these next three chapters, I’m going to have to extend that outline to cover what everyone does next. Of course, I know that in a general way. I need to get a little more specific about how and why.

Margan and Rose, currently at the heart of the story, have to figure out what it is they need to do–and whether they have the courage to do it. Oh, and how to do it; that would probably be useful, too. Kaleran has to make a choice, which won’t end up exactly the way he thought it would. Gaian has to start becoming what he was always destined to be–but that won’t be easy or comfortable.

And, of course, we can’t forget the antagonist. What’s Cordan up to while all this is going on? I’ve left him a very good source for finding the others before they can achieve their goals. But he can’t do that quite yet. Come to think of it, I need a Cordan chapter soon. He’s had a set back, but he’s a long way from giving up.

Discovering the story is half the fun.

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I’ve explained before that I’m a modified discovery writer. I don’t outline the entire story before I start writing–though I do know the end I’m trying to reach and at least a few of the major points in between. I also do tend to have a sort of rolling outline of what’s going to happen in the next few chapters–usually three to five. But sometimes that estimate is off.

BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM is turning out to be no exception.

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So, the chapter I mentioned in my last post ran longer than expected. Not really unusual, especially with a lot of dialog. Generally, I prefer my chapters to be no longer than ten pages. It’s a personal preference. As a reader, I appreciate a stopping place so that if I need to stop for a bit, I can easily find my place again. Scene breaks work, too, but chapter breaks are better. Some chapters are, of course shorter–even much shorter. A few just have to go longer.

But very often, there is a place to break and start a new chapter. And sometimes, that’s also a good place for a change of POV character and a slightly different outlook on the situation. So, that’s what I did with this chapter, switching from Margan (previously referred to as Impatient in that previous post) to Rose (the Neighbor).

But what was to happen at the end of the original chapter needs to be in Margan’s POV when he realizes something no one had suspected–least of all Rose. It just won’t work from Rose’s at all. So that means a third chapter, possibly fairly short, in Margan’s POV.

One chapter just became three. To be followed by the chapter in Gaian’s POV that was always intended to follow that little episode in Margan’s POV. Though, because something else has been delayed that would have happened before that.

And only then, the thing that action which was delayed, probably another chapter in Margan’s POV. The delay of this chapter helps to fill that plot hole I was worried about earlier. And, at the same time, helps to set up some action–actually a couple of pieces of action–that will occur later in the story. So win-win.

But that one chapter (which, I can see now, was always going to be too long) is now four chapters.

And all of that will be followed by another new chapter as other characters cope with what Margan and Rose got up to. This chapter will also nicely set up some later action. And then back to the original plan with a chapter in Kaleran’s POV

Not counting the finished chapter I started off from, that’s six chapters ahead. Assuming none of those decide to multiply, of course.

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I am an unrepentant, but slightly modified discovery writer. I know I’ve said that before. I am not about to start outlining–I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work for me. Either, after about Chapter 3, I spend way too much time updating the outline to what I’m actually writing or I just ignore the outline. Either way, it doesn’t help to get the story onto the page. I do, occasionally outline, in a way, about three to five chapters ahead. That works fine for me, mostly.

So, as I launched into the current chapter of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM,

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I decided that the best way to catalyze a needed discussion was to bring another character, who has been in a nearby location, in. Fine. But, then, if she’s coming, maybe this other character would come with her. That worked fine for the first scene.

Then I move on to the next scene. If that second character is present, she is definitely going to come along when my least patient POV character goes over to ask a neighbor some questions. And then she’s going to want to go along when that neighbor offers to help. And . . . that ruins everything.

So, surgery on that first scene to remove the extra character and assign her lines to someone else.

Forward to the next problem, which will be to give Impatient and the neighbor a good reason not to come back–without creating a plot hole.

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This is another on of those discovery writer issues–but a good one. I’m still writing out some of the consequences of that escape in my last post. For Kaleran. But also, as I consider it, this little contretemps is likely to set the antagonist off balance. Maybe make him do something . . . ill-considered, hasty. Which, actually, is just about what should happen at about the midpoint of the story, in this case BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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The trick will be to keep it from precipitating things too fast, because this is still only the midpoint. But, I think I’ve got that covered by what a couple of other characters are about to do next.

