My current work-in-progress is a near future thriller that opens with an extended sequence of scenes comprising Part 1 of the story.
The transition to Part 2 is abrupt and, I think, effective. After that there are rebuilding scenes — transitions — that will eventually get the story to the next big action sequence.
A lot is going on in these passages. The protagonist has a lot to do and see, there are a fair number of other characters involved, and many things need to be accomplished from a plot perspective to get all the chess pieces in place.
I’ve been plowing through this section at a fairly good pace using a lot of short scenes, each with its own challenge for the protagonist. I’m constantly asking myself, what is necessary? How much can I skip? Do I need to communicate this next part in the form of a scene, or can I just summarize it in a paragraph of narrative and move on?
Many times I’ve started to do a simple narrative summary and been dissatisfied, leading me to switch to a scene. “Show don’t tell.” Not a rule to follow slavishly, but one to consider.
I have some concern that all these scenes will result in an unpleasant, jerky sense of progress — but that may just be the way it feels when I write it.
I also have a suspicion that I might wind up cutting or consolidating much of what I’m working so hard now to create. But historically, it’s been rare for me to cut much from a novel. It’s been far more common for me to underwrite the first draft, and then fill in details on the second round. So we shall see.
Despite these concerns, my goal at this point is to just keep moving forward. I’m learning a lot about the story as I go along, and if I do need to cut or consolidate later, I’ll have a much better grasp of what I need to keep and what I can get rid of. I keep muttering to myself “trust the process.” This mantra represents a big change for me, because in the first phase of my writing career I was a determined revisionist, who did not move on to the next chapter until the current one was clean and polished.
In no sense would I describe this manuscript as clean and polished, but it’s definitely growing in a way that makes me impatient to write more.