Simmering fiction WIP

Writers often refer to their current WIP (Work In Progress). Since I am always working on several projects, I’m thinking of adopting the acronym MWIVGIP (Multiple Works In Various Genres In Progress). But it seems a tad awkward and I’m not sure how I’d pronounce it.

One of my two current novels has a complicated structure that I’ve been trying to WIP into shape lately (pun intended). Each chapter has a “Now” and a “Then” section so the reader alternates between short scenes following the protagonist through an accident with its aftermath and longer scenes from her childhood into the present. At some point, which I haven’t quite reached yet, the two will merge.

Last week I woke one morning with lines in my mind that would accomplish the transition. The last line of the final  “Then” section would be “I turned right.” And the first line of the combined “Now” section would be “I turned right!” Only when I typed them up in context, I realized that solution destroyed the mystery driving the plot to that point. <sigh>

The transition solution still simmers on the back burner of my brain. I’ll move it to the front burner when it begins to boil.

In the meantime, on this Friday dedicated to writing fiction, I’m working on that novel’s transitions and structure. Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

I once imagined that a fiction writer sits down and pounds away at the keyboard as brilliant scenes unwind in her mind like a spectacular movie. While it’s true that I sometimes get so caught up in writing an engrossing scene that I miss an appointment, the more frequent reality is that writing fiction consists of an extraordinarily large proportion of time-consuming and mundane details. It can be extremely difficult to make them all work together. I often think, “But if this happens, then that previous scene makes no sense,” or “But won’t the reader wonder why they didn’t just do such-and-such instead?”

And then all aspects of chronology, time frame, weather, and location need to fit together. These things may not actually appear in the novel, but you don’t want a reader to trip over some obvious inconsistency. If the sun rises at 6:08 on April 25 in Denver, for instance, a Colorado reader will loose confidence in your writing if, during April, the main character watches the sun peek between mountains after her alarm woke her at 7:00. And the author needs to make sure the reader already has the back story necessary to make sense of the current scene. This may not sound like such a big deal, but–believe me–it requires extensive effort to make all these details work out logically.

And there’s a lot to work out in my current MWIVGIP.


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