A fistful of loose ends

I have discovered a fun new way to not-write. Or at least, a new cause for it. The fix is only obvious in retrospect, but now I have it, and I’m going to cram it into my toolbox, like a mechanic trying to fit the wrench that’s now custom-welded with 2 90 degree bends in it and a little rare-earth magnet glued on to keep the nut in place when working blind. You know, that one tool that’s used for that one specific application, because if you have to do it again, it’ll save a whole lot of time, a healthy dollop of swearing, and leaking a bit of hydraulic fluid out your busted knuckles?

In this case, I didn’t block because I wrote the last chapter wrong. I blocked because I hadn’t written enough!

See, this book has two points of view, alternating chapter on chapter. The way the pacing is coming together, there’s a fight in the next chapter. I do want a particular part of that fight to be witnessed through the eyes of that character, so the timing is right…

But that character doesn’t understand the layout or tactics, or timing that the one in the last chapter does. So I’m trying to explain for the reader (and for myself, before writing it) the layout, the strategy, the approaches used by the opponents… with the wrong character. No wonder it wasn’t working.

Instead, I had to go back to the last chapter, and keep writing from that character’s POV, letting his understanding make it clear to the reader. So in the next chapter, the character will be confused, but the reader won’t!

Have you ever hit this one before?

6 comments

  1. The right point of view can be tricky. Especially when you have a pattern and you don’t want to throw the reader off.

  2. Yeah . . . I once got to the start of the end . . . and stopped because it was headed for a train wreck . . . I finally realized the only way this was going to not end with “Then everybody dies” was this minor POV character pulling some not-quite-blackmail . . . and had to go back and start with that character, expand the scenes with him in them . . . Basically making the story as much about how he dealt with the problem and solved it, as the original good guys dealing with it.

  3. Yep! *Preternaturally Familiar* alternates viewpoint, mostly. There was one event that had to be from Arthur’s POV, and another that couldn’t be from Arthur’s POV, so I tossed “every other chapter alternates” out the window and wrote what was needed.

    Heck, *White Gold of Empire* was supposed to be from the viewpoint of a priestess of Korval of the Fields, a widow who happened to be a wood carver. A chapter draft later, I gave up the fight. The story would not cooperate at all. The story did not want a female PoV, and that individual wouldn’t have been involved in what I wanted to focus on as far as the story (salt making). So the chapter got File 13ed and it’s from a master salter’s POV.

  4. Twice, so far.

    First was a segment of a thing that had mostly been written from one character’s point of view, but writing the fight sequence from her point of view lacked tension. One of her jobs was bodyguard, so she knew what she was doing when things started exploding.

    I kept trying to drop into the other character’s perspective for a paragraph, and mostly succeeded in causing reader whiplash. The solution was to rewrite that entire section from the other character’s point of view.

    And in the last story in that set, I went in sure I knew what was going on. I knew what her motivations were, what she was doing, how she’d go about it.

    What I hadn’t realized was, in that one, she wasn’t actually the protagonist; she was the ticking time-bomb that the protagonists are racing to solve the mystery before someone got themselves reduced to irregularly sized cubes…

  5. Yeah, I’m playing musical POVs right now, writing the final battle in Book 2, jumping between various good guy and bad? guy ships. Trying to keep the sequence of events straight so everything happens at the right time.

    Sometimes I have to go back and check to make sure that what I just wrote makes sense compared to what I had done previously.

Comments are closed.