1. You are letting people tell you that you should be doing other things with your time.
2. You can’t live with the level of clean that your family accepts as normal.
3. You haven’t decided to treat your writing seriously and so no one around you treats it seriously, either.
4. You haven’t made yourself a writing space.
5. You haven’t realized that you need help.
6. You do what is urgent rather than what is necessary.
7. You don’t let your kids and other people solve their own problems.
8. You think that someday you will have more time for writing.
9. You are spending time doing things you actually don’t care about.
10. You are actually using distractions as an excuse not to write.
11. You are terrified of writing, of actually sitting down and putting yourself on the page.
12. You are too busy criticizing the best selling books that you are reading to write something better.
13. You don’t know what to do with a blank page.
14. You don’t know how to turn off your internal editor.
15. You talk a good game, but you don’t play it.
16. You need to do a little planning and research before you start.
17. You don’t actually like writing. You like having written. (Join the club.)
18. You need to write the first line of the next chapter before leaving for the day.
19. You need to spend time remembering what it is you love about writing.
20. You have convinced yourself that you need 2 hours to write and don’t know how to use the 20 minute chunks you actually have.
21. You don’t have notebooks scattered through the house, including in the bathroom, to jot down inspiration.
Timeline is one of the trickiest things for me as an author. This may be because I don’t outline or it may be a problem for all authors and all books. For me, there were two distinct tasks involved in this.
1. Condensing events
My first draft of The Rose Throne had Issa and Ailsbet begin as pre-teens, about age 11. They met each other briefly, became friends, and then spent another 6-7 years apart before meeting again at age 17. I think I did this in part because I was used to spending a lot of time building backstory for my main characters. In The Princess and the Hound, Prince George begins as a young child and ages up through about 70 pages of the book.
But The Rose Throne was a very different book than The Princess and the Hound, in part because there were two viewpoint characters who grew up in different kingdoms and had very different views of the magic system which they actually share. But in addition to that, I think The Rose Throne is for an older audience than The Princess and the Hound. And there were other reasons for me to condense the story, which included the fact that if Issa and Ailsbet had met and become friends as younger figures, a lot of the narrative tension around their relationship was taken away from the rest of the book.
I cannot say how often I have done critiques on manuscripts in which I tell the author that the timeline needs to be condensed. It’s a major change, but increasing the tension often makes other narrative problems disappear or at least become easier to fix. It improves pacing enormously and makes the structure of the novel really pop out and make itself obvious. If you are meandering through your plot slowly, more tension will help you find your climax and move toward it more easily.
2. Day by day
So the second timeline issue was a chapter-by-chapter day-by-day issue. This happened at a much later stage in the process, at nearly the final revision before copyediting. After I had condensed the book events into one year, I needed to make sure that the seasons were right for each chapter and scene, and that events happened in the right order. You would be surprised at how often I had to shift things backward or forward in time so that one event that caused another didn’t happen chronologically after it in my narrative.
What I did to fix this problem was make a chart for each chapter and then type in a date. Now, the kingdoms of Rurik and Weirland don’t have our Roman calendar and I purposely never referred to our months or days of the week. I always feel like fantasy loses its sense of other-worldliness if it relies on our conventions too much (unless it’s set in our world, in which case, it’s fine). So instead I used seasons and day numbers. Each event happened on a given day in a given season. When I put them all together with a short one-sentence explanation of each chapter, I could glance through and make sure there weren’t any long, unexplained absences (which, of course there were, but I had to fix). I also could see whether too much happened in one stretch. This visual was a useful way to make sure the scenes were organized properly and that the events happened in a measured fashion.
I still have trouble with timeline in most books that I am working on now. Maybe one day I will figure out a way to hold it all in my head and not make a mistake. Ha!
|Cyn sounds off!|
"I have a respectful patience for the inner artist but always hold her accountable."
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in 't!
|Ellie and Luna|
|Lindsey signs Riptide|
|Lindsey with Austin SCBWI founder Meredith Davis & Bee Cave librarian Michelle Benavides|
|Austin authors Jo Whittemore, Nikki Loftin, Jennifer Ziegler, Greg Leitich Smith, Bethany Hegedus, Salima Alikhan & Cory Putnam Oakes catch a wave.|
|Cory and writer-photographer Sam Bond|
|Debut YA author Lindsey Scheibe|
|Here I am, getting into the surfer spirit!|
|Author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell & author Julie Lake|
|Lindsey tells stories of her own surfing adventures.|
|Lindsey Scheibe signs for fellow Austin author (& fellow Lindsey), Lindsey Lane.|
|Here I am, sandwiched between Austin SCBWI ARA Samantha Clark & Salima|
|Erin Edwards & Jo mug for the camera; Austin SCBWI RA Shelley Ann Jackson waits behind them.|
|Samantha, Shelli Cornelison & Meredith at Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar in Austin|
|Salima, Bethany & Samantha at Lucy's|
|Greg, Salima, Erin, Nikki, Lindsey, her husband, Meredith, Bethany, Samantha & Shelli at Lucy's|