Getting on with it: a novel struggle

I wanted to have the first, rough-as-shark-hide draft of my novel done by the end of November. That didn’t happen. I didn’t allocate nearly enough time. No, time allocation wasn’t the issue: prioritization was. I allowed the novel to slip down the list until it sat below watching the Grimm box set. It’s difficult to rise back up from a position that low.

Part of the problem was that although I have a whole lot of novel, I don’t have a denouement. I’ve written the last chapter, nodded to the sequel and tied everything up. But I haven’t written the climax or the rush towards it. Mine’s a crime/urban fantasy cross over novel and, as such, follows certain conventions. There has to be action, some suspense and a big “aha” moment. Despite my planning and plotting, the resolution escapes me and without that, I can’t finish the story.

Denoument: the final outcome, result, or unravelling of the main dramatic complication in a play or other work of literature

On January 14th, I was called for jury service. In the end, I didn’t have to serve, but I spent a day at the High Court waiting to find this out. I’d been warned that there would be a lot of sitting around and to bring a book or some work. I did both. I printed out the novel as was and read it with pen in hand, marking where I need to rewrite, add information or move sections. Unexpectedly, mine was a very productive day.

The next step is to work through my notes. The first 40 pages went quickly, then gaps appeared and work slowed down as I added pages of plot. But I’m working again, and that’s great.

Have I solved the problem with the denoument? Nope. But I’m less worried about it because now that I’m working on the novel again, I remember plotlines and characters, and have new ideas. The first draft of the plot had a different baddy and that’s part of my problem: I’m unsure about baddy #2’s motivation. Reading the manuscript has clarified it somewhat and that gives me a plotting-path forward.

Writing something this long part-time takes focus. I’m learning just how much.

8 comments on “Getting on with it: a novel struggle

  1. Christina Straume

    Låter som en lösning som jag vet väldigt väl. När ting (målandet fex) stoppar upp runt ett problem, och huvudet stångar i duken – hjälper det ofta att se på det som ligger runt problemet, och ofta är det inte just det jag ser som problemet, men det omkringliggande som måste lösas. Så bra du skriver, Caroline. Du är duktig och har alltid varit. Bra att du har fått upp knuten, resten löser sig, ska du se!

    • Tack, Christina! Vad gullig du är. Du har rätt – att tänka runtomkring hjälper och det sätter igång hjärnverksamheten. (Och visst är det skönt att släppa lös tänkandet på ett område där man inte låst sig?) Har faktiskt en idé till en lösning som dök upp när jag satt och funderade på vad en av de andra karaktärernas motivation. Det visade sig att de två hör ihop och, precis som du säger, innan jag listat ut det gick det inte att komma vidare.

  2. Getting the manuscript off-screen is essential, in my opinion. I remember sticking printed-off chapters on the wall: reading paper standing-up was illuminating when it came to seeing the big picture, so great for plotting, character arcs, stuff like that.

    Eye of the tiger, etc. You can get it done, so you should get it done, and polished, and you will leave nothing for editors. This will feel good, and also scary, because then your baby gets judged by the business. But you are resilient, and the bad stuff will not dent your confidence, and the good stuff will not puff you off-course.

    So yeah, carry on, get it done, catch your breath 🙂

    • Thank you for your confidence in me! I hope you’re right and I’ll be able to continue getting on with it, through the ups and downs. Writing’s full of both and when it comes to submissions, downs are way more common than ups.

      But first finish the story and polish, polish, polish.

  3. ooh, didn’t know about this! Makes stalking easier 😉 Vad roligt det låter, verkar som de har en hel massa på gång just nu. Lycka till!

  4. ooh, didn’t know about this! Makes stalking easier 😉 Vad roligt det låter, verkar som du har en hel massa på gång just nu. Lycka till!

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