I made an astonishing discovery recently. In re-reading some of my old material and casting a glance over the parts of my ‘novel’ already written I realised I have a problem: a big problem.
I am only writing isolated scenes with no purposeful concept of how to link them together.
Apparently I’ve been doing this for some time. Years, in fact. I have more than several hand-written pages of brilliant narrative along with dozens of computer files filled with minute sparks of ideas, characters, stories and occurances. Yet, I only have one or two completed pieces that would pass as short stories.
Currently, I’m potentially writing a story that will have the same effect as that disappointing emotion you feel when you buy that jigsaw from a charity shop only to discover, too late, that it’s missing half it’s pieces. As it turns out, I’ve been putting together that jigsaw without realising I have no edge or corner pieces, creating a wonderful image from the middle outward, but being forced to leave it incomplete because I neglected to check I had all the necessary parts. My stories have no boundaries, there is no context in which they occur nor any limits the reader can count upon to ground their expectation.
Except now I know this I need to do something about it. I’ve been managing to write between 300 to 700 words a day on the novel idea, but I tend to move back and forth between sections depending on my mood; writing different scenes and characters on a whim based on my understanding of the idea I’ve had. As such, all I am now left with are a series of disjointed bits and pieces that need stitching together before they really make any sense.
So here ensues another challenge (so many of them to learn from!): I need to write chronologically from the start of my novel to the end of the story. No skipping from here to there, no abandoning the boring bits or ‘forgetting’ where I’ve left off. Writing it straight through once, no matter how badly it ends up, will at least mean I have the whole idea down on paper in some order, and then I can mess with the arrangement, re-write scenes, flesh out characters and resolve which bits are important and what parts are insignificant babble created to link two interesting scenes together!
This will be a whole new approach for me, but right now I’m certainly excited about seeing what it might produce.