With first draft done on my WIP, I have begun rewrite. I totally pantsed this one. Lots of notes in a notebook with a ton of Post-Its used to tag the stuff I’ll need eventually, but no outline, no 4 x 6 cards. I love that notebook, messy as it is. It’s a window into the process and a reminder of how far I have yet to go. (And yes, that’s a Wikipedia article on Komodo dragons slipped between the pages. Let that whet your appetite.)
But pantsing presents its own perils, one of which is the fact that one often can’t paint oneself out of a corner until she’s actually painted herself into it first. Well into it. Into it to the point where there are three coats of paint waiting to dry and there’s no getting out until the true color of the paint reveals itself and allows the painter to walk out without marring the finish.
In my case, the corner was a time thing. Or, rather, two time things.
Let me state right off that my current WIP is not a time-travel story. It is a story of a young woman who travels back and forth between earth and another world via a magic gateway (of sorts). But as I wrote, time became an issue. Or issues.
First, I needed time to pass normally wherever my hero (and sole POV character) happened to be at the moment, but no time could pass where she wasn’t until she was there again. This was easy. I gave her companion—a woman who appears to have traveled through the gateway many times before the story begins—a single line which will likely show up at the beginning of the second book. “It’s as though time holds our place and brings us back to precisely when we were last.” One problem solved.
Then there was the other thing. My hero must age from fifteen to eighteen from the beginning of the series to the end, but I don’t want to write a dozen books to get there. I’ve had certain “adventures” set out for her for a while now, and I hoped I wouldn’t have to expand on them. And yet, how do I get her from fifteen to eighteen without filling her days both on earth and in the alternate world with adventure?
I was stuck. I had story enough for four books, maybe five, but needed more to fill the holes created by the extended time required to let her mature. I knew how to get her from book 1 to book 2 with a five-month gap between stories, but I couldn’t use an angry separation between my hero and another main character every time. I’m a writer. I tell stories. I have to be original.
I looked to C.S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia. He succeeded in bridging time by aging the children out and using a different method of accessing Narnia in each book. I had one hero whom I planned on aging out but not until I resolved her story and could end the series. I also had one means of transporting her back and forth which I rather liked and didn’t want to change. Especially since it includes another character I want to keep.
Turning to Lewis did prove helpful, however. I allowed the gateway to become an impulsive entity, sometimes receptive, sometimes not—and, hence, unavailable until it was ready—forcing my hero to repeatedly request access over time unsuccessfully until the gateway relented. And that eliminated the second problem.
I love the muse, don’t you?