This is why I’m still a (mostly) discovery writer. I love discovering the story while I’m writing it. This is what keeps it fun for me.

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I introduced Kaleran in this post. He’s not behaving according to plan. And it started right there.

His character arc in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM was supposed to be a redemption arc. The character who was deceived into the wrong path but changed sides in time.

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He’s not playing along with that plan at all. And I’m not really surprised after that start. This is what sometimes happens to a discovery writer. Characters go off script and, since the script itself–A.K.A. the outline–is very vague anyway, there’s less chance of reining them back around.

Very often, though, I find I prefer what flows over what I had planned, anyway. More often than not, it feels more authentic for the character. And this is still only a first draft. Anything can be changed in the revisions. (Some changes just involve more pain.) So, I’m going to see where this leads. Who knows, events may still lead him back to where I planned for him to go. Or to someplace better.

Fortunately, the other characters are so far sticking to the script.

 

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Earlier this week, I paused briefly in writing the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM, because I had to figure something out.

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Discovery writer problems.

I knew I needed someone to help one particular POV character (let’s call him Kal). Someone who is not the person who is supposed to be responsible for his training, etc. But I hadn’t figured out who this other character would be. It needed to be someone with a prior association with the Kal’s parents. And then it hit me. In the very first chapter of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, I have someone who is rescued by Kal’s father. Someone who would probably have known Kal’s mother.  Someone who has a loyalty to Kal’s Grandmother (there’s a reason that’s capitalized). Someone who, in short, is perfect for the role of shadow guardian.

I didn’t name this other character in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, but that’s easily fixed, since the manuscript is out with my critique partners and there will certainly be another round of revisions when it comes back. I can even give this character a small additional part, easily enough.

I haven’t written this chapter that I needed to figure out yet because I ultimately decided that it will come a little later in the timeline. But now I know enough to write it when I get there.

Meantime, I have to move Kal’s brother into position for the next main event.

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I think my subconscious is smarter than me.  For two reasons.

1.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a modified discovery writer, so you’d think, perhaps, that I don’t concern myself with story structure. You’d be wrong. Instead of planning–and outlining–a story following the three-act structure or any other, I usually look at the structure of a story I’ve already written to see where it needs to be tweaked.

Now, my current series is a little bit of a departure for me. DUAL MAGICS is a conventional series made up of four books which each tell a story that together make up a larger arc of the entire series.

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BECOME . . . BECOME is more one story that has a significant break in time–almost twenty years–and therefore falls naturally into two books . . . sort of.

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And frankly, this made me a little nervous. It’s really hard to keep the first book from ending on a cliff-hanger. And, as a reader, I hate cliff-hangers. They make me feel like my arm is being twisted to force me to buy the next book just to see what happens. And that doesn’t sit well with my Scots-Irish blood even if I would have bought the next book anyway. I’ve worried that without a clear conflict for this book it would be virtually impossible to bring BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING to a satisfying interim resolution. And I worried that without that conflict–apart from the overall arc of the series–the story sort of meandered. And, to tell the truth, that worry was part of the reason this book has taken so long to write.

So, yesterday, as I was starting the read-through of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, I tried and experiment. I just looked at the one-eighth marks, where major plot points should happen, to see if there was something there that I could build up into a conflict for this book. And what do you know? It was right there all the time. It’s an interior conflict for my main character, but it’s a separate conflict that ties into the main conflict of the two-book series. I’ll need to add a bit here and there to pull it up into the light. But the main plot points fall pretty close to all the right places. Now, as I continue the read-through, I’ll be making notes on where I need to add a few internal thoughts or a bit of dialog to just bring this conflict up where it can be seen.

2.

Chekov’s Gun. You know, “If there’s a gun over the mantle in the first act, someone has to fire it by the third act.” Or something very like that.

Well, I’d thrown a character into the middle of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING. He’s a character who made a brief appearance in BECOME: BROTHERS. I didn’t have any particular reason for reusing him. He did provide a minor complication, but . . . just being there, again, and causing that little problem made him important. Like Chekov’s gun. And I thought I’d probably take him out in the revisions for that reason.

Nope. While I was starting the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM, wouldn’t you know that same character turned up again. And he’s in a perfect position to set off a major part of the main conflict.

I swear I didn’t plan that. But I’m sure going to use it.

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