Writer emerges from the undergrowth, stained and ragged and wild-eyed from having taken “the short cut” to getting this thing in order. Taking it down to be printed somewhere else never happened, due to Lifestuff. So Writer elected to do it all in the machine (the printer is not happy about churning out lots of pages in a hurry. Some pages in a hurry, fine. 800+ pages in a hurry…not fine.) Writer then looked at the mass of thick, impenetrable brush in front of her and spotted what looked like a short-cut game trail. And plunged in.
You would think after all these books that Writer would know better. You would know better. You’ve been on those “short-cuts” that take you down long, narrow, winding roads without good scenery–through some rusting industrial sector where the guys on the street corners are turning to watch you go by like a pride of lions spotting a lone antelope. But Writer, with an eye on the clock, decided to risk it. Writer got well into the middle of the brush with a machete, a torn scrap of map, and a compass that Writer had not bothered to check out with the map ahead of time. Because that would have taken time, you see.
So Writer whacked away at the brush, and dragged the cut pieces here and there, and the manuscript grew under this treatment…850 pages, 900 pages, 950 pages…until Writer had no idea where anything was–not the original chapters, not the chunks moved, not how much of the now much more unwieldy mess was leftover pieces that had been copied and pasted but not deleted from their former location, and how much was new stuff filling holes Writer kept finding.
Writer spent days being stupid. Inventing wheels that weren’t round, or wouldn’t turn, or were made of tissue paper.
Finally, Writer remembered how Writer had invented a wheel for this situation in another book. The ONLY way to work on a chronological mess in the computer and not go crazy. Writer looked frantically at the calendar (for many days had passed in doing it wrong) and spent two days using the right re-invented wheel. The additional 170 pages of duplication buried in the brush disappeared. Despite Writer’s loud complaints to the walls, moans & groans, consumption of an astonishing amount of Green & Black’s 85% dark chocolate, whining to spouse, etc., by 3 pm on the second day, Book IV was reassembled in what is *probably* the correct order.
Probably only because there are balance problems, now very visible, and which–if they can’t be corrected by taking the Chain Saw of Correction and chopping Mmph and Umpph to reasonable size, will require either Mmph or Umpph to be moved (upsetting other things, but those can be fixed, maybe) or one of them to be delayed to the next book (which I really, REALLY do not want to do.)
Mmph, on re-reading, turns out to have quite a bit of lovely stuff that isn’t, strictly speaking, necessary. Descriptions, internal reactions to what is observed…but POV character as tourist observing stuff is not necessary unless the stuff observed becomes critical to something late on. And…it’s not. Besides, Umpph travels the same route later and some of *that* is POV character (different one) as tourist observing stuff. And in previous books, two other POV characters have traveled that same route. No, three. So that road is no longer a fascinating new treat for readers unless something happens on it.
Mmph and Umpph also spend time in the same place (different times) as POV characters. There are delightful moments. There are too many delightful moments. All they do is establish that Mmph isn’t entirely comfortable there, and Umpph is entirely too comfortable there. Fewer perfectly chosen moments would establish both those POVs and reduce the imbalance of the first quarter year to the rest.
Oh, the wheel that worked? Divide the “book time” into four quarters (I use four; it could be thirds or fifths.) Create a file for each quarter. Working from the back, put each chapter into its quarter of “book time.” Delete that file from the main book-file after checking that it actually made it into the quarter file (amazing how sometimes you think you did the copy/paste and you didn’t do the paste part becuase the phone rang, someone came to the door, etc. ALWAYS check. I saved two chapters that way on this effort.) Then look at each quarter and sort the chapters in that quarter into order. X’s preparation for Y must precede Y. R’s decision not to reveal zzzzz must precede zzzz being revealed. And so on. Duplicate chapters will be easily caught in the quarter files, during the ordering process. When all the quarter files are ordered, replace in the main book file, quarter by quarter, from the top.
Now, of course, all the holes are obvious. Um…this chapter ends right before a revelation…that does not ever occur. And the duplicate scenes in different chapters covering the same events. Oops. Pick one. And the things moved up from the previous book, which now are outdated and need to be discarded or reworked in light of present circumstances. But unless Mmph and Umpph need to be moved, it’s all in the right order now. Just a mess. But an ordered mess.
I need to make a little book of reminders for myself so I don’t have to reinvent wheels so much. But I’d misplace it and not be able to find it when I need it.
Onward. Today the Chain Saw of Correction is snarling away in my head and seeing all those excessive delicious moments. Including those I look at now and think “Why on earth did I spent a day writing *that* 2000 words???” By tonight, it should be even clearer where the main route through the story-country is, and I should be able to start hole-filling.