Monday, December 27, 2010

Moving Events Around the Timeline

I have read and been told very often that sometimes, the best thing you can do to fix your novel is to change the order in which events happen. I always wondered how that worked. I mean, if your events are tightly connected and the pull of your story inexorable, how can you simply switch the sequence?

My brain refused it. It denied the possibility.

Then I tried.

In the current scene, one of the MCs is captured and tortured early on in the novel. This made him somewhat unstable for the rest of the novel. I need that unstability to justify some of his decisions (and, well, his forgetfulness). My recent decisions, however, cut away all the torture, because he no longer is captured.

I was stuck. I could not find another good reason to justify this. I had cut a major plot point, and I was having trouble dealing with the consequences further down the novel.

Except... nothing forced the torture to be at that point in the timeline. The other day I asked myself "What if it happens immediately before the story starts?" 

I knew the character was wounded. I knew he was fleeing from something. The previous reason from this flight was one of the elements I trashed. I needed a new reason.

Perfect fit. 

There are still a few details to rework in order to smoothen the plot, of course, but I just fixed two major problems with one idea. Moving an event back in the timeline. Try it. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain! This trick just moved WHITE ECHOES one step closer to a solid, tight outline, and to its third rewrite.

It also taught me I need to stop listening to my brain!

1 comment:

  1. This post inspired me to do the same with one tiny part of my novel, and that was exactly what it needed. I was able to cut out a bunch of unnecessary things that "lead" to this fight that I moved up two chapters, and that makes my Critter happy :)