Alyc and I still need to backtrack to fill in the additional chapter for Part Three, but that’s tied in enough with the need to plan out more stuff for Parts Four and Five that we haven’t tried to do that yet. While we work on that planning, though, we went ahead and did Chapter 16, because we knew what was going to happen there.
. . . or so we thought. The first two scenes were fine, but when we started the third one, various things about it weren’t working, and one of them was the placement. While we had good reasons for intending to put the second and (supposed) third scenes both in this chapter, when the time came to actually do it, they felt too same-y — weakening the impact of the latter by juxtaposition with the former. We came up with a reason to push it back, which wound up helping to solve another aspect that wasn’t working, and so hopefully that will go better when we take a second crack at it.
This is something I keep coming back to, as we work on this series: I think one of the essential elements of collaboration is a willingness to both say and hear, “This isn’t working.” If you get too strongly attached to your ideas to let them go when they don’t click for your writing partner, or if you’re reluctant to hurt your partner’s feelings by saying an idea isn’t strong enough, or if you two are just on sufficiently different wavelengths that you’re not getting fired up by the same concepts, you’ll wind up with problems. You’ve got to be willing to bend, but also to know when not to bend — when you need to stand your ground because sure, maybe that solution to the plot problem could work, but it’s not amazing and the story deserves better. If there’s something your partner loves about the idea, circle around and see if there’s another way to keep that good bit while taking a different approach. If you envisioned XYZ happening but the other person doesn’t think that makes sense, diagnose the reasons why, and look for ways to fix it. It’s the same process I go through when working alone . . . except there’s no ego or pride at risk when it’s all happening inside my own head. When there’s someone else involved, it can be trickier.
So anyway, we punted that scene into the next chapter and took one we expected to have happen there and moved it up to this one. Only when that was done, there was plenty of room in this chapter for another scene, because neither of our big pieces here wound up being as long as we had estimated; fortunately, in the process of discussing some other stuff, we had a moment of, “oh, yeah, we need to remember to have this INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS AND NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE HAPPEN.” In the end, we wound up with a Chapter 16 that only about 2/5 resembles our original plan for the chapter we thought we had all mapped out. 😛 But what matters is that it’s done, and it works, and also we added in a useful scene back in Chapter 4 (setting up a decision we unexpectedly made while writing Chapter 14), and sure, the roadmap for how we wrote this book may wind up looking like a plate of spaghetti — but if we do our job right, the reader will never be able to tell.
Word count: ~115,000
Authorial sadism: Yep, turns out this is your fault, too. I mean, not on purpose? But that won’t make you feel much better.
Authorial amusement: Making chalk angels on the floor, and shrieking and dropping A Certain Thing.
BLR quotient: Starts off firmly with love, but then I think the plot revelations swing it pretty hard toward a blood/rhetoric mix. Gotta admit, though, it’s wonderful to finally be able to talk about these elements directly!
This post originally appeared on SwanTower.com.