We’ve all seen diagrams of the usual progression of a story. There’s an inciting incident, rising action, usually in the form of a few try-fail cycles, that leads to a climax, then a denouement or conclusion to tie everything together. Of course there are various permutations depending on the plot, length, and genre. But the same basic structure is fairly ubiquitous: the conflict starts small, grows, and is resolved by the end. No one says you have to do it this way, but readers get confused when the story diverges from the standard.
So what does a poor author do with a story that only sometimes conforms to the standard?
Throw up her hands and cry, mostly. Or swear at the manuscript and threaten to burn it if it doesn’t shape up.
Stupid time-travel WIP.
All the plot elements are in the wrong places; the story sometimes wants to be episodic, with the associated time jumps, instead of a nice, smooth novel- other parts of the story fit perfectly into novel structure; it refuses to be written in order, so I have to keep going back and doing continuity checks- then deciding which continuity is better. Then the characters decide to do things that are consistent with reality instead of storytelling, which confuses the issue even further. Also, the plot is too big and convoluted to fit in one book, so it needs to be somewhere between three and seven books- but that leads to asking, how many, and how are they structured?
What a mess.
It’s one of those problems where I can’t tell if I’m doing the right thing, but not enough of it, or if I’m doing it wrong and need to cut my losses and change tack. And since I’ve been working on it for two years, completely abandoning the project seems counterproductive.
But I take solace in the fact that, no matter what I write, it will be The Best Thing Ever according to one cohort of readers, and also The Worst Thing Ever to another cohort. So it’s impossible to get right, but it’s impossible to get it wrong, too.
How is your writing going?