I’ve been working on Mik Murdoch 5 and I have realized I’ve been trying to do too much in the story. I always insert little tidbits here and there in the sequels to tie them back to the previous books. That isn’t a bad plan as it provides continuity. Where I am coming up against it is I now see I’m getting carried away, especially since there are now four books in the series.
If I reference events from every one of them, I won’t have time for the story in book 5.
That isn’t to say I won’t be giving subtle nods to what has come before. There are plot lines I’ve started in prior books that are still outstanding (purposely, in case you wondered).
I’ve tried too hard to incorporate little plot elements that don’t really have anything to do with the larger story. Whenever I go down those rabbit-holes, I end up hitting a wall, especially when I am trying to write towards some logical insertion point in the story. That’s where I keep realizing the scene in question isn’t really needed. At least, not at this time.
How do I get around the problem of ‘too much’?
What I plan to do instead is remove those scenes and put them aside for future books. I know I will use some/all of them at some point so the writing isn’t wasted. I will then only write the pieces that fit the arc of this story. At least, that’s the plan.
I believe that will create a much cleaner, more focused story too. By not trying to do too many things, I won’t be confusing the reader either. They will get the story they are expecting. At least, that’s the hope.
I will still reference some of those story points I was writing scenes for; I thought they were important enough for a scene so they at least rate a mention. That will provide some continuity from previous books and readers won’t worry that dangling plot threads have been forgotten.
A bit of confusion in the manuscript
By removing some scenes I am breaking a bit of a personal rule – not to edit the first draft. I may end up simply leaving the scenes in place to avoid breaking the rule, opting instead to pull them in the second draft. I’ll just move forward as if they aren’t part of the story (because they really aren’t). It will mean some additional edits are necessary but, because I use Scrivener as my writing tool and each scene is its own piece of the overall project, the removal is easy.
Refocusing the lens
I know most of the major beats and scenes I want in the book. I even know where they should show up. It’s the connecting tissue I have to identify. That means I need to spend a bit of time refocusing my story lens. Do a bit more breakdown by chapter of the book. Arrange and rearrange.
It sort of feels like I’m stalling when I say that but I know that isn’t the case. In reality, the stalling is coming from my internal writer telling me I can’t sit down to write until that planning has happened. I mean, I know what I want the first chapter to do and I even have a pretty good idea what the first couple sentences (and following paragraphs) will include. I just keep balking at it (easy to say, I’m tired and I will do it tomorrow).
So, tonight, I’m going to write those sentences AND I’m going to set the planning efforts into motion. I will have the bones of the story set out on display and get to putting the flesh out on them in the coming days.
No more excuses.