A couple of days ago I mentioned that while editing my latest novel, Lucky Portbraddon, I’ve had to work very carefully to keep the many different narrative trails in the right order and make them “work” for the reader; there are several unexpected things happening which I have to conceal in order to be a surprise, but I have to provide a context for them… I’ve done this mainly through flash-backs, but in other ways too. For example, a secret is revealed which I hope will come almost as a shock; once the reader knows it, there is another scene where the secret is further revealed to other characters within the story – this time, the reader will have a different perspective because s/he will already know what the other characters don’t. After everyone within the story knows, then the reader has to be filled in with how the events occurred, otherwise it just seems random and contrived for effect, although there are little hints which further back.
When I write, I just write, I don’t always keep track of the time-line in my stories. So, Lucky Portbraddon starts at Christmas, and there are references to weather, and gradually the season changes until there are evetns which take place on summers’ evenings, and a climatic scene in a winter’s storm near the end; the final chapter, is another Christmas, when life has changed dramatically for all the family… divorces, deaths, babies, romances… all the normal things of a year in the life of a family.
So now that I’m editing the completed work, I have to be more specific and careful with the time schemes, and as I’m concentrating on this at the moment I notice that there is no mention of Easter, which is usually a big event with the characters for various reasons, the children never seem to have school holidays, one character is several months pregnant in March but still hasn’t had her baby by the following New Year and someone taking important exams and moving on to college, doesn’t!
It’s a very long novel, as I said, and I’m concentrating on cutting out a lot of the ‘flannel’, and as I do so, gradually the pieces are slotting together in a less ‘random and contrived’ fashion – it’s like one of those mechanical marvels with lots of runs and chutes down which ball-bearings rush, setting in motion a whole display of different effects!
Isn’t this a marvel – much more complex than my stories!