I’m trying something new.
My current work-in-progress, the third book in “The Usurpers Saga,” is told through a series of flashbacks. That’s not especially new in and of itself. (Francis Ford Coppola perfected it in The Godfather, Part II.) I’m using a well-worn tactic to explain the motivations of my two main characters, fill in the history of my world, and explain how they come to the places and decisions they do at the novel’s climax.
How I’m writing it is new (to me,
anyway). Rather than writing those flashback sequences as they occur in the sequence of the narrative, I writing them whole cloth as separate short stories.
For one thing, they’re a little too long to just fit neatly into the chapters where they go. They run about 3000 words — long enough that I risk losing the main thread of the story if I just insert them as-is. I intend to break them up into 1000-1500-word chunks and spread them around the novel.
But writing them that way threatens to break the flow of those mini-stories. I might miss some important connective or causal material.
So I’m writing this novel in a way I’ve never done before. When it is time for a flashback sequence, I type “[INSERT FLASHBACK]” into the manuscript and keep going. At another writing session, I sit down and write out that whole mini-narrative.
Those views into the past have been fun. Many of them concern the adventures of Zod and Gothemus from their younger days. Some of them were hinted at in The Sword and the Sorcerer, and I’m getting the opportunity to flesh out my world’s history in the form of quasi-fables.
Of course, all that’s forcing me to keep a pretty good map of where I’m going. With a complex, multi-part narrative, it’s easy to lose track of where something should go and to wander off-course. It’s entirely possible some parts of these historical pieces will end up getting cut.
But even if that happens, they’ll still inform my understanding of the world I’m writing in and the motivations of the characters.
Anyway, this is kind of a new process for me, and while it’s exciting, it’s also daunting.
Eventually, I’ll have to put all the pieces together in the right order.