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Creating the present

02 Mar

I have been working on the beginning of a story for the last two weeks. I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted, over and over. Every time I got more of the story “right” according to the voice I felt it needed. But still even though I was making progress, it did not feel right.

There was something that felt off that I couldn’t place. The beginning I had seemed like good writing, some of my beta readers said it was well done, but it just didn’t feel right. The only thing I knew for sure, was the beginning as I had it, shouldn’t be the beginning.

Some stories are just right starting in the middle of something. Whether its action, a conspiracy, a crime, a trip, what ever it is it just works for the story being told. Wool by Hugh howey was like that, and it’s beginning was perfect for it.

A paranormal crime serial, which I have written the first book for was like that as well. But this story told me it needed something different. I asked someone for advice, and their reply was “past creates present”. The context was that I had neglected a timeline for a story that readily accessed it.

You see as I built the story in the outline, bits of scenes stood out to me. Pieces that would add depth and/or propulsion to the story. Quite a few of these delved into past actions, known and unknown to certain groups. These actions incited reactions that were key plot points in the story playing out in my head.

Up to a certain point I was keeping track of these in my head. As the story developed and I knew more about the world, I realized the build up to what is present tense in my story needed to be told through different perceptions as histories. Not thorough histories, but a “how we got to this point” type of narration.

So I decided my story was big enough that I needed a timeline. I can normally keep one in my head, but this one was far too big to keep mental track of and create all the things at the same time. Not to mention as I build this timeline, and fill it out, I will have backstory ready to drop in wherever it’s needed throughout the series.

As I began making this timeline, a new beginning began to form in my creative mind. Maybe I was trying to track too much and clogged my mental pipes, maybe it only came once I started the timeline. However it happened, my story spoke to me telling me how it wanted to begin.

So, for those of you having trouble starting, try a timeline, or just more world building, see if it helps.

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