I’m taking the Reality Truck stuff seriously. The old way I was doing things wasn’t working. So we’re trying new things. This morning I took out a wall with a sledge hammer and a crowbar:
I enjoyed it immensely.
But now I want to talk about writing. Structure. I’ve been cogitating on a new form for awhile,it’s been appealing to me for months, but I kept ignoring it because it’s not the way I’ve written in the past and I have to get a book done. Except I’m not writing. But I am thinking about this new structure (new for me, anyway). So I’ve been cogitating. Then I took out the wall and thought, “Fuck cogitating, this is the way I’m going to do it.” Every writer should have a sledgehammer and a crowbar.
It’s been a tense several months (hell, it’s been a tense several years) and one way I cope when it all gets too much is to crochet while watching TV series, all the episodes at once. I can see an entire series in a couple of weeks which makes it seem like a very long novel, divided into chapters. Anybody who’s ever heard me speak knows what I think of chapters–hate them because they’re not narrative units–but in a TV series, the chapters are episodes and they are narrative units. That is, depending on the series, they’re stories in and of themselves while exploring an overarching plot that lasts the entire season.
This appeals to me as a structure. I’ve been using the four act structure which has served me well, but now that seems overwhelming to me. I don’t want to write short stories, I like the depth and breadth of the novel, but watching all this episodic TV has given me a new appreciation for the little payoffs along the way. Another big plus for me in episodic plots: each episode moves the community closer together because each episode is a victory or a defeat for them all. And it gives me as a writer a lot of little victories along the way, places to stop and say, “Look! I ACCOMPLISHED something!”
Liz was already structured like this on the grand scale, each book a mystery episode in a four-book long love story. But when I looked at Lavender’s Blue again, I realized that I could restructure it so that each act was an episode. I’ve always seen each act as its own story, but one without a climax, just a turning point. If there’s a climax, there’s a danger that the reader will stop reading, but as long as the overall plot is strong, I think she’ll have to keep going. I think I can make that work.
I’d structured my solo FTL book as eight short stories that taken together made a novel, so that one’s already in place, but I’m looking at You Again now, and thinking hard about what happens to it if I turn it into four episodes. Structure is meaning; change the structure and you change everything about the story, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing with You Again.
So I’m cogitating. I still have a lot of clapboard to knock off the house and there’s a closet upstairs that is definitely coming out, so I’ll have no shortage of sledgehammer time to think. I just have to figure out if an episodic approach is a creative sledgehammer. And if that’s a bad thing.