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Serialised Fiction – Epilogue

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Yeesh, don’t I ever give it a rest?

It seems not.

Well, in the style of all epilogues, I am going to revisit elements of my previous posts.  Primarily, editing.  Yeah, like I haven’t done that before. 

Sometimes you just have to throw things out. Image courtesy of dolmansaxlil.

I only mention it because I have been in the process of receiving editorial notes.  This in the midst of my rather long “rest” from the whole writing thing since finishing the initial draft of the series.  And while I have been “resting”, and have gotten entirely out of the necessary headspace needed to work on this project, I get notes that equate to “there isn’t enough drama.  Change it.”

OK, so it wasn’t quite that bad, but in the midst of making changes based on these notes, this is what it turned into.  Namely around episodes four and five.  Now, all the way back when I was working on these episodes, regular readers may remember that these were the ones I had issues with the first time round, because I found them inert.  Granted, at the time, I found the source of the drama, but it turns out it wasn’t enough.  So I had to figure out some other way of raising the stakes.  Only doing it in such a way that wouldn’t mean a re-write of the entire series.

Laziness begets Creativity

That’s right, I said it.  I’m not sure how many writers out there feel the same as I do about this matter, but once I’ve got an idea set in my head about the direction a piece of writing is going, I find it very difficult to get myself off that track.  I have many projects that I have written that I’ve mangled in editing just to keep the same incidents on track because I’m so used to thinking of the narrative in that way.  And in a sense, that’s what I had here.  I had the specific incidents set out, and I couldn’t honestly see how I could rewrite it without messing everything else up.  I needed inspiration!

Unfortunately, there was none to be found.  The idea I had for the episode was so thin as it was that I had literally no other material.  I know as a writer this is bad.  Sometimes (especially if you write longer fiction) there are some sections that just don’t speak to you.  They need to happen, but beyond that there is nothing else.  I guess it ties into having everything mapped out, with character back-stories and so fourth, as Matt mentioned a few posts back.

So how do I excite this thing up without throwing it all out?  Sometimes, sadly, that is the case.  You have to throw it out and start from scratch.  I however was opposed to doing that here.  Maybe because I’m lazy, maybe because I had nothing else here, and maybe because I was going blank.  But as I was re-reading, in the vain hope of something leaping out at me, I discovered it.

The Ace in the Hole

Yeah, I have no idea where this term sprung from either.  It makes no sense, but I found mine.  I don’t know, deep down, maybe we all have this, for just such an emergency.  These episodes were about one character, and I’ll be honest, there wasn’t really enough material to support the character for two episodes.  There was however, another character.

On my initial run, writing it first time around, I didn’t pay it much mind.  But it fell into the category of back story for characters, and what happens off screen so to speak.  Obviously, you can’t follow all of the characters all of the time, you jump from scene to scene, but I’ll bet that there are some characters who you’ll map out plot threads for when they’re not the focus of attention.

I used to do this all the time.  I was obsessed with it.  How did this character get here?  What were they doing in the meantime?  If you generate the material (enough rough thumbnails of what they’ve been doing) for characters, then it can give them added weight.  It can give them momentum that drives the story on when it starts flagging.  Obviously it can get boring if you stick with one character all the time, no matter what they’re doing, and sometimes you just need that break.

Let them rest, for Heaven’s Sake!

So that’s what I did here.  There were a lot of things going on ‘off camera’ during these episodes, and I’ll be honest, it was all a lot more interesting than what was going on with the main character (he has a long talk, then he gets laid).  So I just gave him a rest from the attention, moved the camera over here and hey!  I found what was missing.  Of course, it required me to generate new material off the cuff (which I found surprisingly difficult) but that’s another story.

So in summation?  I guess my point is that, for those of you who write longer fiction (especially first person or third person subjective) and you find yourself flagging at some point, then change the focus.  It can be as simple as moving over to a different character for a scene, or a chapter, but it can open up new possibilities which may surprise even yourself.