The curious dance of order and chaos

After yesterday’s break, I realized that it was indeed “rest” rather than “being lazy” that made me take a break from looking at the NaNo novel. Today I woke up with very clear ideas about the missing parts: how the fantastic nature of the Great Change might be brought from background to foreground, and which of the plot threads seem to end in mid-air and what might be done about that.

I realize that outlines are more about chaos than order. Let me explain.

The Necromancer and the Barbarian: A Love Story feels very much more like a set of interesting ingredients that I might rearrange. Last year, as I finished The Shape-shifter’s Tale, I had the elation of a finishing the story but horror at how truncated and foreshortened was the endgame. As I launched on the revision process, I despaired of being able to break the pattern of plot that now felt set in stone. This year, on the other hand, I thought about the structure of the plot in advance, and sketched out the endgame. Especially now that I’m using the Scrivener software, I can see the structure of the story. The pieces can be rearranged; I can see which of the plot threads have more scenes, and therefore more relative weight. At a glance, I can separate main plot from subplot(s).

It looks more orderly; I can see the pieces, and rearrange them. Paradoxically, it feels more spacious and potentially chaotic, as in night-before-creation chaotic. That’s the wonderful thing about this project: it’s still full of potential, vibrating with dark and wondrous energy. I am aware of playing with and against the science of forensic reconstruction, bog ecology, and what’s known of the Northern European Iron Age; my narrative plays with and against some very ancient and powerful stories: Pygmalion, Frankenstein, Faust. That’s a huge amount of structure; within that framework the improvisation can become wild and emotionally intense.

First draft is a mess, chaos and darkness over the waters, galactic soup. The outline maps the chaos, and tells what’s missing.


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