Lotus Eating – Part 2

OK I admit it. I read this post on Rachael’s blog and felt smug. My novel and I are courting again; the little things that annoyed me are now exciting opportunities, I’ve found new depths (have I’ve been foreshadowing! Who’da thunk?) to the once shallow pages; no tart of an idea is going to turn my head and distract me! Oh no, not me, I’m a one project woman…

Until yesterday morning when the “prequel” to Kiwiana Charlatan came sauntering into my mind.  A true femme fatale as it is all about Mary. I knocked together a little outline, researched my idea for a title (Discontent from “Now is the Winter of…” which means I’ll have to read Richard III, and I had no idea about the winter of discontent either). Ah yes I’ve been well and truly seduced.

Luckily I seem to have got it out of my system (as well as the cold that has made me a very grumpy camper since Saturday) and this morning settled down to some quality time with the novel.

And by quality time I mean excel spreadsheets.

I had read about Marisha Pessl using spreadsheets to map out her novel but kind of dismissed it. But now I’ve come to actually nailing down the details of my novel I think it will help me to keep everything in order. Because there’s nothing more orderly than a table.  And I do need to corral some of my more wayward elements…

Like time.

At the moment I haven’t made it clear what the timeframe of the novel is. I have great tools to show the passage of time (January’s favorite tree is an Oak) but I don’t use them. I’m putting the events in a calendar so I’ll now exactly how long things take to happen (sorry for being vague. I don’t know how much of the story I want to give away!)

When I re-read the novel it felt like some important events happened in the wrong places; there were so many missed opportunities! I could use some of these events to drive the novel forward, instead they kind of falter and I have to think of a more convoluted way to get what I already had. I’m hoping a spreadsheet will sort those out too – I can map out cause and effect (bloody physics finally becomes useful!)

I also rediscovered my set-up-itis. I do love to set up, taking my time over 100 pages and then the story starts. Last week I went to see The Dentist’s Chair with a group of people who savaged it (one woman walked out before the interval) because the first half was slow and boring. I was a little kinder I think because I recognised my own faults – I saw a kindred spirit; I knew how long they had sweated over that set up; how important it is to the story!

But there I was in the audience: shifting in my seat, waiting for the story to begin…

So cut, cut, cut and fingers crossed the spreadsheet will catch the important stuff.

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Filed under Musings, The Graphologist's Apprentice

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