Timelines and Climaxes

Yesterday I took the keys to Mom’s Cruiser, a box of snack bars, two kids–Eli, age 9; Everett, age 5–and headed down the rutted, twisting road to the bottom of the 9500-foot-elevation “hill” atop which my parents live. We drove into Florissant with $40 in cash and a thirst for adventure.

We came back with one (1) smoky quartz piece, and twenty-seven (27) or so flakes of paper shale bearing the impressions of insects, flower buds, seeds, and leaves that lived and died 35 million years ago.

Fossil Hunting

None of this has anything to do with my novel or progress thereon right now, and neither do any of the six other entries I’ve started and abandoned in the past day here. It’s just too hard. The work is hard, writing about the work is hard. But here we go. Here is what I’m doing:

  • Working on a detailed timeline. In Excel. So help me.
  • Trying to get two characters to reunite with each other in the same place at the same time, instead of three months apart as their current timelines show them doing.
  • Trying to get seven (7) POV characters to meet at the same time in the same place for the climax without ruining any of their individual timelines.
  • Trying to figure out why each of those seven (7) POV characters even wants to be there for goodness sake.
  • And what each of them is doing during the climax.
  • And what each of them is thinking during the climax.
  • And then, finally, from whose point of view the climax will actually be told.
  • And also exactly how I feel about the fact that today, one of the search engine phrases that led to my blog was “sobbing after climax.”
  • And wondering whether I really want to keep writing about climaxes or not.
  • And definitely wondering whether I really want to keep writing climaxes or not.

But of course I have to. Writing them because I have to finish my book. Writing about them because reaching climax is hard for me. (I’ll let you know when Google searches for “Why is reaching climax hard for me” start leading to my blog. It will be a proud moment, surely. (I apologize to anyone who has arrived via that search. This is not the place to get that kind of help. But if you’re writing a book, now, come on in. We can help with that. Or at least empathize with how hard it is.))

So I just keep getting up an hour early and plugging. I thought I’d be done with my second draft next week, but now it looks more like next month or next year or maybe next decade.

Possibly by the time I’m done, the mosquito that ended up smashed between two pages of my first draft will be as old as the fossils in our paper shale fragments.

If anyone has tips, ideas, or inspiration for getting through this last part of the second draft… please. Share. I’d like to finish sometime this millennium.

Leaf fossil

5 thoughts on “Timelines and Climaxes

  1. I haven’t even figured out what my climax will be yet, but I know the halfway-point climax-thing. And there’s this moment of revelation which goes instantly into a flashback, hahahahaha. Like you do. We’ll see if that stays, although in my defense, there’s some interesting magicky stuff which doesn’t make it completely cliche. Or I should say it makes it fun, which doesn’t make it completely banal.

    The only tip I can give you is to know your characters really fucking well. That eliminates so many problems, I have discovered, that I am spending loads of time getting that straight before beginning — something I never did before.

    I read good advice the other day about brainstorming different ways the story might end. Even if they’re stupid, just writing them all out. That helps you get to an ending that isn’t obvious. I think you want a sequel though? So that’s less applicable. My story is just ending, so it wouldn’t affect anything if no one got what they wanted.

    • Thanks, Jaimie. Good ideas. I’ve been thinking I need to write out the climax from the point of view of each of the 7 POV characters, and that will give me clarity. I’ve been dragging my feet about it though because, really, WHO wants to write the climax SEVEN times over, and only keep one version? Ugh.

      I hadn’t even noticed that I do the “revelation transitioning straight to flashback” thing. Is that really cliched? Darn. :p

      I’ll bet when you do it, it’s terrific, though. I love your work.

      I’ve almost got the timelines done–now I’m doing them for the alien characters, which is quick work because their timelines are less detailed anyway. This work has also helped me figure out the characters too, although that’s not been a huge problem–I really start with the characters and let the action develop from them, so I know them pretty well by the time I’m done with the first draft.

      Next time I’m thinking I might outline. Because this molding the SFD into something worthwhile is kicking my arse.

      Aaaand… I just on instinct, this moment, clicked over to see what’s new on your blog and HA you are doing almost this exact thing for your next book. Awesome. Great minds and all that jazz.

      Can’t wait to hear more juicy details on your new project. Headed over to comment on your blog now…

      • I did not explain that very well, the thing about revelations preceding flashbacks. I think that’s actually a GOOD thing, in concept. You don’t want a flashback coming out of nowhere, generally, or you’ll confuse or bore the reader. And cliffhangers lend momentum through it.

        With mine, you’d have to see what I’m talking about, I guess. It’s MID-SCENE. I feel like that could be cheap. And even if it’s not, I was making fun of myself for having this “brilliant!” idea which is actually kind of… done a lot.

        Re: outlining, I have found laying scenes on the floor with notecards to be both fun and helpful.

        • Love the note card idea! This may be my next productive/procrastination technique. I’ve got the timelines sorted out, but the ending is still a mess… maybe putting all my scene ideas on note cards and then spreading them out… actually, I can think of a number of applications. I could put the character sheets on note cards and then move them around the table to figure out where they each are at different points in the climax & scenes leading up to the climax. Thanks for the tip!

          • Yes, when I used notecards last week I had the character development spread among there as well. Very useful. I think I’m going to toss them all now because I spotted all kinds of problems and everything’s changed, but who cares.

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